Monday, 1 October 2012

Dream Holiday!

Margaret River

Well we have just settled back into normal life after a beautiful trip to W.A's most renowned wine region! Margaret River truly is a wine lovers dream but we also did a few other interesting things that were on offer as well. I wanted to write a little about the nicest wineries and activities we discovered and hopefully give anybody looking for a cultured and busy holiday some ideas!

To Stay

Gilgara Retreat
A beautiful homestead in a romantic setting, a short drive to the township. We chose something more private and relaxing, rather than a busy hotel in the centre of town and weren't disappointed, it was the perfect blend of rustic and modern.

To Dine

We are so lucky to live in Melbourne and have some of the country's best restaurants at our doorstep. So when we are in the country, especially in another state we (foolishly) had relatively low expectations of the local restaurants. We were happily proven wrong with Must and also Winos. They both had incredible wine lists, as you would expect from a fine dining restaurant in the area but we were also so pleased with the service and the menus offered. Such a perfect way to end our busy days!

To Drink

There are so many wineries in Margaret River, it was a bit overwhelming but out of all the places we visited there were a few that really stood out, not only for their wines but also for their service. We tried to avoid any of the large wineries, as we wanted to really get a feel for the area and taste wines we couldn't necessarily get in bottle shops back home.

Eagle Vale
We came across this winery by chance, we had just been exploring caves and were about to call it a day. On a whim we decided to pull into the next winery we past for a quick tasting. What a great decision! Eagle Vale is run by a French man who has been in the area for 36 years and was so informative and happy to tell us (mostly in english but a lot of random french as well) all about his wines, the history of the area and what makes the wine in Margaret River so different (and so delicious). We left with several bottles and big smiles on our faces.

Through our tour with 'Taste the South' they took us to this small family run winery. We were greeted by their friendly dog rolling over for a belly scratch in the middle of the drive. The youngest daughter of the family was doing the tastings and about halfway through her father came into the cellar door as well to 'help out'. You could tell they both really knew their stuff and the little family banter that went on was quite funny and added a homely touch to the experience. They also have some delicious red wine vinegar marinated olives on offer that we fell in love with.

We had heard a lot of good things about this winery and the shiraz there was the best I'd tasted the whole trip- however I was a little disappointed with the service in comparison to some of the other wineries. It wasn't quite as personal and friendly so we didn't stay long but still left with wine!

This is one of only two breweries that we visited during our trip, there were so many more that we wanted to go to but we didn't have enough time! Colonial was nice and quiet, although on a busy weekend I can imagine it being packed as it had a very 'family friendly' feel with a playground and big decking area, but on a quiet Tuesday we had the nicest time sitting in the sun and enjoying a tasting palette of beer.

To Taste

We had heard a lot about a gourmet chocolate place called Gabriel's and decided to give it a visit. I'd never been a fan of dark chocolate but after tasting chocolate made from some of the rarest beans in the world and being educated in what flavours and undertones to look for I was sold on it! We bought a block that went really well with red wine, however at $12.50 for 9 pieces it was definitely a holiday luxury!

Again Yahava Koffee works was something we had heard about and weren't prepared to come away with so much extra knowledge about something we generally take for granted. Our barista took us on a coffee tasting experience from around the world and even taught us the exact way to plunge our coffee at home! The blends that they have there are fantastic and it's definitely worth a visit!

To Explore

We had so much fun exploring Calgardup cave! There are so many more in the area but we only had time to do this quick one, it was an afternoon well spent!

Whale Watching
This was one of my favourite things that we did, it was a bit spur of the moment and we were lucky enough to be at Dunsborough during the right season. We got some choppy weather and I had a good giggle at poor Chris being sea sick! We did get to see some whales breaching which was fantastic but the moment was lost a bit by trying to get a photo, they were so quick it would have been better just to enjoy the sight as it was, rather than through a camera lens!

Horse Riding
Jesters Flat were great, it was just Chris and I on the ride so we got to set the pace and it felt more like friends out riding than a generic trail ride. We got to check out the sights, have a bit of a canter and then had a romantic picnic lunch waiting for us in a tree house when we got back!