Margaret River Meanderings – Day 6

As we near the end of our adventures in Margaret River, we look back in awe, at our amazing trip! But a couple more stops before we head on out to Perth.

The Story Thus Far:

Wining, Dining.. Margaret River

G’day Mate! Margaret River Adventures.. Day 1 & 2

Margaret River – Day 3 & Day 4

Dirty mountain biking at Margaret River

Margaret River, the Adventure Continues – Day 5

 

Early the next Tuesday morning, we check out of Vintages Accommodation and headed out to Margaret River Providore. Margaret River Providore combines vineyards, olive groves, organic vegetable gardens and gourmet foods from the region, Australia and around the world in a one‐stop sales and tasting facility. We were taken on a guided tour of their organic vegetable gardens. Located on a working farm in the heart of Wilyabrup, the stunning new manufacturing and tasting centre provides visitors with an opportunity to stroll through kitchen gardens, watch products being made in the kitchens, sample wines, olive oils and fresh produce and then purchase from a huge selection of gourmet foods and gift items.

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But then Margaret River Providore and Coward and Black Vineyards are much more than just a cellar door – the visitor centre combines a working farm, vineyard and olive grove, with dozens of organic vegetable gardens to create a comprehensive “paddock to plate” experience.

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the organic garden

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Inside the stunning new rammed earth manufacturing and sales facility you can sample premium wines from the Coward and Black range, estate grown olive oils as well as taste the most delicious Jams and Preserves all made in the farm kitchens. There is even a artisan kitchenware section.

The Margaret River Providore café provides light meals, coffee and snacks or just a drink on the verandah overlooking the vines. From Genuine French baguettes, pastas and dips, to teas, spices, fine cheeses and meats smoked on the premises. the cafe is an ideal stop for breakfast.

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So many delectable things to sample..

Just like a providore should be, the shelves are loaded with jars of goodies and the fridges are overflowing with cured meats and alluring fresh food. The Margaret River Providore is the finest in what is already a fairly fine gourmet region.

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A smiling Canadian offers us wine tasting at Providore

Add:
Margaret River Providore
448 Tom Cullity Drive (formerly Harmans South Road)
Wilyabrup, WA, 6285
Tel: +61 8 9755 6355
Email: mel@providore.com.au
Website: www.providore.com.au
Contact: Kendra, Restaurant Manager

 

After Providore, we had a slew of Vineyards to visit, the first of them being Vasse Felix. Planted by Dr Tom Cullity in 1967, Vasse Felix was the first commercial vineyard and winery to be established in the Margaret River region and is family owned and operated by the Holmes a Court family. Vasse Felix is one of the region’s most welcoming estates with its contemporary cellar door, nationally‐acclaimed restaurant and art gallery. Within the original underground cellar lives an archive of Vasse Felix and Margaret River wine history. We then went on a behind the scenes tour and tasting compliments of Vasse Felix.

An interesting part of the Vasse Felix, is the art found on its grounds. Created by famous artists from around the world, the works of art adds a different experience to visitors. Children, of course, loves the unusual structures.

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modern art by a Japanese artist – apparently when the river’s water level comes up, the structure on the bottom right becomes partially submerged in water, looking like a boat. Very clever indeed!

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Cellar Door – Vasse Felix

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Every Vasse Felix wine is crafted with individual attention and a focus on expressing the distinct regional characteristics of Margaret River varieties. The finest grape is selected from specific vineyard sites and fermented in parcels with the greatest care. All winemaking from vine to bottle is controlled within the Estate, where every decision is made in reflection of the vintage and journey of the individual barrique.

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Our wine expert tells us that the best performing varieties from Margaret River are Cabernet Sauvignon (and Cabernet blends), Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends, many of which are recognised amongst the most outstanding of their kind in the world. These regional strengths are reflected in the Vasse Felix Heytesbury and Estate tiers, while popular Australian blends are embodied within the Vasse Felix Classics.

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Right from the word go, we are totally taken in with the Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay. It’s signature flavours matched our palate and we decided take one home!

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With the Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay, a selection of individual barrels from the finest sections and clones, of the best vineyards are selected. The wine is fermented entirely with wild yeasts and matured in new and one year old French oak barriques with battonage for nine months. The style has developed significantly over recent years with complex vineyard character coming from less clarified juice and natural yeast. Heytesbury Chardonnay is so easy to drink and it was by far our favourite wine of the lot.

