On Tuesday we headed east out of Margaret River towards the town of Nannup. It is name and place that will be unfamiliar to most but the area is an important source of fruit for many wine producers. Just 14km out of Nannup we arrived at the tiny boutique winery called Whimwood Hill. The owners, Steve Johnstone and Maree Tinker, set up in 2011 by acquiring the property which had existing vines. Deciding to reduce output to focus on quality, they set about grubbing up vines and then grafting Chardonnay onto existing Shiraz rootstocks. With about 4 hectares to tend they have established a very good reputation in a very short space of time with the assistance of winemaker Bernie Stanlake.
Steve and Maree were wonderfully welcoming hosts and took us into the vineyards for a chat before heading into their brand new tasting room that had the most divine view.
We were very lucky to taste a cross section of vintages:
Chardonnay 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
Shiraz 2016, 2017 and 2018
The tasting gave us a great insight into the quality of the wines – particularly the Chardonnay 2016 which seemed to have just about every trophy and medal under the sun. And it was superb! The hosts, the wines, the views and a gorgeous Border Collie created a truly wonderful visit.
From Whimwood Hill, it was 50 minutes to Blackwood Valley and Bridgetown. Our destination was Sunnyhurst winery. Owners Geoff Herbert and Marie-Pierre Dussault only acquired the property in 2017 so it has been a steep learning curve.
We were greeted by a consortium of local producers: John Lucey, who owns a cider and beer brewery, Chris Shedley – a winemaker just a few kilometres away and Pip Mills – a renowned chef who was cooking our lunch. After the introductions we settled into a quick beer tasting – one made with chestnuts and the other with truffle! Two firsts for me and they were great.
We then headed out into Geoff and Marie’s beautiful garden and sat down for lunch under an extraordinary tree and admired the views while we tasted a range from Sunnyhurst and Chris Shedley.
An amazing lunch unfurled with an array of breads, black garlic butter, mini marron (a large freshwater crayfish) with avocado, battered whiting, delicious salads and a fruit tart.
We tasted through two whites, a rose and two reds from Sunnyhurst, an aged Sauvignon blanc and Shiraz from Chris Shedley, ciders from John Lucey and rounded it all off with a couple of fortifieds from Geoff and Chris.
The sun shone and an exceptional afternoon was had.