Monday 5 – Sunday 18 March 2018
10 am – 5 pm daily (4 pm on weekends)
McLaren Vale Visitor Information Centre, Main Road

The Vale Market
Monday 12 March 2018
10 am – 3 pm
McLaren Vale Visitor Information Centre, Main Road

Well it’s been a busy first week at our pop-up cellar door, but it is Mad March after all. It’s been wonderful to chat with our visitors from around the world, from the UK, Canada, the US and Hong Kong, and of course those lucky locals or those holidaying from interstate, just popping over to South Australia for our Fringe, our car racing or our Ed Sheeran show.

Our second week at the Visitor Centre will start with The Vale Market on Monday 12 March where the beautiful lawns will host stalls of homewares, gifts, jewellery, souvenirs and a delicious selection of food trucks offering both savoury and sweet treats.

We’ll also be selling the last of our 2010 Covert Shiraz this week – I have just six bottles here for you to snap up before we release the 2014 vintage. The 2010 Covert Shiraz is a bottle of everything that makes McLaren Vale Shiraz so special and so sought after. With its lengthy time in barrel and its age The Covert is not a fruit-bomb of a Shiraz, it’s now truly displaying the terroir of the region with its earthiness, ground coffee and black pepper spice. The Covert is an example of our traditional winemaking style at its best, melding new world technologies with old world flavours.

The new release Sangiovese Rosé has also come flying out of the blocks and is the biggest seller so far this week. People are loving the bright ruby-red colour and the interesting savoury flavours of the Sangiovese grape shown off in a light, textural way.

As always I’m asked a few questions I haven’t heard before, which I love, and just in case you have the same questions, here are some of my answers:

What’s your style?

People often remark that they enjoy each of the wines in our range, even though they are different varieties and different fruit weights. I have found that if you like one wine in a range, you will like almost all of them, because it is the winemaker’s style that you are enjoying. So what does it mean when you talk about a winemaker’s style? It’s not always about the shirt he wears to work, in this case it’s about those decisions, big and small, that go into creating the wine you take home.

The age of the vines determines a certain flavour profile and De Lisio Wines is lucky enough that some of the fruit we use is from vines which are 80 to more than 100 years old. There is a unique depth of flavour that comes from old-growth vines that our winemakers love to work with, and is a wonderful way to tap into the history of one of Australia’s oldest winemaking regions.

Extracting the juice from the grapes determines the colour and the tannin of the wine and the more you extract from the grapes at pressing, the more juice you end up with. De Lisio carefully balances the extraction for maximum flavour, without overpowering with tannin which can lead your mouth to feel very dry – like when you’ve left your tea bag in too long.

The use of oak is a good predictor of winemaking style, as it influences so many other parts of the process. We almost 100% French Oak barrels which means you can find the hints of clove and allspice across a lot of our range, with a small amount of American Oak being used, but we don’t want the wines overpowered by the coconut flavours. We’ll also use predominantly second use barrels in our standard range and almost all new oak in our premiums – but never 100% of each. The neutral oak of the second use barrels allow the tannins in the wine to soften and integrate making our wines smooth and easy to drink. The new oak in the premiums offer velvety tannins, and enough structure to age for more than 20 years. 

If I bought a hobby property with 10 acres of vines, how many bottles could I make?

One visitor had recently considered the purchase of a property that included a 10 acre vineyard, which is a tricky size to know what to do with. Ten acres is often not cost effective to have managed by contractors, and is often the more manageable size you could DIY. Depending on the variety you could harvest anywhere from one to three tonnes per acre on average…so we worked that out while we were tasting!

One tonne of grapes will yield around 700 litres, and there’s nine litres in one dozen wines. That works out to just under 200 bottles, which would be enough to keep you in a bottle of wine for dinner most days, or to share with friends. Which leads me to my next question…

How many bottles of wine do I need to retire?

Most of us are foolishly focused on how much we need in our financial portfolios to retire, yet one visitor to the winery recently shared an insight from a friend of his who had worked out that he needed to stock 2,000 bottles of wine to prepare for his retirement.

Now that someone else has done the math for you – would 2,000 really be enough? If you’re drinking a bottle every day, 2,000 bottles is only going to last five years into your retirement. If you’re drinking a bottle a week, your wine collection will see you through 38 years of retirement. Not bad.

I hope to see you soon at our pop-up cellar door, or for a tasting at the winery. Happy long weekend!

Vanessa De Lisio

Monday 16 – Sunday 29 October 2017
10 am – 5 pm daily (4 pm on weekends)
McLaren Vale Visitor Information Centre, Main Road

When I work at our pop up cellar door, there are the questions I always expect to answer, and then there are ALWAYS ones I’ve never heard before! Like…

“How many bunches of grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?”

Now, I knew he was asking because he wanted to know how many bunches he’d need to make a bottle of his own wine in his backyard…but in case you’re curious, if we’re talking about Shiraz for example (since it is the most widely planted variety in South Australia, and McLaren Vale), it would take about 10 bunches of grapes to make one bottle.

That’s also if we’re talking about making the wine in the De Lisio style of winemaking, as the extraction methods used by different winemakers will affect the amount of juice each bunch will produce.

“How is the health of the bees in McLaren Vale?”


Shamefully I’d never really thought much about the role of the bees in McLaren Vale, but that is the plight of bees all over the world – working hard to help our food, our flowers and our entire planet flourish, yet being taken for granted.
I’d also never thought of a grapevine as a flowering plant in the same way you think about an almond blossom giving way to the almonds, or the flowers on a lemon tree becoming lemons. However, grapevines have flowers just like all other fruiting plants, and you’ll see those delicate flowers just before they turn into grapes. Budburst will occur around the time you’ll see me back at the Pop Up Cellar Door at the Visitor Information Centre, then towards the end of the year you’ll see (if you look closely enough) the flowers on the vine, which will then become fruit.

