Media Releases

09 March 2021

Wine lovers are being encouraged to keep an eye out for 2021 vintage wines from McLaren Vale, with the region experiencing its best growing conditions in recent years.

Picking throughout the region started in early February with initial reports indicating vintage 2021 is set to exceed expectations.

Winemaker Renae Hirsch, from Chalk Hill Wines, said both yield and quality is looking exceptional, which is a relief for local vignerons and winemakers following a tough 2020.

“So far, it’s been an extremely great vintage for McLaren Vale.  Yields are up on the last couple of vintages, which is pleasing. We needed a decent crop,” Renae said. “The season started well with a wet winter, allowing the vines to produce a good canopy and a good number of bunches. Favourable weather throughout summer, being unusually cool but also quite dry, allowed even ripening.

“We have revelled in the low summer temperatures, which have given us even, slow ripening; producing good flavours, particularly in Shiraz which is vibrant, with fine tannins and lovely acid.”

The McLaren Vale region was hit hard in 2020, with vintage conditions reducing the quantity of high-quality fruit, and COVID-19 restrictions impacting cellar door sales and visitation.

“Although the past 12 months have been particularly challenging, we are a forward-thinking community and I sense there is a real drive in the region to revel in the positive outcomes and quality wines from this vintage,” Renae said.

Hither & Yon has become McLaren Vale’s first carbon neutral certified wine brand, with co-owner Malcolm Leask saying climate change and sustainability have played a large part in the biodiversity management of their vineyards.

“Vintages are more difficult to predict, so we focus on long term soil health, hence growing conditions like we have experienced in 2021 are very rewarding, it’s very balanced and happy out here”.

“We all try to do our part to improve our impact on the landscape – being carbon neutral is a way for us to continuously improve our care for the environment and give back to our local community.”

Oliver’s Taranga Winemaker Corrina Wright acknowledged the optimism surrounding the 2021 vintage.

“It’s really great to be blunt; Shiraz is spectacular with intense flavour and delicate tannins and we are seeing average yields, not the lows of the past two years,” Corrina said.

“Fiano and whites are coming off with balance and natural acidity. The long, slow ripening this season allowed flavours to develop naturally and evenly in the vineyard and helped reduce the added pressure of disease.”


Media Enquiries:

McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association
P: +61 8 8323 8999, E:, W:

11 November 2020

The Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism across eleven great wine capitals of the world, providing an opportunity for wineries to gain exposure and recognition for their commitment to providing leading wine tourism experiences.

From seven award categories, state winners are decided from each of the 11 Great Wine Capitals, who then go on to vie for a global award - decided by an impressive panel of judges.

In exciting news for McLaren Vale, Wirra Wirra Vineyards was named Global winner for Wine Tourism Services.

The Wine Tourism Services award highlights a cellar door experience as a stand out and memorable one, the winery must offer a personal experience that sets it apart from its competitors. The cellar door must be a place where visitors can interact with the product, winemaker and experience first-hand, and the diversity the winery has to offer.

Wirra Wirra Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Kay, credits the close-knit team for the win.

"We are thrilled to be recognised at a global level against really strong competition," said Mr Kay.

"I am proud of the Wirra Wirra tribe, it’s been an extraordinary year on many counts and we have adapted to the change and worked really hard to create a better experience for our visitors.”

McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism General Manager, Jennifer Lynch is delighted Wirra Wirra's commitment to outstanding customer service has been recognised.

"Wirra Wirra's unwavering commitment to offering an exceptional customer experience, even more so whilst enduring the difficult circumstances of COVID-19 impacts - demonstrates great diversification and resilience, a deserving global winner," said Ms Lynch.

In late 2019 Wirra Wirra began planning ways to make the visitation experience more unique and memorable. New or reimagined features of their visitor experience includes:

  • An architecturally designed cellar door space to cater for sit down tasting flights
  • Introduction of tasting morsels created by Harry’s Deli Chef Tom Boden
  • Introduction of a ‘concierge’ on weekends to hosts guests and manage bookings
  • Established a produce garden to provide organically grown, herbs, fruit and vegetables for Harry’s Deli and cellar door tasting plates
  • An online booking system for guests wanting to secure a tasting experience 
  • A bespoke coffee blend made in collaboration with Dawn Patrol
  • Cellar Door exclusive wines made from Biodynamically farmed estate vineyards
  • Tours that take visitors into the 125-year-old working cellars
  • Wine and chocolate tasting
Media Enquiries:

Lucy Gosling, Marketing and Communications, MVGWTA
P: +61 8 8323 8999, E:, W:

09 November 2020

The fourth annual James Halliday Grenache Challenge (JHGC) gathered varietal grenache wines from around Australia for a competitive tasting to celebrate and elevate the variety. 

The Challenge invited producers from all Australian wine regions to participate, encouraging an honest gauge of Australia’s winemaking form and to catch the styles and movements developing across the landscape.

Head Wines has been named 2020 James Halliday Grenache Challenge winner for their 2019 Old Vine Grenache.

2020 McLaren Vale Wine Show Co-Chair and winemaker Paul Carpenter was impressed with the quality of grenache submissions, especially the winning wine.

“The quality of wines entered in the 2020 James Halliday Grenache Challenge was remarkable and was a clear a statement of the affection for the variety held by both grape growers and winemakers from across Australia," said Mr Carpenter.

"The winning wine was a superb example of regionality and complexity with earthy savouriness coupled with beautifully bright fruit and structure.

"The years ahead with this variety are incredibly exciting with more regions across Australia planting grenache and consumers connecting with the regional expression of the variety and drinkability. If the 2020 JHGC is anything to go by, the future is very bright for Australian Grenache."

