All you need is an appetite for some seriously good living in Western Australia’s Margaret River region. Leave the rest up to the artisan food producers and world-class winemakers who have put this sleepy, sun-kissed surf spot on the global food and wine scene.
Some 50 years ago, no one could have envisaged that Margaret River would become a gourmet gift that keeps on giving, but today you’ll find there’s even more to this epicurean escape than its celebrated cellar doors. We’re talking incredible food, family gatherings, sweeps of white sugar-sand beaches as far as the eye can see, and of course sensational venues where you can swirl and sip fine wines to your heart’s content.
With a line-up of food and wine purveyors that has lured the likes of Nigella Lawson and Heston Blumenthal to this deliciously remote part of WA, where do you start? There’s even a dedicated annual festival showcasing the region’s finest, to feast your way through each November. On our 6 Day Margaret River Family 4WD Exploration, friends and families, food and wine lovers are welcomed to indulge in the region’s sweet treats and cellar doors.
From the humble cocoa bean, this acclaimed chocolate producer demonstrates the art of the chocolatier through endless tantalising iterations – 200 in fact. There are sumptuous sauces, slices, single-origin chocolate, chocolate-coated confections and hand-made truffles. The original of three WA chocolate factories is heaven in a very stylish store and factory. Entry is free along with complimentary tastings. The “Wonka-esque” comparisons are well deserved as you peruse shelves lined with every chocolate imaginable, before giving way to temptation in the factory cafe where chocolate fondues and brownies top the menu.
Take a seat overlooking the lake and vineyards at Bettenays and let the tasting begin. With their recipes a closely guarded family secret, Bettenays have perfected the production of over 35 nougat varieties, as well as their own range of wines and liqueurs. Viewing windows shed light on how nougat is freshly made, a craft dating back centuries from Italy and France. Let your tastebuds run riot with flavours including limoncello, pistachio, cranberry or macadamia – perfect palate pleasers that are paired with Bettenays' own aromatic whites, velvety reds and liqueurs. Linger over the lake views or stay overnight.
Before even arriving at Leeuwin Estate, this iconic cellar door’s reputation precedes it. But it’s the surrounding meadows and karri forest that set the idyllic scene for one of the region’s oldest family-run wineries. Seated on family-friendly verandahs, surveying gently sloping vineyards, the estate’s cattle station past is a distant memory, elegantly replaced by everything from degustation experiences and wine tastings to concerts and scenic flights. Leeuwin Estate’s wine portfolio includes internationally acclaimed vintages, while a wander around the downstairs gallery reveals artworks by Australian artists such as John Olsen, Arthur Boyd and Sydney Nolan, featured on Leeuwin Estate’s esteemed “Art Series” wines.
4. Juniper Estate
Established almost 50 years ago, this boutique cellar door lies at the heart of Margaret River amid rolling vineyards beside Wilyabrup Creek. An enchanting spot for sampling Juniper Estate’s signature reds and fine whites, brought to you by friendly wine connoisseurs, in indoor or outdoor settings where friends and family can relax. Margaret River’s temperate climate and Juniper Estate’s practice of dry viticulture by expert winemakers are a winning combination. Taste distinguished Cabernet Sauvignons, Shiraz, as well as Chardonnays, highly regarded for their depth of flavour and impressive vintages.
Margaret River’s Mediterranean climate makes it the ideal year-round destination for a gourmet getaway, as well as a taste of the outdoors. Wine meets pristine coastline, the perfect venue for food, fun and family gatherings. What more could you wish for?
Image credits: Margaret River Chocolate Company, Bettenay Wine, Accommodation and Nougat Co., Leeuwin Estate and Juniper Estate.