Freelance writer, mum of two who loves living in sunny Perth.
Published April 3rd 2014
Eat, drink and be merry
If you're heading down south on a budget, there's no need to spend $100 or more on a tour around the Margaret River (MR) region. Instead, with a bit of careful planning you can organise a self drive tour around this gourmey region and grab lots of tastings of some of the fine produce this region has to offer. If you've got a few hours, or if you've got a whole day, here is a snap shot of a few places to stop off at in this amazing region. This is a suggested route you can take over the course of a day, or you can use the ideas as a guide and just make it up as you go along. First up though, designate a skipper so that you are safe on the roads whilst sampling the fine wines; you can always take turns and have one person drive one day and swap the next.
With so much to see and do in this region, I've picked but a handful of places. If you're in the area for longer, there are lots of other places to visit, and more samples to taste. Hopefully, these suggestions have taken out some of the hard work for you and given you food for thought (pardon the pun).
Ok, first up on any tour is some nourishment. If you opt straight for wine then you'll likely be too tipsy and tired before your day has even begun.
Where: Bussell Hwy, Cowaramup, WA 6284 Samples: Due to a wide variety of products in their range, the tastings vary day to day. On our visit we were able to try some feta, vintage cheddar, a chive and onion farmhouse cheddar and the yummiest double cream camembert. If you are a fan of cheese, make room for this stop on your day trip.
What: The Candy Cow is a delightful candy shop situated in the heart of Margaret River. It makes a range of produce onsite, and has a great little viewing area for visitors so that they can see how certain items are produced. We were able to see the production process for honeycomb which was really fun to watch. Where: Cnr of Bottrill St & Bussell Hwy, Cowaramup, 6284
Samples: Try samples of fudge, nougat and also freshly made honeycomb.
Watch the demonstrations to see how your favourite candy is made
Just around the corner from the Candy Cow is a great little gourmet food shop, where you can stock up on luxury provisions and also spend a short time tasting some products. Staff are extremely knowledgeable on local produce, and if you have any questions, they are happy to help.
What: Margaret Riviera showcases the finest of products to come from this local region, and is a great gourmet shop to visit if you want to see a lot of local products all in one spot.
Where: Cowaramup, 6284
Samples: When I visited, there was a whole table of sample items set up and these included a range of preserves, oils, dukkas and relishes. All free to sample, and some great flavours.
What: This is one of the more well known features in Margaret River and a must see for many visitors to the region. The Margaret River Chocolate Company is a haven of all things chocolate with visitors also getting to see how different chocolate creations are made through the viewing platform and window that looks directly onto production staff hard at work. If you are nearby, it can be worth popping in a couple of times to see the different items being made and the different machinery used.
Where: Cnr Harman's Mill Road and Tom Cullity Dr, Metricup, 6280
Samples: Help yourself to free samples of dark, milk or white chocolate buttons. A couple of handfuls ought to do it.
What: Providore showcase a staggering variety of home made products including jams, relishes, oils, dukkas, marmalades, pastas, sauces, salad dressings and condiments. They harvest and press their estate grown olive oil and also make their own wine. With such a huge range of stock on offer, there are also a plenitude of samples to try.
Where: A mere 400m away from the Margaret River Chocolate Company at: 448 Tom Cullity Dve, Wilyabrup WA 6280
Samples: There are too many free samples to list, but highlights include the flavoured olive oils, jams and the spicy dukka. They also stock a range of chocolate flavoured liqueurs which we tried and these were a great taste sensation. There is also wine tasting available here, and their white wines were extremely fruity and crisp.
The conserves, oils and dukkas that you can sample here are delightful.
What: This nougat factory is located in a simple picturesque setting, and it's worth visiting for a look at the view from the tasting room alone. However, views aside, the nougat is definitely worth a taste, and you'll likely want to bring some home with you too. Find 22 flavours of nougat combinations in addition to a selection of fine wines sourced from Bettenay's own vineyard. There's even a nougat liqueur to sample too.