The Challenge received more than 130 entries across a diverse range of Australian winegrowing regions.

Head Wines Winemaker, Alex Head feels humbled to be named winner of the 2020 James Halliday Grenache Challenge winner.

"We have been incredibly lucky to work with some of Barossa’s best growers and their old grenache vineyards. In 2006 we decided to champion Barossan grenache.  We have partnered with the best growers and sites, promoting balance and sustainability to produce grenache which speaks of place," said Mr Head.

"We have long held a desire to promote Australian grenache, mainly due to the variety’s sustainable viticultural elements with regard to our fragile environment.  We are so humbled to be in the position of winning the 2020 Halliday Grenache Challenge and that we can help bring greater pleasure to those on our journey too." 

Renowned wine critic and writer, James Halliday AM highlights McLaren Vale and the Barossa as champion grenache producing regions.

"Grenache is a glorious variety, a bridge between pinot noir and shiraz, taking the best from each of the two varieties. McLaren Vale and the Barossa are the anchors as grenache pushes the frontiers to regions as far away as the Yarra Valley and Margaret River.  Watch this space," said Mr Halliday.

Full results here.

Media Enquiries:

Lucy Gosling, Marketing and Communications, MVGWTA
P: +61 8 8323 8999, E:, W:

09 November 2020

McLaren Vale icons, Wirra Wirra and d'Arenberg have been named winners in the 2021 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism South Australian Awards.

​d'Arenberg was named state winner in the Art and Culture category, whilst Wirra Wirra Vineyards have taken out Tourism Services.

These two category winners will now go before an international judging panel as part of the Great Wine Capitals Network Annual Conference, held virtually in the coming days, where an international award winner will be crowned and announced on November 7.

The Great Wine Capitals Best Of Wine Tourism Awards celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism throughout the eleven greatest wine regions in the world.

The 'Best Of' program provides an opportunity for wineries and other visitor-serving businesses in each region to gain exposure and recognition for their commitment to presenting leading wine tourism options while giving visitors a one-stop list of the best places to experience.

d'Arenberg Chief Winemaker and owner, Chester Osborn is honoured to be named winner of the South Australian Art and Culture category.

“It’s a great honour to receive this award. With the opening of the d’Arenberg Cube we bullishly entered into the art world in way that we hope brings colour and fun to the wine experience. The Salvador Dali exhibition, Alternative Realities Museum and the ‘dArenberg Cube’ itself are a playful and fun way to stimulate the senses and enhance the pleasure of wine,” said Mr Osborn.

McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association General Manager, Jennifer Lynch is thrilled two of the region's iconic brands have been recognised alongside a distinguishable line up of South Australian wine businesses.

"Congratulations to Wirra Wirra and d'Arenberg - two deserving winners with exemplary wine tourism offerings and immersive visitor experiences," said Ms Lynch.

"It's great to note the high calibre of South Australian's wine businesses recognised - we wish our McLaren Vale finalists the very best of luck and are looking forward to the announcement of the International award winners on November 7."

Media Enquiries:

Lucy Gosling, Marketing and Communications, MVGWTA
P: +61 8 8323 8999, E:, W:

02 November 2020

McLaren Vale’s 2020 Best Wine of Show and prestigious ‘Bushing Monarch’ title was awarded today, Friday October 30 at a trophy presentation live streamed from Kay Brothers Winery to five satellite Bushing Lunch venues across the region.

Chalk Hill Wines, Tom Harvey and winemaker, Renae Hirsch were crowned the 2020 Bushing Monarchs for their 2019 Alpha Crucis Old Vine Grenache.

From more than 760 exhibits, the 2019 Alpha Crucis Grenache was the highest scoring wine of the 2020 McLaren Vale Wine Show as judged by an impressive panel of South Australian judges including Fiona Donald (Seppeltsfield Wines), Kate Laurie (Deviation Road),Tim Dolan (Peter Lehmann Wine) and local judging talent from across McLaren Vale.

Given the complications of COVID-19 and the changed events environment, McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association could not host the traditional 600-person Bushing Luncheon and instead encouraged the region's renowned restaurants to host their own satellite lunches to live stream the trophy presentation.

2020 Chair of Judges, David LeMire MW highlighted the region's diverse winemaking talents in respecting traditional styles whilst challenging the status quo.

"The McLaren Vale Wine Show was a pleasure to judge. The region is strong on diverse styles and varieties, and few regions are as effective in both respecting traditional styles, and also adapting to new challenges and opportunities," said Mr LeMire.

"Shiraz and Cabernet were as strong as ever, the resurgence of Grenache continues, whites from Fiano and emerging red varieties are flourishing, and rosé is impressive. I think we all felt grateful that the show could go ahead, as it is a sign of normality and an opportunity to come together as a wine community.  We had a terrific line up of judges, led by the Panel Chairs Fi Donald, Kate Laurie, and Tim Dolan."

McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association General Manager, Jennifer Lynch is thrilled the Best Wine in Show celebrates the region's most notable variety.

"McLaren Vale Grenache has steadily gained a reputation for wines that are focused, fresh and respectful to site, it's exciting the 2020 Bushing title has been awarded to a variety synonymous with our region." said Ms Lynch.

"Congratulations to Chalk Hill Wines and winemaker Renee - after opening their new tasting room in early 2020 - this title is a thrilling way to cap off a huge year of exciting developments and success." 

Full results here.

Photograph available here.

Media Enquiries:

Lucy Gosling, Marketing and Communications Manager, MVGWTA
P: +61 8 8323 8999, E:

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