McLaren Vale Wine Region – A Brief History

McLaren Vale Wine Region

Indigenous Australians lived and travelled through what is today known as the McLaren Vale wine region many thousands of years ago.  In the very early 1800’s, Matthew Flinders commenced a journey to chart Australia’s south coast. However it wasn’t until 1839 the area was surveyed by David McLaren, who had the wherewithal to name the region after himself, as was custom at that time.

Indigenous People in perform in McLaren Vale wine region

John Reynell established what is thought to be the first vineyard in the McLaren Vale wine region, with a vine planted in 1838, again named after his good self ‘Reynella’ vineyard. It wasn’t long before a rapid increase in vineyards in the region occurred, with a selection of prominent wineries being established, including a vineyard by Rawson Penfold, and Thomas Hardy in 1853. It was Hardy who made wine history in Australia exporting our first wine to England in 1857.

McLaren Vale wine region historic photo

By 1911 there were 123 acres of vineyards in the region, with over 230,000 litres of wine produced by the Kay Brothers. Kay’s is the oldest McLaren Vale winery still in founding family hands with third generation Colin Kay continuing the family tradition today.

The 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s was a busy period of vineyard creation and redevelopment of old wineries.  This period firmly planted McLaren Vale as a wine-producing region of note. Francis D’Arry Osborn of d’Arrenberg’s was awarded the Queens Medal of the Order of Australia for his work in the Australian wine industry, a further confirmation of the quality and importance of the region.

McLAren Vale wine region historic house

The McLaren Vale wine region is today regarded as one of Australia’s premier wine regions.  With over 88 cellar doors, with the majority being small family-run operations, McLaren Vale has become a welcoming and important tourist destination for South Australia.  So much so that in February 2011, the South Australian Premier Mike Rann announced that special legislation would be introduced to protect the unique heritage of McLaren Vale, saying “We must never allow…McLaren Vale to become suburbs of Adelaide.”  Legislation was passed by the South Australian Parliament in 2012 and came into force in January 2013.