Wine and cheese platter at Passel Estate. Credit Tim Campbell.

You forgot to reserve a table. The kids need room to run. You’re caught between dinner and lunch. Or maybe it’s just that there are so many great wine and cheese options in the Margaret River Region that you can’t help but try at least one.

Whatever the impetus, read on for eight cellar door experiences where small bites matched to great wines sound a siren’s call for the taste obsessive.

Cheeseboard and wine on the lawn at Passel Estate. Credit Tim Campbell.
Enjoy a relaxed picnic on the lawn at Passel Estate. Photo credit Tim Campbell.
1

Passel Estate

Quiet Achiever

Tucked just off Caves Road on beautiful Ellen Brook Road, Passel Estate’s intimate cellar door is a well-kept local secret. Seated tastings at high stools in the glass-framed space are a five-glass traipse through some of the region’s best-known varietals—winemaker Bruce Dukes produces expressive Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon for the Estate.

Match your wines to Cambray Cheese—produced in nearby Nannup with a guided tasting. Or set the kids loose on the grass and order the wine deck platter replete with local meats, preserves, crackers, olives, and your choice of Passel Estate by the glass.

2

Walsh & Sons

The Farm House Refurbed

With a converted farmhouse-cum-butcher vibe, Walsh & Sons has been a welcome addition to the region’s cellar door scene. Just a year or two into trading and demand for its minimal intervention wines matched with a side of Sunday deck session is charting up.

The Margaret River grazing box is ideal when it comes to bites—munch on Cambray cheeses, and a swathe of locally made pickles, chutneys, olives, and small goods made on site by the family-owned butchery. Dogs are welcome outside. And there’s plenty of space for kids to run amok.

Wine tasting and grazing board at Mr Barvel. Credit Allysha Cartledge
It's all about la dolce vita at Mr Barval. Photo credit Allysha Cartledge.
3

Mr Barval

Our Own Little Italy

For Mr Barval owner and winemaker Robert Gherardi the marriage between great wine and delicious local produce is inexorably linked—it’s the Italian in him. So pull out a stool at one of the outdoor high tables and match a glass, bottle or wine flight to local cheeses that range from incredible ripe aged goat cheeses, to classically produced local camembert styles.

The platters have all the condiment trimmings, and Rob’s Italian style wine varietals made onsite in the boutique winery are not only memorable, but highly limited in stock. The insider’s tip? If you love something, buy a case then and there. As for the rest, the lawn is vast. The tyre swing a kid-lure. And the view over Karri forest a descriptive regional experience.

4

Glenarty Road

Young McDonald Has A Farm

Ben McDonald is the fifth generation to work the land at Glenarty Road, a bucolic working farm and winery run with wife Sash and their co-production—the sixth generation McDonald—in tow. The Karridale farm claims more than 240-acres. Here the family grow vegetables, farm sheep, nurture more than 25 fruit trees, grow hops and, of course, tend their vines: 10 varietals with 26-acres under vine.

The restaurant in the stunningly converted farm shed spills outside. Food is straight off the farm. Including the graze board—a seasonal spill of housemade charcuterie, fresh-off-the-farm produce, house breads, curd, and local cheeses. It’s got summer picnic written all over it. If you’re keen to escape the weekend crowds, then take advantage of wine and charcuterie Monday. No menus. Just a taste of wine at the bar and a seasonal charcuterie spread. The kids will be happy to roam.

Domaine Naturaliste Charcuterie Wine
Gourmet cheeseboards, beautiful wine and welcoming surroundings at Domaine Naturaliste.
5

Domaine Naturaliste

Bruce’s Domaine

Head of everything at Yallingup-based winery Domaine Naturaliste, Bruce Dukes is one of those highly regarded and well-known winemakers that needs no introduction. His cellar door in Wilyabrup is suitably stunning. The regional thematic of open lawns, timber and glass building, and welcoming vibe is on vivid display.

High tables are the spot for seated wine flights matched to charcuterie and cheese boards that combine local cheeses with an array of sliced cured meats, some of the region’s best olives, and condiments to match. Keep an eye out for special events that run the gamut from harvest picnics, and roaming lunches among the vines with Bruce and his team. Bookings for over eight people are required.

6

Marri Wood Park

Hidden Gem

Micro family vineyards offer some of the best local immersive experiences in the Margaret River Region, and Marri Wood Park is no exception. Down a Yallingup dirt track, the certified biodynamic vineyard is an intimate experience. No airs and graces. Just spare gumboots on hand if you book the vineyard tour with owner and viticulturist Julian Wright, and a great little cellar door that’s as organic as the team’s winemaking approach: no water, feed, cover crops, or soil balancing in these vineyards—just the expression of place.

Book ahead for the cheese board that matches local and international cheeses in a private guided tasting that might pair smoked cheddar with Chenin, goat’s cheese with a Marri Wood Sauvignon Blanc, or the seasonal pleasure of creamy brie with their limited release Pet Nat.

A grazing board and wines at Woodlands Wines. Photo supplied.
Along with epic grazing boards, look out for Chef Will's small plate specials using seasonal produce at Woodlands.
7

Woodlands Wine

Garden Idyll

One of the prettiest turn-ins paves the way for one of the region’s oldest established vineyards—Woodlands was planted in 1973 by David and Heather Watson and continues as a family concern. Under the guidance of brothers Stuart and Andrew, Woodlands continues to produce the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Sauv blends so suited to red Wilyabrup soil. Of course Chardonnay receives the royal treatment. As does the cellar door charcuterie offerings.

Choose from a cheese cabinet of international cheeses matched to local venison salami, Olio Bello olive oil, alongside chutney and cured meats from Margaret River producer, Farmhouse. There will be chef Will’s housemade focaccia and wine-savvy cellar door staff on hand to guide.

8

Happs Wines

DIY Picnic

Up on the hill behind Dunsborough, Happs is a larger scale experience combining pottery, art gallery, and extensive manicured gardens alongside an array of wines as diverse as the space. There is something for everyone from rosé and reds, through to sparkling, sweet and fortifieds.

The picnic hampers are similarly expansive. Wonder into the cellar door-cum-shop, grab a basket and fillet with everything from local gourmet crackers and condiments, to Margaret River Region chocolates, nougat, olives, patés, and cured meats. It is the adult version of the best kind of savoury picnic-style pick ’n’ mix. Rugs, picnic baskets and serving boards are all part of the package. All you need to do is find the perfect garden spot and settle in.

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