When we go up to the Perth Hills, I can’t help but feel a million miles away from Perth City. I grew up in a small town so the thought of being away from the hustle & bustle of a busy city is more than welcomed. Usually when we go up to the hills for a wee wine tasting or 3 we have to drive as unlike the Swan Valley, it’s just that bit further than our backyard. However recently both Mr. Spittoon and I could drink as much as we wanted and still be safe on the roads thanks to the guys at Explore Tours Perth.
Firstly a big thank you to Chief Explorer Adam for inviting us along to experience their newish scheduled monthly tour to the Bickley & Carmel Valleys – you saved yet another argument between Mr. Spittoon and I over who was going to have to drive! The day trip promises wine, cider and food – and the question is, did it deliver?
The Hidden Extras
I’m sure most of you have been on a wine or food tour, whether it was for a girls day in the Swan Valley or exploring the Margaret River with an expert. They’re pretty much all the same right? Wrong! I was genuinely pleased to see/experience some very cool points of difference on this Bickley Valley tour…
- Free wifi and water on board the bus
- Snazzy lanyards – more to help us remember our own names apparently ?
- 3 food stops; cheeseboard at the first winery, lunch at the cider house and wine sorbet to end the day at the last winery
- An AMAZING shared lunch, not just your standard platters
- Sneaky behind the scenes look at one of the wineries & a guided after lunch walk at the cider house
- Private tasting areas (I like this more for their other customers!)
- Plentiful chill-out time, no rushing
- Guided tasting by the owner at one of the wineries
And that’s not all of it! There were definitely plentiful perks on the day which are not included in your standard wine tour or day tour in Perth.
So where did the tout take us in the Bickley Valley?
To really avoid the whose going to drive anywhere on the day, Mr. Spittoon and I made our way into the city via public transport to met up with the group outside the Perth train station.
The bus arrived at 9:45am and I was glad to see it had aircon as temperatures were expected to reach nearly 40 degrees and it was already well on its way! As the Perth Hills are around 350 meters above sea level it meant we might be able to shave off a few degrees. However I’m glad there was plentiful chilled water on board in a chilly bin. It’s a must when it’s a hot day but especially important when you’re drinking wine all day.
The trip up to the hills took literally no more than 40 minutes. We listened to Adam’s friendly banter and a bit of music on the way, everyone was well-behaved as all wine tours start out. We were properly introduced to Jason the bus we were on, who is named after Jason Donovan from neighbours and we found out the other Explore Tours Perth bus is called Kylie. Very Aussie indeed!
Below was our itinerary for the day, however it may be different on the day for you – however you really can’t go wrong visiting any of the Perth Hills wineries in my opinion!
It has been quite awhile since Mr. Spittoon and I have visited Fairbrossen Estate and after recently drinking a bottle of the Fairbrossen Rosé – I was happy to show up on their doorstep to start the day.
Prior to entering the cellar door, Adam explained that ‘fair brossen’ is an English expression used when you’re bursting full of food (and wine!). The family behind the winery originates from the Lake District in the north-west of England.
The tasting was held in their lovely cool tasting room. There were so many tasty wines on offer as well as delectable cheese boards with local produce. I really want to go back and give some of the ‘side projects’ a whirl at some stage. On this particular day my taste buds were all over the Malbec – we had to buy a bottle to take home as well as a bottle of the Durif.
We were then all surprised to be taken around the back to where all the winery equipment is to see the next vintage of Durif in the makings. Gosh I love a winery smell at vintage! A very cool extra touch that none of us were expecting!
The beauty of the Bickley Valley, is that all the wineries are not too far apart. We were literally on and off the bus – never too long between wines which is another major pro for a wine tour!
For the tasting we sat out on the deck at Due Jolly which was very picturesque but alas a bit hot and sweaty on a day like this – I was glad I wore a dress and not jeans otherwise I would have baked!
I liked the voluptuous tasting glasses at Due Jolly and later found out they are from IKEA – the perfect dinner party glasses for guests you don’t want to let near your expensive Riedel or Plumm glasses I reckon!
There were definitely some interesting tipples at Due Jolly, the Secco was lovely and refreshing in the heat, great Chardonnays and the Rhesus Positive Shiraz Cabernet was delightful.