Where: Corner of Tom Cullity Drive & Miamup Rd , Cowaramup, 6284
Samples: Try some home made nougat, fine wine and also the two flavours of Nougaretto, the Bettaney's liqueur in two flavours of coffee and almond or honey and almond. My favourite was the coffee and almond.
After a long morning tasting and exploring, you might be ready for a light lunch, or if you're full up on free samples, perhaps it's just time for a rest and a glass of wine.
What: The 3 Oceans Winery makes a great lunch spot as it's close to your last stop of Bettaney's Nougat Factory, and also a great winery if you'd like to sample a wide variety of wines (free). Portions are generous, and prices are reasonable for the area. If you've got kids in your party then they will enjoy the well appointed kids area complete with play stations, games, toys and activities. Older kids will love the giant pool table.
Where: Cnr Boundary Rd & Bussell Hwy, Metricup WA 6280
Samples: Whether you are here for lunch or just here to sample some gorgeous wine. Head over to the wine tasting area, and try up to 10 samples from the range on offer.
A visit to this fine winery will set you up for the quality of wine in Margaret River
What: Lenton Brae is another winery that is set is a beautiful setting with a cellar door area for you to enjoy numerous tastings of award winning wines. For something extra special, consider spending $10 per person to get a private tour of the winery, where you can get behind the scenes view of how wine is produced, in addition to tasting the wines on offer. A minimum of 2 persons is required for bookings.
Where: 3887 Caves Road (400m north of Metricup Rd) in Wilyabrup.
Samples: Try a range of Lenton Brae's award winning wines. Make sure you try their signature Semillion Sauvignon Blanc, which won the gold award at the Margaret River Wine Show in 2012.
What: Vasse Virgin olive oils was established when Louis and Edwina Scherini were advised that their 3 children shouldn't use soap or shampoo due to suffering from eczema and dermatitis. Instead, they created olive oil based products that were safe for their kids to use and the business has grown ever since.
Where: 135 Puzey Road, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia
Samples: You'll enjoy the tasting room in Vasse Virgin olive oils where you taste a range of fresh olive oils in addition to a number of condiments including dukka, vinegars, pesto and tapenade. It's not just eating treats either, you can also enjoy trying out the range of hand creams, lotions and potions on sale. You can enjoy watching the soap making process from the viewing area.
What: Gabriel Chocolates is the lesser known chocolate maker in Margaret River, but with quality products sufficient to rival the more famous Margaret River Chocolate Company. All the products are made in store with a full range of flavours covered for your tasting pleasure.
Where: Corner of Caves Road and Quinninup Road, Yallingup.
Samples: You'll not want to miss the tasting table filled with fresh chocolate shavings. This is worth making the journey for.
What: Aravina Winery is simply the prettiest winery complete with kids play area, cafe, restaurant, shop and car showroom. You could easily lose your sense of time after you've wandered around the winery and the surrounds, as it is the sort of space you want to take your time to view.
Where: 61 Thornton Road, Yallingup Wa 6282
Samples: The cellar door opens at 10am and you are able to sit at the tasting area to sample the best of Aravina's offerings. The wine staff are very knowledgeable and take the time to talk you through the tastings and this really adds to the experience.
What: Yahava Koffeeworks dub their coffee as an adventure in a cup, and with the flavours and fresh blends on offer, it's a true statement.
Where: Cnr Bussell Hwy & Rosa Brook Rd, Margaret River WA 6285
Samples: Tastings are available between 9am and 4pm and you can choose from award winning blends to perk you up.
What other gems do you enjoy visiting in the beautiful Margaret River region?
Margaret River Nuts and Cereals is not to be missed for healthy breakfast delicacies, treat yourself to nuts, snacks and drinks while sitting on their verandah, enjoying your kids on the jungle gym. Close to chocolate factory.