Wines of brilliance and innovation

Situated in the northern Mt Lofty Ranges, South Australia’s Clare Valley was settled in the late 1830s, with the first vineyards planted and wines produced in the early 1840s. The same features that make the Clare Valley inherently beautiful are also the foundation of Clare’s famed vineyards. The climate features a warm to hot summer, but cooling afternoon breezes play a major role in slowing down the ripening process. 

Some of Australia's finest Riesling is grown in the Clare Valley, and the region also produces many other wine styles, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.  With a cornerstone of classic, traditional producers and a new era of winemakers’ keen to throw away the rulebook and try a new approach, Clare Valley’s reputation for quality and consistency looks set to continue. 

Read more about Clare Valley.

Clare Valley
Clare Valley
This map is not an accurate representation of the regional GI boundaries. Please click here to view an accurate map of the regional boundary.

Clare Valley snapshot

The Clare Valley is considered one of the most picturesque wine regions in South Australia, renowned wine critic James Halliday has described the Clare Valley as one of Australia’s most beautiful wine-producing regions. Hills fold in on themselves, streamlets meander and lines of gumtrees are forever twisting through pockets of vineyards and around old stone houses. The geographical advantages that make the Clare Valley such a lucrative farming and agricultural region also provide the basis for fine wine production.

The region enjoys a warm, moderate continental climate, with warm to hot summer days moderated by cooling afternoon and night breezes. This diurnal variation, where night temperatures plummet, helps keep the average temperature lower and gives vines respite from the heat of the day, slowing ripening and adding complexity – especially to aromatic vines such as Riesling.

The soils of the Clare Valley range from classic terra rossa red topsoil over limestone in the Watervale district to the broken slate of Polish Hill River. The vineyards at the northern end of the valley are planted in deep fertile alluvial ground, where there is little or no need for irrigation. Vineyards in the Skillogalee Valley, to the west of the main valley, are planted into sandy loams with varying amounts of degraded quartz. This combination of variation in soil, aspect and altitude provides the framework for the regions diverse range of wine styles – from some of Australia’s finest Riesling through to earthy and savoury reds like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read more about Clare Valley.

4,289ha
Total vineyard area
300-500m
Altitude
33° 50'S
Latitude
250mm
Growing season rainfall
21.9°c
Mean temperature (Jan)
1770
Heat degree days
White
28%
Red
72%
Type

Cabernet Sauvignon

Also does very well in Clare displaying dark, rich black fruit characters with firm but plush tannins. Often blended with Shiraz and sometimes a little Malbec.

Riesling

This variety has become synonymous with Clare Valley. The typical style is quite restrained and austere when young with lime and mineral notes. Most benefit from 5–7 years of bottle age and can evolve for decades. Clare Riesling represents 20% of total Riesling crushed each year in Australia.

Shiraz

Clare Valley Shiraz is typically full flavoured with ripe blackberry, spice and mint characteristics. The strong diurnal temperature shifts allow for acid retention and vibrant fruit quality.

Top varieties grown in Clare Valley
Climate
  • The temperature data is often said to be very misleading due to the large diurnal variation
  • Drops of temperatures from 40°C during the day to 1°C at night are common during main ripening months
  • Altitude and aspect within the valley important
  • Protection from or exposure to cooling maritime breezes
Soil
  • 11 different recognised soil types
  • Polish Hill is known for broken slate
  • Watervale has limestone in sub-soils