Since usually Mr. Spittoon or myself is driving, we typically only try a couple of wines at each place, which is typically more than likely just a couple of whites. So it was really great to try through the wine lists at each place and I have to admit we came across a lot of reds that were absolutely to die for on this trip. Looks like we’ll have to stock up for the cooler months!
Core Cider House
After our first two stops it was just about midday, which means lunchtime for hungry tummies! I don’t know about you but I’m always excited and intrigued about lunch on a wine tour and I find they can be quite underwhelming, even when you’re half full of wine. Our lunch destination was Core Cider House which has the most beautiful view overlooking rolling hills full of orchard trees.
We sat down at a long table just down from the kitchen with a few fans around us and plenty of water on the table. I have to commend Adam for his attentiveness to making sure we all had full water glasses on the day – he seemed to constantly be filling us up at every stop. Perhaps for the heat or perhaps to avoid a bus full or wine-drunks – I’d say a bit of both!
The food came out super quick and it just kept coming! There was the most amazing aranchini balls (so much ooey gooey cheese in the centre), fresh squid, apple blue cheese and rocket salad, wedges with sweet chilli & sour cream, bread with freshly churned butter, dukkah and olive oil & balsamic vinegar and homemade party pies with tomato sauce.
I was completely overwhelmed with the quality and type of food served on a $120 per person day tour. There was a good mix of ‘soak up the wine’ types of foods as well as more ‘fancy’ foods I guess you could say (excuse my lack of descriptors for the food, obviously wine blogging is more my thing than food blogging!). Everyone seemed really happy with the selection of food and we were all full to the brim. Not to mention we each got a rack of 5 very generous tastes of cider to keep us happy. As always the lemon cider was the favourite!
We could have also asked for a glass of wine, beer or non-alcoholic drink with lunch. However when in Rome!
Our Chief Explorer at the end of the lunch said he was going to go for a walk down to the events/wedding spot at Core to have a look if anyone wanted to join him. Most people stayed and relaxed on the grass with another cider however a handful of us decided to go for a wander. I needed it after all that lunch!
It was great to meander in amongst the rows of apple and pear trees and I have to say the wedding ceremony spot is truly beautiful and secluded. If we hadn’t already booked our wedding venue, it may of just been an option for us!
We had some time to chill out on the lawn/nap before getting back on the bus. It was at this stage total relaxation kicked in and all my work worries melted away. Literally melted as I’m sure I lost a bit of weight sweating in the heat (good news for a soon-to-be-bride)!
This was the perfect after lunch wine tasting! We were taken out to a little spot on the deck overlooking the vineyard to sit down and listen to Lyn, the lovely owner speak about their story and the wines. I learnt that Hainault is the highest vineyard in WA – everyday is a school day! And it was very cool to hear the story of the current owners and how the vineyard use to be on the ‘neglected vineyards list’ – Lyn and hubby Michael got it off that list pretty quickly!
From my last visit it’s still safe to say I’m a big fan of the Semillon and Chardonnay. There was a lovely breeze on the deck as we enjoyed our tasting and the setting was a great opportunity for tour-goers to be able to ask more questions.
It’s been awhile since we visited Hainault – it was great to see their lovely new cellar door, it use to be cramped at the end of the deck the last time we visited. A really enjoyable stop this one was and I’m looking forward to visiting them again at some stage.
It’s no secret Myattsfield are one of my favourite WA wineries. Emma happily greeted us all and took us through a tasting as we lapped up the view over the vineyard and tucked into some of their delectable wine sorbet.
I gave Mr. Spittoon specific instructions not to let me walk out with more than 2 bottles due to trying to save for the wedding. We walked out with 3 after I twisted his arm, so I was pretty well-behaved in the end. My top picks had to be the Sparkling Blanc de Noirs and the Dudley Durif. Again the reds were totally slutting up my taste buds today!
We were the stragglers back to the bus and we’d managed to save or sorbet for the bus trip back which went down a treat. The sparkling rose sorbet was divine!
The bus trip back passed quickly. Everyone was well and truly relaxed with happy tummies and taste buds. We were dropped back near the train station in Perth city to make our way home.
All up we both had a wonderful day and there’s no doubt I’d recommend this Bickley Valley tour to both Perth locals and visitors to WA! For more information, please check out the Explore Tours Perth website and make sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.