It’s been 6 years since my wine-loving hubby and I visited the Ferguson Valley – and that’s six years too long! Nestled in the heart of the Shire of Dardanup, the spectacular Ferguson Valley is only a hop, skip and a jump away from Perth. A short two-hour drive transports you to picturesque surroundings of rolling hills complete with wonderful wineries and sloping vineyards.
Way back in July 2010 we embarked on our first wine tasting adventure to this amazing part of WA – and loved it. I honestly don’t know why we left it so long to return. Upon our recent visit we were completely blown away! Wineries we had visited six years ago have now grown and developed – some with cafes and restaurants. There are new and exciting cellar doors and breweries. There’s also more accommodation choices – ultimately making it more accessible for a weekend get away.
The highlights of our weekend were:
Bonking Frog Wines
In keeping with our winery weekend theme, we stayed at the cottage at Bonking Frog Wines. Ideally located for exploring the Geographe Wine region, the cottage perches over the small vineyard – complete with friendly goats, sheep and guinea fowl, who are curious to see who is sipping wine on the decking!
This boutique winery in North Boyanup is dedicated to making a range of quality merlots: 2015 Summer Merlot (a deep rose style, light and a hint of sweetness – best served chilled and pairs really well with Asian style food), 2014 Winter Merlot (mulberry and chocolate on the nose – and perfect with our BBQ butterflied leg of lamb), 2013 Scandal Merlot (which packs the punch with juicy fruit and soft tannins – also served chilled – great with Indian curries) and the 2011 Paterson Reserve Merlot (smooth and sophisticated, rich and bold with a hint of coffee – which would be fantastic with slow cooked beef casserole).
Although they specialise in Merlot, they did have a wild card about to be unleashed – a Sparkling Chardonnay – and we were incredibly privileged to be the first to try it. It was certainly, lively on the palate, with such a clear crispness of smooth chardonnay. It was perfect with our late afternoon cheese platter overlooking the vineyard.
They are also selling delicious wine sorbets at their frog-themed cellar door which are incredibly cooling and refreshing on a hot day.
Green Door Wines
I checked out the website of Green Door before our jaunt to the Ferguson Valley – so this winery was definitely on our ‘to-do’ list. We were intrigued at their fabulous sounding European style wines such as Verano, Fiano, Tempranillo, and Grenache Shiraz Mouverdre.
Upon arrival into the stunning cellar door, which overlooks the sweeping valley, you cannot miss the gorgeous green door. It is amazing. The mosaic detailed door on one side, vibrant green on the other, is originally from Morocco. It frames the views of the stunning vineyard. It’s such a fantastic feature and a brilliant concept to build a winery around.
The stand out wines for us were:
- 2014 Tempranillo – so incredibly rich and meaty, dark mulberry in colour. It had a medium to full-bodied style with a distinctive cherry, savoury characters and a powerful finish.
- 2013 GSM – Spanish Steps – ruby in colour, delicate raspberry flavours. Great mouthfeel and lingering finish.
- 2015 Rose – The Flamenco – a delicious and refreshing blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mouverdre. This is a French style rose with a real punch of strawberries and cream on the nose and palate. Fantastic for a summer’s day.
Watch this space for the Tempranillo – the winemaker has already made a name for himself in the valley.
The aromas of food were particularly enticing – fantastic tasting plates and following on the Moroccan theme, spinach and feta pie. We will definitely be back to relax on the verandah, sip great wines, graze over a platter and enjoy the views.
Address: Henty Brook Rd, Henty WA 6236
Opening hours: 11am until 4.30pm
Ferguson Hart Estate
This winery has a new modern label since our last visit – however, after speaking to the owner Merv Hart at the cellar door, the label a bold and simple FHE, has been like that for a few years now (which just shows it’s been a while since our last visit).
A great selection of wines were on offer along with some fabulous deals – the six wines tasted at cellar door for $110 – this included 2 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Chardonnay and choice of 2 reds.
- The 2013 The Van Leeuwin Block chardonnay was incredible – buttery, full-bodied and rich. How chardonnays should be! The grapes are from a chardonnay-only vineyard about 1km from the cellar door at Ferguson Hart.
