Undoubtedly, it's one of the most peaceful cellar doors, set just beyond the main stretch of McLaren Vale. It's situated in the quieter and more rural suburb of McLaren Flat, where the only sounds to be heard are the calls of nature and the soft chatter of fellow visitors.
A lazy afternoon on the balcony sipping a glass of white or red and nibbling away at a platter of regional produce is a most pleasant experience. The undercover balcony provides shelter from the weather and sweeping views of the vineyards below. With a playground and a large grassy area to run around, even children are content here.
The cellar door is simple, sleek, and nice place to relax for an hour or two, but it also reflects the underlying principles of Gemtree Vineyards – to be guided by nature. It has been constructed with sustainability in mind and to have minimal impact on the surrounding environment, operating with solar power and rain water.
But more than that, Gemtree wines are produced with biodynamic methods. There is a diagram on the tasting room wall that explains to some extent what this means, it reads: "In nature, life is constantly changing. This philosophy, expressed in biodynamic agriculture, links productive land to the sun, the planets and our moon."
You'll find everything at Gemtree has a place and a purpose; even the farm animals are more than just adorable. The sheep grazing in the paddocks help to turn over and fertilise the soil, alpacas protect the herd from foxes, while ducks assist in reducing the number of pests to the vines.
This holistic and natural approach to wine production means there is little need for chemical intervention and so Gemtree wines are certified organic. Not only does this lessen any potential risk to personal and environmental health, but you'll find after a few sips it also creates a high quality and flavoursome drop.
Sustainable, biodynamic, and organic – you wouldn't think a winery could get much greener than that, but this one does. Right in the centre of the vineyard is the Gemtree Wetlands Ecotrail, 10 hectares of wetlands dedicated to revegetating land once farmed to depletion and improving the biodiversity of native plant and animal species in the area. There is a one kilometre walking trail with interpretive signs along the way, as well as park benches, picnic shelters, and a public barbecue.
The wetlands were created in conjunction with Greening Australia and so a percentage of the sale from every bottle of Gemtree wine is donated to the not-for-profit organisation. In keeping with the theme that nature provides, the wines are appropriately and descriptively named after different gemstones, like the Moonstone Savagnin and Bloodstone Shiraz.
These are the most affordable of the range and reasonably priced at $18 a bottle. The most expensive bottles are the White Lees Shiraz and what is considered the flagship wine, Obsidian Shiraz, which cost $70 each. Unfortunately, these aren't available for tasting, but there is much to try regardless, including the Cinnabar GSM and Stage 7 Shiraz, which are sold exclusively at the cellar door.
It's nice to know that the wine here is considered vegan and vegetarian friendly. Because wine is derived from a fruit, it often comes as a surprise that most are also made with the use of animal derived ingredients to refine and clarify it. There are, however, plant and mineral based alternatives that yield the same result.
To complement the wine, shared platters are available to purchase and enjoy on the balcony or inside the cellar door. A cheese platter costs $25 and a regional platter will set you back $35, but they are generously loaded with organic, fresh, and local produce including cheese, almonds, olives, bread, dukkah, and other delicious morsels.
Dietary requirements, in this case vegetarian, are willingly catered for when possible and the welcoming and polite staff ensure every experience at Gemtree is an enjoyable one. There is also local artwork on display and on occasion a live music session held at the cellar door.
The Gemtree Vineyards cellar door is located on Elliott Road, just off the road leading to Kangarilla, and is open every day of the week from 10 am until 5 pm (except for Good Friday and Christmas Day when it's closed). All this information and more can be found at the Gemtree Vineyards website.