WARNING: This post promotes drinking wine before midday!
I’m not a fan of tours, I hate the hoards of people sticking out their glasses not caring what goes in it, the predictable itinerary to only the big commercial wineries and being rushed through a cellar door tasting even though all you can hear is the group of 20 something year old guys chatting about how drinking wine will get them laid. Definitely not a fan.
However on my trip down to the Margaret a River wine region in January I wanted to book a tour so both Mr.Spittoon and I could have a day out minus one of us being the sober driver. It’s a hard life when two wine lovers come together! I researched the hell out of the various Margaret River wine tours and after much deliberation I ended up booking a full day wine tour with Top Drop Tours.
I just hoped that they live up to the hype of small tour groups and a flexible itinerary. The inital phone conversation was a good sign as I was asked what wine styles I enjoyed and if I had any particular wineries in mind so they could best tailor the day to our needs (note I say needs and not wants). So did they manage it?
Well we were picked up at 10:30am from our hotel in Margaret River town. It was a good time as it meant we got to sleep in or could go get some brekkie (I would recommend Muster in Margaret River town – divine!) – we opted for the lie in!
Chris our driver turned up in a 5-door SUV with the other tour goers – a lovely Sydney couple! So we had 5 people including Chris – it was off to a good start! A driver can really impact how the day pans out on a wine tour and I must say Chris was exceptional! The poor guy was touring us around on a public holiday – Australia Day and despite this he was in great spirits. Throughout the whole day he was super chatty in the car, explaining about the Margaret River wine region, about each winery we would visit and he was super flexible with how long we spent at each.
Being in such a small group really made it feel less like a tour and more like a day out with friends with a very happy sober driver! We visited big and small wineries, each one had something unique about it and I admit it – I bought something at each stop! All the wineries offer postage which is what the Sydney-siders went for however Chris happily took care of out purchases for us in chilly bags in the back of the vehicle.
So where did we go?? We started out with our first wine tasting at about 11am at Woodlands Wines (specialising in Bordeaux blends and they have some amazing Chardonnays), then onto Credaro Wines (Italian heritage and they make a wine from the Fragola grape), Cape Naturliste Vineyard (quirkily little joint with down-to-earth hospitality), Heydon Estate (tucked away little gem with gorgeous Chardonnay and tastings are served up in grape specific Riedel glassware) and the last stop was Juniper Estate (fantastic hospitality and a great selection of museum stock to purchase!).
For lunch we stopped at Hay Shed Hill at about 1pm where there was a set menu (click here to view the Top Drop Tours Hayshed Hill lunch menu). Everyone seemed suitably happy with the choices, and we also ordered some very tasty fries to help soak up all that wine. My squid ink paella was very delicious. My wine picks of the day were:
- Woodlands 2006 “Robert” Cabernet Sauvignon
- Woodlands 2012 “Chloe” Chardonnay
- Credaro 2012 Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon
- Juniper Crossing 2006 Chardonnay
- Juniper Estate 2004 Shiraz
- Cape Naturaliste 2010 “Torpedo Rocks” Cabernet Sauvignon
- Heydon 2009 “The Willow” Chardonnay
The day tour for 2 cost us around the $300 mark which included lunch and all the tastings were free-of-charge. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a Top Drop Tour to anyone looking for an awesome Margaret River wine tour to go on. I dare say that I’ll be booking another tour on my next visit to the region and the best bit is I’ll know this will be a whole new experience!