Top ten things to do during Spring in the Clare Valley
The Clare Valley is gorgeous in Spring, canola fields dotting the roads, the seasons first buds on the vines and of course the fresh new vintage rieslings!
1 - Take advantage of the long sunny days with a scenic walk
There are so many walks in the Clare Valley, and with the days getting longer and warmer, spring is the perfect time to put on your hiking boots and set off. Experienced hikers will be aware of the 1200km Heysen Trail starting in Cape Jervis all the way to Parachilna, passing through Burra in the Clare Valley. Take note of the Mount Bryan summit, the views from here are breathtaking!
If your legs are not quite up to that long a stretch, the Lavender Federation Trail stretches 325km from Murray Bridge to Clare, or you could try one of the six Clare Valley Short Walks, many of which take in some sections from the Lavender Federation Trail such as the Watervale to Mount Horrocks section, which again has the most spectacular views from the lookout.
Of course, if you haven’t already, hire a bike or stretch your legs on the Riesling Trail passing through the Clare Valley Wine Region or the Rattler Trail running between Auburn and Riverton taking in some of the agricultural lands, and if you time it right, the canola might be blooming…
2 - To market, to market
Fill your picnic basket with fresh produce at the Clare Show Market, held on the second Saturday of each month at the Clare Town Hall. As well as food, you’ll find homewares, plants, jewellery, plus an array of other creations and of course great coffee.
If wine, cocktails, brandy hot chocolates (say no more) and gourmet artisans are more your style then do yourself a favour and do not miss The Village Market, held on the first Saturday of each month at Ennis Park, adjacent to the Clare Town Hall. An outdoor market with a boutique offering of both local creatives and those further afield, live music, kids’ area and a different caterer each month.
On the long weekend of October, enjoy the Manoora Hall Market and Tarlee Market with trash and treasure and local makers spread throughout the hall, carpark and oval there’s sure to be a hidden treasure for everyone, however, if you just go for the Lions Hot Cinnamon Doughnuts, we won’t judge.
The Saddleworth Country Market is one of the largest markets in regional South Australia, sometimes getting over 180 different stalls! Held on the first Sunday of each month, it’s worth detouring your route back home after a weekend in the Clare Valley or on your way north, or makes an easy day trip, just 45 minutes from Gawler.
Join in the fun of the Clare Valley Twilight Market held at the end of November, an extended Friday Night Drinks event featuring an outdoor wine bar, food and live music. Your Christmas shopping should be a breeze in the relaxed outdoor setting with heaps of local creatives getting involved. There’ll even be more of those yummy hot cinnamon doughnuts, count us in.
3 - Taste the regions fresh new release Rieslings
The Clare Valleys Mediterranean climate of hot summers and chilly winters along with its surprising elevation of 608 at the highest peak and ancient sedimentary soils, creates exceptional growing conditions for the grapes that produce the quality wine Clare is renowned for world-wide.
Experience all that the region has to offer by starting your wine tasting adventure at Pikes Wines, winner of the 2022 Inaugural Halliday Wine Companion People's Choice Award for Best Winery Experience. Not only is the wine outstanding (hear, hear voters!), there’s also an onsite brewery and it’s home to their exciting new restaurant, Slate, (expect to see quail, locally sourced lamb necks and beef short rib braised in their own stout on their menu, bookings a must!) with loads of lawn area for the kids to run wild, it has all the bases covered.
A hop step and jump up the road is Jeaschkes Hill River Clare Estate. Set up camp on the cellar door deck overlooking the (fenced) duck laden dam, full after the soaking winter rains this year. The kids will be nearby playing in the sandpit, kicking the footy on the lawns or playing giant jenga under the ancient gums. It’s hard to leave.
