Wheels & Wine: Cycling Adelaide's McLaren Vale
“It would be a crime for you not to ride down this hill!”
That's Ian, our guide, as we stood atop Willunga Hill looking out to the Southern Ocean.
This spot marks the boundary between the Adelaide Hills and the McLaren Vale. Having spent forty-five minutes biking around the forest below, we had made it to this awesome viewpoint, with superb vistas over the vineyards.
We jumped back onto our mountain bikes and rode the awesome, winding road down to the bottom of the hill. Screaming around hairpin bends has got to be the best way to enter one of the world’s best wine regions, right?
We were led by Ian, a friendly and informative guide originally from the UK.
He's been in Adelaide for over a decade and started Escapegoat to share South Australia's incredible landscapes with travellers and holiday-makers. He gave us a good introduction to our bikes in the Kuitpo Forest, cycling between white-trunked gum trees and past kangaroos in the bush, before trundling along a dirt track to Kangarilla Road: our first winery of the day.
Co-owner, Helen, welcomed us in our cycling gear and explained how Kangarilla make their wines. We tasted samples of the entire Kangarilla Road range, their rosé being a particular favourite. Having purchased a few bottles, we hopped back on the bikes to ride to Angove, our lunch stop.
The smorgasbord of local produce served on sharing platters was exquisite. Cured meats, pickles, chutneys and cheeses all went down very well with wine made from vines just metres away from where we sat.
Over lunch, Ian taught us more about this part of the world and why he decided to move here from the UK.
“When I get to sit in the sunshine, eat great food and bike around for a living…”
He needn't have said any more, as we sat in the sunshine at Angove!
Ian gave us a few different options for our next stop - keep on wining, check out a local brewery, or head to the beach.
We appreciated being able to decide how to spend the rest of the day, and our group of unanimously decided that a refreshing beer would be a great way to spend the afternoon! After a short ride, we arrived at Goodieson Brewery thirsty and ready for some good local brew.
Goodieson’s tasting paddles let you sample all the beers that they make in the brewing tanks behind the bar. They’ve some interesting seasonal beers but nothing could beat their pilsner in the near 40-degree heat!
Following our light refreshment, we still had time left before we needed to drive back to Adelaide. The beach was calling.
Silver Sands sits between the Southern Ocean and the McLaren Vale. It’s cool waters were perfect place to freshen up after a day spent whizzing around on Escapegoat’s tour.
Too often wine tours focus on just one thing: the wine. It can be easy to forget the vineyards' natural beauty (especially after umpteen glasses)!
Jumping on a mountain bike and peddling through the vines, it is impossible to ignore the environment. The sights and smells of winemaking surround you and after breaking into a sweat, you certainly feel as though you deserve wines - and lots of it!
Escapegoat's Bike & Wine tour was the best way to experience McLaren Vale. To book your tour, visit their website or drop Ian an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Across Land & Sea were guests of Escapegoat. As always, all opinions, photographs and typos are our own.