‘So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.’ Just as Sarah Jessica Parker once said of life, so is true for the Margaret River wine region. As beautiful as the place is, it’s a rabbit warren, and if you’re not careful you can spend more time chucking U-turns or detouring around the (very large) block than sipping on vino. There’s so much to choose from: so many signs, so many labels, so many gold and silver medals on things. And while it’s hard to go wrong since you’re surrounded by so many world-renowned wines, when you do make a mistake, it can be awfully disappointing for the very same reason.
But do not fear, for we are here to make your Margaret River getaways go down as smooth as your third Cab Sav. For those Perthlings who spend so much time down south that they think they’re locals, the true wine enthusiasts, or those who just don’t mind treating themselves to a nice drop at the end of a long week: here are all the best Margaret River wineries you should have been to.
Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix has aged beautifully. It’s stunning cellar door, restaurant and gallery fuses rustic charm and modern edge, creating the perfect spot to spend a sunny afternoon perched beside the region’s oldest vineyard, with some pretty good wine in hand to boot. Once you taste the Chardy, you won’t be able to resist stopping for a glass in the Wine Lounge.
One of the region’s heavyweights that has always been committed to sustainability, Margaret Rivery winery Voyager Estate recently announced their move to full organic certification—so you can get a good dose of their wines without any of the guilt. These guys focus on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon—the region’s hallmarks—so expect good things. Take a seat in the Wine Room and commence your wine flight, an award-winning tasting that may or may not be accompanied by one of their delicious share platters (we reckon it will be). You can also go for the whole shebang and just book in for a tour of the estate, which will take you behind the scenes where you can fill your glass straight from the barrel.
As another one of the founding estates, Moss Wood is an important piece of Margaret River’s history that can’t be missed—especially for the aficionados. You’ve got to be a member to visit the estate, but we reckon it’s worth it to get the unhurried, privatised, tailored estate tour and tasting experience that Moss Wood is famous for.
For something down to earth, head to Yallingup winery Arimia Estate where you’ll find a boutique, sustainably minded winery in a pretty special bushland setting straddling both ocean and treetops. Arimia offers local fare in their restaurant, much of which is grown on site, and a guesthouse with views that’ll blow your mind. Plus, they’ve just announced their move to organic certification, meaning their wines will continue to get healthier, more flavoursome and more reflective of the beautiful land they’re on. Two thumbs up!
The third oldest winery in the region, Cape Mentelle is another piece of the Margaret River history puzzle. Luckily, here you consume your history with a bit of grape juice on the side (or vice versa!). When this Margaret River winery isn’t busy making some of the country’s most esteemed wines, it can be found transformed into an outdoor cinema, entertaining the masses throughout summer.
If you’re someone who loves visiting wineries mainly for the cool cellar doors, don’t miss Amelia Park Wines. Theirs has been named one of Australia’s best cellar doors by Gourmet Traveller, and not least for it’s incredible fit out—the service and calibre of the wines on offer are also world class! But it’s hard to rival the dimly-lit, barrel-lined, modern yet rustic entrance as the highlight.
Another pioneer of Margaret River’s wine industry, Cullen Wines is not to be missed on any good down south trip. Cullen does things differently on a fully biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate, that features a downright beautiful granite and timber cellar door and restaurant. Go for a tasting with the friendly and knowledgeable staff or enjoy lunch under the peppermint trees while looking out over the vineyards.
Set in the heart of beautiful Wilyabrup, Pierro is best known for making what’s considered by many to be the region’s best Chardonnay, if not one of the best in the world.The cellar door is humble, familial, and showcases the winery’s history with simplicity and character. Expect none of the fuss of the big wineries but all (or more) of the taste and prestige. Put simply: you can’t miss this one.
Enjoying one of the most picturesque spots in Wilyabrup, Juniper Estate sits among rolling hills and vineyards that seem to stretch for days. Here, you can do a tasting at the cellar door—open daily—and then enjoy your favourite with a glass by the Wilyabrup creek. The perfect place to take a break during a day full of wine touring!
Larry Cherubino Wines
If you like old Spanish homes, good wine and a little bit of swank, this one’s for you. Cherubino offers multiple ranges featuring wines made from hand-selected grapes from all over the South West and Great Southern. You’ll want to spend a whole day at the beautiful cellar door, a charming Spanish-style farmhouse complete with a barrel room for private tastings. You can even get accompanying antipasti or dinner by special arrangement, if you want to go all out.
Another farmhouse-style cellar door, Robert Oatley has taken over the estate that was once Lawrence's and is slightly more grandiose, featuring a central fireplace, long dining hall and cobblestone steps that lead down to a stunning lake. With Larry Cherubino the Head Winemaker here too, you’re in for a similarly fine wine experience, plus you can enjoy a delicious lunch in the restaurant or even make a weekend of it with one of their luxury stays.
The last of the six founding wineries of the now world-famous Margaret River wine region, Leeuwin Estate needs little introduction to oenophiles and the wine-illiterate alike. If you’d thought about visiting this place simply because it’s one that you’ve heard of, you won't end up disappointed. But there’s a lot more to Leeuwin than meets the eye. Far from being ‘just a winery’, Leeuwin is a bit of a gathering place for those who appreciate good food, fine wine, music and art—all the good things.
Set among the towering trees at the highest point of their Leston Vineyard, the impressively modern Howard Park building overlooks the renowned Wilyabrup Valley. Following the winding driveway lined with trees, will take you past a quiet creek and an old traditional settlers cottage that sits in stark contrast to the striking, angular design of the Cellar Door you’ll reach. Here you taste wines just metres from the hive of winemaking activity, sprawl out on spacious lawns, or curl up with a wine by the fire. The estate is complete with an architecturally designed wine chapel for private tastings, gatherings and functions—that's our kind of chapel.
If you aren’t familiar with the breathtaking property that is Aravina Estate, you are going to want to get there ASAP. Sprawling gardens full of pink and blue hydrangeas, manicured lawns and an intricate creek system, as well as a beautiful lake, welcome you into the cellar door and restaurant. A beaut place to while away an afternoon, enjoy the award-winning wines, a delicious meal and glorious sunsets over the vineyard. They also have a gallery of retro sports and muscle cars, just for something different.
Flametree Wines is worth visiting for it’s unique, Hampton beach house Cellar Door along the Geographe Bay shores. Kind of the gateway to the rest of the region, Flametree offers a relaxed tasting experience with a distinctly different feel to what you might get elsewhere, complete with the option to enjoy your own share platter full of local produce (think Chambray Cheese and Venison Farm meats) on the deck or in front of the fire.
Rosé lovers, you’ll want to go here first and drink all of the pink. Take a picnic, and enjoy the stunning vineyard views at one of the region’s most scenic wineries, accompanied by the bottle of rosé you just bought (inevitable). They also make a whole host of other wines that make for a pretty good tasting too!
For something wonderfully different on your tour of the best Margaret River wineries, try Si Vintners.These guys are farming all natural—meaning your delicious wine comes free of pesticides, fungicides and chemicals. A humble little winery, you can arrange tastings by appointment only, but it’s well worth finding the time.
Another one for those who want to visit the lesser-known side of Margaret River wines, Flowstone is a humble, tiny little grape grower just south of the Margaret River township. The wines are brought to us by Stuart Pym who’s resume includes names like Voyager Estate, Devil’s Lair and Stella Bella—so you can trust that you’ll find a good drop.
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Image credit: Vasse Felix