Crabtree Wines in Watervale is a favourite for all, with access just off from the Riesling Trail (it’s the halfway point between Clare and Auburn) and if you're on bike, by the time you arrive you’ll deserve to drop in for a well-earned tipple. All their wines are small batch and handcrafted. Individual vineyards are on show, let their knowledgeable cellar door staff guide you through the wines and where they come from in the Valley. Luckily for them, they’re practically next door to the highly acclaimed Watervale Hotel featuring garden to plate dining options, have lunch in the jail cooked on the fires of hell (yep we're not joking), plus they’re also home to some of the regions Cellars Without Doors giving you an opportunity to try the wines that don’t have a cellar door. You’ll be amazed by what you come across, featuring Woodvale, Mocandunda, Goose Trumpet, Vickery, Koerner, Mr Hyde and Some Young Punks by the glass, you might even find a bottle or two of Wendouree Wine...
Head south to the quaint township of Auburn and to Wines by KT, Australia’s very own ‘Riesling Queen’ as recognised by Australian Wine, Kerri knows her stuff and has the awards to prove it. Whilst you’re trying her super cool wines, why not ask about her gin? We’re just going to leave that there…
4 - Head to an open Garden, or two...
Spring is the perfect time of year to visit a garden or two, or how about 15 as part of the Goyder Gardens event on October 16 and 17? A weekend of blooms and get hands-on with workshops including pottery, weaving, vertical gardens, insect hotels, botanical planting, kids cooking and talks on the ecological balance of native fauna. Perhaps some time to explore the history of the region with the Burra Heritage Passport or enjoy a coffee (keep reading to find out where) whilst you’re out? Plan a visit to The Heritage Garden on November 7 as they launch their new book and open the garden to the public. Enjoy a picnic on the grass surrounded by the colours of Springtime.
5 - Explore the wildflowers at our conservations park.
If you haven’t had enough of wandering amongst the delights of Spring, we recommend a scenic drive out to Spring Gully Conservation Park, maybe popping into a winery or two on your way to collect goodies (think wine and a cheese platter) for a picnic when you get there, the views from the lookout are just spectacular particularly at dusk and dawn. If you’re feeling energetic there’s the Cascades Short Walk or the longer Wymans Hike loop to enjoy. Keeping with the gorgeous views, just down the road is Neagles Rock Lookout which encompasses a short 1km loop walk from the car park up to the lookout. You'll need your camera for this walk. Or head on out a bit further to Red Banks Conservation Park where the landscape is blooming.
6 - Let a local drive for the day
Trust us, they know all the best spots. Test your knowledge and your humour with local ‘Mr Wilson’ of Clare Valley Tours who will take you on all the backgrounds and devote the day completely to your interests. History? No worries. Wine? Too easy! A combination of both with a delicious long lunch to compliment? His speciality. Dave can cater for groups of 2 to 45+ for a truly personalised and special day out. If you’re feeling like you need to stretch those legs a bit, Clare Valley Experiences offers half-day cycling, half-day chauffeured tours which sounds right up our alley. Get dropped off to collect your bike and cycle to Sevenhill, stopping at Tim Adams Wines, Shut the Gate Wines, Good Catholic Girl Wines and Sevenhill Cellars (if you can fit them all in) on the way. Any purchases made will be collected by your host, David right behind you, then you’ll be driven to your lunch location, depending on if you want a picnic or platter style, for a decadent experience, and perhaps another wine tasting. Clare Valley Wine Tours also offers tours with a difference. Want to combine your tastings with a bushwalk or a picnic lunch on the lawns of Sevenhill Cellars? That’s no trouble. And if you think that sounds good, just wait until he launches his walking tours! If you’re after a bit of luxury, the name speaks for itself. Clare Valley Luxury Tours will have you wining and dining in style as you’re chauffeured around in a Chrysler SRT.
All our drivers include pick-up and drop off from your local accommodation, so no need to worry about driving all day, and if you want a restaurant transfer for dinner (if you can fit any more food in that day), just ask! Clare Valley Tours and Clare Valley Wine Tours can assist, or call Clare Valley Taxis.
