Happy Birthday To Me
I recently celebrated a 30-something birthday and my birth date can be both a blessing and a curse.
- Blessing: My birthday is held over the Australia Day long weekend and I am always guaranteed a ‘recovery’ day.
- Curse: It can be really difficult to try and get friends together, as it is a good time to go away. And this year was a three-day long weekend.
I convinced the other half to make an extra-extra long weekend, taking a four-day long weekend and our destination was Busselton.
Using Busselton as our base meant we were in the middle of two major wine regions; Bunbury-Geographe (highlighted in blue) and Margaret River (highlighted in pink).
I have visited quite a few Margaret River wineries, so I thought it would be a good chance to check out what was available in the Bunbury-Geographe wine region and I had a few areas to choose from including:
- Ferguson Valley
There are over 25 cellar doors in the Bunbury-Geographe wine region, so I knew I would be able to find a couple of cracking good wines.
I reached out to the team at Pop A Cork Tours who offer wine tours in a 1968 convertible Mustang (their car looks pretty amazing) in the Ferguson Valley for a wine tour suggestion and they came up with the following list:
- Hackersley Estate Wines
- St Aidan Wines
- Ferguson Falls Wines
- Willowbridge Estate
- Green Door Wines
- Capel Vale Wines
We managed to visit five of the six wineries (sorry Capel Vale Wines!) and snuck in a brewery partway through the day.
Before I visit any new wine region, I like to get a lay of the land.
About The Ferguson Valley
a picturesque agricultural hinterland where traditional farming enterprises like beef and dairy production have been joined in more recent times by a now thriving tourism industry.”
As soon as you start driving through the region you have this beautiful mix of open farmland and towering trees from the native bush.
Ferguson Valley is about a 15-minute drive from Bunbury, about 35 minutes from Busselton and if coming from Perth, it is just under a 2-hour drive.
The Geographe Wine Association notes that the”
climate is ideal for medium to full-bodied wines including Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Chardonnay.”
Although we were heading to Ferguson Valley for the wine, you may know Ferguson Valley for their most famous attraction Gnomesville; home to over 3,000 gnomes.
Hackersley Estate Wines
After a brief drive from Busselton, Hackersley Estate Wines, located approximately twenty minutes inland from Bunbury, was our first stop for the day and can be found nestled amongst trees and the hills of the serene Ferguson Valley.
Before becoming a winery, the property had been a dairy farm for over 100 years. Luckily for us, they opted to plant some vines!
We tasted through their entire range, which I wasn’t expecting to be as extensive as it was.
After reading up about their range of wines, I was surprised to learn that they have eight grape varieties including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Verdelho, Petit Verdot and Mondeuse.
Their current white wine vintages were between 2016 to 2018.
While the red wine had been aged for much longer, including a 2011 Shiraz which we decided we just had to buy.
The restaurant at Hackersley is an institution in the area for its degustation lunch and after reading “A Curious Road” blog post about their cellar door and lunch visit I was salivating for more.
Travelling Corkscrew contributor, Nicola has also visited Hackersley and enjoyed the degustation lunch.
We had already made a booking for lunch, however, I would love to come back again to enjoy an afternoon on their verandah, overlooking the dam.
Although I didn’t get a photo, you may be lucky enough to spot a black swan sharing the dam with a few wild ducks.
Bush Shack Brewery
We hadn’t intended on visiting a brewery.
Bush Shack Brewery has taken over the site that was formally Moody Cow and is just down the road from St. Aidens Winery, which was meant to be our second stop for the day.
At this point in the day, we were running ahead of schedule so we thought we would pop in.
As soon as you walk into the venue you get a clear sense of light-hearted fun with labels such as the Twisted Lemon Lagar.
We couldn’t decide on just one drink each as they have over 20 alcoholic beverages available. We opted for two tasting paddles instead.
They offered to bring the beers out to us so we made our way out onto the deck. If the deck had of been full, we would have grabbed a rug and made our way out onto the lawn.
It was such a great day to be outside and enjoying a beer.
Staff delivered two, six x 100ml tasters to our table and we were mesmerised by the amazing colours.
Recall how I said we couldn’t decide? Well, we ordered 12 of the possible 20 odd drinks available which included:
Left Paddle (front to back)
- Ginger Beer – old fashioned-styled and refreshingly spicey
- Yallingup Old – Malty dark amber ale
- SMaSH Ale – 100% Aussie ale using Munich malt and enigma hops
- Twisted Lemon Lager – Cripse dry lager made with lemon rind and honey
- Chilli Beer – Pilsner with a mild chilli bite
- Milky Wh-Ale – Smooth milk ale with hints of caramel and vanilla
Right Paddle (front to back)
- Black Cherry Bliss – Retro inspired cherry cola
- Old Ps’s Sars – A liquorice creamy soda sensation
- Mango Madness – Sparkling beverage with tropical fruit flavours
- Kick’n Kale – Alcoholic soda with caramel and vanilla flavours
- Passionfruit Beer – “Passiona Pop”
- Scream’n Cream’n – Alcoholic soda with raspberry and vanilla flavours
St Aidan Wines
Just down the road from Bush Shack Brewery is St. Aidan Wines.
Image Source: visitbunburygeographe.com.au
St. Aidan Wines is a boutique vineyard found in the heart of the Geographe wine region. The name of the winery derives from the districts historic church next door.
As soon as you walk into St Aiden Winery you get a sense of what goodies you will get to sample while there. Not only do they have wine for people to try, but they also sell condiments, olive oil, jewellery and local artwork.
