Organic & Biodynamic Wine Discovery
- Discover the matriarch of the Margaret River region’s organic and biodynamic wine movement, Cullen Wines.
- Taste wines on a working biodynamic farm, along with vegetables, fruit and honey.
- Organically farmed wine tasting in the heart of the Cowaramup township.
- Share organic certified wines around Stormflower’s long Marri wood tasting table.
- Enjoy low intervention and biodynamic wines on a small family-run vineyard.
Articulation of the specialness of the environment is part of the farmer’s creed: drawing food and wine from the land a magic trick that requires dedication, labour, faith and a strong and supple spine capable of both weathering hardship and flexing with change.
It’s not easy. Farming is most often a choice of hereditary – being born to the land – or the vehicle that drives a source for meaning and connection beyond the material.
Many of the wine farmers you will meet on Margaret River’s Organic Wine Trail have come to the work as a result of the latter; the realisation of a life worth more than electricity bills and the salaried job required to pay them.
Through passion and a ferocious one-eyed focus, they’ve built their commercial plots upon the foundation of a dedicated organic and biodynamic practice. No chemicals. No pesticides. No easy answers.
There is lots of wonder, though. Satisfaction when nature and man harmonise. This trail is an inside-the-beating-heart experience. Go and discover the wildness of these wineries, vineyards and market gardens. Drink the wine. Eat the food and take home the produce.
But most of all – talk. Ask questions and exchange stories. The Margaret River Organic Wine Trail offers the best kind of new tourism adventure; a highly personalised experience you can construct through conversation and curiosity.
Of course we’re happy to provide the framework. Take this itinerary as a starting point. Mix and match destinations. Or visit them all. Do the tours. Stay on site. Drive slowly with your car windows down and hear the bird song on the way. Slow roads, connecting a slow approach, which will lay down for you a deep well of understanding and good memories from the Margaret River region.
There’s no doubt Cullen Wines is the matriarch of the Margaret River region’s organic and biodynamic wine movement. Vanya Cullen has worked hard to ensure the vineyard’s biodynamic practice has grown to match the expansion of Cullen’s international reputation. A tour of the winery takes you direct to the heart of Vanya’s principles: learn about biodynamic preparation among the vines, tour the vineyard’s biodynamic garden and then sit down to eat the food and drink the wine you’ve just fallen in love with. A true half-day immersion experience.
Burnside Organic Farm
Lara and Jamie McCall quit the corporate life for a turn on the land back in 1997. Two decades later, Burnside Organic Farm has become an important landmark in the Margaret River region’s organic farming community. Accommodation available at Burnside’s on-site bungalows means visitors can get a real taste for what it is to care for and live off the land: along with producing their own Burnside Organic label wine, Jamie and Lara spend time growing food for their own family – the couple and their three grown sons are self-sufficient in meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, honey and wine. Lara makes cheese from milk from a neighbour’s dairy. Bungalow guests are encouraged to pick from the family’s vegetable garden. For those who don’t have the time to stay, wine tastings and farm tours can be enjoyed each Friday. It is an intimate insight into the philosophy behind – and the passion that surrounds – this thoughtfully farmed patch of Margaret River land.
Port is a rarity in Margaret River region wine growing. But then Wayne and Kaye Nobbs from Settlers Ridge aren’t necessarily ones to follow convention. Standing on 101 acres in the heart of Cowaramup’s dairy country, the vines that stand amid remnant Karri and Jarrah forest are, say the Nobbs, proof that organic method growing produces wines that stand on their own merit. Sangiovese, Merlot and of course Cabernet Sauvignon share space with Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc vines. While winery tours are not part of the regular roster, cellar door tastings are: six-day opening at the Golden Jersey on the Bussell Highway in the heart of Cowaramup speaks to the inclusive community nature of the vineyard and the region. Part café, part bike store, part creative community space, a wine tasting of Settlers Ridge, here, will land you deep in the heart of the Cowaramup community.
The gorgeous long timber table central to Stormflower Vineyard’s paired back cellar door tells a story. It tells a story of a small vineyard determined to use the best of what the land gives it to produce wine that is sustainable, of course, but also beautiful. Just like the Marri tree that blew down in a 2013 storm and was reconditioned to form a central spine as the tasting room table, the vineyard team has worked since 2007 to restore the vines planted 20 years before in order to produce wine reinvigorated via methods of natural vineyard management. Fast-forward a decade, and 2016 saw Stormflower produce its first certified organic vintage. Cellar door is open seven days, while a picnic table outside invites extended tastings with a nibble of local produce followed up by a wander through the gardens. A great family outing.
Ben and Naomi’s organic and biodynamic approach to their Wilyabrup-based Blind Corner vineyards and winery is born from the same kernal that drives all who choose what can be a challenging path – the desire to have their family live in a better world that they help create. An occasional skater (Blind Corner has a ramp for the kids), winemaker and lover of the land, Ben drives the wine side while wife Naomi puts in the hours with the biodynamic vegetable patch they hope to expand large enough to not only supply their family, but to extend supply to the local community, too. Beekeeping is part of the vineyard, so is guaranteeing a relaxed tour experience for the curious: open Monday to Saturday, tours offer looks into the fermenting rooms, the bottling line and, of course, take in a tour of the vines. Wine and natural honey are available for purchase. The inspiration is free.
Conversion to certified organic and biodynamic farming and vineyard practice takes time and concerted effort. Along with the region’s established organic operations coincides a list of other Margaret River producers working toward recognition of their commitment to holistic farm practice. Some big. Some small. All worth more than a cursory visit.
For the full list go here.