“Do you put the honey in there?”

Still on the theme of bees, people often ask about the name of our ‘Honeypot’ Moscato. No, there’s not actually honey in there, honey is just one of the flavour characteristics which comes from the fermentation of the Frontignac grape.

The same goes for all of our wines, while you may be able to pick out the red berry, the anise, the leather or the chocolate flavours, we haven’t added any of these things. The flavours in the wines are all there naturally, all we do is allow for the natural fermentation of the grapes and their natural concentration in barrel, where they can pick up flavours from the oak.

“What’s Shiraz?”

Yes, people ask me this at cellar door all the time, and no, they’re not from another planet. Often they’re from Europe, where because of our Aussie accent and the different spelling, they don’t recognise their Syrah grape in its Australian incarnation.

Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape varietal, but they result in a different style of wine because of the differences in old world and new world winemaking techniques, and of course weather and soil differences.

“What does the A.D. stand for?”
Actually another one I’m asked all the time, but it’s an important answer to show the De Lisio style and philosophy. A.D. are the winemaker’s initials, Anthony De Lisio, and it comes from this quote:

‘For a winemaker to lend his name to a wine it becomes personal. Share my taste.’

“Why are the vines planted in that direction?”

One savvy visitor to our region noticed that the direction of the vineyard rows differed from block to block. Having been involved with the De Lisio family after they planted their vines, and only in the years of picking, pruning and vineyard management, I assumed the rows were planted in the direction which gave the easiest access for the tractors and harvesters. This is true, but it’s not the only factor.

It is rare to see terraced vineyards in McLaren Vale, because the undulations make for too tight turns between the terraced rows. The other factor in the direction of the rows is of course the sun. Traditionally, and where possible, vines are planted east to west (or west to east, ha, ha) to maximise the amount of sun the vines see each day.

“What are those big chocolate balls?”

Those, dear tourist, are Fruchocs, which are only the greatest South Australian treat around. Not only are Fruchocs a ball of milky chocolate, they’re filled with a soft, tart apricot and peach filling, making this delicious treat practically a health food.

Plus, in the main street of McLaren Vale is the Fruchocs factory, where you can see all of the old production line machinery used to create these sweet treats. And if you pick up the McLaren Vale Visitor Guide from the Visitor Information Centre, you’ll find a Fruchocs voucher inside!

I always recommend Fruchocs as the perfect South Aussie souvenir for visitors to take home…after the wine of course.

And yes, those BIG chocolate balls are the GIANT Fruchocs!

“Why is it called the Fleurieu?”


While the Barossa has a strong German influence and McLaren Vale is rife with Italian immigrants (yes, that’s us), our region was actually named in honour of a French navigator.

In 1802 Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin met in Encounter Bay, now known as Victor Harbor, Flinders on the Investigator and Baudin on La Géographe. While Flinders charted the coastline, and named Cape Jervois and other points, Baudin named the Peninsula in honour of the French navigator and Minister of Marine, Charles, Count of Fleurieu. However, the name Fleurieu Peninsula was not formally adopted until 1913.

This is one of the reasons I love spending time behind the bar at cellar door, because I do know the answers to most of your questions, and when I don’t, we both learn something!

See you in October when I’m sure you’ll have all new questions ready for me. Cheers,
Vanessa De Lisio

Come for the map, stay for the wine!

The McLaren Vale Visitor Centre is a real drawcard, especially in summer. There’s an ever-changing display in the Stump Hill Art Gallery, the always fresh and lovingly prepared meals and cakes from the café, then there are the cinemas, the markets and the vintage car meet-ups. I even took my nephews in for lunch during the school holidays, and they love it not only because of the chicken nuggets and the playground, but also because their mum was married on the lawns.

When I work our pop up cellar door at the Visitor Centre, I’m happy to be part of the steady stream of interesting and friendly locals, tourists, families and industry. Many people are just dropping in for a map, but even more are setting out with the Visitor Centre as their destination, and it’s the perfect base for me to showcase our wines.

Sometimes the first thing people will say to me is, ‘sooo…I’ve never heard of you before…’ and they seem slightly worried they’re going to offend me. That’s really alright, our marketing dollars aren’t going into making us a household name. It’s a conscious choice to stay genuinely boutique, not to sell into bottle shops and create a truly signature style of wines.

So, what is genuinely boutique? That means we really do produce only small amounts of our wines, with around 70 tonnes of fruit coming in, or 5,500 dozen bottles of wine going out of our winery each year.

So, what’s so good about being boutique? It means we can stay true to traditional methods of winemaking, use real French oak barrels, pump over by hand at vintage and bottle our premiums under cork for the journey they’re going to take in your cellar.

So, what does that all mean? Well, since you’re only reading this and I haven’t just poured you a glass of wine, it’s slightly harder to explain than if we were really having this conversation at cellar door. Basically it means that our style of wine is complex, it’s exciting and it’s sometimes controversial, but that’s exactly what the winemaker is going for; an interesting nose, a perfect palate and a structure that can back up your dinner choice, your wine club’s scrutiny, or truly develop after 10 or 15 years of cellaring.

Still have more questions? That’s great, because I’ll be at the Visitor Centre’s pop up cellar door from Monday 6 February where I’ll do my best to answer your questions, and I look forward to your company over the next two weeks!

Cheers, Vanessa De Lisio


De Lisio Wines Pop Up Cellar Door
Monday 6 to Sunday 19 February , 10 am – 5 pm daily (to 4 pm on weekends)
McLaren Vale Visitor Centre, Main Road, McLaren Vale