Last year as you are aware i was lucky enough to partake in the Mentor Me journey… I knew that we would see some amazing places, eat incredible food and drink exceptional wine, after all we were in South Australia… so I was extremely lucky to visit Clare Valley.
The great team at 1834 Hotels kindly offered Hugh McCullough another Mentor Me winner and myself a weekend famil in Clare Valley staying at Clare Country Club… and we could not turn down a weekend in one of the countries finest wine regions.
We had been to the Barossa valley a few weeks before, so I was eager to see what the Clare was like… and I have to say… It took my breathe away! The scenic drive down to Clare was full of clear plains, beautiful valleys and spectacular pastures, it felt like we were exploring and discovering an unfrequented world, I loved the air.
We had very kindly been given an itinery by Bianca and it looked fantastic. As we were driving up White Hut Road we saw a beautiful lake and some gorgeous Villas lining it, it was here that we both stated how amazing that looked and that we hoped we would get a similar view at the Country Club… GUESS WHAT… That was the country club! A little grin came over my face and I was ready to start my amazing weekend… wine, food and an 18 hole golf course.
We were greeted by the lovely Neil and Greg on reception who sent us straight on the Riesling trail with bikes they had prepared for us… heading out on the bikes we passed incredible landscapes spanning miles and miles, farms, vineyards and natural bushland. We biked on to Greg Cooley Wines and caught the end of the footy final… settled with an incredible Riesling we discussed our first thoughts of the valley.
Later that night we headed back to our apartment/villa and relaxed outside with a bottle we had just bought… well it had to happen really… looking out over the lake was a perfect setting for the end of the day. We couldn’t ask for more when we began to get peckish the food options were incredible a BBQ Pack to self cook on the balcony and the Conners restaurant with regional inspired food we were certainly spoilt for choice. Hugh put on the BBQ and we enjoyed the delicious food that had been provided by Clare Country Club… a great steak, local patties and incredible Roo sausages.
I mentioned that view of the lake and I will mention it again… because waking up to that was immense… it was what you imagine in a Wine Valley like no other.
We set out that morning after a hearty breakfast… again with a great view and set off to some local cellar doors to try more of this renowned Riesling, award winning reds and boutique winemakers. With Hugh being the wine buff he is we had some of his suggestions and some from Clare Country Club… we started bright and early at Jim Barry wines where we were met by third generation Sam Barry. The late Jim Barry was a pioneer of the Australian wine industry. He was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley of South Australia and with his wife, Nancy, built a successful wine business which has produced trophy-winning wines since its establishment in 1959. Today, the company is headed by Jim’s second son Peter, who took over from his father as MD. The family essence is still strong within the business and you could sense Sam’s passion as he went through each wine.
Our next stop was Mad Bastards… we had tried a bottle of this is Kangaroo Island so I was excited to find out more. I was amazed at what had been achieved with a one man band… and I loved his wicked sense of humour.
A must on Hugh’s list was Tim Adams Wines so we popped in there and had a taster with Hugh taking a bottle home.
Sticking with our Barry family morning we headed out to Watervale – The home of Riesling as Hugh told me and went up a track to the beautiful setting of Clos Clare. As we pulled up to the incredible house, which is straight out of Italy, we were greeted by the ever welcoming Sam Barry once again. It was here that Hugh met a wine icon Peter Barry… I think he will still be smiling now! Enjoying the glorious sunshine with a glass of champagne in front of a beautiful house is totally up my street.
As recommended by Bianca we headed to Stone Bridge Wines… here we met the legendary Craig Thompson… if you are in Clare make a point to stop in for a wood oven pizza and some amazing wine. Craig has some pretty incredible stories to tell!
For our last stop we checked out the most picturesque vineyard in the heart of the valley, family-owned and operated winery Skillogalee. It was here that I found my favourite Riesling and I found a little piece of heaven in the garden. Speaking to Nicola Palmer about the business created by her incredible parents was so engaging and warming… stop by here for some great food also at the vibrant, busy and cosy restaurant, where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon sampling some of the Clare Valleys best food. All the dishes have wine suggestions matched to them on the menu. So while we are preparing your entree head into the cellar door for a tasting.
To find out more about Food Heroes in Clare check this out