Inkwell Wines and Hotel California... stolen a piece of my heart.

Inkwell Wines and Hotel California is in McLaren Vale. I went to photograph it for Fleurieu Living Magazine recently. Made from shipping containers, my camera (and I) love all the architectural design and vineyard views, snapping away in the cellar door and on the viewing deck above.

But, it’s when I go down to the micro hotel of ‘Hotel California’ that I’m audibly going ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’. The baths hook me. Deep, freestanding and open to the views of the vineyard. There are only 3 suites, so the likelihood of someone seeing you taking a dip is, well, lower. And hey, all part of the fun?

Inkwell releases single vineyard wines which express the "fingerprint of place" from its iconic Mclaren Vale vineyard winery. By fermenting without additions, we produce age-worthy wines that retain natural freshness and intensity. We are the only winery in McLaren Vale to produce estate-only wines in this way. But, we keep things simple: one tractor, one de-stemmer, one press, small fermenters and one dog.  We've removed as much of the “man-made” from Inkwell’s sustainable wine-growing and wine-making as we sensibly can so you can share in the fruit of our special site and labor for years to come.

Stevens Wines, McLaren Vale

Stevens Wines Graham Stevens greeting

Graham Steven

Carolyn, Grahams daughter at Stevens Wines

McLaren Vale. It's home to some very decent wines. It's the secret sister to the Barossa. Especially on International Tourists radars. I'd say it's time for the world to know how good it is, but then, I kind of want to keep it to myself.

Only 20 minutes from our home, it's bordered by the rotund Willunga Hills, white sand and untamed beaches of Port Willunga, Maslins and Aldinga, and the countryside of Onkaparinga Hills.

The wineries that are here range from contemporary, to boutique, to home grown basics. Stevens Wines is nothing spectacular in terms of wine tasting ambience and scene setting. But what it does do well, is give you the authentic meet the winemaker experience. We are met by Graham himself, opening the door wide to the cellar door. I see a family man, a hard worker, and an honest man written on his face. Speaking to him, I also find out he has quite some humour. I guess you have to when working with winery tour participants. Graham has lived grapes and wine his whole life - having won the first vine pruning trophy at just nine years old. I guess you could say he knows a thing or two about making a good drop.

And his hard work and knowledge has payed off. For a small winery, with production of very few wines, it certainly pours a fine glass. At Australian Wine Shows, Stevens Wines has already won more than 50 awards, in just 2 seasons.

So, next time you are in McLaren Vale, don't just head to the big boys. Take a punt, and take the next turn off. You never know what treasures you may find.

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