Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wine Tasting in Margaret River

Even wine snobs aren't familiar with the stunning wine region of Margaret River on Australia's west coast that not only offers some of the country's best wines, but beautiful beaches, gourmet food and the nicest wine producers you'll ever meet. 

Margaret River in Western Australia, or WA as the locals call it, produces less than 5% of the total amount of Australian wine made, but almost 25% of the best Australian wines. It surprising then how few of the labels are recognized by wine lovers and even worse, it's almost impossible to find these wines outside of Australia. We've done our fair share of tasting and investigating so you know which are the best and most interesting wineries to visit and how to find these amazing wines back home.

Where to Taste Wine

Vasse Felix
Corner of Dr. Tom Cullity Drive and Caves Road, Cowaramup +61 (0)8 9756 5000,
The very first winery in WA, Vasse Felix started as an experiment in the late 1960s and proved the area just south of Perth was well-suited for Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling grape growing. The wine at Vasse Felix is excellent, but our favorite part of the visit was learning the story behind the falcon logo that decorates every bottle. Legend has it that rats were a problem in the early days of the vineyard, so the proprietor, Dr. Tom Cullity, trained a falcon to guard the grapes. After a lengthy and expensive training, the falcon was released for duty and flew away immediately, never to be seen again.  
Find Vasse Felix wines through the US distributor, Negociants USA Inc, retailers including Beltramo's, Southern Hemisphere Wines, Southern Lattitude Wine, Winerz and

Howard Park and Mad Fish
Miamup Road, Cowaramup, +61 (0)8 9756 5200,
The wines of Howard Park and Mad Fish may be the most recognizable wines in this area. Since 1986, they have produced Cabernet Sauvignon and wonderful Rieslings, but have since extended their lines to include Shiraz, Muscat and even sparkling wine. And lucky for us, the Mad Fish wines are known for their value. The modern design of the cellar and winery even resulted in a nomination for an architectural award.
Mad Fish wines are distributed in the US by Distinguished Vineyards and Wine Partners,

Cape Mentelle
331 Wallcliffe Road, +61 (0)8 9757 0812, 
Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay lead the list of fantastic wines at Cape Mentelle, one of the pioneers of Margaret River wine producers. You might recognize the bottles by the row of Eucalyptus trees on the label. We love the Cabernet Sauvignons and swear we can smell the Eucalyptus every time we open a bottle back home. Beyond the wines, visitors will find specialty tours and outdoor movies on the grounds of the winery throughout the summer.
Cape Mentelle wines are distributed by Moet Hennessy in the US and I've been lucky to find them occasionally on 

Boodjidup Road, +61 (0)8 9758 9500, 
Award-winning wines from a stunning winery (with quite possibly the longest driveway in Australia), Xanadu should top the list of any visit to the region. On beautiful grounds you'll find a massive tasting room and a gourmet restaurant. Gorgeous chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons are the standouts, but you'll also find lovely Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends and Shiraz to try. You'd never guess from the modern architecture that this is one of the oldest wineries in Margaret River.

Leeuwin Estates
Stevens Road, Margaret River, +61 (0)8 9759 0000, 
This is the place to come if you want great wine, top food from the award-winning restaurant, a visit to an art gallery and a concert all in the same day. The Art Series wines are the best wines from each vintage and the labeling is as thoughtful as the wine making.
Find Leeuwin Estate wines at Old Bridge Cellars (Napa) and

Where to Eat
After a hard day of wine tasting, food is in order and Margaret River doesn't disappoint. From gourmet restaurants to top notch pub grub, you'll find whatever your stomach desires.

Knee Deep Winery
160 Johnson Road, Wilyabrup, +61 (0)8 9755 6776,
A wonderful winery to be sure, but we come here for the food. At the time of our visit, only lunch was available, but we couldn't think of a better time to be here as the glass walls open on warm days so you are dining literally steps away the vines. The main dishes were phenomenal and made even better with perfectly paired wines, but our favorite course was dessert - a deconstructed Cherry Ripe, a popular Australian candy bar consisting of chocolate, cherries and cream. Amazing.

107 Bussell Highway, +61 (0)8 9758 8877,
Located in the center of Margaret River, MUST is known for its extensive wine list but also for the best hamburger in the region. The burger is huge and certainly doesn't disappoint after an exhausting day of wine tasting in the sun.

Where to Stay

Cape Lodge
3341 Caves Road, Yallingup, +61 (0)8 9755 6311,
Award-winning hotel and restaurant, including Top 10 in the World for Food on Conde Naste Traveler's Gold List, Cape Lodge sits on a secluded vineyard in central Margaret River. Charming rooms, picturesque grounds, tennis, wine and one of the best meals you'll find in Australia, this boutique luxury lodge is well worth the splurge. I particularly loved the grass tennis court!

Urban Treehouse
+61 (0)8 8757 2795,
A fantastic, eco-friendly design project amidst the trees, the Urban Treehouse is a private home rental that sleeps six and is a unique way to experience life in Margaret River. Modern and innovative, this house has everything you need - BBQ, open kitchen, private bedrooms, decks and easy access to town. It also has things you didn't know you needed - a pond built into the deck allowing natural cooling in hot weather, a "living pantry"or herb garden right outside the kitchen window - all built in a group of trees. I keep trying to think of excuses to bring a group of friends back here, just to get to stay at the Urban Treehouse again.

Don't forget to set aside some time to visit the lovely beaches in the Margaret River area. While most are surfing beaches, there are a few secluded gems for swimmers. When the weather cooperates, head straight for the beach, well, stop for a wine tasting if needed, but be sure not to miss the beautiful Western Australia beaches.

Knee Deep Winery and Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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  2. Nice article, thanks! I learn something new on blogs everyday and yours is stimulating and provides great new ideas. Margaret River in Western Australia's wines is famous in all over world. Thanks and keep up the good work!