It’s a coolish morning, very little breeze, and slightly overcast, very typical of an April day in the Clare Valley. And whilst I love the sunshine as much as anyone, it really is a perfect day for cycling the Riesling Trail.
I meet my riding buddy in Auburn, about 130km north of Adelaide (a very easy 1 1/2 hr drive that morning), and the starting point for our exploration of the Clare Valley. It’s a quaint town, with a pub, some great accommodation (B&Bs) and gourmet experiences including relative newcomer Restaurant Terroir.
We are very quickly on the Riesling Trail itself, a smooth, compacted, fine gravel surface that runs safely alongside the Horrocks Hwy. And it’s easy, being pretty much flat with gentle gradients here and there. But more importantly, rows and rows of vineyards surround us, and sign posts almost immediately directing us to cellar doors close by. Tempting, but we stay strong, having planned our first stop at the historical SevenHill Cellars.
Less than 20 kms from our start, we reach the area of Sevenhill, with a sign on the Riesling Trail pointing us up a dirt track and through a squeeky farm gate. This is a stunning winery and with a history to match. In 1848, two Austrian Jesuit priests found fertile ground, perfect for growing grapes for making wine. The wine produced was of such good quality that the original purpose of producing sacramental wine was soon scrapped. The oldest winery in one of the world’s most award-winning wine regions was born. It is a must see on the Riesling Trail, and to be honest, the altar wines are worth a taste too.
We push on, but it’s not far to the next cellar door. We’ve decided we’d like to discover some lesser known local wine producers, and so head for the Little Red Grape, a bakery, cellar door and homewares shop that’s the perfect stop pre lunch. After a quick bakery quiche to line the stomach, we head for the tasting room. Stocking dozens of local producers labels that don’t have their own cellar doors, the quality of the wines on offer is very good. It’s a brilliant idea, a win for the producers and great for us, having tasted 3 different local producers in a single visit!
Lunch is calling, and the award winning O’Leary Walker winery isn’t far away. Gourmet Traveller Wine awarded O’Leary’s the Star Cellar Door award in it’s recent Australia’s Best Cellar doors. Based in Leasingham and offering stunning views over the Watervale valley, it’s situated right on the Riesling Trail and is the perfect place to rest the legs. A shared gourmet platter and a glass of shiraz and it’s hard to imagine getting back on the bike.
But it’s not far back to Auburn from O’Leary Walkers, so we ride on and literally roll back to our start point along the Riesling Trail. We’ve cycled around 40kms, at a very gentle and easy pace, sampled six Clare Valley wines, experienced two amazing cellar doors and feasted on a bakery quiche and gourmet platter.
Can’t wait for day 2…
O’Leary Walker Winery, SevenHill and Little Red Grape are all in included in Tour de Vines Tour de Clare Valley.