McLaren Vale Winery – Samuel’s Gorge

The winery and cellar door is off Chaffrey’s Road and behind Chapel Hill Winery.  Do yourself a favour and take that turn off to a small winery that is causing a buzz in the McLaren Vale area.

Samuel’s Gorge is on the side of a hill overlooking the Onkaparinga Hills National Park and makes for a wonderful setting (see map for location).  As soon as you get out of the car you are immersed in the history of the area as the cellar door & winery are housed in a heritage listed barn built in 1853.  Even the olive trees on the drive into the winery look like they have seen more vintages than they care to remember.  There is a lawn area (good for the kids to run around) and shaded outdoor area that can be used for tasting or just to enjoy the area.  Inside the cellar door has a number of vintage machines including an old press that may have been used for olive oil production.

One is consistently met by a smiling face and an engaging atmoshere.  The quest for the right atmosphere even extended to the lack of a cash register for the firt 2 years.  Justin McNamee (winemaker) understands McLaren Vale’s strengths and sticks to making 3 red wines.  Shiraz and Grenache being classic McLaren Vale grapes plus an region up and commer in Tempranillo.  The 2007 Shiraz & Grenache plus the 2008 Tempranillo have just been released in the last few weeks.  The wines show vintage variation over the previous vintage wines – but are again sensational.

In order to keep the costing simple all the estate wines are priced at $A35/bottle.

When consuming these wines you are in for a full sensory experience.  The wines are bright in the glass and the aroma is full filling – from the hint of chocolate in the shiraz to the berries in the grenache.  When drinking the flavour is powerful and lingering.

If you needed another reason to visit this charming cellar door then there is occasionally a cellar door only clean skin shiraz release.  When available ($A100/case) this wine is very impressive – particularly for this price point.  The 2 releases in the past 12 months have been better than allot of labeled wines that find their way onto the market.  The winery team are so exacting on their Samuel’s Gorge labeled wine that anything that does not quite make the final blend goes into the cleanskin.  This philosophy shows another reason why their wines are just so good – unlike just making wines to a price point so to keep the supermarket liquor stores happy!  Great to see and I hope this is kept up.

For those wanting to keep in touch with the winery – there is a mailing list with 1 newsletter per year.  Justin tells me the newsletter is supposed to be released around easter each year – but he has not finished this years.  Maybe with vintage finishing he maybe able to tidy this duty up soon.  You can see the latest version of the newsletter on their website

One way to judge any cellar door, restaurant or similar is the frequency of locals visiting.  I have found that there has always been another local at the cellar door.  It is also known that the last hour of the cellar door opening time is when the “friends of Samuel’s Gorge” can be found drinking some booze and taking about all sorts of local chat – what a recommendation.

Other snippets

This weeks in the Australian Federal Government’s Budget – there is a sense of nervousness in the industry that the WET rebate (Wine Equalisation Tax rebate for the small producer) maybe removed.  This rebate would be the final nail in the coffin for a large number of the micro to small wineries of Australia.  This increase in charges coupled with drought conditions and water restrictions will be the straw that would break the vinerons back.

On this track, it is a sad sight to see Clarance Hill wines in receivership and all assets up for sale.

I hope you all have a great and safe week.

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers of Australia and the world.  If you are in McLaren Vale for Mothers day then Samuel’s Gorge would be a good spot to spend some quality time. 



About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
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1 Response to McLaren Vale Winery – Samuel’s Gorge

  1. Danny says:

    Hi Shane,

    Thank you for your blog. My name is Danny and I’m currently enrolled in a wine MBA program in Bordeaux and I’m researching McLaren Vale cellar doors. What 3 cellar doors would you recommend to your best friends who are visiting and only have one day? What stands out about those 3? What cellar door has the best wine club (not wine news letter, which I’ve seen called a wine club in many cases)? What can cellar doors do in McLaren Vale to separate themselves, make them stand out for the norm? Suggestions and help understanding the kind of cellar doors that succeed and the kind that fail will really assist my research.
    Thanks for your time,


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