It’s cold and grey in the Adelaide Hills today and it seems like an age since I was kicking up my heels in the Barossa sunshine and trying not to be too greedy with all the fantastic food that was on offer. I arrived home to domestic duties and real life with a bit of a thump, so when it was pointed out to me that the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend was imminent I wasted no time in convincing The Husband that a pleasant weekend drive would be most therapeutic for him.
The Clare Valley wine region of South Australia is to be found just over 100 kms north of Adelaide – that’s right, just over one hours drive from the city – and stretches from Auburn in the south, through several small towns to Clare in the north. It is yet another of the premium wine growing districts of Australia to be found here in South Australia and is renowned for it’s cold-climate wines. In fact, the Clare Valley is recognised both nationally and internationally as a premium region and the Australian home for crisp, dry Reislings. Settled by the English and Irish in the mid-1800’s and with the first vineyards planted soon after settlement, it has a wine history almost as long as that of the Barossa Valley and a growing reputation as a popular destination for those seeking fine food to accompany their fine wines.
The idea of pairing the end of vintage with the regional food first had it’s formal debut in 1985, making the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend one of the longest running gourmet festivals in South Australia. The area has attracted some talented chefs who take this opportunity to match up with local wineries to show off their respective skills. The early settlers to the region left a rich heritage of architecturally interesting villages and buildings, many of which now house guest houses, cafes and excellent restaurants adding to the attractions of the lifestyle in the Valley which the locals are keen to show off.
Held over 2 days, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 May, the festival features many of the local wineries who have twinned with leading chefs from around the region – and the occasional ring-in from further afield – to present their premium local products in the relaxed and scenic surrounds of each of the wineries and accompanied by live music. On Saturday the Clare Valley Winemakers hold their annual vintage tasting. For a $20 entrance fee (which includes the glass) you can take the opportunity to try over 120 of the local wines at various stages of their development. Masterchef finalist Andre Ursini will be on hand at clos Clare Wines offering 2 free, interactive cooking Master Classes featuring local products and, on Saturday morning from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm the Regional Food Group presents the annual Gourmet Market. Again featuring local chefs and producers, and also including Adelaide’s very talented Emma Shearer (The Manse), the market will be a buzz of cooking demonstrations, food sampling, a gourmet bbq and plenty of the gorgeous local produce to take home with you.
There are so many interesting options to chose from, I can’t possibly mention them all here, but do take a look at the program for some ideas for your Clare Valley weekend. I’ve made my plans, have sorted out the arrangements for the kids and dogs and we are heading up there to check it all out. Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on all the fun – unless I see you up there!
All images provided by Clare Valley Winemakers.