Today on the blog we welcome Nicola back! Nicola and her hubby Ralph are sharing with us their Mr Mustang Hire adventures in Australia’s South West recently. The Travelling Corkscrew was kindly invited to experience Mr Mustang Hire free of charge. All opinions are our own.
“Mustang Sally, think you better slow your Mustang down
Mustang Sally, think you better slow your Mustang down
You’ve been running all over the town now
Oh! I guess I’ll have to put your flat feet on the ground
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride
All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride…”
It’s hard to get this song out of your head when you are cruising around in a beautiful, legendary 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe, affectionately called ‘Sally”.
Described as ‘Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure’ by Australia’s South West premium private chauffeured Mr Mustang Hire, this has got to be one of the best ways to explore the Bunbury-Geographe wine region – in sheer style and luxury!
Just the gleaming look of this 1965 two-door, 5-seat hard top coupe is enough to make anyone sing out loud. Its Tahoe turquoise metallic paintwork, plush white leather interior – fitted with perfectly matching turquoise seat belts and cushions – and then there’s the original dash with the retro-looking tape deck. It – or should I say – ‘SHE’ is beautiful. Add a wine tour… then this little adventure could be a little taste of paradise!
But this is NO little adventure, it’s an EPIC 8 hour day driving around stunning countryside, tasting local produce and sipping on amazing wines – its a true showcase of the Bunbury-Geographe region.
My husband and I were incredibly lucky enough to be invited by Mr Mustang Hire, to experience their recently launched Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure.
How Mr Mustang Hire began..
A love for classic muscle cars – and in particular, the Mustang, started this wonderful business venture.
Vince Civello (AKA Mr Mu5tang) had always dreamed of owning a Mustang and 5 years ago one came up for sale in a town close by – and it was Vince’s wife Karen that suggested a test drive.
My husband is my world. He has given me everything – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I needed to somehow find a way to get that car. You see 12 months earlier I was diagnosed with cancer. You only live once and what’s the point of buying it ‘someday’. When someday does come you are too old, too grey and too bloody forgetful. So why not now?”
Vince had the surprise of his life for his birthday and fast forward four years… and a semi-retirement plan Mr Mustang Hire was born!
Mustang Sally, first licensed in Houston out of the Dearborn Factory in 1965, certainly has the wow factor.
Armed with my matching-coloured wine-themed notebook, my husband Ralph and I were ready for our adventure around the South West – and really looking forward to wine tasting at wineries where we’ve not had the chance to visit – until now.
Sally is certainly comfortable, she is oozing with charm and grace – and although licensed for 4 passengers, Mr Mustang Hire recommend three passengers for comfort.
Our driver Vince is bursting with pride – it’s easy to see that he absolutely loves his job!
With the smooth growl of the engine…we’re off into the wine wilderness!
Bunbury Geographe is about 90 minutes from Perth and has two fascinating diverse wine regions filled with hidden gems of boutique and family run wineries – which are increasingly gaining popularity.
The Geography is between Margaret River in the south, Peel to the north and Blackwood Valley to the east. These very different areas are defined by their very own microclimates as a result of rolling hills, sheltered valleys and ocean breezes from Geographe Bay.
It’s definitely an emerging region that is often missed by people heading to the south west.
Our first winery visit of the day begins at Barrecas Wines, just off the South West Highway in Brookhampton.
The driveway is a stunning line of beautiful lush green olive trees which guide you to the cellar door.
Owned by Fil and Kelly Barreca, who are predominantly known for their Shiraz – it is their other wine varietals like cult favourite Italian style Barbera and Nebbiolo that are part of their Italian heritage and have put them on the map. This wine region is making a name for itself by producing a diverse range of Mediterranean varieties such as Barbera, Nebbiolo, Vermentino, Zinfandel, to name few.
All Barrecas Wines are proudly 100% estate grown, picked and bottled – including the Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
The views of lush green fields and paddocks are so pretty – particularly at this time of year.
Kelly’s hospitality is incredibly warming as she invites us to taste the four wine that they currently have in stock – at the time of writing this everything else had sold out, including the Barbera and Nebbiolo, which we were so looking forward to trying. We’ll just have to go back, simple as that!
