27 Jul 2018
Peddle along the Clare Valley Riesling Trail with Kelly Noble, mother of two (and a fur baby), as she shares her recent family trip with G’Day Magazine.
The Noble Family.
With dreams of Clare Riesling in my head, I clutched my iPhone as I steadied myself on the bike. I cycled through paddocks, bumping over clumps of grass, snapped my selfie and then promptly fell off. Needless to say, the reality of a cycling wine tour was quite different to the vision I had embraced in my 20s.
Cycling the Riesling Trail in Clare had always been a dream of mine, and I must admit, despite the challenges we faced, our day on the bikes was one of the most memorable, fun days I’ve had with my family in years.
As a wine-loving mother of two, wife extraordinaire, and guardian of her royal highness (the fur pup), holidays have always centered around family and dog-friendly wine regions. The Clare Valley (South Australia) had always been on our radar, but we’d previously only stayed in B&Bs. We’d been missing out. It’s so easy to nestle in front of the fireplace with a bottle of the region’s famous Riesling and forget about the beautiful surroundings.
One of the state’s most picturesque wine regions, Clare is filled with gorgeous vineyard landscapes, world-class food and wine, and a scattering of unique boutiques. We decided it was well worth exploring on the road.
Upon failing to plan some great escape from the country for a number of years, we finally bought our first caravan last year. That’s when the real adventures began. We booked to stay in the Discovery Parks - Clare, just outside of the town centre, for six days over Easter. It was a stroke of luck to secure a site, because more experienced nomads would tell you, you need to book well in advance for long weekends and holidays.
One pop-top caravan, annex, and fluffy dog bed later, we were in family heaven. The kids brought their scooters and spent their free time exploring the park, jumping on the giant bouncing pillow, and swimming in the brisk, shaded waters of the pool.
My husband and I spent our time kicking back with a vino, watching the world go by and making friends with the locals staying in the park. It was all we’d really planned to do over Easter, but with the park’s handy location nearby so many wineries, nestled right in the heart of the Riesling Trail, we had another idea.
Curious to learn more, we popped over to Riesling Trail Bike Hire for a look. When we found out you could hire bikes that included dog trailers and additional seats for little travelers, we ditched the 4WD for an assortment of rather hysterical bicycle options. To be honest, I didn’t even know bikes could have dog trailers, and yet there I was loading my fur baby into a wagon attached to the back of my bicycle. My husband loaded our four-year old into a seat with ‘fun’ pedals, that towed behind his bike on an extra wheel, and our six-year-old took control of a bike that was just right for her petite frame. We loaded up the saddle bags with water bottles and sunscreen, and we were off. And what a sight we were.
Credit: Clare Riesling Trail. SATC.
For the most part, the journey took us along bike paths with incredible scenery. Tunnels of gorgeous trees, beautiful sunlit autumn colours dancing across the vineyards and foliage. We passed beautiful old homesteads, heritage buildings, paddocks full of farmyard animals and of course, more vineyards.
Our first winery, Tim Adams, was not only a fabulous destination for shade, air conditioning and toilets for the kids, it also had crisp Riesling for my husband and I to sample, and a grassy space for our Sheltie to relax.
From there, we felt like pros. We gathered up the troops, reassembled the circus, and went on to our next destination - Shut The Gate Wines. Conveniently located right next to our home base (Discovery Parks – Clare), the winery requires a slight detour off the beaten track. While these detours off the main bike paths are somewhat rustic to say the least, they all add to the adventure, and our kids had a ball. The incredible platters and wines at Shut The Gate made the off-roading worthwhile – another success for the day.
Our top tip? Remember you still need to ride back to Riesling Trail Bike Hire, so leave yourself enough time (and daylight hours).
Overall, a great day had by the whole family, proof you don’t need to be young (or even that fit) to enjoy the best of what Clare Riesling Trail has to offer.
Winter is the season to visit Australia’s best wine regions, for our top picks click here
This feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.