McLaren Vale Winery – Dennis Wines

This week has been a difficult choice.  So far I have provided the readers with great places to visit in the McLaren Vale area.  This time I am writing about a winery that is not fashionable but just makes good wine.  This blog post is about Dennis Wines also known as Daringa Cellars.  This winery/cellar door is on he main road from McLaren Vale going towards Mclaren Flat (from the “Vale” to the “Flat”) on the left hand side across from McLarens on the Lake (which also has the Serafino Winery) – see the map for location.  For the first 18 months living in the Vale I thought Dennis Wines had closed down as the cellar looked deserted.  Even when I was taking my son to football – the football oval is behind the winery.  It was not until I dropped in on a week day that I saw anybody there.  The website is at

Looks can be deceiving – the outside of the cellar is run down and in need of TLC.  The tasting area was the same as I remembered it when we first went there over 20 years ago.  The lady behind the bar was making lunch for the winery staff and herself.  Oh what had I walked into.  Then I tasted the wines…….

If you can get past the decor you will find a couple of gems.


Sauvignon Blanc ($A20)

A good example of what the vale can produce from this variety.  Fresh and clean fruit with the classical herbaceousness of the variety understated.  I do not like this variety when all I can smell is cut grass and cats pee.

Semillon Chardonnay($A18)

A blend that has lost favour in the last few years.  Good nose showing Semillon characters and should be drunk young and cold.


Did not taste, but note it is dry style made from Shiraz.

Red Wines

Merlot ($A20)

For the Merlot drinkers this is one to watch – good fruit with a hint of mulberry.

Grenache ($A20)

This is a joy to drink – pure McLaren Vale in a bottle.  Plum and oak characters blended well together.

Shiraz ($A20)

Another joy in the glass and good vale for money as allot of the Vale’s Shiraz has become relatively expensive.  Peppery on the nose and palate and you should drink this with food (like a thick juicy T-Bone steak – YUM).

They also have a Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot blend which I did not taste.


Vintage Egerton ($A30)

Named after Peter’s father who started the wine business.  This wine is normally released with 10+ years age and is worth every penny.  Complex licorice flavours come from this shiraz base.

Old Tawny ($A50)

This wine has an averge age of 35 years and is a classic sweet style so typical of a bygone era.  If you like this style then this port style is one to have with you and a loved one in front of an open fireplace with a roaring fire and will invoke precious memories or introduce new ones.  What a jem!



Dennis Wines have been producing mead (fermented honey) for as long as I can remember.  They infuse the wine with spices to create something different to be consumed warm (a few seconds in the microwave works well) or mix with soda water as a refreshing summer afternoon tipple.

As you can see above once you get past the average surroundings at Dennis Wines (Daringa Cellars) you may just find some interesting wine.  Another highlight is that Peter Dennis’s office is off the tasting area and you may have the pleasure of discussing wine with him.

On the Grape Vine

Remember next Saturday is the grand opening of Graham Stevens Wines.  I intend to visit these guys next week and report back in next weeks blog.

These will be a “pallet sale at Penny’s Hill cellar door next weekend.  The information is not complete but they are advertising cartons of white wine for $A55.  Could be an opportunity for visitors to the area to pick up a bargin.  I may even see you there!

Regards for another week.



About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
This entry was posted in wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to McLaren Vale Winery – Dennis Wines

  1. James Hook says:

    I really enjoyed this blog on one of the quiet achievers of wine. I pose the question – what would you do to drive more traffic to the Daringa cellar door? Or should it just stay the same.

    • barkersj says:

      I like the way you have challenged my thoughts!

      The first thing would be to get the signs correct. The signs on the winery indicate the cellar door is open 7 days per week, which gives casual traffic the view they should be open only to find out otherwise if they stop. The outside of the celar door looks tired. A spash of paint plus new plants etc. would do wonders to the visual appeal. Inside the cellar door looks dark so brightening it up would also work wonders.

      Keeping the wine tasting public informed about happenings in the winery and awards etc would also be good. Today a web site does not really fit the Web 2.0 world – some social site networking such as facebook &/or twitter would be an easy way to get known (particularly by Generation X people) as it gives people an opportunity to build a relationship and trust the Dennis Wines brand. This coupled with a Customer Relationship Marketing approach could provide a changed view.

      Remember these are just my ideas about improvements and are not intended to be a critical of the Dennis family.

      • James Hook says:

        I am not being critical either. Web 2.0 is a challenging thing and not to suit to everyone, or every business.

        Being in a family wine business myself if I dropped dead or got sick the marketing would stop! So you really need it to be a natural thing.

        I have always enjoyed the differences between mod cellar doors – like Primo and the originals the best example being Pirramimma.

        It is about the wine, or is it the whole package?

      • barkersj says:

        I think a proportion of people like to have a wine experience. The fun part is what sort of experieince. For Web 2.0 people this could be the blogs/twitter/wine, for others it could be the pristine of the wonderfully clean & crisp cellar door coupled with the wine (eg Primo estate). Others it could be the history with the wine (eg Seppeltsfield). The common thred is the wine. For what it is worth – for me I like all of these as I enjoy the experience with the people. It is the people – either the people you meet at the cellar doors or the family & friends you share the wine with that makes it special.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s