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Wine

Six of the Best Clare Valley Wineries and Cellar Doors

Discover the best Clare Valley wineries and cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map.

Less than a two-hour drive from Adelaide, the Clare Valley is home to some of the world’s best Riesling and offers fantastic food and wine experiences that are just waiting to be enjoyed.

The region is blessed with a climate ideal for premium grape growing and the combination of consistently good winter rains, hot summers tempered by cool nights and a long ripening period produces grapes of exceptional flavours and balance delivering exceptional regional Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and more.

With more than 30 cellar doors to choose from, visitors to the Clare Valley are spoilt for choice, and with many of the wineries family owned and operated, you’re bound to meet the people whose wines you’re tasting.

Here are of our Top 6 Clare Valley Wineries to Visit.

Claymore Wines

With all their wines named after popular song titles, Claymore Wines offers a fun, memorable and delicious tasting experience at their Leasingham cellar door.

Meander your way through a mixed tape of top tunes – Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc, Joshua Tree Riesling, Skinny Love Summer White Viognier Whole Lotta Love Rosé, Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz, Bittersweet Symphony Cabernet Sauvignon and more.

Take a seat outside and enjoy the sunshine with a platter of South Australian cheeses and local produce with a glass of wine or prop yourself up on a stool at the bar and lose yourself in the wine tasting experience.

You can also treat yourself to some local produce including olives and oil from Evilo Estate, sauces from Patly Hill, soaps from The Sugar Shack Soap Co., Chickpeas from Pangkarra and Hot Wine packs from Kooky Drop Co.

7145 Horrocks Highway, Leasingham

Open daily 10am to 5pm

Visit Claymore website

Eldredge

Take a drive along the Spring Gully scenic drive route and you’ll discover the picturesque Eldredge Vineyards. Located directly west of Sevenhill, Eldredge is on the boundary of the Clare Valley and overlooks the Blyth Plains, with the vineyard rising to 530 metres.

Their Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec and Riesling are all produced using 100% Clare Valley fruit with the focus on creating premium quality, yet affordable wines that reflect the region’s unique character.

A 98 year-old stone cottage houses their cellar door and restaurant, which was opened in 1994 after many months spent carefully renovating the lovely old building. Settle in for a relaxed tasting, enjoy a shared platter or a light lunch featuring a range of local products.

Spring Gully Rd, Spring Gully

Open daily 11am to 5pm

Visit Eldredge Vineyards website

Koonowla

Located just east of Auburn, Koonowla is one of the district’s most iconic properties with its historic stone buildings and rolling broad acre hills.

The property was first planted in the 1890s by John Tothill, who also built a winery to produce wine for the thriving export trade to England. The business continued to prosper and expand until a disastrous fire in 1926 destroyed the winery and wine stocks, and the property was converted to grain and wool production. In 1985, eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted, relaunching Koonowla wines.

Current owners, Andrew and Booie Michael, purchased the property in 1991 restoring the old homestead and boosting the vineyard plantings to almost 50ha of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Shiraz, Merlot and Semillon.

Today visitors to the cellar door are welcomed to taste the fruits of their labour – Koonowla Cabernet, Shiraz, and Riesling, along with Merlot and Semillon.

18 Koonowla Road, Auburn
Weekends and public holidays 10am to 5pm. Monday to Friday by appointment

Visit Koonowla Wines website

Mitchell Wines

Andrew and Jane Mitchell established their winery in 1975 and have created a fantastic tasting experience, showcasing a true Australian family-owned and run winery.

On arriving at the cellar door, Jane welcomes you like you’re one of the family and you can tell her and Andrew are proud of their wines and vineyards. Mitchells Wines have four vineyards that are located in and around the Watervale, Auburn and Sevenhill sub-regions with vine age ranging from five to more than 55 years-old.

Within their quaint cellar door, they present stunning single vineyard Rieslings, as well as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Semillon.

“There is always something special about wines where the same family develops and cares for the vines, makes and bottles the wine and then sells that wine,” says Andrew “An old fashioned ideal perhaps, but our reputation is at stake with each bottle of wine we sell.”

246 Hughes Park Road, Sevenhill

Open daily 10am to 4pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

Visit Mitchell Wines website

Paulett Wines

Located in the Polish Hill sub-region of the Clare Valley, Paulette Wines is owned and operated by winemaker Neil Paulett and his wife Alison.

The couple established the cellar door 35 years ago and with fantastic wines and absolutely stunning views, it’s a ‘must visit’. "Thirty years ago, visiting a cellar door was not that common, so we felt we had to offer that extra inducement to bring people to the Valley,” says Neil. “Our cellar door, our premium wines and the spectacular views all enhance the sense of well-being that wine lovers have come to expect from Paulett's Winery."

