The final leg of my Australia reconnaissance trip took me from Melbourne to Perth – a four hour flight which puts into perspective just how big this country is.
From Perth it is a leisurely three hour drive south to Margaret River – particularly if you take in the ocean view roads.
Once again, this was another stark contrast to South Australia and Victoria. Once you get out of the environs of the town of Margaret River and head inland you drive through amazing forests which have an almost jungle feel to them.
The main centre of production in this part of Western Australia focusses around the town of Margaret River. Some of Australia’s most celebrated wine estates can be found here: Leeuwin, Vasse Felix, Cullen, Pierro – all of whom win a disproportionately large number of medals and accolades. I was looking for smaller estates that could give us a more personal insight into the region and I was very pleasantly surprised at how accessible some of the smaller boutique wineries were.
Highlights were the organic Stormflower vineyard with an English Country Garden feel to the estate, the Windows winery – making some utterly delicious wines and Victory Point which has only just opened its cellar door to reveal its celebrated wines.
It would be very easy to spend our whole time within 30 minutes of Margaret River – but as ever, I seek more!
I headed inland towards the town of Nannup and found the delightful Whimwood Hill winery – the owners clutching a heap of recent awards and then I went much further inland to Pemberton and discovered an array of producers with fascinating stories.
Silkwood winery will be an extraordinary lunch location. The longer drive on these days will be worth it as we will venture into territory that the casual Margaret River wine tourist will rarely go.
After eleven days in Australia, with two flights, crossing two time zones, always being awake at 2.30am and driving over 500km on the last day, I felt I had squeezed in as much as I possibly could in preparation for the tours next year.
Each of the three wine regions we visit are contrasting, vibrant and different.