I fell in love with Your Margaret River Region on my first visit back in 2010. The beaches, the bush and so many wineries to choose from really helped my decision to make the big move from Canberra to Perth! Who wouldn’t want to be 3 hours away from this region!
Ever since then I have visited so many times that my friends repeatedly suggest I should just move there seeing as I spend so much time there. That is the dream.
I love the region so much for many reasons. It is where my husband first told me he loved me, it is where we got engaged and it is also where we got married. I was so excited to get married here and show off the region to all my visiting friends and family.
A great way to showcase and experience the best of the region is through a tour. Here are two top tours to taste the South West.
1. Harvest Tours and Charters Margaret River
My husband and I were lucky enough to be hosted by Judy and Steve recently on one of their tours. This tour was unlike any we had done in the region before. The only similarities were the fact that it was a full-day and that we got picked up and dropped off to our accommodation (how easy it that)!
We started the day with a coffee stop. Yahava KoffeeWorks has been in operation since 2001 and is a must for all coffee lovers visiting the region. They import all their beans but roast on-site.
Our coffee expert Steve showed us the best way to make coffee – with a plunger and not with boiling water. Steve taught us how to properly pour the coffee to get the perfect crema (where 40-50% of the flavour lives). We got to try 3 different coffees as well as an iced coffee which certainly perked me up for the day.
Our next stop was McHenry Hohnen, a biodynamic winery whose wine maker used to work for Cape Mentelle and Cloudy Bay. Biodynamic or natural wines are becoming more in fashion in the region recently. Not only did we get to taste some delicious wines (I would like to make a special mention of the Rocky Road Chardonnay) but we got treated to some smoked meats as well. All meats are sourced from The Farmhouse and are all free-range, organic and gluten-free.
We made our way through some smoked ham, lamb mergueze sausage and pork chorizo. The best way to test whether your food matches your wine is to ‘sip, eat, sip’. My hubby and I walked away with a magnum of Zinfandel for $20. Bargain!
We were then lucky enough to have a wine tasting over lunch at Cullen Wines & Restaurant – one of the first wineries in the region. Another biodynamic winery, the winemaker is into experimenting with traditional methods of wine making. We could each choose an entree and main meal and a glass of wine while sitting on the verandah soaking up the stunning view of the vines.
After our amazing lunch we went further up Caves Road to stop at one of my favourite wineries in the region: Windows Estate. I can’t say enough positive things about this place. The grounds match how perfect the wine is here.
The Mousseux (sparkling) is a favourite of mine and I tend to pick up a bottle or two each time I am here (for special occasions, like a Friday night – right?!).
Recently they opened the Yallingup Cheese Factory at the winery. Wine and cheese – such a perfect combination. They make all the cheese on-site and you can buy a tasting hamper to eat on the grounds (with a glass of Windows wine), or to take away.
We then went over the road to House of Cards (the sister to Windows Estate) for some more wine tasting. When I say sister, I literally mean sister. The winemaker of Windows is the brother to the owner of House of Cards. Nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry.
I was really impressed with the wines here and would definitely come back – we walked away with a bottle of Cabernet Merlot this time around and I am really looking forward to drinking it before the winter weather finishes.
Right next door to House of Cards is a place called Gabriel Chocolate. Yes you read right; wine – cheese – wine – chocolate. Gabriel imports their beans and make all chocolate here. If you are after a run of the mill Cadbury bar this is not the place for you. The chocolate here is rich, mainly dark (does cater to the milk lovers too) and delicious.
Steve shouted everyone an ice cream too – what a guy!
We then finished the tour off at Vasse Virgin (you may have read about their recent ‘David and Goliath’ style legal battle with Richard Branson’s Virgin Enterprises Limited). They specialise in soap made from olive oil and have lots of gourmet olive oils, dukkahs and dressings.
Coffee, wine, smoked meats, lunch, wine, cheese, more wine, chocolate and olive oil. This truly is a great way to sample what the region has to offer. If you are after a tour that offers more than just wine this is the one for you. I would recommend taking your parents or family members or anyone who isn’t familiar with the region on this tour.
Thanks so much Steve and Trudy.
2. Taste of the South Winery and Brewery Tours
Taste the South is not just a tour company – they are like an old friend. We have been with Taste of the South Winery and Brewery Tours many times on our visits to the region. Most notably the big winery tour the day after our wedding. We had 55 people on 3 busses going to all our favourite wineries (the 3 buses had different route’s throughout the day) and we all got to meet up for lunch at Laurance.
Zig and Sabine from Taste the South will ask you what sort of wines you like before organising your tour. And boy do they know their wine. Zig introduced us to one of our favourite wineries down here, Carpe Diem – if you like red wine you must go.
For our wedding winery tour extravaganza – the tours visited Swings and Roundabouts (pictured above left), Windance Estate (pictured bottom), Windows Estate, Bush Shack Brewery, Carpe Diem, Cape Naturaliste Vineyard (another one of my favourite wineries in the region, pictured above right) and Mongrel Creek Vineyard and Wine (pictured below). It was no mean feat but we knew Zig and Sabine would be able to make the day super special as always.
A typical tour, which we have done many times includes pick-up and drop-off at your accommodation, tastings at 5 wineries and maybe even a brewery at the end of the day depending on time.
Lunch is included and will usually be at Woody Nook Wines, Laurance Wines or Clairault | Streicker Wines. If you can, go to Laurance – just the lavish-ness of this place is an experience in itself. Not to mention the Chardonnay
It is always a fun day with Taste of the South, they love to take into account people’s likes, dislikes and will read the mood of the day.
For something different, Taste of the South also offer night time tours which are much more intimate and informative on the wine making process. You visit more boutique wineries and will have dinner at one of the wineries.
As I mentioned, we have gone with Taste of the South many times and we will continue to go with Taste of the South many more times. This is a great tour to go on with a bunch of friends.