In addition to the staples of Shiraz and Riesling, you can expect to taste a Late Harvest Riesling, Sparkling Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec blend and Cabernet Merlot.

To top off a fabulous experience you can dine at the winery’s Bush Devine Café which is
inspired and partly sourced from the adjacent Bush Food Garden that boasts over 80 different species and 1000 plants.

Sevenhill-Mintaro Road, Polish Hill River

Open daily 10am to 5pm – cellar door

Open daily 11am to 4pm – café, bookings essential.

Visit Paulett Wines website

Stone Bridge Wines

Family-owned and operated, Stone Bridge Wines started out as a hobby but has turned into a successful business for Craig and Lisa Thomson, and their daughters Lauren and Sarah.

Their boutique winery currently produces Shiraz from their own vineyard, plus Riesling, Pinot G, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec using select parcels from local growers in the Sevenhill, Watervale and Armagh areas.

Drop into their earth-rammed cellar door to taste their award-winning wines, stroll around the picturesque grounds, and if you’re visiting on a Sunday in September to May, you can also enjoy a gourmet pizza cooked in their wood-fired oven.

Gillentown Road, Sevenhill

Open Thursday to Monday 10am to 4pm

Visit Stone Bridge Wines website

Clare Valley Winery Map

Planning a trip to Clare? Download our interactive Clare Valley winery map. To save on your browser or device, click here

And, if you’re the energetic type or into pedal power, a day spent cruising the Riesling Trail on a bike is a must do. Wine Selectors Membership Consultant, Elliot Watt, shares all his tips for touring through this spectacular wine region on the Clare Valley Riesling Trail.

