• December 9, 2023

Australia’s Grape to Glass Field of Dreams: Clare Valley Gourmet Week

All images Credit Clare Valley Wines

Australia is undisputedly one of the top producers of New World wines. Since the late 19th century, immigrants from Europe brought their way of life and their love of food and wine to this island continent in the vastness of the world. In the highlands, two hours from Adelaide in South Australia, lies the Clare Valley. A piece of heaven on rolling hills and pastures that produce highly acclaimed wines with a cool climate. A festival of traditions and the love of food and wine takes place once a year during the Clare Valley Gourmet Week this is nothing less than a gourmet dream field.

We often think of America as the land of opportunity. Once upon a time there was a place where the streets were paved with gold. America wasn’t the only country to welcome immigrants, who then shaped the country, creating wonderful traditions and prosperity for the next generation. Australia has its own claim to the title of the land of opportunity immigrants poured into since the 19th century. Nowhere is this more evident than in their wine industry. Germans, English and Italians brought their winemaking traditions and pruning from their homeland with them. All over Australia, they found similar growing conditions in the soil, in the sun and in the salty sea breeze, and then they began to plant their grapes. The wines were mainly intended for local consumption until 1951, when Max Schubert, winemaker mastermind at Penfolds in Adelaide, created a Bordeaux-style Shiraz blend and took part in several international wine competitions. The critics agreed that this was indeed a world class wine and as they say the rest is history. From then on, winemaking in Australia received a new level of respect and admiration from oenophiles around the world.

Clare Valley is set in idyllic farmland and mountain ranges with several quaint towns and lots of friendly locals. The area couldn’t be more beautiful, with a mix of forests, paddocks and farms. This altitude means a cool climate and directly behind the mountain ranges, sea breezes bring their moist salty air with them, which gives the wines produced a special freshness.

This is the land of wines with a cool climate and especially Riesling, followed by Chardonnay, Shiraz and Grenache. When it comes to Riesling wines, forget the sweet and sometimes syrupy wines that you know from Germany. These wines are crisp and dry with notes of stone fruit and citrus and pair well with seafood, pork and Asian dishes. And Clare Valley is ground zero for Australia’s Riesling wines, with over 50 winemakers strolling along endless vineyards and a winding country road known as the Riesling Trail, where wine lovers are welcome for tastings in their cellar doors.

Clare Valley Gourmet Week celebrates the Clare Valley wine tradition. It honors generations of winemakers while revealing the wonderful wine and gourmet experiences of today. During the 10-day celebration, 26 wineries host 40 events ranging from long table dinners, fun lawn parties, private dinners and immersive wine experiences.

O’Leary Walkers

Photo credit: Elliot Thompson

O’Leary Walkers is one of the most prestigious Clare Valley wineries and the cellar doors are of course known for their Riesling. O’Leary is best known for its Polish River Resiling and Pinot Noir, which is grown in the nearby Adelaide Hills. Visiting her cellar door is like taking a ride into the clouds, high up on the mountain range overlooking the hills and valleys carved into a patchwork of farms, forests and vineyards.

Photo credit: Elliot Thompson

Their basement door and winery made the perfect location for several of the festival’s most popular events, including lawn parties where guests mingled and moved to the live music while they enjoyed their selection of wines and some tasty culinary delights. The day also hosted an exclusive group of guests who were treated to a bottomless bubbly brunch to a gourmet meal and a bottomless glass of their Hurtle sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wine.


Kilicanoon is one of Australia’s highly regarded winemakers producing several internationally acclaimed wineries, with its GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro) being its most prestigious wine. Of course, making wine is not an easy task. It is part of science, art, luck and magic to make the wines perfect in terms of color, smell and, above all, taste.

Kilikanoon hosted an event for wine lovers where guests could mix their own wine. Armed with a mug, a wine pipette and a supply of basic wine, the guests tried several combinations of freshly harvested wines. Under the guidance of their experienced winemaker, the budding winemakers created their ideal brew for the six labeled and ready-to-ship bottles of wines that were ready for storage.