 

Add:
Vasse Felix
Cnr Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive (formerly Harmans South Road)
Wilyabrup, WA, 6285
Tel: +61 8 9756 5000
Email: info@vassefelix.com.au
Website: www.vassefelix.com.au
Contact: Michelle Griggs, Restaurant Manager

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Our next stop on the winery tour was Cullen. It is a family owned business which adopts a biodynamic practise in their vineyards. What is biodynamics? According to Cullen’s website, biodynamics, “involves adopting a collective approach to working with the soil, the plants and the cosmos, has two underlying philosophies. The first recognises that it is important to maintain sustainable soil fertility, as is also the case with organic farming, while the second takes into account the link that exists between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos. The adoption of these philosophies in concert, results in the production of healthier plants and livestock.”

Pretty amazing, right? We were given a tour around the wine making section as well as part of the fertilizer making section.

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Most of us will probably know that human and animal waste provides a good source of fertiliser. At one section of the tour, we were shown the female cow horns which would be buried in soil over winter together with cow manure. Further natural ingredients such as fish emulsion and seaweed are added to the manure to make a a ground fertilizer spray which will be sprayed on the vineyard soil three times a year when the moon is in the opposition to Saturn. This fertilizer is only one part of the biodynamic process performed by Cullens in its quest to make the best wines. You can read more about their farming methods here.

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Female cow horns

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Contraption for making the ground fertilizer

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Wines fermentation section

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Wines being filled into oak barrels for aging

All the walking made us thirsty and we were glad it was time to taste the wines.

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The biodynamic approach at Cullens gave their wines a distinctive taste. Wines here tasted sharper, possibly with higher acidity. These wines seemed to have a less flowery bouquet on the nose. Cullens have their own restaurant. Though eager to try out their dishes made from their own biodynamic produce, we were running late and had to rush to our next destination…

Add:
Cullen Wines
4323 Caves Road
Wilyabrup, WA, 6285
Tel: +61 8 9755 5277
Email: pa@cullenwines.com.au
Website: www.cullenwines.com.au
Contact: Megan Williams, Personal Assitant

 

With our heads in a spin from all that accumulated wine tasting, it was time for lunch. Knee Deep produce small parcels of fine wine from a single vineyard in Wilyabrupthe heart of the Margaret River Wine region. The name reflects a passionate commitment to premium winemaking and the laid back Margaret River state of mind in which you can always immerse yourself. They also offer high quality chef prepared food in a friendly and relaxed vineyard environment.

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We were definitely most impressed with the contemporary Australian cuisine served in such beautiful vineyard settings. We actually got a chance to chat with the Chef of Knee Deep restaurant – the award winning Executive Chef Michelle Babb. Since opening the restaurant in late 2008 Knee Deep has been awarded Two Chefs Hats by the Australian Good Food (both 2012 & 2011), as well as being ranked best restaurant in regional WA. Knee Deep has also received an AGE good food guide star, a Gourmet Traveller Star (2012 & 2011) and had it’s risotto in Gourmet Traveller 2010 best dishes in Australia.

 

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Thanks to Chef Michelle Babb, we got to sample some terrific lunch degustation menu, paired exquisitely well with different wines from the Knee Deep Vineyard. I have to say that the food and wines were really impressive. For a small vineyard, they have to potential to go far, as the wines and food were top notch.

Chef Babb’s work is compared to that of Napa Valley’s French Laundry and we soon learned that she was born and raised in Busselton. “Food tourism isn’t about just what you put on the plate, but creating special moments in people’s lives,” the bubbly chef said as she came in to meet us up on her day off. A five-course “Trust-the-Chef” degustation menu with a view overlooking the winery’s gorgeous property was an unforgettable experience.

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The degustation menu was so well paired with the wines, we were truly impressed with the Chef’s cooking!

The degustation menu, focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients, sourced from local producers and suppliers wherever possible started off with a beautifully plated house-cured salmon gravalax, lemon and herb sour cream, rosé pearls and micro greens, and accompanied by the young, vibrant and crisp 2011 Rosé.

This was soon followed by a savoury and velvety confit pork belly, with pearls of Israeli cous cous, and a fig and pine nut salad. This was brilliantly paired with a sweet yet the well-rounded melon and honey flavoured 2009 Chardonnay.

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Up next was the carbo heavy pink snapper and salmon tortellini, served along with slow cooked fennel, local asparagus and coconut foam. Carbo lovers would love this – great texture on the tortellini which was cooked al dente.

