Overall, the climate is Mediterranean, with fresh sea breezes helping to moderate temperatures during the growing season. Chilly winds from the hills also cool the grapes on specific vineyard sites, helping to retain acidity and structure. The summers and most of the autumn season are dry, which keeps vine diseases at bay. McLaren Vale vineyards also boast a wide range of soil types, with localized specialties.
The region acquired its GI (Geographical Indication) status in 1997, but wine-growing traditions here are amongst the oldest in the country. Pioneers such as Thomas Hardy and John Reynella, both iconic names in the Australian wine industry, can be credited with this achievement, having realized the region's potential in the early 19th Century when the first vines were planted.
The proximity of McLaren Vale to the city of Adelaide provides plenty of custom for local wine producers' cellar door operations.