The first grape vines were planted here in 1838, just two years after Adelaide was settled, and McLaren Vale has remained a prominent wine region ever since. Shiraz is the most transcendent drop and is known for its overtones of dark chocolate. Cabernet sauvignon, grenache, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are also very respectable. Coriole (Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale, (08) 8323 8305) makes wonderful shiraz as well as olive oil, while d’Arenberg (Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale (08) 8329 4822) has a good restaurant. Other wineries to visit include Geoff Merrill Wines (291 Pimpala Rd, Woodcroft, (08) 8381 6877) and two of the oldest and biggest names in the district: Hardys Tintara (Main Rd, McLaren Vale, (08) 8329 4124) and Rosemont Estate (Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale, (08) 8323 8250). The best time to visit the region is late winter, when almond blossoms provide a gentle pink blush.