“This is delicious – and this is yummy too – I love all these wines!” says the lady tasting wines at Brookwood’s rustic cellar door. It’s music to owner-operator Lyn Mann’s ears, as it’s cellar door visitors, not wine critics, she wants to impress.
“Back in 1999 we had our first vintage. I remember making 3 different styles of each wine – three styles of chenin, three styles of SBS and so on, and I’d line them up on the counter and ask everyone which style they loved best. Most people agreed on their favourite, and that’s how I made the wine the following year.” This sums up Brookwood Estate perfectly – a family owned winery where it’s all about delicious wines and giving customers a fantastic, all round experience.
Trevor and Lyn Mann established Brookwood Estate in 1996. They transformed a “bare paddock – with 250 sheep” into a lush winery with five varietals in the vineyard and a peaceful café-restaurant.
I asked what inspired the move from Perth to Margaret River. “Trevor won a weekend at Burswood Casino which he swapped for a weekend in Dunsborough. We had an incredible lunch at Cullen Wines, drinking wine and gazing longingly at the vineyard. He looked at me and said, “we could do this”. We called the real estate agent and listed our Perth home for sale that very weekend.”
It took a year to sell Perth and find the right land to grow wine – it needed water, healthy soil and to face north – and that’s when the real work started.
Trevor and Lyn didn’t have a lot of money, and so did all the hard work of gathering cuttings from other vineyards, putting in posts, wires and fencing themselves.
“We couldn’t have done it without our [then] 15-year-old daughter. She prepared dinner and did the washing – after walking home from school.” That daughter – Bronnley Cahill – is now their winemaker, having studied viticulture and oeneology before working at Houghton in the Swan Valley, Amberley Estate (now Aravina) as well as doing vintages in Canada, Italy and France.
“Other winery owners generously allowed us to take cuttings from their vines which we propagated and planted – 10,000 vines in all. Albert Haak from Amberley Estate gave us Chenin Blanc, Barry Thompson taught us how to prune and train vines and Neil Gallagher from Woody Nook taught me how to make wine” says Lyn.
“We didn’t have lots of money or experience; we had the determination to do it and we didn’t quit” says Lyn, of all the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into creating the estate.
The Brookwood Cellar Door and Café-Restaurant is a humble little gem– built out of a 3-sided farm shed and finished with polished timber, you can sit on the veranda and enjoy the sunshine and pleasant view across the vineyard and hills opposite. You’ll get a warm welcome from their loyal team, hence all the glowing reviews on social media. Maybe you’ll see some blue wrens – they tend to come out at the end of lunch service, looking for crumbs.
I had a light entrée – three delicate bites of crushed green peas, asparagus and goats cheese on crostini. Decorated with tiny pink rose petals, it was a flavoursome treat.
The Brookwood Estate NV Bubbles was light and fruity, great for a warm day on the balcony.
Main course was from their Weekday $27 Main Course Menu – one of three options. A slow cooked duck leg came with a generous pile of crunchy bok choy, broccolini and flecks of red chilli. It had a sticky soy caramel sauce and an aroma of sesame oil, and the delicious meat easily fell off the bone.
Brookwood Estate is a lovely spot to come and relax, enjoy a glass of wine and lunch with friends.
It feels authentic, homely.
You might just find yourself, on a weekend getaway from Perth, looking across to your partner and saying “we could do this”.
Brookwood Estate is open daily from 11am to 4.30pm for wine tastings, lunch and coffee.
For Bookings, phone 9755 5604.