Pike wines

Pikes is another wonderful story from generations of migrant winemakers. However, this had a different twist. The Pikes emigrated to Clare Valley in the early 20th century and started out as beer producers. This business finally didn’t make it and a generation later one of the descendants found his way into the wine business. Thanks to talent and hard work, he has worked his way up to head winemaker for Australia’s most prestigious wine, Penfolds, which is sure to be no easy task.

Andrew Pike and his brother Neil later founded their own wine company, which grew not only in size but also in international recognition and became one of Australia’s most prestigious wines. Fast forward a generation and now the next generation will take the reins and produce exceptional wines on their 250 hectare estate. In addition to Riesling, Pikes produces highly praised Shiraz and Cabernet as well as 20 other grape varieties. Their most notable wines are the EWP Reserve Shiraz, the ‘Hill Block’ Reserve Cabernet and the most popular ‘Traditionale’ Riesling.

Along with their world-class cellar gate and Slate restaurant, Pikes expanded and started making beer as their ancestors did with Pikes Beer, which has once again become a popular local beer. Pikes Wines is hosting an extraordinary lawn party during Clare Valley Gourmet Week with great live music, the scents of grilled meat, fresh oysters, beer and of course their delicious wines.

Riley’s winery

Not all Clare Valleys winemaking stories began in the nineteenth century or even generations ago. Riley’s wines come from winemakers Julie & Justin Ardill, former pharmacists who traded in their prescriptions only to start making wine 30 years ago. Their winery and restaurant are in the listed hamlet of Mintaro, a quaint and quaint town with little more than a pub, a few churches, a general store, and a number of lovely residences.

The cellar door of Rileys is in the carefully restored cobbler’s house from 1856. The picture book house, built with rustic stone walls and thick wooden beams, could not have been a more suitable place for an intimate five-course tasting menu that perfectly suits your property. grown wines. The boutique winery is best known for its RCV Ultra Premium and Limited Release wines, which are made from hand-picked fruits from their dry-grown Clare Valley vineyards. Most notable are their “Epitaph” Shiraz, “Stoneflower” Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, “The Dancer” Cabernet Sauvignon and their “Pressings” Shiraz.

Jim Barry

One of the Clare Valley’s most respected wines is Jim Barry. Just two generations ago, Jim Barry, a pioneer in the Australian wine industry, came to Clare Valley in 1959 and has been producing award-winning wines ever since. Their fruits are grown on their 800 acre estate in the Clare Valley and other vineyards in Coonawarra to the south. The winery produces many prestigious wines, the most distinguished of which is Armagh Shiraz with a storage potential of 30 years. The Florita is the other popular Riesling wine that is made from hand-picked grapes on small plots and is also made for the winery.

Peter Barry from Jim Barry Wines

During Clare Valley Gourmet Week, Jim Barry Wines hosted an exclusive group of guests to celebrate food, wine, friendship and time with the Barry family to learn more about their way of life and, of course, their wines. The wine cutting lunch took place at their iconic Armagh Vineyard, overlooking the landscapes where their most famous fruits are grown.

At a tin farm overlooking the vines, a group of 24 guests came for a day exploring wine, enjoying good food, and meeting new friends. Wine in hand, the day began with guests hearing from General Manager and Patriarch Peter Barry as he told stories of growing up in his father’s coat stories as he built the wine business, harvest after harvest, harvest after harvest and vintage for Vintage to become one of Australia’s leading wine brands as it is today.

For the day, Barry’s recruited the culinary talents of celebrity chef Jake Kellie, whose pedigree includes work in the world’s most prestigious kitchens, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in London. Today, Chef Kelly is known for his unique style of cooking over an open wood flame. The gastronomic imagination and long lunch were hearty from the start, with delicious dishes like the legendary grilled lobster with salmon roe. The gasps, followed by oohs and ahhs from the guests, didn’t seem to wear off until they stopped to swirl, smell, and sip perfectly paired Jim Barry wines.

Clare Valley is a place for wine lovers. Tradition, beautiful landscapes and generations of winemakers have created a special place where wine lovers can immerse themselves in all the wine wonders that this decadent valley has to offer. The Clare Valley Gourmet Week is the ideal time to visit and enjoy all the epicurean wonders of this region.

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