May 6th, 2011
by Margaret River · Filed Under: Margaret River Wine Festival · Margaret River Wineries · Margaret River Wines · Vineyards Margaret River
The perfect winery experience in Margaret River…
Rural ambiance and rustic charm, antique wine barrels bearing proud stains of vintages long past; heavy-eyed wine dogs resting under a rouge canopy; weathered winemakers sharing memories over precious drops; and; of course, a wheelbarrow brimming with rare old-back-vintages that disappeared off city shelves years ago – all at bargain prices.
Does it all really exist? Possibly. All you have to do is get out there amongst the Margaret River wineries and find it. Western Australia boasts some exceptional wine regions, and a winery trail vacation that includes the Margaret River region is a great way to indulge your passion and learn a bit along the way. It does help to know what you’re looking for, and what to do once you get to Margaret River. So here’s a few helpful tips on snaring your perfect winery experience…
Vineyard, winery or cellar door?
The vineyard is where the magic happens. The French affectionately call it Terroir, that mystical interaction between heaven, earth and vine.
When in a vineyard, expect to see vines. Matured ones with really thick trunks, young vines; canopied, trellised, bare in the winter, and at some of the vineyards in the region, Providore for one is where you’ll see roses inter-planted with the vines.
The winery, as its name suggests, is a building or property that converts the fruits of the vineyard into wine. More a factory than a fun-house. The winery itself can be hot, frequently noisy, smelly and has a surprisingly high steel to timber ratio. A winery can be a fascinating place to visit, but it can be a bit of a culture shock to the uninitiated. This is where bunches of ripened grapes, once harvested are crushed, fermented, pressed, matured, blended, fined, bottled and labeled ready for sale.
Moss Brothers have a viewing window that transports you backstage to the winery in their cellar door where you can see the winemakers in action, magically transforming the fermenting fruit into fabulous wine. And be prepared for a friendly welcome by their wine dog upon arrival.
A visit to a cellar door is a delicious way to indulge your senses and pass the time away whilst learning more about the wine you love. You’ll find that cellar doors are attached to both the vineyard and the winery and the experience is all the more rewarding. Wine tours that include the winery are a fascinating insight into wine making, so if it is on offer – accept!
The cellar doors in the Margaret River region span a huge range of styles and sizes, from charming little family-run outfits like that of Willespie wines who produce exceptional wines, with even their clean skins being an excellent drop at a bargain price, to that of enormous purpose built cellar emporia, offering everything from ultra premium wines to international artworks, recipe books and fridge magnets. And there are as many different kinds of tasting as there are cellar doors with many offering a tasting menu from which you may sample a choice of select wines. There’s usually something for the whole family to enjoy at a cellar door, with many an opportunity to sit back and relax with a coffee and some tasty treats whipped up in the on-site kitchen whilst enjoying the views of the vineyard and surrounding gardens.
- Cellar doors are inherently welcoming places. Ask questions. Staff may or may not be viticulturalists or winemakers, however they know their stuff and love to share their knowledge.
- Generally, white wines are poured first, followed by reds in order of their intensity. The idea is not to let the different flavors and strengths of the wines interfere with each other. It’s not advisable to start with a Vintage durif, and then move onto the Riesling, as it will likely taste bland.
- Spittons (dump buckets) will generally be provided, and it is not considered pretentious to use one.
- Do pat the dog.
- It’s a good idea to pace yourself and enjoy your wine tasting. You’ll be delighted at the range of winery experiences that are available with over 130 vineyards in the Margaret River region.
- To avoid palate fatigue, bring some plain crackers, popcorn or bread with you on your travels and nibble on them in between cellar doors.
- And finally, pack light… you’re going to need the boot space.
Michelle & Brent