You may even spot a gnome or two at the cellar door.
St Aidan Wines is also a part of the “Geographe Alternative Wine Trail”, along with eight other wineries within the Bunbury-Geograph Wine Region.
The trail aims to introduce drinkers to alternative grape varieties such as Arneis, Barbera, Fiano and Tempranillo. The Wine Trail recommends trying two of St Aiden’s alternative grape varieties; Tempranillo and Moscato.
We tasted an assortment of wines including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Tempranillo.
We adored listening to the story about The Sister Series and if you visit the winery the cellar door I encourage you to ask about the three sisters.
The three sisters have been immortalised in their wines and on the St. Aidan Wines website:
- “Kay” Rose 2018 – A Rose by any other name would probably have been Kay. The youngest of our three sisters as personified in the Sister Series of St. Aidan Wines, Kay brings a light-hearted sense of fun and enjoyment and a warm glow to any occasion.
- “Cassie” Moscato 2018 – The grapes for this Muscat (a petit Gris) like all our vineyard are handpicked. The fermentation is stopped early and the wine is cold stabilised. The wine is blush in colour and displays a wonderful spritz on the tongue due to the cold ferment process retaining naturally occurring Co2.
- “Sybil” Chardonnay 2018 – Sybil, the eldest of the sisters personified in the sister series, holds a richly deserved position of respect. This elegant Chardonnay is a tribute to her indomitable spirit. The wine exhibits rich full flavours making it an ideal wine for any table.
To match our lunch we opted with a glass each of the 2013 Chardonnay, which we were able to compare against the 2015 and 2018 vintages during the tasting.
As we had called in advance, we requested a platter for two which was the perfect amount of food for the two of us.
Ferguson Falls Wines
After our lunch and wine tasting, we were back on the road to visit Ferguson Falls Wines.
Over one hundred years ago, the Giumelli Family arrived in Western Australia from Northern Italy to discover the enviable climate and lush surrounds of the Ferguson Valley.
Not only do they offer wine tasting and wine purchases at the venue, but you can also order yourself a pizza. We were still pretty full from our lunch but we just had to have a pizza while we were there. We opted with a rosemary and sea-salt pizza, so it wouldn’t put us into a food coma.
Next time I will be ordering the Reuben PIzza – pulled corned beef silverside, sauerkraut, Swiss and mozzarella cheeses, pickles & homemade Russian dressing. That sounds like my kind of pizza!
While we waited for our pizza to be made we tasted through their range and we had two clear favourites.
a refreshing aromatic wine with a delicate citrus blossom bouquet, a lemon/lime palate and a crisp effervescent finish.”
We were told that the wine would have an effervescent finish (the feeling of delicate bubbles in your mouth, like sherbert), and this was such a beautiful surprise on the palate.
Our other favourite from Ferguson Falls was the 2017 Primavera Rosso. This is a red wine that should be served chilled and it absolutely hit the spot for us. This Summer I have been loving chilled red wines so naturally, we had to buy a bottle.
The 2017 Primavera Rosso is described as:
full bodied, slight effervescent wine…, bold on the front palate with a refreshing dry finish. Ideal for drinking over the warmer months and an excellent wine to have for festive occasions.”
Before arriving at Willowbridge Estate I thought didn’t know the winery. As we got closer I recognised the iconic dragonfly.
We were told at the cellar door that drinkers were becoming so accustomed to the sub-brand Dragonfly, that they had to rebrand. They still include the image of the dragonfly, however, the brand Willow Bridge Estate is far more prominent.
Willow Bridge has a large selection of wines to taste including the Dragonfly Series, Estate Series, Black Dog and Maris Sol, their small batch range.
The Maris Sol range includes a 2016 Chardonnay and the 2016 Shiraz Tempranillo Cabernet.
Maris Sol is only made into small batches, capturing the essence of the vintage.
The name Maris Sol (Coastal Sun) comes from the views that influence Willow Bridge Estate. The view includes the vineyard, all the way to the Indian Ocean coastline.
The painting, and ultimately the wine label, was commissioned by artist Sara Winfield.
Willow Bridge Estate is also a part of the Geographe Alternative Wine Trail. The must-try wines as suggested by the trail are the Maria Sol Shiraz Tempranillo Cabernet and the Solana Tempranillo (the middle wine bottle in the picture above).
Green Door Wines
Our final stop for the day was Green Door Wines and we only just made it in time! Thankfully Green Door Winery was kind enough to keep the doors open for a little bit longer to allow us to taste through six of their wines.
Green Door Wines is part of the Geographe Alternative Wine Trail. The must-try wines as suggested by the trail are the Tempranillo, Monastrell and Fiano.
The wines (SBS, Chardonnay, Rose, GSM, Monastrell and a Tempranillo) were brought out to us in small carafes and then it was up to us to self-serve (or pour). It meant that we could go at our own pace.
If you’re someone who doesn’t like the person at the cellar door waiting for you to finish your glass before pouring the next, then you should visit Green Door Winery.
Personally, I like asking lots of questions, but since it was the last winery of the day, it was nice just to taste and savour the view
The cellar door has a Spanish influence and includes stunning views of the Ferguson Valley and if you’re lucky enough, you might even be able to see a glimpse of the afternoon sun glistening on the ocean.
The centre-piece, a ginormous but very ornate green door, was purchased by the owners while in Morocco, making the perfect backdrop for a photo or two.
Have you visited the Bunbury-Geograph wine region, or thinking about visiting the region soon? Let us know in the comments.