Windows Estate Organic Winery

More Beyond The Cellar Door

Overly excited at the prospect of 100+ cellar doors in the Margaret River region? Here’s something we thought we’d never say: sometimes, less is more.

A growing number of wine estates, owners, winemakers and sommeliers are personally welcoming visitors into their vineyards (and in on their secrets) in a swathe of new, comprehensive, the-envy-of-your-friends experiences, which means discovering beyond the cellar door and only doing a handful of wineries, but really, really in depth…Like, personal host, seated tastings, behind the scenes tours and multi-course degustation, all-day-affair-style in depth.

Or organic farm walks, shaking hands with the owners, hearing about their motivations and winemaking philosophies over a glass of wine kind of in depth. Not to mention overflowing bubbles, chocolates, nature walks, elaborate picnics, DIY wine blending, cheese platters…there is a lifetime’s worth of escapades and encounters.

Start thinking of cellar doors as Margaret River’s gateway into the wine world, while private experiences are your first-class ticket (for as little as 12 bucks). Here’s our comprehensive guide to get you started.

The Classic Powerhouses

Rock star luxury from some of the region’s most famous wine estates.

Leeuwin Estate

Leeuwin Estate would have to be one of not only Margaret River’s – but Australia’s – most recognised wineries, least of all for its spectacular Art Series Chardonnay. The powerhouse multi-generational operation includes a cellar door, art gallery and fine-dining restaurant, and (in pre-pandemic times) international concerts and events. So naturally there is almost an encyclopedia’s worth of wine experiences to sink your teeth into here. The mother lode of these is the aptly titled Ultimate Tasting Experience, which includes morning tea, an intro to the estate and its winemaking, an art gallery tour and tutored wine tasting, culminating in a seven-course menu at the restaurant expertly paired with Leeuwin wines, and with each course being introduced by the culinary team. But(!) we did say that was the mother lode, and there are many other niche experiences to be had, including the Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Flight looking at the winery’s flagship variety, The Art of Wine Tasting taking in four top varieties and museum releases, the Immersion Experience with morning tea, an art gallery tour and a flight of five wines…and more!

  • Price range: $45 – $269 pp
  • Duration: 45 mins – 5 hours
  • Availability: Wed – Sun for any food-inclusive experiences, otherwise 7 days a week for wine tasting experiences. Bookings essential for all.
  • Perfect For: High achievers. Those who like to be top of the class.

 

Vasse Felix

Vasse Felix is the founding wine estate of the Margaret River region, helmed by the Holmes a Court family since 1987. The cellar door is an icon of the area, known for its modern interiors, sculpture garden, art collection and much-lauded restaurant. The wine experiences are befitting of the estate’s long history. The Original Tour is a behind the scenes winemaking discovery with historical, regional and wine production insights and a private tasting of the wine collection accompanied with small gourmet bites. Budding wine buffs should head straight for the Tour, Tasting and Lunch, which explores The Vault (the in-house museum and historical wine collection) with a private tasting by your host at cellar door, then a three-course meal matched with wines at the Chef’s High Table in the restaurant. The Cellar Experience adds onto this with a historical tour of the old vines on the property, and focusing in on the star varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Those with a penchant for the finer things in life (ahem, food and wine) need look no further than The Epicurean Tour, which stops in at the winery to meet the winemaker and later dives into the world of food and wine matching, learning the insights and philosophies behind the food with a five-course tasting menu paired with wines, and a take-away bottle of Premier wine to boot. The Cape to Vine Tour combines the Epicurean experience with a preceding spot of the outdoors thanks to partners and nature specialists, Cape to Cape Explorer Tours.

  • Price range: $60 – $560 pp
  • Availability: Daily or weekly depending on the tour, bookings essential.
  • Duration: 90mins – 4+ hours
  • Perfect for: Aspiring wine afficionados. A one-stop-shop on your road to connoisseur-dom.
Moody image of the wine cellar at Vasse Felix
The Vault now houses all Vasse Felix historical wines; including the last remaining bottle of the 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon, alongside a new historical exhibition of the early years in the Margaret River region and at Vasse Felix. Image by Russell Ord Photo.

