Bordering St.Vincent's Gulf, 40 kms south of Adelaide, McLaren Vale has earned an enviable reputation for highly acclaimed wine and is home to some of the premium winemakers in Australia. A proud and esteemed winemaking history is fostered in McLaren Vale, where the first vines were planted in 1838.
The McLaren Vale wine region is roughly triangular in shape and bordered on its three sides by the suburbs of Adelaide to the north, the Mt Lofty Ranges to the east and south, and Gulf St Vincent to the west. The last two factors play a very important role in moderating the climate of McLaren Vale and are largely responsible for many of the meso and micro climatic differences experienced within the region.
Elevation in the region peaks at about 350 metres along the Sellicks foothills and Chandlers Hill, but the majority of vineyards are located on gently undulating to flat land between 50m and 150m. The climate is Mediterranean and characterised by warm summers, moderate winters, winter-dominated rainfall, low relative humidity and relatively high evaporation.
Wind is a significant factor within the McLaren Vale region. There are two distinct and completely separate wind sources within the region: gully winds which blow east-west down through the foothills, and sea breezes blowing south-north up through Gulf St Vincent. Significant local differences are experienced within close proximity to each other throughout the region.
Site selection and the marriage of site to variety are all important; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all do very well in the appropriate location.
The climatic diversity of the McLaren Vale has helped producers successfully embrace Spanish and Italian varieties such as Barbera, Fiano, Tempranillo, and Mouvedre and explore re-emerging varieties like Viognier, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Nero d’Avolo and Verdelho.
Taken from McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism. For more information regarding McLaren Vale's unique terroir head here.