Christmas in McLaren Vale - we'll meet you at the beach!

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When the holiday season rolls around in Adelaide, it can only mean one thing; it’s time to head to the beach. At the same time Santa is leaving the North Pole to bring joy to kids all around the world, the mercury is often topping 40 degrees in the shade in sunny Adelaide.

It has long been custom to load the kids, the dog and boogie boards into the car and head south to the beaches of the Fleurieu Peninsula, where we have the gentle rolling hills and ancient vines of the McLaren Vale wine region.

Featuring long white sandy shores, calm blue waters and ice cream shops, which do a roaring trade, beaches like Southport, Moana, Port Noarlunga, Maslin’s, Port Willunga, Aldinga, Sellicks Beach and Silver Sands are bustling with activity.

Most importantly, all have one important thing in common; on one side, the stunning, clean waters of Gulf St. Vincent, and on the other side, picturesque vineyards and world class cellar doors.

Over 7000 hectares of premium wine grape vines. 80 cellar doors, dozens of restaurants, five craft breweries, a handful of distilleries and yes, and a few ice cream shops. It is said that when Santa arrives, the local population swells by nearly 15000 people. It is tradition.

The local cellar doors are hugely popular. The wines from McLaren Vale are a terrific mix of traditional varieties like Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon; and emerging European styles like Vermentino, Fiano, Prosecco, Nero d’Avola and Tempranillo. Wineries like d’Arenberg and Coriole, both Best of Wine Tourism Award Winners, offer a perfect blend of the old and new, there’s so much to discover!

The European varieties are the perfect choice to enjoy with the award winning food created by the regions many top chefs including Karena Armstrong at the Salopian Inn, you must try the dumplings, or better still, just enjoy the wine with a sunset at the beach and a serving of local fish and chips, and yes, an ice cream!

Local craft breweries are swarming with activity at this time of year, too. There’s plenty of space for the kids to play while the adults sample some Swell Golden Ale and Goodiesons Pilsner before grabbing a six pack and heading to the beach house to catch some late afternoon cricket on the TV.

Another popular destination is the Willunga Farmers Markets– the heart and soul of the town – and the perfect place to stock the larder with freshly baked sourdough, fresh fruit and veggies and if you are really lucky, some delicious scallops from Kangaroo Island, freshly caught that morning.

McLaren Vale is close to Adelaide, only 45 minutes drive from the airport, but over the holiday season it transforms and is really another world. A beachside wine region full of world class wine, food, beer experiences… and ice-cream!

To find out more and plan your trip