We woke up to bright sunshine, but it was still windy. It is unlikely to affect us today as we are undertaking what is described as a ‘gourmet tour’ of Margaret River and its produce. This is to incorporate wineries (vineyards to us Europeans!), coffee, beer, cheese, oil and chocolate. It was all set fair to be a busy day – and so it proved to be.
We took breakfast outside ( I forgot to mention that we have no table in the house) and after obtaining a third spoon from next door, had a delicious, if slightly airy first meal of the day. We then decided to wait for our pick up by the tour company by the road, as we felt it unlikely that we would be found at 59 Kit Kat Lane by the pigs….
It proved to be a successful strategy and after picking up a few others, we were off! We started at the Yahava coffee company. Here they ship in beans from Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea and India, roast them and blend the coffee. I wish my writing could comvey the smell as we walked into the place. Even though I would not give you a thank you for the coffee, I love the smell! There were lessens (not to use boiling water, keep ground coffee in the cupboard, buy a small amount of beans) and tasting (two different blends of coffee and one chocolate). You could then buy a cup or bag of the coffee of your choice. I wasn’t exactly in the front of that queue…….but by all accounts it was very good. I felt on wires all day on the couple of sips I had to be sociable!
There are 170 wineries in Margaret River and 12 breweries. The local aborigines moved out when the white men came to the area. These mostly set up as beef farmers after the business of shipping the eucalyptus timbers to London to become sleepers for train lines was exhausted. In the 1960’s beef farming took a down turn and a number of the farms were turned over to winemaking. The most successful and richest of these in the area is owned by a chap called Lawrence who has a figure of a gold lady on a pole outside his vineyard – locally referred to as the ‘chick on a stick’. Cowaramup, a neighbouring town has put up it’s own version of this – a gold cow, upright on a pole, affectionely known as the ‘rump on a stump’. They have an interesting turn of phrase around here!
Our next stop was the Red Gate ‘winery’. In actual fact, this first was to prove to produce the best red wine all day, but we did not know this at the time. It was such a different experience to that which we had at the Hunter Valley on our last trip to Australia. The wines were full bodied and aged. They were great. Red Gate is a small vineyard that relies on cellar sales. They deserve to do well.
Next up was the Watershed establishment. They sell to the big supermarkets and it looked a very slick set up, complete with helicopter out front. We did meet the lady who had travelled down from Perth with her husband in the helicopter for his 90th birthday…….. apart from the bubbly, none of the wines were particularly notable from my perspective. We bought a bottle of the the bubbles.
For the beer aficionados among us, the beers were a pilsner, a wheat beer, a summer ale, a special pale ale, an Indian pale ale and a porter. He is even trying to gtow his own hops – without much success I have to say! I think he should stick with his current suppliers – England, Germany and Tasmania.
Following an excellent lunch, we set off again. This time for another ‘winery’, this was the Tassell Park Vineyard, currently up for sale but producing some good wine. They even had a mulled offering. Although the wines were heavily discounted we bought nothing, Helen bought a chardonnay, her wine of choice.
The next item on the agenda was the cheese factory. The range was somewhat limited, but they had a good cheddar and brie which we purchased for supper, but not before some very careful tasting had taken place.
Our penultimate stop was the Fermoy Estate, established by an Irish family from Cork. There were some very good and expensive (£50 a bottle) red wines here which we tasted heartily but managed to resist buying and we had a look around their wine making facility. On this site there was also olive oil and some really good balsamic vinegars. Yummy!
Our final stop was the chocolate factory. A really good last hoorah for some – not to my taste – but the opportunity to eat as much chocolate as you wanted was obviously a very attractive proposition!
What a day! We arrived home tired but happy and very pleased with ourselves. The sun was setting on the trees in front of the house