A cheese board awaits us – a delicious brie topped with honeycomb, yum! As part of the Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure Barrecas Wines offers a complimentary wine tasting, complimentary olive oil tasting and complimentary coffee. On our visit, we were offered delicious cheese and biscuits – who cares if it was only 10am? There’s always time for cheese – and let’s face it, it’s the perfect match with wine.
We tried the following wines:
2018 Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc ($13 a bottle) – this displayed such vibrant fruits with hints of passionfruit and peach. It was incredibly crisp and refreshing.
2018 Chardonnay ($13 a bottle) – A wonderful cool climate un-wooded chardonnay. Tropical fruit aromatics with a lovely citrus, lemon dominant palate. It had a real natural crispness and a long finish.
2016 Zinfandel ($27 a bottle) – Lovely juicy ripe berry and apricot jumped immediately from the palate with real earthy undertones.
2017 Shiraz Viognier ($45 a bottle) – Barrel fermented in French oak, the nose on this wine was beautifully intense with lots of plum, cherry and rich dark chocolate. The 3-5 % of Viognier lifts the profile of the Shiraz and adds a nose of violet to the bouquet. This wine is listed under their ‘I tesori’ range – translated as ‘the treasures’.
This winery was a little treasure and what a start to our tour! It was easy to see that Kelly is incredibly passionate about the wine and olive oil ($22 for 750ml bottle).
Their wine prices are incredibly cheap – starting at just $13 a bottle, with their Reserve range all at $27 and I tesori range all at $45.
Kelly explained that they are able to keep their costs down because everything is done on site – from the growing, picking and bottling, they are “wines for the people”.
We can’t wait to return to taste all their other varieties, including Malbec, Grenache as well as the Barbera, which is 22 years in the making at Barrecas and is a grape variety that produces really well in the Geographe region. Barbera is an Italian grape variety known for its deep colour, full body, low tannins and high levels of acid.
19001 S Western Highway
Brookhampton WA 6239
Phone: 0439 641 894
Open Thursday to Monday 10am – 5pm
Barton Jones Wines
Back on the road and driving up and down the rolling hills of Donnybrook, we headed for our next stop, Barton Jones Wines.
When we arrived at Barton Jones the heavens opened, so we made a mad dash into the cellar door! The cellar door itself is quite unique, it is constructed from straw bales and then coated in lime render.
Inside is pretty funky too – with some up-cycled and recycled materials from the tasting bar which is an old Bunbury bank bench and a lampshade made from a wine barrel.
There are a couple of ranges of wines at Barton Jones: The Premium Series, which focuses on capturing the essence of each grape varietal from only the best vintages; and the Cellar Series, which consist of vibrant and approachable wines with a fruit driven style. This range has an eye-catching floral label design.
We enjoyed tasting the following wines:
2018 Chenin Blanc Cellar Series ($20 a bottle)- a wonderfully easy drinking wine jam-packed with fruit salad notes. This wine would be great with Asian style dishes, as it has a hit of sweetness but is also a crisp no nonsense crowd pleaser.
2016 Box Seat Semillon Premium Series ($25 a bottle)- this wine had a real fragrant mix of stone fruit and citrus. Interestingly, Robyn, the approved manager on duty, had one bottle that had been open for two weeks and one bottle which was open as we arrived and she offered a tasting of both to compare. This is something I’ve not done before at a cellar door and let’s face it, a bottle of wine is lucky to last the night in our house!
The wine that had been opened for two weeks was still approachable, and in comparison to the one that had just been opened, they both had a very different bouquet. The just opened wine was zingy on the nose, with lifted grassy tones and hints of toasty oak. Whereas the other wine had more of a honey-style depth. When tasting both wines, the fresher wine had more upfront acidity with fresh fruit characteristics. The 2 week old wine had less acidity and some definite caramel flavours.
Both wines were elegant and had a real complexity. It was a refreshing way to try the same wine but opened at different times.
2018 Rose Cellar Series ($20 a bottle)- 80% Cabernet 20% Shiraz – a gorgeous salmon pink dry style rose with real hints of strawberry and honey on the nose, which on did smell quite sweet but on the palate it was crisp and dry. Incredibly easy drinking and more-ish, especially on a sunny day. Robyn suggested this rose would be the perfect frose for the summer – with added strawberries and even a dash of gin!
