When driving down south, vineyards start popping up and dotting the countryside with their deep green leaves and burst of colour from the grapes.
With more than 175 cellar doors across the state, each winery provides something different to separate it from the competition, whether it be award-winning restaurants, art galleries, or a biodynamic wine room.
Oenophiles will feel at home at one of these wineries, which focus on the experience just as much as they do their delicious wines.
18 Hamilton Road, Scotsdale
Named after the 100-metre-high granite rock cliffs dominating Denmark’s main bay, Rockcliffe Winery — previously known as Matilda’s Estate — is owned by former oil and gas geologist Steve Hall. The 90-acre estate sits on fertile karri loam soil — perfect for pinot noir and chardonnay — and is positioned for the long afternoon sunshine, optimum conditions for grape growing.
The pinnacle of Rockcliffe wines is its Nautica Range. The Chardonnay is rich in stone fruit, citrus, and melon; the shiraz is pronounced in dark forest fruits, smoky oak, and white pepper, while the cabernet sauvignon is intertwined with rhubarb, sour cherry, and smokey herbal spice.
Owner Hall tells you all about the history of the winery while going in-depth about the wines you are tasting. The tasting room overlooks the vineyard, providing the perfect visuals while you taste the wine.
Pack a picnic and enjoy a bottle of wine and a meal out in the beautiful vineyard. Or choose some delectable food from one of the local bakeries and cafes to pair with the wines.
End the day with one of Rockcliffe’s gelatos and sorbets, all made on the premises using traditional artisan Italian recipes. The gelato-maker has been trained in both the Northern and Sicilian styles of gelato-making. Try one of the seasonal gelatos or the customer favourites of honey and ginger or Ferrero Rocher.
Stevens Road, Margaret River
One of five founding wineries in Margaret River, Leeuwin Estate was established in 1973 by Denis and Tricia Horgan and is currently under the direction of three generations. The Horgans were guided and mentored by American winemaker Robert Mondavi, who identified the land as ideal for the production of premium wine.
Leeuwin Estate was thrust into the spotlight in 1981 when Decanter Magazine gave its highest recommendation to its 1981 Art Series Chardonnay. The Chardonnay is among the iconic “Heritage Five”, celebrating Australia’s most exceptional, ground-breaking wines.
Bursting with lemon, lime, and pear skin, the chardonnay is bright and lifted with Chinese star jasmine and ginger notes. With a concentrated and dark note displaying blackcurrants and dark cherries, the cabernet sauvignon is heightened with floral notes of violets and bay leaf.
Dining at Leeuwin Restaurant is a truly West Australian affair, with head chef, Dan Gedge, putting considerable effort into highlighting the flavours, textures, and aromas of seasonal local produce in every dish.
The estate is renowned for staging spectacular events, including Ray Charles, Sting, Tom Jones, and John Farnham, and welcoming visitors from all over the world to its doors.
Visit Leeuwin’s art gallery, which comprises over 150 paintings and artworks, many of which were specifically commissioned. Some of the artists were approached to paint artwork for the Art Series Riesling labels.
3210 W Swan Road, Caversham
Behind Sandalford Wines lies a rich and fascinating history. The winery was incorporated in 1840 and coincided with European settlement, the growing Perth colony, and the birth of Western Australia’s wine industry.
The Prendiville family took over the winery in 1991. The well-respected hospitality brand owns and operates numerous iconic tourism, hospitality, and entertainment facilities, including Samphire Rottnest and the Mangrove Hotel in Broome.
One of the only wineries with public access from the Swan River, enjoy the picturesque landscape and cruise down the river before arriving at your destination. A live commentary gives background to the historical sites along the way. Once disembarking at Sandalford’s private jetty, you’ll be treated to a special guided wine tasting followed by a gourmet grazing board lunch.
Try your hand at blending your wine before an extensive wine tasting of Sandalford’s collections, plus a three-course meal. The day begins with a short film about Sandalford’s history and then a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery.
Experience stunning vineyard views at The Sandalford Bar and Restaurant while enjoying executive chef Alan Spagnolo’s menu incorporating fresh regional produce and Australian and European cuisine. Pair the dishes with one of Sandalford’s wines or opt for a cocktail, beer, draught, or cider.
4357 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
Margaret River’s founding wine estate Vasse Felix was established in 1967 with regional pioneer Dr Tom Cullity planting cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, malbec, and riesling grapes. The Gregg family purchased the winery in 1984 and the Holmes à Court family purchased it in 1987 where they have remained the owners ever since.
The original Vasse Felix winery has been preserved as an art gallery with a curated exhibition showcasing work from invited artists and the Janet Holmes à Court collection. The gallery extends to the gardens where local flora has been embellished with a sculpture walk comprising work by Australian and international artists.
Book a historical tour and begin the day walking through the region’s oldest vines. After the stroll, you’ll gain exclusive access inside The Vault – home of the Vasse Felix wine museum – for a private tasting. Soak in the cellar while being guided through the vast collection of wines before a five-course tasting menu at the Vasse Felix Restaurant.
4323 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
Following a misunderstanding where their fledgling vines were sprayed with poison and pulled out of the ground, Kevin and Diana Cullen planted vines on their land in Wilyabrup in 1971 – thus Cullen Wines was born. Their daughter, Vanya Cullen, took over the winemaking in 1989.
Cullen Wines is the only biodynamic and carbon-positive winery in the region with all fruit for its wines sourced exclusively from two vineyards, both of which are certified A Grade Biodynamic. The vines are dry-farmed to ensure maximum fruit quality and are pruned and harvested by hand.
Tastings take place in either the Biodynamic Wine Room or the Wannang/Peppermint Tree Storytelling Table. Crafted from a 400-year-old redgum tree, relax around the table and connect to nature.
Following the tasting, take a self-guided tour through the Biodynamic Spiral Garden and stay for a four-course lunch in the wine room. With five separate biodynamic kitchen gardens, over 90% of the produce is grown at Cullen Wines.
Make an experience of the visit and stay in the Homestead which showcases sweeping panoramic views over the striking Margaret River countryside and vineyards. The peaceful country surroundings set the scene for a relaxing and rejuvenating time.
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Feature Image: Kelsey Knight