James Halliday’s Wine Companion Awards for 2019 have just been announced and, if you haven’t already got yourself a copy of the book for this year, the Margaret River region is representing big time!

Not only is the region home to Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year, Julian Langworthy (of Deep Woods and Fogarty Wine Group), it also hosts a number of other varietal and category winners that you need to put on your Margaret River region winery tour hit-list.

Remember, one of the best things about wine tasting – and it is an imperfect art, according to Mr Halliday – is discovering unknown gems all for yourself. So, while this is a guide to a weekend of wine tasting in this glorious region, it is far from an exhaustive list of the places you should visit. Vear off, get lost, take the wrong turn. You might just stumble upon something wonderful! And if you don’t, you’ll always have this weekend wine taster guide to return to.

 

Locals tip: Make sure to toss the coin over who will be appointed as driver before you start tasting the region’s superb selection of wines, or enquire about arranging a private taxi/driver service.

STAY: Cullen Homestead
DRINK: Julian Langworthy’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at Deep Woods Estate
EAT: Voyager Estate

DON’T MISS: The ‘darkhorse’, Windance Wines
DISCOVER: Walsh & Sons

First things first, book yourself in at the beautiful Cullen Homestead – nestled right in the heart of Wilyabrup wine country and adjacent to the award-winning biodynamic Cullen Winery, this is the perfect launching pad for a weekend touring the vines and tasting the wines.

If you haven’t got your copy of the Halliday Wine Companion just yet, we’ve curated this weekend trip around the following Margaret River region wineries and winemakers that were represented at the awards:

Winemaker of the Year

Julian Langworthy, Deep Woods Estate / Fogarty Wine Group

Ten of the Best New Wineries

Walsh & Sons

Ten Dark Horses

Windance Wines

Best Wineries of the Regions

Red Name + 5 Red Star

  • Brookland Valley
  • Cape Mentelle
  • Cullen Wines
  • Devil’s Lair
  • Howard Park
  • Leeuwin Estate
  • Moss Wood
  • Vasse Felix
  • Voyager Estate

Day 1: South

Waking up in the middle of Wilyabrup, you need to decide whether you’re heading north or south first to avoid doing loops all day. Efficiency people, there’s a lot of wine to try! While away your morning over the wine and food flight at Cullen, be sure to savour a glass of the 2015 Vanya, awarded best Cabernet Sauvignon in Halliday’s most recent Wine Companion Awards. Rated one of the most beautiful biodynamic wineries in the world, the property is carbon neutral and you can explore the Spiral Garden, a self-guided tour learning the philosophy of the biodynamic winemaking process.

After heading  next door to Vasse Felix, we recommend setting off south and beelining for lunch at Voyager Estate. New(ish) Head Chef Santiago Fernandez has kicked off an exciting new menu that’s making serious waves, featuring a marron dish that has been called the best in WA. Marron is a quintessential Margaret River region ingredient, and it’s served up here with a light XO sauce and saffron fennel soup – it might sound crazy, but it’s perfection.

 

Image credit (below left): Anson Smart

In the afternoon, visit Leeuwin Estate to taste their exceptional 2015 Art Series Chardonnay and peruse the iconic art gallery, which showcases the originals of the artworks that have graced the Art Series’ bottles over the years. A visit to Leeuwin Estate is also not complete unless you give the wine and tasting flight a go – this is six bite-sized morsels paired with a matching premium wine, each one more delicious than the next. The Cab Sav/aged cheddar combo will blow your mind!

On your way back up to Cullen, you’ve got one last and very important stop to make. Halliday doesn’t just look at the big names – there’s an award category specifically for the country’s top ten new wineries, too. Your final stop, Walsh & Sons, made the list. This family owned and run winery, with vineyards located in Burnside and Osmington, is using traditional methods in the vineyard and natural winemaking techniques in the winery. The result? Expressive styles of wine that are fun, youthful and different to the mainstream that Halliday says you have to try. There’s no cellar door here, so tastings are by appointment only. Get in touch with Ryan or Freya to organise your visit!

Day 2: North

Today, you’re heading north on the wine-lover’s closest thing to a pilgrimage, final destination: Deep Woods, home of Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year Julian Langworthy. But first, a short drive to one of the most architecturally-acclaimed wineries in the region, Howard Park, which Halliday listed as one of the best wineries in the region in this year’s Wine Companion. More than just a pretty face, Howard Park is the only winery in the Margaret River region handcrafting champagne-method sparkling wine – and they’re making some noise with it, too. The recently debuted Petit Jete made history with augmented-reality labels, creating an interactive drinking experience for sparkling lovers, while also winning gold in what is well-known as the toughest sparkling wine competition in the world in London this month. A quick sparkling in the morning is the perfect way to kick off day two of your wine tasting weekender!

 

Image credit: (below left) Elements Margaret River; (below right) Paris Hawken

Next, head north on Caves Road and hit two more Halliday award-winning wineries: Brookland Valley and Moss Wood, listed as two of the region’s best wineries. Both offer interesting cellar door and tasting experiences. Brookland Valley is a big name in Australian winemaking, having previously been named Halliday’s Winery of the Year in 2009, and yet works on a minimal-intervention philosophy. By visiting the winery, you can learn more about their approach to winemaking and try both premium Reserve wines and small batch styles. (This is also a great spot for lunch, as you can enjoy relaxed fine dining from Flutes Restaurant on the deck overlooking Brookland’s dam and vineyards). Moss Wood, on the other hand, offers a totally different tasting experience to other wineries in the region – by appointment only. Book 2 days in advance, and you’ll be in for a winery visit like few other you’ve experienced before. Visits are unhurried and you will be guided by knowledgeable and experienced personnel through the winery, as you’re introduced to Moss Wood’s history, philosophy, vineyards and wines. You will taste wine from barrel and tank and visit the museum where you can view back vintages of Moss Wood wines. This is an experience for true enthusiasts.

Journeying onward, your penultimate stop: Windance Estate. This boutique winery located just outside Yallingup took out a spot in Halliday’s ‘Ten Dark Horses’ category, which recognises those unsuspecting wineries doing unexpected things. With a low-key, welcoming cellar door open daily from 10am – 5pm, your visit to Windance will be a laid-back one. Enjoy a highly personalised tasting experience, usually led by one of the family members who know the wines inside and out. Do make a booking if you’re travelling in large groups!

Finally, head eastward to your journey’s end – the beautiful piece of bushland off Commonage Road that’s home to Deep Woods Estate. Here you’ll find Winemaker of the Year Julian Langworthy hard at work, or at least the fruits of his labour – a range of delicious wines that will top your weekend off with a lick of the lips. This place is pretty spectacular in the late afternoon, with the golden sun hitting surrounding trees and a large spring-fed dam at what is surely one of the region’s most scenic wineries – so time your visit accordingly. As for the wine, if the Winemaker of the Year title doesn’t speak for itself, they’re producing everything from entry level styles to the more complex hero varietals that make up their Reserve range. Between the wine, the scenery and the lowering sun, you’ll feel like you’ve really done the Margaret River region right.

 

Image credit: (below, top left) Freedom Garvey Photographer

For bookings or further enquiries please contact [email protected] or call (08) 9780 5933.

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