- 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is a blend that grows exceptionally well in the Ferguson Valley, particularly with the valley’s cool nights. This one was crisp and dry, with gooseberry notes and a great full mouth feel. It was a great smooth SBS with a great balance of acidity.
- 2014 GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mouverdre) – I loved this wine for its smooth tannins, and great hints of star anise and spice – it could be a real warming Autumnal wine, without being too heavy.
- 2011 Shiraz – this wine has a long smooth intensity. There were some real characters of liquorice on the palate which made the wine wonderfully rich.
We simply had to buy a six-pack and alongside the whites, we choose two of the GSMs and a shiraz. I’m really enjoying the GSM blends at the moment.
Address: 3 Gardincourt Dr, Ferguson Valley WA 6236
Opening hours: weekends 11am to 5pm.
Barton Jones Wines
Having been recommended to go to this winery by Travelling Corkscrew, we just had to pop it on our itinerary for the weekend.
Situated in the rolling hills above Donnybrook, Barton Jones is a stunning cellar door with breathtaking views – it was certainly worth the winding, hilly drive.
The owners, Jackie Barton and Andrew Jones, originally from the UK, are incredibly welcoming and a real source of inspiration – the cellar door is built out of straw – and was built from scratch by themselves. The cellar door and cafe, which now hosts weddings and function, is complete with brilliant handmade furniture – – even the light shades are made out of barrels. And on to the wine…the beautifully handcrafted wine just adds to the magic of this place.
It was great to sample a basic range of wines (which are by no means ‘basic’) and a premium range of wines as well as comparing old and new vintages alongside each other. Needless to say, we were so impressed that we bought a mixed case from here. Standout wines included the 2013 The Box Seat Semillon – the grapes of which come from a select parcel of hand-picked fruit from the highest point on their Home Block vineyard. The straight, strong and bold semillon is incredibly herbaceous. It’s intense and rich, packed with a wealth of citrus undertones.
The 2010 Bigwig Shiraz was another favourite – again made with exclusive hand-picked fruit and left to age and mature for 14 months in oak barrels. Wow – what a great complexity. Brilliant deep purple in colour and bursting with dark berry fruits – it’s mouth feel is just luscious!
Thanks for the tip on this vineyard Casey. We’ll certainly be back.
Address: 39 Upper Capel Rd, Donnybrook WA 6239
Opening hours: 10.30am until 4.30pm Thursday to Monday
We visited here five years ago – and had a delicious degustation type lunch, so without any hesitation we had to go back again. I made a reservation to avoid any disappointment because it is a popular lunch spot.
It overlooks a dam and the tranquil Ferguson Valley countryside – complete with cows munching on what looked like rather dry grass! The cellar door is situated in its bustling restaurant, which means that although it’s great to sample their wines before lunch, it can be a bit of a squeeze if the restaurant is busy.
There’s only one menu – a six course (including an Amuse Bouche to really get everyone’s taste buds going!). The wine list offers wine by the bottle, glass or half glass (the latter being a fantastic way to match wine and food). The prices are very reasonable too – half a glass starting at just $4.
The 2014 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was refreshing. It was lively on the palate and full of tropical fruit. It matched wonderfully with our Amuse Bouche – a small espresso-type cup filled with a rich bouillabaisse, served with a crispy bread-crumbed prawn. This wine was also prefect with the first course: Apple smoked chicken, cranberry, coconut, caramel vinegar. One word for this dish: divine!
I chose a glass of the 2008 Merlot to match the third course of Beef, sweet potato, zucchini, red wine jus – I know Merlot may seem an odd choice to match beef but this Merlot was great. Being a 2008 (and resting in American and French oak for 16 months) meant it had great maturity and complex blackberry and raspberry fruit flavours.
We left Hackersley Estate with a warm glow of contentment. Eating and drinking, taking in the wonderful scenery and surroundings – it was just pure relaxation.
Address: 1133 Ferguson Rd, Ferguson WA 6236
Opening hours: Thursday-Sunday 10am-4pm
What a great place Ferguson Valley is! There is absolutely no way we will leave it for another six years. There are some incredible wineries – that although at the moment, feel like they are hidden gems BUT this won’t be for long. There are some amazing wines to try – and winemakers to watch out for. Please put the Ferguson Valley on you Must-Do list – it’s about time we really shouted about this simply stunning wine region.