The next dish was my absolute favourite – the MSA beef tenderloin, potato galette, zucchini, eggplants and balsamic reduction course was a perfect medium rare. The capsicum pearls were a vibrant touch, which complemented the intense ruby red glass of 2008 Kelsea’s Reserved Cabernet Sauvignon that had an oak-y aroma and a bouquet of summer cherries and plums.

As the grand finale, we indulged in a beautifully plated dessert of raspberry bavarios, illawarra plum puree, decorated with a translucent shaving of air-dried nashi pear, braised saffron apple and slices of peppermint.

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What a fabulous lunch! One of the most memorable on this trip to Margaret River.

Add:
Knee Deep Wines
61 Johnson Road
Wilyabrup WA 6285
Tel: +61 8 9755 6776
Email: office@kneedeepwines.com.au
Website: www.kneedeepwines.com.au
Contact: Jenny Clark, Sales and Marketing Manager

Yes, with lunch safely in our stomachs, we headed out to our next stop in Busselton Jetty. Stretching 1.8 kilometres across Geographe Bay, Busselton Jetty is the longest timber‐piled jetty in the southern hemisphere. It is renowned world‐wide for its spectacular Underwater Observatory, Jetty Train and myriad of recreational uses. A unique experience situated in Western Australia’s favourite playground! We then had some time to explore the underwater depths of the Underwater Observatory and take some photos of the marine life.

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It was cold and windy but people still loved to frolick on the beach. In the background, Busselton Jetty ticket office

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See how far the jetty stretches..

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it takes 30 minutes to walk out there to the end, maybe 15 minutes if you run fast.

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A water theme park! Sadly.. it wasn’t open when we were there

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which direction is the wind blowing?

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Seagulls scavenged prizes! Fishes lay drying in the sun and the wind on an old platform separated from the main jetty

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The boatshed style Interpretive Centre, opened in April 2001, is located 50 metres offshore, at the end of the jetty. The Interpretive Centre gives visitors a glimpse into the Jetty’s rich past and its exciting future. It houses the eco-museum, which showcases the jetty’s history, ticket office as well as an exciting array of beautiful giftware and mementos.

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The unique Underwater Observatory allows visitors to view remarkable marine life. It has launched the jetty as a world class, internationally recognised, tourism icon. The observatory is located 1.7 kilometres from shore almost at the end of the Busselton Jetty. It can accommodate up to 40 people at one time. Descending 8 metres below sea level, visitors can view the amazing corals and fish life through eleven viewing windows, at various levels within a 9.5 metre diameter observation chamber. A lift within the observatory also enables wheelchair bound people to have access to one of Western Australia’s unique natural wonders.

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Baby wanted his picture taken too

Each year during autumn and winter, the Leeuwin Current brings a narrow band of warm water down the Western Australian coastline. This warm southerly current is responsible for the incredibly diverse array of tropical and sub-tropical species in Geographe Bay including coralgrowth at a latitude of 33 degrees south. The west coasts of other southern hemisphere continents such as Africa and South America have no coral growth below 5 degrees south.

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The Busselton Jetty Underwater Observatory, with more than 300 individual marine species, is host to an awe inspiring “forest” of vividly-coloured tropical and sub-tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. It is sometimes described as Australia’s greatest artificial reef. We spent an hour here marvelling at the corals and trying to spot marine life over the observatory guide’s voice explaining the rich eco-system found here.

 

Add:
Busselton Jetty & Underwater Observatory
Busselton, WA, 6280
Tel: +61 8 9754 0900
Email: marketing@busseltonjetty.com.au
Website: www.busseltonjetty.com.au
Contact: Toni Flanagan, Marketing Manager

 

As we drove out to our final destination for this entire trip, we looked back and marvelled at how much distance and different experiences we had covered. It was now time to depart from the Margaret River region and drive to Perth. That night, we stayed at the Novotel Langley, courtesy of Tourism WA.

Add:
The Novotel Langley
221 Adelaide Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
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Stay tuned for the final installment.. PERTH!

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The Story Thus Far:

Wining, Dining.. Margaret River

G’day Mate! Margaret River Adventures.. Day 1 & 2

Margaret River – Day 3 & Day 4

Dirty mountain biking at Margaret River

Margaret River, the Adventure Continues – Day 5

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. ooh, it’d be interesting to look out for any Cullen wines if they’re available at KL restaurants! maybe to enjoy with a nice, crisp salad :D

  2. I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind tour of Margaret River reading this, hehe! Lovely write-up, babe!

  3. Wow. Another awesome post Ciki! Felt like I was there myself. Haha.. ☺

  4. “Trust-the-Chef” degustation menu. You got me there ; )

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