The premier fine winemaking region that is Margaret River in Western Australia is a wine lover’s dream. We list out some of our favourite cellar doors and tasting rooms to visit.
*This article was first published on City Nomads.
It was barely 60 years ago that the wide and underdeveloped expanse that is Western Australia saw only scattered rural communities built around sheep and cattle farms. How things have changed! Today the state has become synonymous with a different product altogether – fine wine. One region in particular, Margaret River, is alone home to over 200 wineries and now makes some of the most highly sought-after wines to come out of Australia.
While still one of the most isolated wine regions in the world, Margaret River is surprisingly accessible to Singaporeans – just a mere five hours on a plane and another three by car. If you’re a wine enthusiast looking to make your first trip to this eminent Australian wine region, we’ve put together a list of our favourite wineries, cellar doors and tasting rooms that may just help.
[Main photo credit: Russell Ord Photography]
OG Margaret River winery Vasse Felix was the first to be established in the region, when founder Tom Cullity planted a vineyard in Cowarumup back in 1967. Today the winery is home to a stunning property, with beautiful sprawling vineyards of Cabernet, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, surrounding its quaint estate. Its cellar door is world-renowned, offering guided tastings at the bar or a more leisurely seated option for those preferring to lounge. Wine lovers can also book a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery, or even sign up for a full-day “cape to vine” tour hosted by expert local guides. Be sure to drop in on its award-winning restaurant too; Head Chef Brendan Pratt’s take on modern Australian cuisine is said to pair exceptionally well with the winery’s wine collection.
Vasse Felix is located at 4357 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia. +61 8 9756 5000. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Another pioneering Margaret River vineyard, Cape Mentelle was founded in 1970 when the Hohnen brothers planted their first 16 hectares of vines in what is now their flagship Wallcliffe vineyard. It’s also here at its cellar door that visitors can immerse themselves in a full Cape Mentelle experience. Wine enthusiasts can sign up for a wine tasting or a more private one in its original 1970 cellar, or go on a guided tour that comes with a food and wine pairing session. Or picnic on its lawn; in fact its lawn hosts a very popular outdoor cinema during the summer months. A true-blue oenophile? Coincide your visit to Cape Mentelle when the winery hosts its International Cabernet Tasting, an annual affair that sees top Margaret River cabernets match up against its counterparts from the best wineries around the world.
Cape Mentelle is located at 331 Wallcliffe Rd, Margaret River WA 6285, Australia. +61 8 9757 0888. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Another important pioneer Margaret River winery of note is Cullen Wines. Founded by Kevin and Diana Cullen in 1971 who converted their sheep and cattle farm at Wilyabrup to grow grapes, Cullen consistently produces some of the most impressive Cabernet and Chardonnay to come out of the region. Today it is one of the foremost wineries in the region practising biodynamic winemaking. Aside from guided tastings at their ‘Biodynamic Wine Room’, visitors can dine on a four-course lunch paired with its biodynamic wines or embark on a self-guided garden tour to learn more about biodynamic winemaking practices.
Cullen Wines is located at 4323 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia. +61 8 9755 5277. Open daily 10am to 4.30pm.
If you’re headed up towards Cape Naturaliste, the quaint and cutesy beach house on Caves Road along scenic Geographe Bay that is the cellar door of Flametree Wines makes for the perfect pitstop. Here you can sample its award-winning range of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines so representative of Margaret River, or experiment with its subregional series that explore beyond the confines of the region. Come during Margaret River’s annual Fine Vines Festival when Flametree Wines hosts ‘In Praise of Pink’, a celebration of rosé wines that sees the town turn up in pink.
Flametree Wines is located at 7 Chain Ave, Dunsborough WA 6281, Australia. +61 8 9756 8577. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Voyager Estate may not be among the first wineries to have set up in the region, but it’s certainly grown to become one of its biggest names. This second generation family-owned estate is located in Stevens Valley, a site highly rated for its distinct gravelly soils that produce some stunning Cabernet and Shiraz. More importantly for wine lovers Voyager Estate offers one of the most comprehensive suite of visitor experiences available in Margaret River, from wine tastings and an estate tour to a fabulously indulgent wine-drenched degustation lunch in its stately dining room. Make sure you set aside some time to stroll its beautifully manicured Victorian-style gardens as well.
