TOURISM website

What to do, where to go and what's on in the McLaren Vale region.

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For Members of the McLaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association.

Geology Overview

McLaren Vale is one of the most geologically diverse regions in the world.

Port Willunga Beach 02 Serio
More than 40 unique geologies are present in our region and vary in age from 15,000 years to over 550 million years.

The Geology of the McLaren Vale Wine Region map was developed as a result of decades of diligent investigation by curious geological scholars and provides a key to the complex, constantly unfolding links between geology and modern wine flavours.

First published in 2010, the map was initially prepared by geologist’s Bill Fairburn, Jeff Olliver, Wolfgang Preiss of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA), together with wine writer Philip White. Following continued research and investigation, the map was updated in 2019.

Ongoing study of our region’s geology provides a key to the complex, constantly unfolding links between geology and regional wine varietals and flavours, whilst the map continues to assists viticulturists in appropriate planting.

There is a wide variety of soil types, a reflection of the varied terrain; red brown sandy loams, grey brown loamy sands with yellow clay subsoils interspersed with lime, distinctly sandy soils and patches of red or black friable loams are all to be found. As the long-standing and intensive viticulture of our region attests, the soils and geography of McLaren Vale are well suited to grape growing.

McLaren Vale is at the forefront of best practice in terms of soil surveying and this diversity is well respected, with a dedicated group of our region’s growers, wine makers and geologists forming a committee to further explore these differences. This ongoing study has resulted in a series of geology pits excavated throughout the region to highlight the relationship between geology and the region’s fine wines.