Around ten years ago, Evan Gill and his wife were on a holiday in Margaret River and thought – this place is beautiful we’d love to live here one day. Fortunately, Evan Gill landed a job as the Estate Sommelier at Vasse Felix, turning the dream into a reality. And today, he has zero regrets about the move. Evan says “I still pinch myself on mornings driving to work – you’ve got the vineyards this russet colour against blue sky. And I use a lot of superlatives but I really think this part of the world has the best surf in the country to be honest – in terms of the consistency, the power and the quality.”
Being a big fan of the region, we thought we’d share Evan Gill’s ‘favourites’.
1. What’s your favourite beach ?
Very hard question to answer given the density of great beaches in the region! I think, for me, Injidup has to take the prize (although I guess technically it is really two beaches when you take in the entire sweep of sand) for a number of reasons: A) – four surf breaks spread along its length (sometimes more depending on the sandbanks) all of varying styles. B) – it is pristine and therefore full of wildlife – pods of dolphins, big rays, salmon when in season and a beautifully calm and deep zone just offshore makes it great for whales to rest. C) – the height of the lookouts make them ideal for watching those whales and of course a classic WA sunset. And D) – Wyadup Rocks and the Natural Spa at the northern end add another dimension/fun activity. One of the great beaches of Australia.
2. Top three local food experiences ?
Can’t go past La Scarpetta for authentic Italian in beautiful surrounds, with friendly and professional service and a great list of local and Italian wines. Glenarty Road in Karridale is a beautiful spot – particularly when you can sit outside. The food is honest, delicious and straight from the farm itself. I recently had lunch at Barnyard 1978 in Yallingup and was blown away by the food there too; it really over-delivered on expectations. Of course – when I have visitors we always have lunch upstairs in the Vasse Felix Restaurant or at the very least a cheese or charcuterie platter downstairs in the Wine Lounge!
3. Your personal wine recommendation?
The most difficult question of all! Spoilt for choice in this region so I’ll stay local with this response and say that you can’t go wrong choosing a local Cabernet or Chardonnay. It’s what Vasse Felix focuses on – and most of the local vignerons too. What this region can do with Cabernet Sauvignon is mind-blowing – wines that can be enjoyed immediately or in some cases laid down for 15+ years are produced here – and that is incredible. In saying that I’ve already polished off a few bottles of our 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – a vintage that started off cool and provided a few concerns for viticulturists and winemakers but which delivered the goods during March and April – particularly up here in Wilyabrup where I’m writing this. Margaret River Cab is renowned for its structure and complexity but also its finesse and elegance and that’s what I’m seeing in the 2017 releases. I would also like to mention Sam Vinciullo and his wines from a tiny vineyard east of Cowaramup. A ‘natural’ winemaker who adheres strictly to the tenets of that approach his wines are some of the finest ‘lo-fi’ wines I’ve tried. Rare as hens teeth though.
4. Best fun in the region without spending a cent ?
For me it’s surfing. The Margaret River coastline is home to some of the best surf in the country and some of the cleanest water on the planet. I’m not going to mention any breaks here though (well, besides Injidup which I’ve already mentioned!) If surfing is not your thing then hiking is the way to go – whether through forests such as Boranup or along the Cape to Cape Track – it’s stunning. My favourite parts of the track are probably the Redgate Beach to Contos stretch or closer to home the section north of Gracetown around the Wilyabrup Cliffs (incidentally Vasse Felix is the current caretaker of this section north of Gracetown).
5. Favourite time of year ?
I love late Autumn. The weather is still warm, the water is at its warmest, more groundswells start rolling in, vintage is still going but starting to wind down and it is just that perfect moment between the heat and busy times of summer and the cool chill of winter.
6. Best place to watch the sunset ?
As mentioned I love Injidup, though it’s a little out of the way so you would have to say Surfers Point is the premium destination for a sundowner; It’s close to town, is a manicured and landscaped headland with a panoramic view of the ocean and there is such a great vibe there in the late afternoon. Take a jacket though!
7. You can’t leave the Margaret River region without doing what…?
Slowing down! Taking some time to breathe and just relax. Pay a little more attention to the incredible natural wonders of this region, take the foot off the gas, immerse yourself in a bit of nature, eat some good food and drink some fine wine. Simple really.
La Scarpetta TrattoriaMonday - Saturday: 5:00 until 9:30 PM
Sunday: 5:00 until 9:00 PMGreat For: Dine In,Open for Business
73 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Glenarty Road | Kerfuffle WinesMonday: 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM
Tuesday - Thursday: Closed
Friday - Sunday: 10:00 AM until 5:00 PMGreat For: Cellar Sales,Child Friendly,Dine In,Dog Friendly,Open for Business,Seated Tastings
70 Glenarty Road, Karridale, WA 6288, Australia
Barnyard 1978Monday - Sunday: 10:00 AM until 4:00 PMGreat For: Cellar Sales,Dine In,Grazing Platters & Hampers,Open for Business,Seated Tastings
12 Canal Rocks Road, Yallingup WA 6282, Australia
Vasse FelixMonday - Sunday: 10:00 AM until 5:00 PMGreat For: Dine In,Open for Business,Rainy Day,Seated Tastings
Caves Road (Cnr Tom Cullity Drive) Cowaramup, Margaret River, Western Australia 6284