7 - Enjoy a long lunch under the sun
Vineyard views, or even in the vineyard, there are some spectacular venues for a long lunch in the Clare Valley. Skillogalee Winery and Restaurant is a classic Clare Valley icon with a restaurant spreading out right next to the vineyard and under the olive tree. Hours can be spent here with the sun on your skin and a glass of wine in hand. Speaking of vineyard views, have you been to Slate Restaurant at Pikes? The modern design of the building is matched perfectly with their Modern Australian menu featuring simple, yet delicious dishes, and of course their award-winning wines. And for those after something lighter, try the beer garden. Or how about dining in a vineyard? Eldredge’s Annual Vineyard Long Lunch is back again for 2021 on October 30. The long table degustation is catered by none other than Sprout Catering with Chef Callum Hann (remember him from MasterChef?). And for views of the countryside, we recommend checking out Pauletts' Bush Devine Cafe, with their philosophy of ‘great wine deserves great food’. Their Head Chef loves to work with native ingredients, mostly hand-picked from their very own Bush Devine Garden or by local producers. If you're not up for a full lunch, try their Wine and Canape flights, where you choose your favourites from a selection of 14 to make up 5 wines matched with 5 canapes, delicious.
8 - Follow the ‘Yellow Canola Road’
We’re so lucky in the Clare Valley, every Spring the countryside turns into a patchwork of green and gold. That golden yellow sight is truly spectacular, really brightens your day plus it makes for a stunning capture on your Instagram feed! Just remember, these fields are private property so please don’t enter them and admire from behind the fence. Want to know where the best places are to view this golden delight? Check out our Guide to Clare Valley Canola Hotspots, they look their best until around the end of September.
9 - Start the day with a hearty country breakfast
You can’t start the day without breakfast, or a good coffee for that matter, so make sure you fuel up before heading out on your adventures around the Clare Valley. The Watervale General Store is a quaint setting with vintage wares and the most delicious selection of cakes and slices. Chef Lou Haines cooks up a storm with classics like bacon and egg rolls and ham and cheese croissants to Brekky Tacos and Fried Corn Cakes, both excellent choices, trust us. If you’re too excited to wait to explore, combine your breakfast with a round of mini-golf at Simpson Rices Creek. All your breakfast favourites and an excellent coffee to start your morning, then step straight outside to enjoy an 18-hole course under the shade of gums, sounds like a perfect morning adventure. If you’re just after something light then you can not go past Velvet and Willow’s Pantry and Garden for classics like an almond croissant (yum!) or ham and cheese toasties done to perfection. The enclosed garden and lawn area provide a relaxing way to start the morning. From here, you can pop across the road to visit Wines by KT (remember her from earlier) for a tasting. If you’re in Burra, check out St Just Café for a caffeine hit and gourmet breakfast in a country café that shares its space with a homewares store a spot of shopping after your meal.
10 - Head to one of the major events in Spring.
Sevenhill Cellars is turning 170 years old this year, now that's an occasion to celebrate. Whether you prefer long lunching, relaxing on the lawn with your family eating and drinking or want to kick off your weekend at the launch, there's an event for everyone to enjoy and celebrate this historic occasion, they'll only turn 170 years old once so don't miss out.
Enjoy award-winning entertainment, glamour, fashion, food & wine and an exciting new event, Polo in the Vines! A range of hospitality packages from General Admission to a VIP Marquee, come along to this thrilling new event in this years calendar, plus don't miss out on the afterparty, on October 9th.
The Spring Equinox and the seasons first bud bursts are the driving factors of the Clare Valley Festival of the Lamb, oh and the lamb of course. An array of our finest restaurants and hotels are getting involved offering degustation dinners, cooking classes and an exsquisite line-up of lamb focused specials between the 22nd and 28th of September.
And let's not forget the classic country Shows! Both the Clare Show and Eudunda Show annual have been confirmed for 20201, Showbags, rides, craft and cooking competitions, plus all your favourite show food can be found at these popular events.