WA Wine Routes

WA Wine Routes

In this new feature for The West Australian Wine Guide, I have engaged wine tourism researcher Dr Ben Thomas, of the Vine Collective, to recommend a number of day-long wine routes within WA, based on his analysis of hundreds of cellar doors visited as part of his research into what makes an amazing cellar door visit experience.

This is one of the great wine tourism regions of the world so narrowing down a list of five cellar doors is nearly impossible; there’s just too many amazing places to visit in a day. Here is a recommended mix of old and new, with Dr Thomas’ comments.

Windows Estate
Windows Estate is somewhat the new kid on the block in Margaret River. It is producing stunning wines that are only available via its cellar door. That Chardonnay.

Hay Shed Hill
A must visit, especially if you’re new to wine. Friendly and educated staff, very approachable wines, a first-class restaurant and a cheese cabinet to die for.

Vasse Felix
The original and gold standard of the region. Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock is making amazing wines and Head Chef Aaron Carr continues knocking the food out of the park. Indulge yourself.

Cape Grace
Wind your way through the gravel tracks of Wilyabrup and find this hidden gem. It’s always a pleasure to see owner/operators manning the tasting bench and the wines won’t disappoint.

Wise Winery
Capturing vineyards, forest and turquoise blue ocean in the one view is a challenging feat, but that’s what you get from Wise’s restaurant balcony. The wines are well worth a taste and the food is top notch.

Stretching from Chittering to Serpentine, the Perth Hills doesn’t get the same recognition as the Swan Valley, but is as equally close to the city and is producing some cracking wines. The bulk of its producers are concentrated around the Bickley Valley. The winding roads and bush scrub make for a great day trip setting, especially in winter when everything is green.

Millbrook Winery
A destination in its own right. The stone masoned winery facility is a spectacle and the wines provide an all-too perfect accompaniment to the estate-grown cuisine. Viognier braised rabbit is a favourite.

Myattsfield Vineyard and Winery
One of the must visits in the Bickley Valley. I’m a really big fan of the reds especially – they play to the strengths of the Perth Hills climate with their variety selection.

Fairbrossen
A wholesome family-run cellar door/restaurant. The wines have been consistently improving in quality over the years. The reds especially are worth checking out.

Brookside Vineyard
The Vineyard Kitchen is a big attraction. Situated in a converted shed set amongst lusciously landscaped grounds. The cabernet is a winner also.

Aldersyde Estate
A nice rustic small-scale cellar door/winery, where you’ll be greeted by two lovable Border Collies and the occasional chicken.

The Swan Valley is teeming with breweries, local produce, restaurants and, of course, cellar doors. Places like Houghton, Sandalford, Mandoon Estate and the revamped Oakover Grounds are large-scale venues that all offer great family-friendly fun, quality wine and food. But, if you’re looking for a more intimate experience, check these places out.

Faber Vineyard
John Griffiths is one of the old wise heads of the Valley. Grab a table and charcuterie plate, sit back and relax while John walks you through his great range of wines.

Sittella
The wedding mecca of the Valley. Sittella has an awesome range of wines but its passion lies in its diverse collective of sparkling wines. Grab lunch in Sittella’s Mediterranean-style restaurant or have a nibble in the newly constructed wine bar.

John Kosovich Wines
Weave your way through the barrel room to the underground cellar door and have a chat with winemaker Arch. Top bloke, awesome winemaker.

Upper Reach
Nestled next to the river at the northern end of the valley. Friendly faces at the cellar door and a great line-up of wines. Grab some lunch at Broads Cafe (onsite) and enjoy some live music on the lawn.

Talijancich Wines
Swan Valley produces world-class fortified wines. Leading the charge is Talijancich. It’s a humble cellar door with friendly faces to take you on a fortified masterclass.

The Great Southern is made up of five subregions. The sheer vastness between them all makes it impossible to visit the multiple subregions in a day. The best bang for buck subregion is Denmark. Pristine forests, winding back roads, amazing wines and humble down-to-earth folk.

Singlefile Wines
A classy establishment from entry to tasting bench. Wines are elegantly crafted showcasing some of the best varietal expressions from around the Great Southern.

Castelli Estate
Quite possibly the only Tudor winery in Australia. All that aside, the wines are stunning; ranging from classic to experimental expressions. Great value restaurant too. You certainly won’t go hungry!

Rockcliffe
A must visit for any chardonnay lover. Friendly staff, great wine and a delightful cafe. On Sundays over summer you can chill out on the grass with a glass of wine while taking in some live entertainment.

Harewood Estate and Apricus Hill
Both owned and operated by winemaker James Kellie. Visit Harewood for an amazing line-up of regional Rieslings. Apricus Hill is situated in an elegant underground cellar door. The sauvignon blanc and pinot are amazing.

Moombaki
Off the beaten track west of town. An inspiring immersion into what giving the city life the middle finger and getting in touch with nature could look like when embraced to its fullest.

RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017