Wine In Margaret River
MARGARET RIVER WINERIES TO SIP AND SUP
MARGARET River was destined to become one of the planet’s great wine regions.
Located inside Western Australia’s scenic south-west corner, an easy three-hour drive from Perth – the area is flanked on three sides by the Indian and Southern oceans to deliver the vital maritime influences that regulate wind, rain and temperature, making the climate agreeable for visitors and perfect for growing grapes.
Add undulating terrain carpeted by peaceful old-growth forests, invigorating isolation that limits pollution, and a passionate winemaking community looking to combine innovative thinking with old-world techniques and the result is a magical terroir that can’t be matched.
WINE TIME IN MARGARET RIVER
The 100km strip of territory between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste is recognised as one of the world’s youngest wine regions, with this sleepy seaside district once the exclusive domain of dairy farmers and surfers.
But, back in the 1950s and 60s, wine experts determined that a Mediterranean-like climate promising 200cm of rain every year and an average temperature of around 20C was ideal for growing top-quality grapes.
Today there’s almost 6000ha under vine, hundreds of wineries, and dozens of cellar doors and the address is earning a reputation for sustainability with more operations focusing on organic, biodynamic and natural winemaking.
MARGARET RIVER SHIRAZ
While the flagship varieties are Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, a world-class Shiraz is now stepping up to compliment Chenin Blanc, Merlot and Malbec as Margaret River’s other notable drops.
Australian Wine says Shiraz is “nipping at the heels” of the famed Cabernet Sauvignon with “innovative winemakers producing this iconic variety” that boasts “vibrancy, flavour, depth and roundness of texture”.
Vasse Felix grows the oldest Shiraz vines in Margaret River, with the winemaker’s notes explaining that while the estate’s commitment to the variety is “historic” the local style is classed as contemporary to capture the cool-climate elegance of Australia’s lower latitudes.
MORE THAN A SIMPLE CELLAR DOOR
It’s not unusual for the person who tends the grapes or barrels the blends to be behind the cellar door counter, which means a stop to sample the local reds and whites becomes more than browsing bottles.
A visit to a Margaret River winery can turn into a tutorial on winemaking techniques, a tailored tasting with those that know the bottles best sharing personal stories about a link to the land, or lunch with wine matched by the maker.
BEST WINERY LUNCHES IN MARGARET RIVER
It’s impossible to navigate Margaret River’s quiet country lanes without savouring some of the region’s gourmet goodies and, with 30 or so wineries home to a fine-dining restaurant or casual café, lunch is the best way to taste wine beside dishes featuring the finest local ingredients.
At Cullen Wine and Glenarty Road the organic approach stretches beyond winemaking to touch the restaurant menu and both locations use ingredients grown in the kitchen garden to significantly shorten the paddock-to-plate journey.
Swings in Roundabouts is famous for wood-fired pizza, Wise Wines is the district’s only winery restaurant with ocean views, and Fishbone Wines specialises in Japanese cuisine crafted to complement the estate’s offering by being “light and fresh”.
MARGARET RIVER WITH AAT KINGS
South Western Escape and Western Wonderland are guided AAT Kings holidays that linger for a two-night stay in Margaret River to guarantee a full day of wandering that includes a lazy lunch at a favourite winery restaurant.
Both itineraries complete a languid loop from Perth, with South Western Escape an 11-day itinerary that traverses the state’s south-west corner and Western Wonderland adding four nights to the schedule for a journey north to see Monkey Mia and Kalbarri.
Those keen on incorporating another iconic experience into their West Australian adventure can join East Meets Western Wonderland, which begins in Sydney before crossing the continent by rail aboard the Indian Pacific.
Then, after arriving in Perth, 15 glorious days are dedicated to discovering the famous places and hidden gems around the capital with destinations from Esperance and Albany to Margaret River and Monkey Mia on the schedule.