The June long weekend will be very different in McLaren Vale this year.
The region’s annual Sea & Vines Festival, which usually takes place at this time, was permanently retired last year due to the unruly behaviour of some patrons tarnishing the image of the popular and longstanding event.
But with the gradual easing of restrictions on licensed venues, including wineries, this weekend is a perfect opportunity to get back into one of South Australia’s best wine regions and enjoy its offerings in a more intimate way.
Current restrictions require that alcohol be served only to seated guests – which can be a good thing in the context of a cellar-door tasting, says Jennifer Lynch, general manager of the McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association.
“Just showing up to a cellar door is not going to be as easy as it used to be, but it means guests can expect a more unique experience from our producers,” Lynch says.
“There is a new wave of experiences being offered in a much more sophisticated sense. It does require a bit of an adjustment in consumer behaviour, but if COVID’s shown us anything, it’s that we’re all quite adaptable.”
Several wineries have opened their restaurants for dining, while others are offering wine tastings without food service. The Forager has listed a few of our favourites below.
Visitors should phone ahead to book and find out what restrictions apply to each venue. Accommodation providers are also open for business, so if you’re feeling lux call ahead and see about booking a room for the weekend.
Alpha Box & Dice
Open for premium seated tastings, weekends only, 10am to 6pm. Bookings essential.
Offering two-hour sittings for up to 20 guests for a tasting, cheese plate or pizza lunch. Open seven days, from 10am to 5pm. Bookings essential.
Coriole’s restaurant is open from noon, Friday to Sunday. The cellar door is open for seated tastings seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, and from 11am on public holidays. Bookings essential.
From Thursday, June 4, d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant will reopen for lunch Thursday to Sunday each week, as well as on the public holiday, offering a two or three-course fixed-price menu. Two sessions will be offered daily, 12pm to 2pm, and 2.30pm to 4.30pm. Bookings essential. The d’Arenberg Cube will be open for tastings, with the Salvador Dali exhibition and Alternate Realities Museum also open.
Fox Creek Wines
Open from June 5 for pre-booked seated tastings, Friday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.
Hugh Hamilton Wines
Seated one-hour tastings; bookings essential. Wine is pre-poured before customers are seated.
Open for pre-booked personalised wine tastings, platters, and pizzas, Saturday to Monday, 11am to 5pm.
Open for pre-booked seated tastings and wine flights seven days, 11am to 4pm.
Open seven days for pre-booked restaurant dining, wine tastings, plus winery and vineyard tours. Maxwell Wines is now taking bookings for additional experiences including Lime Cave dinners and weddings.
Open for pre-booked seated wine tastings, Thursday to Monday, 11am to 4pm.
Open for pre-booked dining, Friday and Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch, with takeaway available within these hours.
Serafino Pop Up Restaurant
Serafino is open week days for seated tasting flights, with its pop-up cellar-door restaurant opening for dinner on Friday, June 5, with lunch and dinner sessions on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7. Bookings essential.
Open for pre-booked seated wine tastings from Friday to Monday, 11am to 4pm.
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