On July 8, 2007 Matthew Attwood established an elite Swan Valley Tour company for the wine lovers of Perth. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of wine tasting combat and to insure that the handful of drinkers who graduated from the tour were the best wine tourists in the world. He has succeeded. Today, Perth calls it another Swan Valley Tour. The passengers call it: TOP GUN.
I’m sorry but I can’t help it, when I hear the words Top Gun, I can’t help but think of Tom Cruise and a bunch of guys playing shirtless beach volleyball! Oh and Berlin – Take My Breath Away (I’d play this in the background while reading this post for the full effect).
So, let’s get to the point, this post is not entirely about the 1986 movie, Top Gun. It’s actually about the Swan Valley Tour Company – Top Gun Tours. As they say, ‘Servicing the Swan with both barrels’.
A friend who is currently doing some work for the company invited me along for a complimentary trip, I definitely could never turn down an offer like that! Having experienced a tour with Swan Valley Tours and Pink Bus Tours, it’s great to try out a new one and I have to admit, this one did offer yet another unique experience in the Valley.
Matt Attwood is a born and bred Western Australian who began Top Gun Tours in 2007. He is a one-man band with his flashy 23 seater bus that he personally drives you in around the Valley. The bus has nifty little gadgets like LCD display screens and even 4 sub woofers which Matt plays some awesome tunes through. We had everything from Pharrell Williams to Billy Joel to some Madonna. Plus he is happy to take requests!
There are 5 organised tours of the Valley that you can choose from depending on whether you want a day of purely wine or beer or perhaps a mix of both. Top Gun Tours also offer tailor-made tours for groups looking for a chartered bus service in the Swan valley.
So what did I think of the tour? I went on the Saturday ‘A Touch of Crystal Wine Tour’ and I have to admit, I throughly enjoyed it. As I mentioned earlier, it offered something a little bit different from the other tours which is really what took it to that next level for me. Our group was made up of 9 people, there were some Perth locals, some out-of-towners and then me, a Valley local and everyone had a ball! At one point one of the Scottish guys on the trip said to me at lunch “I’m having so much fun” which is fantastic!
We all had printed out name tags which I thought was great as everyone was addressing everyone by name which made it feel like we were one big group of friends out for the day. The bus picked up everyone in the city at about 10am and then I was picked up at Guildford train station at 10:15am which suited me down to a tee.
By 10:30am we were at our first stop, Sandalford Wines, and were tasting our way through their range. It’s got to be a good day when you’re downing quality Swan Valley wine prior to 12pm. Also as we were with Top Gun tours we were given a 20% discount on any wine or items bought at the Sandalford gift shop which was pretty cool!
Over the day we visited 4 wineries, plus had a wine tasting and two course lunch at Valley View Restaurant on West Swan Road and stopped off at Whistler’s for some chocolate and sorbet tasting to end the day – it was the perfect end to a brilliant day in the Valley.
At Sandalford we nibbled on cheese and crackers while enjoying our wine tasting and at our second stop Swanbrook we had the opportunity to try some nougat after our wine tasting. And then there was our two-course lunch, so you can definitely say that we were fed well on the tour!
For lunch we got to choose from 4 mains (see the menu below) and 4 desserts. I was super happy with both my choices, and even the chocoholic that I am, I couldn’t finish my dessert, I was so full! For lunch, you can either stick to water or you can purchase a drink off the Valley View menu, there are plenty of wine choices by the glass and bottle, beer and the cocktails looked pretty spectacular as well ($15 a pop too which is a bargain for a cocktail these days!). Despite how full I was, there was still room for more wine!
Here are my 5 highlights of the tour:
- Entopia Wines – Entopia are a boutique producer in the Swan Valley that I hadn’t yet visited and I must say they have the most picturesque cellar door! It is such a cute wee spot and the lovely couple who run it are pure gold. I could have easily ‘ accidentally’ missed getting back on the bus and sipping on a few glasses of their delicious Sparkling Rose here.
- As the tour wasn’t full, there were only 9 of us, the tour felt so personal. Matt the driver, was constantly making sure everyone was happy and full of wine goodness. I have a feeling, even if the 23 seater bus was full, Matt would still constantly be making sure everyone was okay and having a good time.
- The tunes on the bus! It was so nice to have some music to listen to, and it really kept the atmosphere on the bus buzzing.
- There was no rush. On some tours you find yourself getting pushed in and out of the wineries. Where as on this tour it was laid back, leisurely and relaxing. You’ll definitely depart the bus on a stress free note and maybe a little wobbly (which just goes to show how truly stress free you are!).
- A two course lunch! Yes, you read that correctly! Two courses for you to enjoy and neither of those are to be shared with anyone but your hungry belly. I hate when you hear about these awesome 2/3/4 course meals and then find out that actually the courses are to be shared. I’m greedy, I want my own!
You arrive back to the city at about 5pm and for the full day a seat on the Top Gun bus will set you back $115 for the Touch of Crystal Wine Tour. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending a Top Gun Tour in the Swan Valley, as they say on their website; “Note: We promote fun times at a premium level. If it’s a dull informative tour you’re after or if you would prefer a boring history tour instead, we don’t provide the tour for you”.
For more information or to make a booking, please check out the Top Gun Tours website or why not connect with them on Twitter or Facebook.