Canoeing the Margaret River with Margaret River Discovery Co. Credit Tourism WA.

The Margaret River Region’s 100 cellar doors capture wine in a glass. The Margaret River Discovery Co tour captures its essence on “the tour for people who don’t do tours”.

The most memorable experiences in life are those that shift perspectives. It’s why the first place Sean Blocksidge heads with his wine touring guests is a canoe on Wooditchup Bilya — the Margaret River: it’s Sean’s way to get you deeper into the bottle.

Because while each wine will be influenced by its parcel of vineyard, by the approach of the viticulturist, the artistry of the winemaker, and the character of the wine label, beneath it all is the influence of the landscape.

Couple canoeing on the Margaret River. Credit Margaret River Discovery Co

It’s through this lens that Sean showcases the region’s wine, on a very small and personalised gourmet/eco 4WD experience. You’ll be having so much fun that it’s not until the end that you’ll notice you’re on your way to becoming a wine expert.

“Margaret River wine is the confluence of a whole range of different things that are going on: It’s geology, it’s ecology, it’s climate,” muses Sean, speaking as a 20-year Margaret River local who’s spent almost as much time canoeing the river and trekking the capes as he has drinking the wine: “I think you have to understand the environment to fully understand why Margaret River wine is soooo good.”

The extra “o”s are all Sean’s. They’re a match for the eagerness and enthusiasm he offers with the generosity of those lunchtime Chardonnay and Cabernet pours at Fraser Gallop Estate. Sean’s is the kind of full-on charm that coaxes the occasionally reluctant tour guest into those aforementioned canoes—“ I promise you won’t get wet, you won’t get dirty, and you definitely won’t fall in”—while also serving to mask just how much knowledge he’s coding into both the stories and the sequence of the day’s tour.

Couple having lunch in Fraser Estate barrel room. Credit Margaret River Discovery Co.

Canoeing the river becomes a connection to the landscape. Coffee at the local’s favourite beachside café is the first of the day’s introductions to the Leeuwin ocean current, that meeting of current, land, and weather pattern that provides the Margaret River Region with a grape growing climate that’s the envy of the world. Honey tasting in the bush surrounded by the native blossoms that provide the nectar is an introduction to the concept of terroir.

And the wine and lunch at Fraser Gallop Estate? An experience that gets you dodging the odd forklift and laughing with the winemaker inside the barrel room, side-stepping the usual tasting bar protocols and getting you closer to what wine is: an ingredient for social cohesion.

“One of the things I love most abut the Discovery Tour experience is meeting different people and the diversity of people we get,” Sean says, noting that tasting wine over lunch doesn’t just give the wine its correct context, but aids in the creation of new friendships via shared experience.

“That lunchtime experience is just a great time to have a chat and find out about each other. It’s almost like a bunch of mates develop by the end of the day. It’s the people this experience attracts that makes the whole thing so successful, really.”

Sean is responsible for an enormous part of that camaraderie. He’d never claim it. But once he gets you out on the cape to walk a stunning section of the Wilyabrup cliffs it isn’t just the concept of terroir that comes in to focus, it’s the realisation that you’ve been given intimate access to his point of view.

Less a show and tell, than a come and share.

Sean Blocksidge on the Cape To Cape Track sitting behind wildflowers. Credit Margaret River Discovery Co.

And none of that is closer to the surface than during Djilba and Kambarang — two of the Wadandi Boodja (Saltwater People’s Country) seasons that run from August to November bringing wildflowers, whales, and a visible extra spring to Sean’s admittedly already pretty springy step.

“People always ask, what are my favourite seasons, and honestly every single one. There are all so special in their own way,” Sean muses. “Yeah, winter is the deep, rich colours that you get as some of those big storms come through — we get some of our best photos in winter. Autumn, the colour as it changes through the vineyards. Summer, it’s summer. How could you not love that? But spring — you know wildflower, whales, that’s probably my favourite season if I’m being really honest about it.”

But in true Sean fashion, it’s not him or the Discovery Tour itself, or even that unmissably beautiful morning canoe of the river that he wants you to recall when you unpack your suitcase on the return home. It’s the message of Margaret River wine.

“The one message I would love people to have, that’s very simple: You’re going out to dinner, you see Margaret River wine on the list, you get that wine. You can’t go wrong. This is the most consistently remarkable wine producing region in Australia, if not globally. We’ve given you the understanding of why that wine is so good. And that’s what the whole day’s about really. That’s when the connection kicks in.”

Margaret River Discovery Co is an Eco Certified business and recognised on TripAdvisor as the #1 tour experience in the Margaret River Region for 14 consecutive years.

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