2016 Top Drawer Cabernet Sauvignon Premium Series ($28 a bottle)- a light and transparent red with a rich fruit driven palate. Theres a real pop of tannins on the first taste but this wine has layers of oak which give it a really chewy richness.
As part of the Tour, taste and Tapas Adventure Barton Jones offer a complimentary wine tasting. Plus a free bottle of 2018 Rose or 2018 Chenin Blanc with any case of 12 purchased.
Barton Jones Wines
39 Upper Capel Road
Donnybrook WA 6239
Phone: 0409 831 926
Open Friday to Sunday 11am – 4pm (and some Public Holidays)
Thomson Brook Winery
Our next stop was a slight detour to Thomson Brook Winery – this was an added little extra on the day – but is not usually included on the Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure.
Known for their liquor wines, Thomson Brook is a small family owned winery which is owned by Pam and Terry Foster. They grow the grapes, handpick and bottle all on site.
They do produce many wines, including Semillon, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling – all of which are fruity but dry, and also a selection of reds, such as Merlot and Pinot Noir but are aim here was to try their White Decadence ($22 a bottle), which is a rich, white fortified wine. It’s not too sticky, like a Muscat, but it has some lovely passionfruit, lemon undertones. It’s rich without being sickly sweet and the icing on the cake for us, was Pam’s ultimate summer tipple…a glass of White Decadence, over ice with a slice of lemon. Sold…roll on Summer!
131 Thomson Road
Donnybrook WA 6239
Phone: (08) 9731 0590
Open every day fro 10am to 6pm (except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Anzac Day morning).
Oakway Estate Wines
Time to cruise in Mustang Sally again (Ride Sally, ride…) and to a gem of a winery located off the South Western Highway and 5km along a gravel road – a bit of a tester for Sally, but she loves it – is Oakway Estate Wines.
Ria, welcomes us at the cellar door which is surrounded by vines – which are already showing signs of budding. It’s a stunning contemporary cellar door – with stunning wines!
Oakway Estate boasts some alternative varieties such as Vermentino and Malbec – and although admittedly, are a challenge to sell and grow – Ria and Wayne Hammond are driven by the challenge, are incredibly passionate about their produce and have some amazing wines.
2017 Vermentino ($25 a bottle) – is pale lemon in colour with silver hues. It’s beautifully dry and zesty with a fresh fruit liveliness.
2018 Los Niños Malbec ($28 a bottle) – The first thing to notice is the colour (and it does actually match my jacket…when your wine and clothes match…)- its so vibrant – rich plum, raspberry, chocolate and vanilla are bursting from the nose. It’s pure velvet on the palate.
Merlot 2011 ($20 a bottle)- this is a fabulous meaty wine that has a little bit of age to it. At nine years old it has a fresh tobacco nose and is brimming with intense dark fruits.
Karen outside Oakway – Karen doesn’t usually come along on the Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure but did come along with us on the day. She is the heartbeat of Mr Mustang Hire. In fact Karen and Vince are an incredible team and their hospitality and attention to detail is amazing.
Pizza time! As part of the Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure, Oakway Estate offer complimentary wine or beer tasting and a complimentary pizza or cheese platter – and boy were we ready for pizza! We certainly needed a savoury kick to soak up some of the beautiful wine.
Our wood-fired pizzas were delicious – we shared a caramelised onion and chorizo pizza; and a pesto and tomato pizza.
We were offered a glass of wine with our pizza, I chose the Vermentino which was refreshing and dry. Ralph had the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($20 a bottle at cellar door), which was zingy with hints of lemon and sage.
My husband Ralph also enjoyed a small batch craft beer tasting – all beers, named Ned’s Craft Beer, are 100% natural and preservative free. Ralph tried NZ Pale Ale, a Shiraz beer and a Cream Ale – and gave the thumbs up for taste.
There are three beers on tap at the cellar door, middy ($7) and pints ($10) are available to buy or a smaller of all three beer ($4). Beers will change regularly with some old favourites hanging around.