Cullen Wines

Quality, integrity and sustainability are the mantras lived and breathed at every aspect of Cullen Wines, under the meticulous stewardship of awarded winemaker Vanya Cullen. The family’s iconic Caves Road headquarters has undergone a refurbishment recently, to introduce the Biodynamic Wine Room as an umbrella for the various experiences on offer. There are four seated and hosted wine tasting experiences, catering to different levels and interests, from introductory, to the Intimate (a detailed look at Cullen’s history, philosophy and biodynamic farming) right through to the Flagship Vertical Tasting experience, focusing on the famous flagship Diana Madeline and Kevin John wines, with three different vintages of each from the museum highlighting unique vintages and cellaring potential. Tastings can be followed by a four-course set menu infused with produce from the biodynamic kitchen garden. Visitors can also self-guide themselves through the spiral garden, learning about biodynamic processes and principles that inform the Cullen Wines operations.

  • Price range: $15 – $75pp (excluding meal)
  • Duration: 30+ mins
  • Availability: Daily – walk-ins are welcome for the Intro to Cullen Wines and Self-Guided Garden Tour. Bookings essential for all other experiences.
  • Perfect for: Those who lie at the intersection of wine luxury with organic principles.

Cape Mentelle

Cape Mentelle is conveniently one of the closest wineries to Margaret River itself. Its sprawling grounds play host to the much-loved annual twilight movie season, and its history lies with local wine industry pioneer David Hohnen (who also established Cloudy Bay in New Zealand). It was one of the first wineries in the region to offer a Behind the Scenes Tour and Tasting to guests, which takes in the vines right out the front of cellar door, plus the winery, its equipment, barrel halls and cellar. Guests have the option to add various inclusions onto this original tour, such as a private tasting in the ambient barrel hall, or a food and wine pairing of six wines and gourmet morsels featuring local produce – or take a picnic basket and wine flight outside onto the lawn to enjoy.

  • Price range: $30 – $85pp
  • Availability: Picnics available daily, tours and private tastings available daily except Thursdays and Fridays. Bookings essential.
  • Duration: 45mins – 2 hours
  • Perfect for: The wine curious – learn the nuts and bolts of winemaking here.

Meet The Owners

It’s the experience we all romanticise: strolling the vines, glass in hand, chatting away to the owners of the winery.

Small Family Winery and Vineyard Experience – Brown Hill Estate, Cape Grace Wines, Windows Estate

If you have ever fantasised wandering the grape vines on a private tour with the owners – then being poured some of their best drops inside the winery itself – this is the tour for you. Brown Hill Estate, Cape Grace Wines and Windows Estate have teamed up to really showcase how small, family-owned wineries run. This self-drive tour visits each property, where the owners will walk you through their vineyards, explaining the seasons, grape growing and harvest. Go behind-the-scenes to learn about their different styles and methods, then enjoy a private tasting in the vineyards, barrel rooms or wineries.

  • Price range: Varies on the numbers in the group, $600 for a single or $900 for a max. of six people.
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Availability: Mondays and Thursdays at 1pm (check website, bookings essential).
  • Perfect for: The authenticity-seekers. A three-for-one-deal on winemaking families.

EVOI Wines

Winemaker Nigel Ludlow started EVOI Wines with just two barrels of Chardonnay in 2007. Now the nationally-recognised and awarded outfit is offering “real” Margaret River wine encounters with the man himself, during all-access-pass-style experiences. Limited to six guests, the Small Group tour with Nigel invites questions and learnings about the whole process of grape to bottle, including “lifting the curtain” on the winery and its equipment, sampling wine from the barrel, and finishing a tasting of EVOI wines. The Reserve Wines Experience is the deluxe version, with added museum wines or a vertical tasting, finishing with a produce platter and a glass of wine.

