Refurbished winery accommodation dazzles at The Vineyard Retreat in McLaren Vale
I CAN already tell a one-night stay was a bad idea.
We’ve only been here five minutes and I’m mapping out the week ahead. First we’ll start with wine and dunk this delicious sourdough bread in some olive oil and vinegar, then I think I’ll read my book sitting out on the deck, then it’ll be time for a sunset jacuzzi… and we haven’t even got to the wineries yet.
I’ve just stepped into the front cover of Vogue Living magazine, or at least that’s what it feels like. The Vineyard Retreat in McLaren Vale, South Australia unveiled its $400,000 upgrade in January and I can report no stone has been left unturned. Owners Anthea and Stuart Cross clearly have good taste.
I’m not usually a fan of B&Bs but The Vineyard Retreat is more a collection of private cottages. Four self-contained guesthouses are placed strategically – that is, not on top of each other – within the 6ha working vineyard. And just quietly, I think we’ve scored the best one.
We’re staying in The Highland, an elevated six-sided building with two king bedrooms and an expansive 240-degree deck overlooking the green sea of vineyards towards the mountains.
I’m feeling pretty envious of Adelaideans who have this gorgeous wine region on their doorstep, a mere 40-minute drive from the city, and a hop, skip and a jump from the impressive coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Beautifully styled, the space is bright and inviting while being completely calming and cosy. Kitted out with a fusion of French provincial and industrial styling, I’m an instant fan of the little extra touches like antler chandeliers (made of resin), a bright green ceramic moose head, a deep-seated, plush tan leather lounge that embraces me like a squishy cuddle, and the cowhide rug covering the dark wooden floorboards.
A vase of white tulips sits atop the large wooden dining table, set with high-back upholstered chairs, a copper V adorns the wood heater while industrial metal lamp shades hang above the giant island bench, overlooking a five-burner stove that’s giving me major kitchen envy.
Once we’ve been checked in and left us to our own devices, we discover little handwritten notes to explain where our breakfast supplies and mini-bar goodies were sourced from in the neighbourhood.
The bacon comes from Ellis Butcher, who have been buying their pork from the same local farm for 15 years and curing it in house, the milk is Fleurieu Milk Company Jersey Premium, the chocolates are from the Adelaide Hills.
One note informs us that both our complimentary wines received 93 points from James Halliday, and so we proceed to taste test and get stuck into the local olives and cheese twists but save the sixpack of Swell Pale Ale, which is brewed just down the road, for later.
In the bedrooms, plush chocolate sateen bed heads are paired with divine 1200 thread count white bed linen to rival any 5-star hotel, while the adjoining ensuites have large rain showers and fluffy Laura Ashley Towels, which both get a big tick.
This is the Barry White of accommodation in the vales, all velvety smooth design and dulcet finishes, with the added romance of a wood heater to set the mood.
There are also soft black velour throw rugs to wrap yourself in as you sit on the deck, with an outdoor fire pit for extra warmth in winter. We’ve conveniently come to stay right in the middle of a heatwave.
The Highland would be perfect for two couples to share and while you could quite easily drive yourself to all the gourmet attractions and beaches during your stay, the option to hire high-end road bikes is available if you want to compensate all that cheese and wine tasting with some pedal pushing – or join in the action of the Tour Down Under when it comes racing through the region each January.
Anthea and Stuart can also call in a personal chef, chauffeur, spa therapist, or even surfboards and soft racks for your car, or organise behind-the-scenes wine experiences.
Call me crazy, but I’m happy enough just being in this beautiful place with nothing more to think about than grabbing the plastic “jacuzzi glasses” I’ve just found in the cupboard and that bottle of cabernet sangiovese for a trip to the hot tub to watch the sun set below the vines.
Barry White ain’t got nothing on that.
The writer was a guest of the South Australian Tourism Commission.
Article originally appeared in the Travel section of the Daily Telegraph on June 8th 2014