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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Grand Margaret River Adventure - the Wining & Dining Episode

Wine for Dudes (& Dudettes)

In the minds of most international travellers, the Margaret River region exists for one reason and one reason only - its huge variety of vineyards that produce one of the world's most delicious wines! A brief history of viniculture will provide the knowledge that wines are classified into "Old World Wines" and "New World Wines". Many traditionalists turn their noses at the New World wines of countries such as America and Australia; believing Old World wines from countries like France to be the best. But while the Old World wines have a unique distinctive quality, the New World wines easily stand their own. And if you were to look to Australia, you would definitely consider the Margaret River region to be one of the best regions for the growing of wines in the country.

We took a day away from the kids, leaving them in the good hands of Sue's parents. Deciding that it's never safe to drink and drive, we booked a wine tour from reputed tour agency Wine for Dudes -  we chose them as there was a "wine blending" component on the tour that we really wanted to experience.
A day of wining and dining. Some would describe this as the coup de grace of a Margaret River visit.

Happs Vineyard & Pottery

The first stop on our tour was the lovely Happs Vineyard and Pottery. Our friendly wine guide Wayne recommended this venue as it is known for its sweet wines; Sue is not a wine drinker but she does enjoy a sweet wine occasionally.
Wine tasting is serious business. You take notes on what you like so you can select the best!
Just a sip. After all, we are going to drink more than 50 different wines!
Happs is apparently famous for its lovely pottery. Really fine and delicate items!

Woody Nook Wines

Nestled in a lovely wooded setting, Woody Nook Wines was our stopover for lunch. We were asked if we wanted pizza or a food platter, and the choice was obvious; so if was off to Woody Nook; and a delightful wine tasting session awaited.
Woody Nook not only sells wines, they also sell various wine and kitchen accessories.
The tasting bar. I enjoyed most of the six wines offered for tasting here. This was not a vineyard
I had heard of before, so it was a pleasant surprise!
Choosing what wine to go with my lunch. A most important decision.
For the record I chose the delectable Cabernet Merlot. A lovely blend.
This is the reason to come to Woody Nook. Spectacular tasting platters. The food was paired splendidly with the wine!
The two of us really ate to our hearts' content!
The "wine guy" Wayne. We really enjoyed his sense of humour and friendly personality.
One for the road!

Vasse Virgin

Taking a break from wine tasting, we headed off for a dose of aromatherapy - that's what we felt when we entered the showroom/factory of Vasse Virgin, one of the region's best olive oil producers. But it was soap that we ended up buying the most - Sue really enjoyed the luscious feeling of the organic products, and in fact we're still using the products today!
The luxurious soap showroom and factory at Vasse Virgin.
Our friendly tour guide Wayne nudged me to get my hands scrubbed; that was
truly a most "purifying" experience!
We wanted a photo with the vines; after all we were in the Margaret River region!
Luscious and tranquil scenes at Vasse Virgin.

Aravina Estate

One of the most unexpected places on our wine tour was the opulent Aravina Estate. When businessman Steve Tobin first established this vineyard, he had an incredible vision, as articulated on the Aravina Estate website:

With a passion for wine-making, artistic and architectural design and enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life, the Tobins' vision for Aravina Estate is the creation of a wonderful dining experience for families, couples and children and enhancing it with the production of distinctive wines of exceptional quality that best represent the region. 
Aravina Estate is located in really beautiful surroundings; but most people come here for these beauties!
The star of the show!
Then it's off to the Tasting Room! Aravina's wines hint of its luxurious surroundings.
Full-bodied, yet easy on the palate, they were a most delicious delight to the senses!
Parting shot. We can't imagine what it must be like to live in such luxury! And it was a treat to meet
the owner Steve Tobin himself! We can see why he enjoys being here!

Gabriel Chocolate

It was a lovely Australian afternoon; and perfect for sipping a cup of cocoa and enjoying a taste of chocolate. Our trip to Gabriel Chocolate was nothing less than extraordinary! We particularly enjoyed the dark chocolate varietals with more than 70% cocoa. Most delicate and delicious to the taste. And it pairs perfectly with coffee!
It's nice to hold a cocoa pod in your hands and know that you'll be enjoying the fruits of its labour!
Gabriel Chocolate has an interesting philosophy. All chocolates are packed
according to where the beans originated. Each is unique in that way.
Here's our Wine for Dudes guide Wayne pointing out where Singapore is on the world map.
Did these chocolates come from these cocoa pods? Wow!

House of Cards

Located just next to our chocolate venue was a quaint boutique vineyard, the House of Cards. Inspired by the "gamble" that winemakers make when they grow and harvest their grapes, this unique winery is what has been described as a "single vineyard", which means that all the grapes are from a single location; and the wine produced is therefore dependent on the quality of the annual harvest. Single vineyard wines are therefore more unique than wines that are made from the grapes of different vineyards. And we were not at all disappointed from the excellent wines we had!
The wines from the House of Cards are all named after cards e.g. Queen of Diamonds, King of Spades, One-Eyed Jack etc.
The "One-Eyed Jack" fortified shiraz was an amazing burst of flavour.
Thoroughly enjoyable!

Bush Shack Brewery

After a day of wine tasting and merrymaking, our friendly guide suggested that we end off the day with a bottle of beer. And it was a terrific idea! Bush Shack Brewery, one of the few breweries in Margaret River, was the perfect place to end of a most delightful day.
Deciding what to drink.
The brewery has on tap a most remarkable selection of beers. The question was not
whether we should drink, but rather what we should drink!
Getting ready to serve her thirsty customers.
One final choice (from left to right) - Ginger Beer, Chilli Beer, Dark Roast Wheat Beer, Chocolate Beer,
Yallingup Old and Twisted Lemon Lager. (Mango Madness not in picture.)
We thoroughly enjoyed the beers; lovely surroundings, lovely company, and a six-pack of
Yallingup Old & Chocolate Beer to take home!

Final shot for the day - our friendly and knowledgable wine guide, Wayne.
What a full day we had! A most delightful wine tour (complete with a couple of bottles of wine and beer for the suitcase). The Margaret River region is clearly the place of choice for wine lovers (and non-wine lovers) alike. We know we will be back for more. And perhaps we'll get to visit some of the other 200 vineyards the next time round!

Next: Bye Bye Busselton!

Previously: Exploring the jewelled caves of the Margaret River region.

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