Cycling and wine ... the perfect recipe for a great weekend away.
South Australia has an enviable wine industry and the Clare Valley, named after Ireland's County Clare, is noted for its fine rieslings and cabernet sauvignon vintages.
The delightful valley promotes itself as a boutique wine region, with around 30 wineries tucked amongst its rows of vines.
The Riesling Trail is a converted railway track which had fallen into disuse, mainly due to damage caused by the Ash Wednesday bushfires. The track opened in 1918 and carried freight until 1983. The trip from Adelaide was a long one, but because of the beautiful scenery along the way, most people enjoyed the day's outing.
The trails are perfect for walking or cycling and Clare Valley Cycles will rent you a bicycle and arrange a picnic basket. It runs 27 kilometres from Auburn to Leasingham, Watervale, Penwortham and Sevenhill, finishing in Clare, which are all pretty towns. It can be cycled, without stopping, in around two hours.
Parking is provided at four points along the trail. Some parts of it are hidden from the road and the rest of the world by bushland and undergrowth, while other parts enjoy patchwork views of the vineyards, farms and bush which make up the Clare Valley.
Sevenhill Cellars is the valley's oldest winery and the only one in Australia run by a religious order. A group of Jesuits undertook the four-month voyage from Austria to Australia in 1848 to escape religious and political persecution from the king of Prussia. They settled in the Clare Valley, just as pioneer Lutherans fled and settled in the Barossa Valley.
Sacramental wine is still produced today and exported to India, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. However, they also produce a wide range of drinking reds, whites, sherries and fortified wines.
In the early days the wine press processed four bucketloads of grapes at a time. These days their 50ha, which grow 18 varieties of grapes, yield an annual crush of 450-500 tonnes, which make 20,000 cases of wine.
Visitors to Sevenhill can taste the wine and enjoy the grassy picnic area, as well as exploring the huge St Aloysius church, its crypt and old cellars. It was completed in 1875, with walls of slate and sandstone and a roof of Welsh slate. The slate forming the floor is from nearby Mintaro.
Two talented brothers did the interior and exterior stone carvings and carpentry and the painting of the Madonna above the altar was presented to the Jesuits by King Ludwig of Bavaria in 1848.
One-and-a-half hours drive north of Adelaide
Clare Valley Cycles hire costs $22 per day.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
College Road, Clare 5453
Ph: (08) 8843 4222, Fax: (08) 8843 4382www.sevenhillcellars.com.au
Clare Valley Cycle Hire
32 Victoria Road, Clare 5453
Ph: (08) 8842 2782, 0418 802 077
Clare Valley Visitor Information Centre
229 Main North Road, Clare 5453
Ph: 1800 242 131
Qantas: 13 13 13