It’s easy to tick off the big names, but no Margaret River wine trip is complete without also paying a visit to some of the smaller, family run wineries. Discover three small family owned and operated wineries, three locations and three incredible stories on this half-day self-driven trip!
Complete your Margaret River trip by discovering some hidden gems: award-winning wines made by three small family vineyards in Margaret River, Brown Hill Estate, Cape Grace Wines and Windows Estate.
Producing small batch wines that are fully grown, processed and bottled on site, these wineries are a genuine representation of artisan winemaking in the three key areas that fundamentally define one of Australia’s most renowned wine regions: Wallcliffe, Wilyabrup and Yallingup.
Each area’s wine has its own unique character resulting from the significant climatic variation found between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste as well as differences in the soil structure. It can be hard to appreciate this with a whole day of touring, but on this self-drive route, on which you’ll taste single site wines, you’ll gain a newfound appreciation of the resulting stylistic differences between the wines from each area in the region. Not only that, but you’ll gain unique and heart-warming insight into the dedication and passion of three families who’ve been making wine in the region for more than twenty years.
Locals tip: Make sure to toss the coin over who will be appointed as driver before you start tasting the superb selection of boutique wines, or enquire about arranging a private taxi/driver service.
Book your behind the scenes Small Family Winery Experience now.
First Stop – Brown Hill Estate
If you’re setting off from Margaret River town, Brown Hill Estate is an easy 15-minute drive south. Located near the small farming village of Rosa Brook, Brown Hill is fully family owned and operated. The 24-hectare vineyard was established in 1995 in joint partnership with Jim, Gwen and their son Nathan Bailey, who is now the winery’s head winemaker. Brown Hill craft all of their wines using traditional boutique winemaking methods, including strong attention to detail in the vineyard, and hand-picking and hand-sorting all their estate grown fruit; their vineyard environment is treated with the upmost respect.
The cellar door is located inside the working winery, surrounded by wine vats – so you can enjoy the buzz while tasting their award-winning wines served up by the owners or winemaker themselves atop a gorgeous large jarrah slab resting on oak barrels.
Three generations of Baileys work at the winery and have brought their wines into beautiful expression, as confirmed by being named Small Producer of the Year in WA in 2009 and 2010. Visiting their winery is certainly an insightful experience where you’ll not only learn about the history of the family and their winemaking journey, but that of the Wallcliffe area.
Second Stop – Cape Grace Wines
Next, head back toward Margaret River before making your way north along Bussell Highway and left onto Cowaramup Bay Road. Turn right onto the picturesque Fifty-One Road and, hidden down a tree lined gravel road, you will find this humble 15-acre vineyard owned and operated by Robert and Karen Karri-Davies. Planted in 1996, the vineyard is grown naturally which results in wines true to their variety, site and season.
The Karri-Davies family have been part of the south west region since 1875, with Robert being the great grandson of timber baron M.C. Davies. Today, you’ll find their ‘tin shed’ cellar door and winery nestled in the forest, a testament to the family’s focus on producing high quality wine above all else. The small batch wines are made using traditional winemaking techniques – their reds are hand-plunged, basket pressed and matured in French oak barrels from a careful selection of coopers. Their consistent production of exceptional wine has earned them a Red 5 Star Winery rating James Halliday. Visiting Cape Grace is a truly stripped-down experience where all the focus is on the winemaking process and, of course, the finished product. You’ll not only hear an expert’s take on the unique character of Wilyabrup wine, but also get exclusive insight into how the winery functions.
Third Stop – Windows Estate
For your final stop, head north along the iconic Caves Road 14kms toward Yallingup – you’ll see the turn off to find Windows Estate on Quininup Road. Here you’ll discover owner Chris Davie’s highly traditional approach to both viticulture and wine-making, used to craft one of Margaret River’s most highly acclaimed Chardonnay’s and Cabernet Sauvignon, described by James Halliday as ‘quite simply, of world class’. A classic vigneron, Chris is completely on his own both in the vineyard and in the winery. His wines are made in the vineyard first and foremost, and their outstanding quality is a direct result of almost 20 years of fastidious attention to detail in his four tiny blocks of unirrigated vines. The entire range of Windows Estate wines is available only at the cellar door, which has been awarded the Best Small Cellar Door in Margaret River by Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine three years running. This is a truly unique experience and will polish off your half day self-driven discovery perfectly; and may even lend itself to a late lunch or early dinner in the beautiful Yallingup area.