  • Price range: $45 -$90
  • Duration: 60 – 90 mins
  • Availability: Wed – Sat, bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: Larrikin wine drinkers – meet your guru!
Brown Hill Estate Family Winery Credit Russell Ord
Brown Hill Estate are one of the many delightful multigenerational family-owned boutique wineries in the Margaret River Region. Image by Russell Ord Photo.

Windows Estate

The Davies family of Windows prides themselves on being multi-generational farmers with an ethos of organics – values which extend into their estate experiences. Windows offers private prepared picnics all set up and ready on the cellar door grounds, with various options available (including the addition of a fire-pit!). The Organic Vineyard Tour and Tasting is an in-depth look at farming and an exploration of the Windows site with the owners, followed by a private tasting and cheese board at cellar door. Seated wine tastings with matching cheeses can be enjoyed daily at the cellar door.

  • Price range: $15 – $200
  • Duration: 45 – 90mins
  • Availability: Daily for the picnics and tastings (bookings preferred), bookings essential for the tour.
  • Perfect for: Potential tree-changers or organic gardeners. Soil lovers unite!

Whicher Ridge

Whicher Ridge is famed for its beautiful sensory garden, around which all its wine tastings are based. The garden embodies all those descriptive notes you’ve heard about in relation to wine tasting (think “herbaceous”, “citrus”, “floral”) and quite literally puts them under your nose, to better understand what’s in your glass. Each wine tasting is run by the winemaker Cathy, with five bookable options to choose from. The pièce de résistance is the Pick and Sip Garden Tour and Tasting, where you are guided through the garden (and four wines) with the winemaker herself. Or build on this with the See Smell Taste Experience package for two, which adds on a gourmet hamper and three glasses of wine to make your way through. The Soiree in the Garden is a unique opportunity to enjoy the grounds at twilight from 4 – 6pm, with three glasses of wine in the garden.

  • Duration: 30mins – 2hours
  • Availability: Daily or October – March depending on the experience. Bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: The green thumb wine drinkers!

 

Whicher Ridge Wines
The unique sensory garden at Whicher Ridge Wines.

Farm Feasts

Get up close and personal when the vines meet local produce for a heavenly pairing.

Churchview Estate

Even if you haven’t visited Churchview Estate yet, you certainly would have passed it as a landmark along the drive into Cowaramup and Margaret River. The traditional weatherboard house-cum-cellar door lies directly opposite its namesake, the historical (and tiny!) St John the Baptist Anglican Church across Bussell Highway. The fully organic family outfit runs on principles of cultivating, crafting and cherishing the land, and punches above its weight with an impressive wine range under four different labels and 16 different varieties planted. The agricultural and community heritage of Churchview is reflected in its experiences, being a wine tasting with ploughman’s lunch to be enjoyed in the cellar door or on the classic veranda; or a picnic in the vines fully stocked for two, to dive into after a wander in the vineyard to scope out your own private spot. Blissful!

  • Price range: $25 – $75
  • Duration: Open ended
  • Availability: Ploughman’s lunch is available Thurs, Fri, Sat and Mon; picnics available Sept – April. Bookings essential for both.
  • Perfect for: Hopeful wine influencers. Vines – tick, platter – tick, cute cellar door – tick, favourite wine – tick.

Domaine Naturaliste

The Domaine Naturaliste cellar door is memorable for its sheer proximity to the vineyard (think head-height Merlot vines planted right outside). This provides an ever-changing backdrop to the wall-to-wall windows of the cellar door from one season to the next – from lush green to red to bare and back again. The inside/outside nature of the space is designed for ultimate relaxation, and is the perfect setting for Domaine Naturaliste’s tasting flight: six wines presented at a seated tasting with a personalised description of the wines from cellar door staff. Charcuterie and cheese boards are available to purchase as a recommended accompaniment.

