Angove Family Winemakers is a standout in a wide field of wineries in McLaren Vale and nearby Barossa, adjacent wine regions within commuter distance of Adelaide in South Australia. Family-owned wineries are becoming more and more scarce, much less with fifth generation proprietors at Angove. Richard and Victoria Angove, along with their father, John, are adding their distinctive mark on a storied history, adding new vineyards and a sleek, modern tasting room that still captures the essence of family traditions.
On a recent visit to the Warboys Vineyard on Chalk Hill Road in McLaren Vale, Victoria Angove sat down one morning to discuss family history, new directions and award-winning wines. A charming host, Victoria regaled a small audience with an overview of the Angove Family Winemaker origins, which started, like many wineries in the region, with fortified wines that were thought to have great medicinal value. William T. Angove, MD, the original patriarch, desired a quality product to provide to his patients and acquired a small vineyard in 1886. Wine lost its place in medicine but Dr. Angove’s interest in winemaking grew as he expanded his vineyard.
The story of the Angove vineyards includes a twisted tale of land use and property rights. When Dr. Angove started his winery he was well away from town, about 12 miles away. As Adelaide grew the need for housing grew, and ultimately the town swallowed the vineyards. In the 1970s, the land was compulsorily acquired by the state government. In a twist of fate, they also decreed that the actual winery building had heritage landmark status, thereby limiting the modifications that could be made to the building. The building was ultimately sold and the Angove family has moved on, purchasing other established vineyards and starting over. They have a focus on creating fine wines but still create a number of fortified wines and spirits.
Angove Family Winemakers crafts a number of different wines including Chardonnay, Rose, Moscato, Carignan, Grenache, Tempranillo, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. A common blend in the area is known as GSM, which contains Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre. The Angove Family Crest GSM, which tasted of plums and cherries with a hint of vanilla, won a trophy for best Grenache blend in 2015 from the prestigious Royal Adelaide Wine Show. Not surprisingly, considering the grape the region is famous for, several examples of Limited Release Shiraz were exceptional. Two outstanding examples were the Shiraz and Shiraz Grenache blend, both under the Warboys Vineyard label. The Shiraz Grenache blend was creamy with complex notes of licorice and vanilla, while the Shiraz, picked from gnarled 1948 vines and aged in French oak, was spicy and full-bodied, tasting of chocolate and white pepper. Another favorite was the Medhyk Shiraz, named for the founder’s profession using the Cornish spelling of medic, which was complex with rich fruit flavors and soft tannins.
The Angove Family is committed to clean, green farming practices and uses organic and biodynamic methods to manage its vineyards. For example, the posts that support the vines are made from recycled tires. Cooled by the nearby ocean breezes, the area enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, not unlike Sonoma County in California. The region used to be under the sea, which explains the sandy soil and chalky limestone found in some areas of the property while other areas are loamier.
Prices at the winery were considerably lower than one would find in the US for comparable quality, ranging from AUD$16-25 (US$11-18) for white wines and AUD$22-25 (US$15-18) for red wines. Limited release wines, such as the Warboys Vineyard wines, run AUD$42-65 (US$29-45). A visit to the winery is highly recommended but U.S. residents can find select Angove Wines in the states, imported by Napa Valley giant Trinchero Family Estates. Warboys Grenache, Medhyk, McLaren Vale Chardonnay and Nine Vines Moscato can all be found in the U.S..
The tasting room is nestled into a small valley on a winding country road. Bright, open and airy it looks out on the vineyards facing away from the road, providing 180-degree views of vineyards. A large deck encourages loitering on a sunny day and a wood-burning oven and gourmet kitchen can cater special events. The pourers were all quite knowledgeable about the wines and the history of the region, sharing small details that enhanced the tasting. A state-of-the art Enomatic wine system maintains the quality of the wines being poured, keeping them each at the ideal temperature in a high tech-wall opposite the tasting counter.
The kitchen serves a delightful platter of locally sourced gourmet ingredients, a cheese plate and sweet treats. The platter contains a variety of cured meats, marinated fish, pumpkin frittata, chutney, ham, olives and bread.
Other notable wineries in the area that are worth a visit include d’Arenberg Winery, which is still family owned and has an extensive collection of vintage farming equipment, Kay Brothers, the oldest family-owned winery in the area and Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard, a 6th generation winery whose tasting room is located in the original farmhouse, built in 1850.
The tasting room at Angove Family Winemakers was a highlight during two days of wine tasting in the region and is highly recommended due to the quality of the wines, the beauty of the area, elegance of the tasting room and congeniality of the staff. Being able to sample local regional foods is a bonus.
Angove Family Winemakers
117 Chalk Hill Road
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Open most days 10 am-5 pm
From Adelaide, it’s a 45 minute drive south on M2 or A15. See Google Map