Voyager Estate is located at 41 Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285, Australia. +61 8 9757 6354. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
If you love art as much as you do wine, a visit to Leeuwin Estate is in order. One of the biggest names in Margaret River, the pioneering family-owned winery – first founded in 1973 – is actually home to a unique collection of contemporary Australian artworks that feature as labels on its acclaimed ‘Art Series’ range of wines. But that’s not all. Aside from a classy cellar door, Leeuwin hosts a fabulous award-winning restaurant on its premises offering a three- or four-course tasting menu featuring exceptional seasonal West Australian produce. For years, Leewin’s exceptionally beautiful grounds played host the annual Gourmet Escape food and wine festival, which many coincide their visits to the region for.
Leeuwin Estate is located at Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285, Australia. +61 8 9759 0000. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Here’s a winery conservationists will love. Established in 1997, Arimia Estate is an almost entirely self-sufficient winery located that operates ‘off the grid’ and makes wine following organic practices. Sample its innovative estate-grown wines made from a diverse range of grapes at the inviting and relaxed cellar door largely built from recycled or plantation timber. Or pair them over lunch at Arimia’s restaurant. Here Chef Evan Hayter curates an exciting nose-to-tail menu using farm-grown produce – they have their own in-house gardener! – such as pork and trout raised on their property.
Arimia Estate is located at 242 Quininup Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia. +61 8 9755 2528. Open Thursdays to Mondays 10am to 5pm.
Stretched for time? Drop into Clairault Streicker. This Margaret River grower and wine producer makes wines from two different wine estates, Clairault and Streicker. Clairault gives an authentic snapshot of Margaret River wine styles blended from grapes harvested from across the family-owned producer’s four distinct vineyard sites, while Streicker is more focused on single estate expressions. While Clairault Streicker doesn’t offer a winery visit, its cellar door at Wilyabrup offers some fun wine-focused experiences – such as a blending session or wine-drenched picnic on its lawn – as well as a fantastic cafe restaurant that puts out casual, seasonal Australian grub.
Clairault Streicker is located at 3277 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6282, Australia. +61 8 9755 6225. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Don’t let Pierro’s modest and rustic-looking cellar door at fool you. Its warm wooden interiors may look dated and old; its artisanal winemaking is anything but. Pierro founder Dr Mike Peterkin was a trailblazing pioneer winemaker in his day – he produced the first Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in Margaret River and helped establish that style in the region, for example – and the winery continues to produce cutting-edge wines that regularly pick up accolades in the wine awards circuit.
Pierro is located at 4051 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia. +61 8 9755 6220. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Howard Park Wines
Looking for a beautiful spot for a picnic? We can’t recommend Howard Park enough. Part of Burch Family Wines, family-owned Howard Park has been crafting quality wines for over three decades and its cellar door at Cowaramup – built into a beautiful timeless structure – offers a sprawling lawn overseeing its Leston vineyard that’s perfect for a picnic. Even better, Howard Park regularly organises events and outdoor festivals where you can lounge on the lawn with their lovely wines – including some top-notch sparkling wines – over pumping music and food truck eats.
Howard Park Wines is located at 543 Miamup Rd, Cowaramup WA 6284, Australia. +61 8 9756 5200. Open daily 10am to 5pm.
Love nature? Be sure to drop into Passel Estate. Located in Cowaramup, Passel Estate’s tasting room – a stunningly picturesque property in the middle of native bushland – is also home to a possum sanctuary. If you come in the right season, Passel Estate owners Wendy and Barry Stimpson can guide you on one of their private wine and nature walks where you get to taste their wines right next to the vines that provided the fruit that went into your glass, and check out the cubby holes where displaced and injured possums are rehabilitated. Otherwise there are wine tasting sessions where you are guided through a flight Passel Estate’s award-winning single vineyard wines.
Passel Estate is located at 655 Ellen Brook Rd, Cowaramup WA 6284, Australia. +61 8 9717 6241. Open daily 10.30am to 5pm.
Snake + Herring
Snake + Herring runs a small and laidback little cellar door along Caves Road in Wilyabrup worth checking out if you prefer a more iconoclastic approach to winemaking. The boutique winery operation embraces much of Western Australia’s Southwest wine regions, going beyond Margaret River in search of remarkable grapes from lesser-known subregions. The result is a range of fun and eclectic wines that celebrate the entire region; think Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Margaret River, but also Shiraz and Grenache from Frankland River, Riesling from Mount Barker, and Chardonnay from Porongurup from the Great Southern wine region.
Snake + Herring is located at 3763 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia. +61 427 881 871. Open 11am to 5pm.
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