I indulged to my heart’s content…
I am sitting here at least 2 kilos heavier and with a smile just like the cat who got the cream. Or in my case, who got the wine and copious amount of goodies that mesmerizingly seduced my taste buds. I embarked on an Indulgence Winery Tour with the great folks from Swan Valley Tours this past weekend and boy did I indulge, actually I would go as far as saying that I overindulged to my heart’s content… Self-control has never been a strong point of mine when it comes to wining and dining.
My partner-in-crime for the day was my best friend from the East Coast. I figured this was a great way to show off Western Australia’s delicious delights in a relaxed and carefree manner, otherly known as letting someone else take care of all the organising for me. For $105 each we were going to enjoy wine tasting at 5 wineries, a platter lunch and glass of wine at the 3rd winery of the day, a cheese platter and nougat tasting, a beer at an award-winning microbrewery and a chocolate tasting at a chocolate factory. Yep now I see why my clothes are just that little bit tighter!
The tour begins when you meet up with the group from one of the bus pick-up point’s whether that be the Perth CBD, Burswood or in Guildford. As we were already in the Valley we opted to meet our guide and travel companions at the first winery just on the outskirts of Guildford village. It was here we meet out lovely tour guide, Kitty, who we would spend the day with. Kitty is jam packed full with local knowledge. Being a local of the area I just loved the local insight Kitty let us in on. I really did feel like I was being let in on the secrets of the region.
From learning about high-security Bandyup Women’s Prison where Perth “Moorhouse Murders” serial killer Catherine Birnie is coming up for parole this year to the secret underground tunnels in Guildford and the ghost that lives in the basement of the Rose and Crown pub, we were well informed! Of course being a winery tour and the fact that we were roaming Perth’s Valley of Taste, we also learnt a lot about the area’s viticulture and local produce.
On the tour we visited the winery which stands on the property where some of the very first wines were produced in Western Australia. It was here we experienced wine and olive oil tasting in the historic stone cellar. We visited Europe at our next stop where the Italian heritage of the family owned estate shows through with their 2 litre flagons of wine for sale, I just love the European philosophy that wine is for everyday!
The on-board commentary by Kitty had us learning about how we could tell what grapes are for wine production and what grapes were your everyday eating grapes by just looking at the vines! We learnt about the prisoner of war camps that were set up in the Swan Valley, which use to be known as The District of Swan. The amount of information and the way it was told to us by Kitty was so extraordinarily interesting for both my friend (out of towner) and me, a local (well kind of, as of 3 months ago!).
What I liked best on the winery side of things is that out of the 5 wineries we visited, 4 of these were small scale boutique wineries and then our midday stop was at one of the largest and oldest wineries in the region. It was great to see the best of both worlds.
I was actually a bit apprehensive of the lunch stop; I mean how can they get it right for everyone? These days everyone seems to not eat that type of food or be allergic. But I have to say they really did get it right. After our tasting at the cellar door, we got to choose which type of wine we would like as a glass to go with lunch. Kitty informed us on the bus that red, white or rose will compliment all the bits and pieces on our platter at lunch.
We all sat down at a long table, opposite our travel companion for lunch. We were then brought out a platter to share with our partner. It was a large platter full of fresh baked bread, farmhouse cheddar, marinated kalamata olives, salami, house made silverside, pickled onions, creamy potato salad, Mediterranean pasta salad, beetroot relish and green garden salad. It was divine, and being the nosey parker that I am I did happen to see a lot of other gorgeous dishes being served to patrons at the café. I’ll be back!
We had a good amount of time at our lunch venue to eat, drink and wander around the grounds. After this we boarded the bus again to visit our 4th and 5th wineries of the day. Lunch was just the start of treating our taste buds for the day.
At the next winery stop we nibbled on cubes of creamy cheddar, cubes of parmesan and oregano cheese and green and black olives marinated by the winery themselves. We were treated to dark chocolate covered coffee beans when tasting their tawny Port. Cherlye, the cellars door staff was probably one of our favourite people of the day. She was so enthusiastic and engaging, she had the wine aficionados and new wine drinkers captivated. By this stage the bus was starting to fill up with many purchases and everyone was in a great, perhaps a little tipsy mood!
On our way to the next winery we bumped into Ross and his four legged friends as they were taking guests on a Wagon-Trail, horse-drawn carriage tour. We heard the story about Ross getting a warning from the local police for talking on his cell phone while roaming the Valley at his top speed of 2km/h! I was amazed to hear that if you cycle around the Valley and are over the alcohol limit then you can get fined as well!
At our next stop we were impressed by the old school barrel truck on the property before devouring more wines and more cheeses as we all enjoyed a shared cheese board topped off with some nougat to finish. By this stage I was nearly bursting my zipper, however despite the odds I marched on to our next stop which was at one of the Valley’s microbreweries. It was here we could choose one of the beers or ciders off the menu to try. It is no doubt one of the smallest size glasses I have ever seen a beer come in, but I have to say after a day of ploughing through wine it was refreshingly welcome!
At the brewery, we also were served up fresh bread, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, dukkah and olives. Now that I think about it, having food at nearly all the stops was a great and very responsible action by the organisers of the tour. And of course because it was in front of me, I just had to eat it. We had plenty of time to enjoy the beer at this stop, a lot of people even ordered a second beer, and a full pint was approximately $10. Favourites of the day were the pale lager and the wheat beer. Again I’m going to say it… I’ll be back!
Our last and final stop of the day is literally going to be my new home, I felt like I had died and gone to a heaven where everything was chocolate and it all wanted me to eat it! The chocolate factory was impressive to say the least, there was plenty of free chocolate to taste and being part of the tour we also got to try a special chocolate truffle of our choosing. I feel like I experienced pure happiness here, it was melt in your mouth goodness.
It was time to head back home, full bellies and smiles stuck across everyone’s faces. When departing the bus we were given a super cute Swan Valley Tours carry bag to pop our purchases in and a fridge magnet. All up it was a fantastic day, all the organising was taken out of my hands and no one had to drive.
The Indulgence Winery Tour is only one of the 6 daily tours you can go on with Swan Valley Tours. You can also organise charter packages for a group of people whether it be a hens or stags party, a cruise package, a gourmet tour package or a supa golf package. There really is something for everyone and I assure you that you will be completely spoilt!
How to contact Swan Valley Tours:
Tel – Local: 08 9274 1199
Tel – Toll free: 1800 733 349
Tel – International: (+61) 9274 1199