Oakway Estate is a lovely small boutique winery and although slightly off the beaten track it truly is worth the drive. It’s a hidden gem that we will certainly visit again.
Oakway Estate Wines
575 Farley Road
Donnybrook WA 6239
Phone: (08) 9731 7141
Cellar door and cafe open Saturday and Sunday and most Public Holidays 11am – 5pm.
Pleasantly refreshed we headed back into Sally for another drive (Ride, Sally, Ride…)to our last stop of the day, Smallwater Estate, which was approximately a 30 minute drive. The beauty of Mr Mustang Hire is that you do get to actually enjoy the experience of being in a Mustang whilst driving through gorgeous countryside.
Ralph and I each have a turn in the front passenger seat of Mustang Sally – where you almost get that thrill of being in the pilot’s seat and taking flight. It’s certainly an adventure in a Mustang – you definitely get the impression that you are being stared at whilst on the road!
Ralph and I have driven through the Donnybrook area before – and the area is so picturesque with its abundance of fruit trees and orchards. The area, and indeed the Bunbury-Geographe region displays great diversity of heritage, taste sensations and natural beauty – it’s no wonder Mr Mustang Hire want to showcase what the area has to offer.
Nestled among the trees and overlooking paddocks and vineyards, our last stop was Smallwater Estate.
The first thing we notice here is how impressive the deck at this winery is. It’s the kind of place you want to stay a while. The Smallwater restaurant – the Smallwater Kitchen&Deck, is run by UK born chef Jonny Whiting, is so enticing with amazing views from every seat.
We head back to the cellar door first – which is cosy, the fire is lit and its another warm welcome.
2017 Unwooded Chardonnay ($20 a bottle) – is bursting with nectarines and poached pears with a clear, mineral and smooth finish.
2017 Cellar Door Reserve ($20 a bottle)- this wine has a hint of green and golden hues. It’s nose is tantalising cinnamon and baked stone fruit – it almost smells like a baked apple pie! Wonderful rich flavoursome wine.
2017 Chardonnay ($25 a bottle)- this is a great example of a barrel fermented chardonnay with an incredibly rich buttery nose that really hangs on the palate for longer. It has layers of peaches, nectarines and apples and then a creamy finish.
2016 Zinfandel – Royal purple in colour and a velvety persistence on the palate. Hints of black cherry, star anise and chocolate.This wine was the perfect winter warmer in front of the fire.
And now onto the food…the smells coming from the Smallwater Kitchen&Deck were so good! As part of the Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure, SmallWater Estate Wines offer a complimentary wine tasting and the restaurant offers a complimentary tasting board and two tapas of your choice. And be warned the choice will be hard! The menu is pretty damn good.
What a feast! On the day we visited the Weekender Board was a Scandinavian Cruise with Swedish meatballs and a yummy redcurrant jam, Danish pork belly strips with potatoes and parsley sauce (now that’s what we could smell from the wood-fired oven…roast pork!) and Norwegian cured salmon on rye with dill mustard. Delicious! This board is available at the weekends at a real treat at just $38.
For tapas we had smokey chorizo with capsicum and broad beans and the pie of all pies – half rich beef in a red wine gravy sauce and the other half cauliflower cheese! The shortcrust pastry was divine!
All of this was washed down with a lovely glass of wine.
It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.
This winery and restaurant is jam-packed at the weekends and bookings for the restaurant are essential.
A true hidden gem. We will definitely be back.
52 Tramline Road
Phone: (08) 9731 6036
Open Friday and Saturday 11am – 8pm (lunch and dinner), Sunday and Monday (brunch and lunch) 9am – 5pm.
What a day, what an adventure, what a car and what great company! And what a whole lot of wine we purchased – to re-live a memorable wine tour.
The Tour, Taste and Tapas Adventure is legendary – just like Mustang Sally.
Ralph and I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Vince and Karen for their amazing hospitality and an unforgettable day.
Mr Mustang Hire is also available for transfers, wedding transfers, bespoke and private charters – offering a complete door-to-door service. A new addition to the family is a 2017 GT V8 5 litre Mustang – think ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ and all your wedding needs are covered!
For further details check out the Mr Mustang Hire website.
We even got a go in the driver’s seat BUT for photographs only – far too much wine was consumed!