I recently decided to venture from my lovely hub in the Swan Valley down to another spot of Western Australia’s gorgeous wine country – the Margaret River. It is an area of natural beauty where you are never too far from a booze stop, definitely my kind of place!
I know I only licked the very edge of the Margaret River in this trip, but here are some of my favourite and noteworthy places to visit:
Vasse Felix Winery
What a purely gorgeous winery. The grounds are full of crazy artworks; the cellar door is super trendy and modern yet completely unpretentious. If it wasn’t for the hefty price tag on the wines I swear I would of walked out with cases of the stuff, the wines are just to die for. The upside is you can sip your way through their range of fine wines free of charge; I’m talking about trying some $100 wines here. If you only want to try 1 or 2 make sure it’s the Heytesbury 2011 Chardonnay and the Heytesbury 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – taste bud heaven! Click here for more information.
Okay so the winery is in the middle of a huge garden, it made me think of an old English country garden manor mixed with Versailles in France. My spittoon (aka the boyfriend) thought it was way to snobby for his liking! However we did love the guided virtual tastings on offer. Basically you choose a tasting package and then sit down at your own designated table where you are set up with glasses, paper, pen and an iPad per person. The sommelier will then come and explain to you the process, pour the wines and answer any questions. You are then left to your own devices to taste, read the tasting notes on the iPad and discuss freely with your companions. Once finished the sommelier will again revisit you to answer any further questions. I loved it. It was a great way to go at our own pace, discuss privately the wines and of course try wines we wouldn’t be able to elsewhere. We opted for the Heroes of Margaret River tasting which is 6 wines for $25. Well worth it. Click here for more information.
With all the wine drinking you have got to balance it out right? Colonial is a fun quirky microbrewery with tasting paddles for $15 and 2 litre “growlers” which you can take home with your favourite brew in for $40. A great spot to grab some sun and the food menu looked A-Mazing! Click here for more information.
To add some heritage to our trip, I thought we would take a morning off and visit one of the widely talked about cave sites in the Margaret River. About a 15-minute drive south from Margaret River you’ll come across Mammoth Cave. For $22pp you receive an audio guide that you take into the cave and throughout the journey it tells you everything you need to know about the cave and its surroundings. It’s a great experience, and I have to admit I am guilty for saying “wow” a few too many times. The stalagmites were truly an amazing sight. Plus at a constant cool 12 degrees it’s a great way to get out of the heat on a hot day! Click here for more information.
This is probably the weirdest cellar door I have seen in a long time. It’s full of everything from cushions for sale to Valiant Chargers on show (yes truly, 2 cars were in there!) to 007 old school posters. It’s safe to say that their focus is on the restaurant, which I must say was very busy on this particular Sunday. I could taste why too, the meals were amazing (we just loved the handmade Roman gnocchi and steak sandwich) plus I have to admit the Cabernet Merlot I had from Aravina was delish, it definitely didn’t disappoint and it went exceptionally well with the gnocchi. I would love to see them put a bit more focus on the cellar door and their wine.. But hey if you’re keen for good grub and wine to match, make sure you visit! Click here for more information.
Cape Mentelle has to make the list because Mr. Spittoon thought this one was great, and coming from a ‘I’ll drink wine because it has alcohol in it’ kind of guys that says a lot. He loved the laid back feel to the cellar door and the staff were so chatty and friendly. Behind the tasting counter is their barrel room, where you can actually go in and have a good gawk at the barrels full of tasty goodness! Plus its temperature controlled so again another great thing to do on a hot day! Click here for more information.
It is definitely worth it to pay the $2 to try the 2010 Awakening Chardonnay at Watershed, the toasted cashew, nectarine, peach and butteriness will have you down on your knees praying for more. This is also a nice spot to have lunch. Sit out on the deck so you can overlook the vineyard, truly magical and you didn’t hear it from me but the dessert tasting platter is a must!! Click here for more information.
Of course there are plenty more hot spots in the Margs, as the locals call it, so why not jump in the car with no map and see where you end up. I’m sure it’ll be somewhere great. If you are a planner, www.margaretriver.com is your one-stop shop with accommodation, winery information, sightseeing, etc.