  • Price range: $12 per flight (or free per bottle of wine purchased), charcuterie boards additional.
  • Duration: 30+ mins
  • Availability: Daily during open hours, bookings optional.
  • Perfect for: The laid-back winos who savour quality. Long and lazy tasting and grazing.

Glenarty Road

Rustic charm is had in spades at Glenarty Road, just south of Margaret River in Karridale. The multi-generational farming family-cum-winemakers (literally, the McDonald’s) deliver a good time in their timber and tin cabin cellar door, complete with wood fire, long table lunches and the odd sheep/cockatoo/doggy to pat. And their Farm and Feast tour definitely does what it says “on the box” with a progressive wine tasting through the farm, exploring the vines, macadamias, hop vines and vegetable garden. Two tasting platforms have been set up en route to rest your (hardly) weary legs with a vino refresher. Finish with a farm-style feast at the restaurant to neatly bring together everything you’ve learned agri- and viticulturally on the tour.

  • Price range: $120pp
  • Availability: Every Saturday from 10.30am seasonally (check website).
  • Duration: 3 hours.
  • Perfect for: Farmer wants a wine! Don your fave overalls and farm boots and get down there.
Glenarty Road Cellar Door Food and Wine
Farm to table excellence earnt Glenarty Road Best Regional Winery at the Good Food Guide Awards in 2021.

HIdden Estates

Not all is what it seems as you explore the exclusive wine rooms, wine chapels and even the grounds of a manor house at well-known estates.

Howard Park

Howard Park has a lot going for it – it’s a formidable producer of methode traditionelle (aka French-style) sparkling wine; it has a huge and diverse line-up of vino thanks to vineyards across the Margaret River and Great Southern regions; and it has an ongoing collaboration with French winemaker Pascal Marchand in a cross-continental, cultural exchange of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Phew! In addition, behind the scenes of its architectural cellar door, lies the lesser-known Wine Chapel – a beautiful concrete and oak building with private vineyard terrace, wine cellar museum, lounge room and grapevine chandeliers. It is here that the more magical vinous experiences truly happen. Visitors can choose from either a sparkling focused or a general premium wine tasting in a masterclass-style set-up, followed by a tasting platter to be enjoyed in private luxury.

  • Price range: $120 pp (4 person minimum)
  • Duration: 2 hours approx.
  • Availability: 7 days a week, bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: Wine VIPs-to-be. Seclusion, sparklings and splendour.

Voyager Estate

Opulence and Voyager Estate go hand-in-hand. There’s the signature red roses at the end of every vine, the ornate and manicured gardens, the traditional Cape Dutch architecture of the cellar door itself – and that’s before a drop of wine has touched your lips. Through the doors, the luxurious yet intimate Wine Room is the focal point of Voyager’s wine experiences. Options include the Estate Tour through the vineyard, winery and concluding at cellar door with a glass of wine and a cheese board; the Origins Tasting, exploring Margaret River’s key varietals of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; or Voyager Unearthed for the ultimate lesson in wine appreciation, looking at the Estate’s organic farming and winemaking approach guided by the in-house sommelier. All experiences can be upgraded with four- or seven-course menus at the restaurant.

  • Price range: $50 – $95 (excluding restaurant tasting menus)
  • Duration: 1.5 hours – full day experience
  • Availability: Daily to weekly, varying on the experience, bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: Hopeless romantics – of wine or otherwise. Voyager delivers a slice of perfection.

Fraser Gallop Estate

There are few photos of Fraser Gallop Estate that don’t feature the iconic Gallop House gracing the property (constructed in a true Bordeaux style…think period drama, chateau vibes) and wine label. The landmark is usually closed off to the public, except(!) for Fraser Gallop’s Taste of the Vineyard tour. Go deep into the private gardens of Gallop House in a solar-powered EV buggy, sipping the award-winning Parterre range at picturesque locations along the way. The tour concludes with a stop at the winery, potentially to meet the winemaker or sample from the barrel.