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Wine
Wine Traveler Riverland
Words by Dave Brookes on 28 Dec 2017
While South Australia’s riverland region has always been famous for bulk wine production, innovative local winemakers are changing the landscape by planting a range of grape varieties perfectly suited to the hot, dry climate. As I sit down to pen this brief piece on the Riverland , I’m reminded of the words of that great American philosopher LL Cool J who rhymed, “don’t call it a comeback; I’ve been here for years; I’m rockin my peers; Puttin’ suckers in fear”. Mic drop from Queens. Perhaps I’m getting carried away. I’ve always been told I have a fertile imagination, but who would have thought a decade ago that boutique winemakers from Margaret River to Coonawarra would be sourcing fruit from the Riverland and proudly displaying that fact on their wine labels? The Riverland has always been, along with several other regions that lie along the life-giving artery of the Murray, the engine-room of the Australian wine industry. The Riverland accounts for over 50% of South Australia’s wine crush and around 30% of the national total, some 470,123 tonnes in 2017. It is a very important region for Australian wine. One winery alone, Berri Estates, is the largest grape processor in the southern hemisphere, crushing some 220,000 tonnes of grapes annually or around one-third of the total grape crush of South Australia. Several years ago, I recall driving with the Berri Estates winemaker to the crushers; a journey through a huge truck marshalling area complete with traffic wardens. He turned to me and said, “Can you feel the romance?” Funny, but the sheer scale of the operation was astounding. The Riverland is also a region well aware of the hardships of farming; of extended droughts and the plunging grape prices of boom & bust cycles. But the droughts, while devastating for growers already struggling with low grape prices, have forced some changes for the better. Included among them are sustainable irrigation, drought hardy rootstock and clonal research, and the planting of alternative varieties, or, as one local winemaker described them, “appropriate varieties.” King of grapes
One of the larger producers is Kingston Estate, established by Greek immigrants, Nina & Steve Moularadellis in the mid-1980s after they met picking grapes in the early 1960s. Today, you can still find them in the winery most days, but it is son Bill who steers the ship. Kingston Estate produce a range of wines that offer great value for money and drinking pleasure. Their portfolio centres around the European classic varieties, but for me, when I think of the estate, it is their Petit Verdot that springs to mind and it is certainly a variety they have hung their hat on. Deeply coloured and laden with rich fruit and spice, it possesses an ample structure with plenty of ripe tannin and is a variety that seems to thrive in the warmer climes of the Riverland. Salena Estate, another of the larger operators, has around 520 acres under vine, roughly half of which is certified organic. Their range includes classic varieties, across different price points that provide great drinking, and their ‘Ink’ series concentrates on the ‘appropriate’ varieties with some great examples including Montepulciano , Graciano, Bianco d’Alessano and Vermentino . The Banrock Station cellar door is top-notch with the complete range of wines available for tasting, a great little restaurant if you are feeling peckish and the amazing wetlands ecosystem with walking trails if you need to stretch your legs. The Angove cellar door in Renmark is another must visit for the quality and diversity of their range of wines with fruit sourced from the Riverland and further afield across South Australia. In recent times, the interest in sourcing fruit from the Riverland by winemakers based outside the region has been pleasing to see. There are several factors at play here. Better farming practices and increased interest in some of the varieties that end in ‘O’ that seem well suited to the region are certainly in the mix. Another is the tireless efforts, boundless energy and great farming nous of Ashley Ratcliff of Ricca Terra Farms, who has done much to raise the profile of the Riverland as a source of well-farmed, alternative varieties. Part of this nous was knowing when to take a risk on doing something new. As he explains, “During the boom times in the Riverland, grape prices were up and getting people to change their practices was hard. Why would you decrease your yields and plant new varieties? When things turned, however, others panicked, but we were brave; buying up vineyards and planting alternative varieties that now fetch sustainable prices.” Ashley’s Ricca Terra Farms is just outside Bamera and is planted with many of the varieties that are now sought after in the region – Nero d’Avola , Fiano , Vermentino , Montepulciano , Zibbibo, Muscato Giallo and the curiously named, Slankamenca Bela. As well as supplying grapes for other winemakers, Ashley has his own ‘Ricca Terra’ label featuring inventive blends of these varieties. Another producer riding the wave of the alternative varieties that are well-suited to the Riverland is Alex Russell Wines. Viticulturist and winemaker Alex Russell crafts a range of delicious wines from Montepulciano, Vermentino, and Lagrein to Nero d’Avola, Saperavi and Graciano. Alex’s range of wines hold true to the tenet that a wines ‘raison d’etre’ is to be above all else, delicious to drink and they have picked up a swathe of awards at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in Mildura . small names, big impression
Other small local producers who farm in a thoughtful, sustainable fashion to seek out include Whistling Kite, whose biodynamically farmed range includes a fantastic Petit Manseng and a Montepulciano that is a benchmark for the region. The organically farmed Bassham Wines is another, with delicious, racy whites including Vermentino and Fiano, along with lovely examples of Lagrein, Nero d’Avola and Graciano. Also check out 919 Wines, whose range of table wines provides beautiful drinking across both the classic and alternative varieties, including a killer Pale Dry Apera style. And last but not least, the Delinquent Wine Co has a fantastic range of funkily packaged wines for “drinkin, not thinkin”, featuring new wave varieties, including the very drinkable Bianco d’Alessano Pet Nat Sparkling. Of the producers from further afield who proudly source fruit from the Riverland, the list is growing. Sue Bell from Bellwether Wines in Coonawarra produces a fantastic, award-winning Nero d’Avola Rosé and crisp, textural Bianco d’Alessano; Margaret River based winemaker Brad Wehr of Amato Vino produces a dangerously drinkable Riverland range including a wonderful Slankamenca Bela. In the Adelaide Hills, Unico Zela features amazing Fiano, Nero d’Avola and an enchanting skin-contact white blend. And from McLaren Vale, ex-NYC sommelier Brad Hickey of Brash Higgins Wines crafts a heady, textural Zibbibo using grapes from Ricca Terra Farms vineyard. a bright future
Riverland is on the up and up and if you haven’t sampled its wines, now is the time. Perhaps its reputation has been unfairly tarnished as a source of lower-end, bulk wine offerings, but today the wines have never been better and there is an undercurrent of innovation, sustainable viticulture and experimentation that bodes very well for its future.
Wine
Meet Carissa Major and Marnie Roberts of Claymore Wines
