The Clare Valley is South Australia’s northern-most and coolest wine region. Its Riesling wines are known the world over and, together with the Eden Valley, it is responsible for the distinctive Australian Riesling style.
Elevation is the secret to Clare Valley’s success as a fine white wine region. Vines are planted around 40 to 500 metres, where the nights remain cool, even during the heat of summer. This allows fruit to ripen more evenly and slowly. It is also crucial to development of the keen acid that is a defining feature of Clare Valley Riesling and an important factor in the ageing potential of these wines.
The climate is moderately continental; summers are dry and irrigation is used in some vineyards, though always sparingly. The dry conditions offer the advantage of keeping fungal diseases at bay. Rainfall averages around 630mm and occurs mostly in winter and spring.
The Clare Valley is really a series of narrow vales and there are various soil types that produce different character in the wines. The limestone terra soils tend to produce more perfumed wines, while slate soils are associated with more austere expressions. Clare Rieslings are often noted for their fresh lime character.
While undoubtedly best known for Riesling, the region also produces finely structured Shiraz and Cabernet wines.
The Clare Valley is a picturesque region popular with weekend and seasonal tourists. On addition to great food and wine, its attractions include markets, music festivals, cycling, walking, picnic horse races and heritage sites.