The Margaret River wine region in Western Australia stuns

Sandalford Wines, another of the Margaret River wine region's wineries.

The state of Western Australia has just 2.3 million inhabitants, or less than 10% of the population of Australia. Needless to say, the whole region is pretty empty, dominated by the endless Outback. Yet, Western Australia is home to one of the best up-and-coming wine regions in the world, the fertile Margaret River. 

About three hours’ drive south of the state’s capital, Perth, the Margaret River area produces about 3 percent of Australia's wines, but is responsible for about 20 percent of Australia's “premium market” wines. From its humble beginnings in the late 1960s, over 100 boutique wineries are now nestled here. 

Despite the towering native eucalyptus forests and kangaroo crossing signs, the Margaret River region looks and feels a lot like Northern California. Its temperate Mediterranean climate produces a wide breadth of many varietals of whites and reds – with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay being the standouts. Explore the region’s rugged coastline, huge caves and historic lighthouses while visiting intimate boutique wineries and overnighting at top-notch lodges. This uncrowded, mellow southwest corner of Australia is worth the trek, and the wines will not disappoint.

Get Your Bearings on the Margaret River

 

Your first stop in the area should be the town of Margaret River. More down-home and friendly than the moneyed wine towns found in Napa or Burgundy, the village of Margaret River exudes the sunny optimism and wide smiles the Aussies are known for. 

 

First check out the award-winning Wine Tourism Showroom. Here, you can get your bearings on the entire region and her wines. Featuring sensory displays and fascinating wine making equipment, the showroom is recognized as being amongst the best of its kind with extensive displays and information on the local wine industry, and it also hosts regular wine tastings.

 

Afterwards, head west towards Caves Road, the main wine route through the region. Cruise under a canopy of eucalyptus forests while keeping your eyes out for signs for local wine tastings at open “cellar doors.”

 

Book a Room at Cape Lodge

Set on 40 acres with its own vineyards of sauvignon blanc and shiraz, the Cape Lodge is one of the best places to stay in the Margaret River, and even in all of Western Australia. It’s the only property in the state listed in the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World portfolio. 

 

 

The 22-room, five-star property (pictured above) includes a gourmet lakeside restaurant with both alfresco deck dining and inside tables next to a roaring fire. The restaurant serves tasty dishes like the local freshwater lobster called marron, as well as a French-inspired prix fixe menu of game and beef. Executive Chef Tony Howell places emphasis on using only the freshest local produce, and he changes the menu daily.

 

Vasse Felix Winery - Where it All Began

The Margaret River can thank its wine legacy to a cardiologist from Perth. It was 1967 when Dr. Tom Cullity, after a year searching and scouring endless sites, finally found what he believed to be his ideal land of “red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18 inches below the surface”. 

 

The plot was $75 an acre and with the acquisition of eight acres, he began the first vineyard in the region, called Vasse Felix (pictured left). Now Vasse Felix is one of Margaret River’s most acclaimed wineries and one of its most welcoming and sophisticated estates. You’ll know the minute you park and view the striking modern art sculptures installed around the property. The original underground cellar is open to the public, with an archive of Vasse Felix and Margaret River wine history.

 

Taste the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon (and cabernet blends), Chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc and semillon blends in its elegant windowed tasting room, or stay for lunch in its fine dining restaurant. 

 

Wine for Dudes

Are you a dude, or married to one? Then the Wine for Dudes tours are for you. Since February 2003, John O’Connor has been making wine simple, approachable and fun, taking visitors to Margaret River wineries and explaining wine in an easy-to-get style.

 

His “Daily Wine Tour” includes visits to three local wineries, a chocolate factory and even a beer brewery if all the sipping of chardonnay gets to be too much. He also incorporates visits to a cheese factory and venison and olive oil tastings as well, giving a grand overviews of all the gourmet and organic products the area is known for.

 

(Source: SNOOTH)

 

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