Passel Estate in the Margaret River wine region has a cellar door that offers a tasting of some of the region’s key varietals in a stunningly tranquil bush setting.
Cellar doors are dime a dozen in Margaret River; the premier Western Australian winemaking region, after all, is home to over 200 vineyard estates. But there’s perhaps only one that’s home to a possum sanctuary.
Established by Wendy and Barry Stimpson in 2011, picturesque Passel Estate offers sprawling vineyards – planted to some of the region’s key varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Shiraz – in the Cowaramup subregion that happens to adjoin some stunningly beautiful bush land.
The name of the property itself was inspired by a family (or passel) of Western ringtail possums the Stimpsons helped rehabilitate following the Margaret River bushfires in 2011.
The Stimpsons then built an entire sanctuary to house similarly displaced, orphaned, or injured possums right on their property. On good days, nature lover Barry may bring visitors to visit the sanctuary (although chances of catching sight of the nocturnal marsupials are infinitesimally small), and point out indigenous animal tracks along the way.
If you don’t make it there in the right season to traipse through the bush? Well, there’s always wine.
The Passel Estate cellar door has the look and feel of a contemporary ranch, and its tasting room is purposefully-built – complete with floor-to-ceiling glass panels – to offer an encompassing view of its nearby vineyards. Stone walls and timber accents exude a homely yet modern feel. Just note this is purely a tasting room; there are no winemaking or barrel-aging facilities on site if you’re into that kind of winery visit.
Passel Estate offers two levels of guided tastings.
There’s the introductory 45-minute session, where you’re guided through a flight of its award-winning single vineyard wines. A better experience is their advanced one-hour tasting. You’ll be guided through the estate’s core range, benchmarked against wines from other renown Australian winemaking regions to help you differentiate Margaret River’s terroir and stylistic differences. This also helps you better appreciate the wines esteemed winemaker Bruce Dukes – wine enthusiasts know him as owner and winemaker of nearby Domaine Naturaliste – helped make.
If you do come during the right season though, be sure to book the nature and wine walk. There’s nothing quite like this private tour of the sanctuary and estate, one where you’ll get to taste their wines right next to the vines that provided the fruit that went into your glass.
And if you’re lucky, Passel Estate’s chief wine dog Toby will be on hand to welcome you.
[Image credits: Passel Estate]