Margaret River Wine Tour with Margaret River Tours
This full day Margaret River wine tour offers pick-up at hotels and guesthouses around the region. The tour includes tastings at six wineries, a delicious restaurant lunch with wine, a vineyard platter between destinations, and the opportunity to taste smallgoods at The Farm House, sweet treats at the Margaret River Chocolate Company, and cheese at the Margaret River Dairy Company. Duration: 7 hours (approx.)
When visiting Western Australia, a Margaret River wine tour is understandably at the top of the wish-list of things to do for many travellers.
Margaret River is famous for its wine, but with hundreds of wineries in the region, it’s puzzling to know which cellar doors to visit. Luckily, there’s a tour company that takes care of the pesky decisions — Margaret River Tours. Today I’m joining their full day Gourmet Wine and Dine Tour.
I meet my tour guide Andrew at 9:45 on an overcast but warm morning. As I step into the van I smile and greet the other guests — a collection of Australians, Brits and Germans. Andrew is a trained winemaker. He knows everything there is to know about Margaret River’s wine industry, which makes him a fount of knowledge. As we set out, Andrew shares his wine tasting tips, before giving us a run-down on the first winery — Stella Bella Wines.
Seven minutes later we arrive, ready to taste three whites and three reds. Our host and server is Sandy Hohnen, wife of David Hohnen, who we’ll meet later in the day. The wines are a mix of vintages from 2013-2016. ‘Today’s wines are lighter; you can drink them without ageing them’, says Sandy.
The sauvignon blanc and the semillon sauvignon blanc are clear and smooth; fresh and delicious. When Sandy pours the chardonnay, I brace myself for dryness — but instead the wine is light and refreshing. The stone-fruit, smokey-oak wine is a pleasant surprise.
The sangiovese cabernet is like ‘the finest Italian boot leather’ says Sandy. I’m not overly keen on drinking boot leather, but this one is yummy — considering I’m not a fan of red wine.
Aside from drinking wine at ten o’clock in the morning, I love the knowledge shared by our host. We learn lots; including how tannin is both a natural preservative and the stuff that creates dryness in wine.
On our way to our next liquid snack, I tell Andrew that I have never liked chardonnay before today. ‘Do you drink ABC — Anything But Chardonnay?’ he asks. We laugh. The region is chardonnay country, so I know there will be plenty more to try.
The next stop on this Margaret River wine tour is Leeuwin Estate, which is not just a winery but also a luxury venue for big-name concerts and food festivals. After six more tastings, I’m feeling pretty good as we make our way to the on-site art gallery. Here we see many of the artworks that have been featured on Leeuwin Estate’s Art Series wine bottle labels.
Five kilometres later, we pile out at magnificent Watershed Premium Wines for six tastings and a glass of wine with a superb lunch. Our party increases in size as a German couple joins us for the half-day version of this tour.
The sun is shining and everyone is in good spirits as Andrew leads us across the meticulous lawns of Voyager Estate. This place is the epitome of elegance and style.
We arrive at McHenry Hohnen, which is just a simple building in the bush. Andrew shares a secret: this is a favourite. The proprietor — David Hohnen — is a third generation farmer and respected winemaker. He and Andrew share some friendly banter before the tasting begins. The wines are incredible, but let’s face it, I have loved them all so far.
What I also love here are the samples of meats from David’s other passion — The Farm House — a traditional butchery and smokehouse. Andrew serves us smoked ham and heated sausage. It’s fresh, free-range meat — possibly the best I’ve ever tasted. The samples are only offered to wine tour patrons. We all leave with shopping bags of wine and meats.
With a sixteen kilometre drive to our next stop, Andrew presents a platter of gourmet snacks for us to enjoy on the road. It’s a delicious treat as we head for our last wine sampling.
Our final tasting is held in the art room at Vasse Felix — the oldest commercial winery in Margaret River. This operation produces an impressive 150,000 cases of wine every year.
The tour finishes with stops for chocolate and cheese. It’s a perfect way to end a full-on day of wine exploration and consumption.
There cannot be a better way to experience the region’s gourmet food and wine scene than on this Margaret River wine tour with funny man Andrew at Margaret River Tours. My only question is: when can I go again?
Jennifer travelled as a guest of Margaret River Tours.
Additional images: Bigstock
Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand and Australia. She also spent six months working on a cruise ship in Europe. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book or zooming in on a beautiful scene. She’s also likely to be boarding a plane — or jumping out of one.