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Winery cycling in South Australia Part II

Winery cycling in South Australia Part II

This is the continuation of Winery cycling in South Australia Part I


McLaren Vale (2 days, 92km)

 
We decided to be a bit more ambitious and ride all the way from central Adelaide – it didn’t look too bad on the map. Boy, was this a good idea. The cycling network in Adelaide is first rate (by Australian standards anyway) with our route to the south west being on quiet streets with lots of separated bike paths closely following the railway line.  After about 20km we reached Marino and the start of the excellent Coast to Vines Rail Trail.
 
The path is beautiful paved all the way to Willunga and there aren’t too many roads to cross – however it is definitely undulating rather than flat! It follows the railway to Hallett Cove but then diverts eastwards, later re-joining it near the end of the line, at Seaford. So an easy way to get to McLaren Vale is to get the train down and start from there.
 
The McLaren Vale township was only 10km further along the Rail Trail. Our first stop was just before that at Shingleback Wines in another pretty garden with glorious weather. Riding on we actually passed the accommodation for the night but decided not to drop our bags to allow more time at the next winery! Maxwell Wines wasn’t too far and again in a great setting. Apart from some tasty wines there was another treat,  we enjoyed a bottle of mead (a fermented honey drink) served warm.
 
The next day we rode to the end of the Coast to Vines trail at Willunga where we enjoyed morning tea. The return journey was on the same path and we had out only wine stop for the day at Hugh Hamilton Wines, another great setting – these places usually being on hilltops (not steep) with sweeping views.
 
As we were tight on time, meeting more friends in Adelaide later for the next stage of the trip,  we skipped the nearby famous nudist Maslin Beach. The weather wasn’t so good anyway so we rode up to Seaford and caught the train back into the city. By the time we reached the Convention Centre to meet our friends and the pre-arranged bus north, it was actually raining a bit.

Cycling in Lyndoch, South Australia


Clare Valley (2 days, 102km)

 
Having been shuttled for almost two hours north to Auburn, our ride started there at the bottom of the Clare Valley. We were now twelve riders and were on a Tour de Vines self-guided bike tour for the two days. One of the advantages was that our luggage was transported so the bikes were much lighter.
 
Auburn was the start of the Riesling Trail which is a 33km separated bike path – it had a good surface but was not paved, although there were sharp thorns which caused more than one puncture in the group.
 
Another advantage of the organised tour was that stops were recommended and some even pre-booked. Our first winery was Kilkanoon a short diversion from the trail. The wines and service were great especially as they had to make the best of a local power outage – very unfortunate given today was the state election! However it was also St Patrick’s Day so everyone was in good spirits (that’s a rule, right?).
 
We fitted in another small winery on the way to lunch, Mitchell Wines. They were very friendly and were still able to serve the wine chilled (we preferred to drink white while riding, and take the red for later!). Lunch was booked at Skillogalee only a short ride away. They had a generator and were able to keep the winery operating almost as normal (well to us anyway). It was a great spread, amply supplemented by more wine (the tour included the food only) and enjoyed at leisure.
 
A little further on, just before re-joining the Riesling Trail we had a coffee stop at the popular ‘The Little Red Grape’. After another 6 or 7km along the trail we reached our accommodations at Clare. However some decided to do a bit more riding and rode another 8km to the official end of the trail at Barinia – we like to be thorough!
 
The next day we headed south, back along the trail with the first visit at the justifiably famous Sevenhill Cellars. It is the oldest winery in the Clare Valley and only remaining Jesuit-owned one in Australia - the day being Sunday there was a mass on the lawn outside while we were quaffing our wine. They also have an interesting little museum on the history of the winery.
 
Our next stop was another recommendation, Crabtree Wines at Watervale. A beautiful winery and welcoming courtyard made it very enjoyable – plus the fact that the grapes are all carefully picked by hand, rather than the vines being swallowed by one of the huge harvesters we saw elsewhere (this being the wine picking time of year). However it was Rebecca’s attention and service that made Crabtree such a great experience.
 
Two down, one to go. Our final winery of the trip was O’Leary Walker which was right on the trail (although without easy access on this side). A platter lunch had been organised and was tasty if a bit light-on for a group of hungry cyclists. One of the larger Clare Valley wineries, I had noticed O’Leary Walker’s gleaming vats and buildings on the ride up yesterday and knew we weren’t far from Auburn and the end of the wine region.
 
However there had been requests for additional cycling so we scheduled the tour to finish at Riverton, 19km south along the Rattler Trail. This trail had a similar surface though was much more open with little tree cover and little to see to compare with the wine trails. Due to the strong headwind we were happy to get to Riverton, retrieve our luggage and get our shuttle back to Adelaide.


Much of this trip, or part thereof, is available as an organised bike tour or tours. Check out cycletoursglobal.com/South-Australia for tours in this region and elsewhere in South Australia.

Cycling in the Adelaide Hills
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By: Bruce Robertson

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