A freelance writer new to Perth. Katie has written articles about her hometown in the UK for five years and is keen to see how Perth compares
Published August 2nd 2011
I looked carefully at the list of all the student trips available to me and it took all of about 2 seconds to decide that Sandalford's Swan Valley Estate Winery was one that would be a must. Like many of my peers, the lure of tasting a range of wines had a huge appeal, but I had heard much about the Swan Valley region and its beautiful setting and wanted to check it out - albeit if it had to be on a cold winters day.
I experienced this trip as part of a large group, so am not sure how visiting in small numbers would compare, but the best I can do is give an overview of how the visit worked for me. Upon arrival, I was able to see just how vast the Sandalford Estate is. Although the grapes are not in season right now, there are rows upon rows of vines as far as the eye can see.
We stepped into Sandalford's 'Cellar Door' where we were greeted by a staff member who showed us to the tasting area. All of the staff were pleasant and welcoming, and after being given a few moments for our entire group to get in and get acquainted with the building, we were given a talk about the history of Sandalford Estate and their other property at Margaret River. I'm not afraid to admit that the wine tasting was the whole purpose of the trip for me (seven types of wine in just within minutes of each other and you're still viewed as respectable), but I found I actually quite enjoyed hearing about some of the history of Sandalford Estates.
The credibility of Sandalford Wines is left in no doubt, as visitors are able to see for themselves as they enter the building; the walls are filled with various awards and certificates. This is perhaps why we were given a few moments to get acquainted with the building: so that we could appreciate and admire Sandalford's status. For me though, the tasting would be the only thing that could convince me.
Various bottles of wines sat temptingly on the table and after each one was introduced in terms of strength, value and flavour we were given some privacy to enjoy the tastings. To my delight there was also a selection of crackers and cheese brought out to us (I'm a student, free anything is a delight, but food is definitely a winner). As I worked my way from one end of the table to the other there were some flavours I loved and some that we're quite to my liking (although I probably don't have a very experienced palate when it comes to wine). It was a fun atmosphere and I appreciated being given the privacy to compare opinions with my peers without a member of staff listening.
Once the tasting had finished and we were all sure of which wines we liked and which we didn't there was of course the chance to shop. Sandalford Estate's website boasts that the shop contains "everything wine related, from glassware, bottle openers and gift ideas to local and international artwork" and as far as I could see that is indeed correct. They failed to mention the warm open fireplace that heats you as you shop, definitely a hit on a cold winter's day.