  • Price range: $95
  • Duration: 90mins
  • Availability: Weekly in season (spring/summer). Bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: Euro-fanatics. Old world wine appreciators apply here.
Fraser Gallop Estate Taste of the Vineyard Experience
Fraser Gallop Estate's Taste of the Vineyard Tour takes visitors into the private gardens of Gallop House on a solar-powered EV buggy

Sweet Escapes

Sweet tooths, rejoice! We have the perfect wineries for you.

Arlewood

The good folks at Arlewood are owning the chocolate and wine experience in Margaret River. The petite cellar door in the south of the region plays strongly into the Italian heritage of the owners with its wine range, bringing all the personality of the “Valtellina” area into people’s glasses. Their La Bratta Wine and chocolate experience has put Arlewood on the top hit lists of James Halliday and Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine (ahem, no big deal). Two Italian-inspired vinos (a white and red) are paired with specifically-crafted morsels from local chocolatier Temper Temper, to surprise and delight.

  • Price range: $20 pp
  • Duration: 25 mins approx.
  • Availability: Saturdays and Sundays – bookings recommended.
  • Perfect for: Chocaholics, obviously. Turns out you really can have it all!

Bettenays

Bettenays has set itself apart by sharing two old world delicacies with a new world spin: wine and nougat. The family owned and run cellar door lies among classic farming country near Cowaramup, set on a dam and among the vines. Inside, a world of wine, nougat and liqueur awaits – a den of temptation! Experiences include a wine tasting by the fire, finished with toasting your own nougat and enjoying a liqueur-spiked hot chocolate. Otherwise, nougat and wine matching with a grazing board is the ultimate naughty treat, or there is a tour, taste and brunch option personally hosted by the owners.

  • Price range: $25 – $75 pp
  • Duration: 45 – 90 mins
  • Availability: 7 days a week, bookings essential.
  • Perfect for: The sweet sinners. Welcome to your devilish heaven.
Bettanays Wine and Nougat Tasting
Nougat and wine matching with a grazing board at Bettenays.

Apprentice Winemakers

For those who have ever thought “I could do that…”, prove the haters wrong!

Clairault Streicker

The Clairault Streicker cellar door and vineyard kitchen offers the joys of a mid-sized winery – beautiful setting, sleek cellar door and modern, casual dining. It’s the perfect balance between family-owned (which it is) and fancy. Wine tastings are a seated affair, but the dining is delightfully more familial with a choice of indoors, under the verandas or on a picnic rug on the lawn with outdoor games. The Vineyard Picnic definitely leans more towards Masterchef than egg sandwiches, to satisfy the discerning gourmands. Staff will point out a private vineyard block for you to pitch up a spot among the vine rows and graze away to your heart’s content. Otherwise, the Wine Blending experience will have you donning your best winemaker’s furrowed brow as you ponder what percentage of Shiraz to add to your Cabernet Sauvignon, before bottling the nectar to take home. (Post-blending three-course meal optional).

  • Price range: $75 – $130
  • Duration: 90 mins – 3 hours
  • Availability: 7 days a week, bookings essential.
  • Perfect For: Pragmatic winos – get hands-on here!

Hay Shed Hill

Hay Shed Hill is a lively establishment in Wilyabrup known for its barn-style cellar door building and mammoth wine stable (pun unintended). Three levels of experiences here show off the different strengths of the brand. First up is the Wine Blending Experience, where guests taste the five separate Bordeaux varieties that would traditionally be used in a Cabernet Sauvignon blend, and then try their hand at making a glass of their very own. The Block 2 Vertical Private Tasting Experience examines one of the oldest plantings on the property, comparing Cabernet Sauvignon year-to-year off the same vines. The Vineyard Tour and Private Tasting is a guided walk through the vineyard, a seated look at cellar door’s current release wines, then a complimentary glass of your choice to cap off the experience.

  • Price range: $35 – $100
  • Duration: 60+ mins
  • Availability: Bookings essential and on request.
  • Perfect for: The wine-studious. Lovers of learning, heed the call!