Get to know the ladies behind Claymore Wines -General Manager Carissa Major and Winemaker, Marnie Roberts Carrisa, you say you “had the good fortune to fall into” the wine industry days after your 18 th birthday – what’s the story behind that good fortune?  As in real estate – location location location! I grew up at the southern end of the Clare Valley, had travelled throughout my 17 th year (thanks to the possibly misguided generosity of my parents) then landed back into the Clare Valley …a little bit jobless and without a sense of purpose. The idea of university for uni’s sake was less than appealing so my one year gap turned into two and through friends of the family I wound up with a position at Knappstein Wines Cellar Door. Tim was still on site then and I found the whole staff tastings both inspirational and intimidating but got enough out of them to want to learn more. Andrew Hardy had a similar approach to staff engagement so what started off as a spark became something a little more…so basically, I had the right door open at the right time. Got sucked in and found this amazing industry that brings people together while opening up the world. Given the quirky nature of the brand, do you have to bring out your inner quirks too? Well it’s not hard really…they are never too far from the surface! The best thing about the brand is that link to music informs so much of the fun every day and provides a motivating backdrop to the workplace. There is nothing better than an impromptu Friday afternoon singalong with customers as Meatloaf cranks out of the sound system (and yes that really did and does happen!)  Are you a Voodoo Child, or do you like a splash of Purple Rain, or do you hear London calling? (i.e. what’s your favourite Claymore wine and does your love of the wine match your fondness for its namesake?) Oh there are too many to choose from; from a wine perspective though I do have a soft spot for London Calling. It took a few years to win the boss over to Malbec – he’s more of a Merlot kind of guy – but it just shines in Clare and paired with cabernet it makes for such approachable drinking without compromising depth and intensity. One day I may be able to release that straight Malbec…not sure what label I’d choose though. Can you recall the first wine you tried? Easy one – we grew up farming on the outskirts of Auburn in the shadow of Taylors wines so it was their white wines that graced our family table for special occasions. From the age of about 12 I was allowed a half pour if their amazingly bone dry, fully worked Chardonnay which I would duly sip over the course of a meal. It was dry, acid and complex for my junior palate and I recall grimacing after the first taste but would never dare leave a drop…it was wayyyy too special! What do you think is special about your wine region? There is an easy intimacy to the Clare Valley that you don’t see in many other regions; intimate without being aloof or removed. From a wine perspective there is an underlying elegance to the wines we produce here – even those 15.8% brooding monsters carry an underpinning structure that balances that intensity. Any region that can pull off our delicately structured Rieslings that defy expectation with just how powerful they can be and at the same time produce complex, finely drawn cabernet and nuanced yet flavour busting shiraz has to be special. It’s a multi-faceted little dynamo that continues to surprise and delight..and the locals aren’t a bad lot either! Do you have a favourite holiday destination/memory? We spent many early years holidaying at Elliston on the West Coast in the family shack – total beachfront, tumble down tiny fibro thing that we’d have to drive seemingly endless distances to get to while listening to the Australia Open on the radio (?). Fishing off the beach and jetty, grandma’s garfish and squid for breakfast pan fried in truckloads of butter and playing tennis on asphalt courts then jumping into the ocean to cool off. Oh – nostalgia overload! Now I like to recreate that sense of simple pleasure and we still holiday in shacks (just closer to home on the Yorke Peninsula) and chase fish and squid from the jetty and beach while fossicking in rockpools, building sandcastles and eating hot chips. Except now I chase it all down with a Riesling or two – best ever with fresh shucked oysters! And Marnie, as Claymore Wines winemaker do you have to make the wines to match the songs? Or does lyrical inspiration come after the tasting? The link of wines and songs seems to naturally evolve. The base constant is always to create the best wine to start with and I suppose, yes, doesn’t everyone get inspired in some way when they are drinking wine?! Certain labels do make complete sense to me. Nirvana is a Reserve Shiraz and drinking it you hope to reach a state of Nirvana. Dark Side of the Moon is our Clare Shiraz and it has the elegance and dark seductive fruit layered over oak. Do you get to name any of the wines? We all have input and suggestions which can be quite amusing. I got Skinny Love across the line which came to me in the car while singing it at the top of my lungs….the Claymore version of 'Car Pool Karaoke'. Was it your dream of being a rock star that drew you to Claymore? The Rockstar dream is still my back up occupation if the winemaking thing falls through. So far, the music world is safe. I do love the idea of the music and wine. I think to make good wine you have to have an element of love for the arts and the creation of things. Wine and Music just make sense  - both are so evocative and amazing for setting a sense of  place and time. All those great moments, you know the BIG celebrations in life can usually be tracked back in the memory banks tied to a particular wine or song! What is your favourite wine to make? I don’t think I could pick a variety or a style as such. I love the process and the chance to follow it the whole way through. From the vineyard basics of pruning and harvesting to ferment to batching to oak to tank to bottle to mouth….it’s an amazing journey that I get to guide these babies through. When did you fall in love with wine? Growing up on a block in Mildura that went from citrus to dried fruit to winegrapes, I have always had an appreciation for the fruit. The love of wine was the next step. I remember the cask wine in my parents’ fridge in the 80s and then the big purchases of wine in a bottle. I remember one night, when I was around 19 or 20, going to a friend’s house who was studying to be a winemaker and he opened a 1994 Lindemans Pyrus. A wine from Coonawarra that is a Cabernet Sauvignon /Merlot and Malbec blend. IT WAS MASSIVE and I thought wow, I need to try more wines. It really blew my socks off as I hadn’t tried anything as big and succulent as that before. Can you cook? If so, what is your ‘signature dish’? I love to cook. With a toddler and husband that works away, time is limited but when I can, I love to invite friends around and cook. Homemade pasta with a trio of different sauce options is always a winner. The other is a stuffed squid. A recipe I have had for about 20 years and it never seems to fail. What do you do to relax away from the winery? I love to chill at home but my favourite getaways are anywhere near the water. I love the beach in winter and the river in summer. Anytime with my family is a bonus and I have great friends who are around for a catch up…which usually includes wine and food!
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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