Margaret River

Photography : Margaret River

We met up with photographer Kieran Stone and spent two days exploring the Margaret River Food and Wine Region.  Here are a few shots that he took while on the road with Our Naked Australia!

 

Margaret River Yahava Koffee Yahava Koffee Yahava Koffee Cowaramup Cowaramup Brewing Company Margaret River Chocolate Factory Kangaroo Paw The Troopy Bootleg Brewery Marriwood Park Estate Marriwood Park Estate Our Naked Australia Slice of 'Dice Juz's thong eaten by a fox - Slice of 'Dice Slice of 'Dice The Grove Experience The Grove Experience The Grove Experience Cheeky Monkey Brewery Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Sugarloaf Rock

 

Kieran has just gotten back after two years of living in Europe and has taken some truly amazing shots.  Check out more of his stuff on his website.

 

Cheeky Monkey Brewery tasting paddle

Drink : Margaret River Breweries

The Margaret River region has eight breweries that produce a variety of brews from traditional ales and German hefeweizens to ciders and ginger beers, as well as the delicious honey brew from Blackwood Meadery.  Unfortunately, we only could visit four breweries, but we were thoroughly impressed with the craftiness of the beers and the unique atmosphere of each venue we visited.

 

The Grove Experience

We started the day at The Grove – a café, winery, distillery, brewery and liqueur factory! They started off making wines in 1995 but it wasn’t long before they branched out to include ports, spirit based liqueurs and the nano-brewery to offer a unique experience to visitors of the Margaret River region.

 

Because we got there just after 9am, we started with coffee and cake.  We were super impressed with our layered latte, which reminded us of the coffee we got at Alexandrina Cheese Factory on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  The microfoam was sweet and delicious – no sugar required – and the coffee was rich with a great, rounded flavour.

 

 

We got a slice of cake each –gluten free orange almond cake and chocolate beetroot cake.  The orange almond café was moist, soft and gooey with a magnificent orange flavour and small fragments of nuts, orange peel.  The chocolate beetroot cake was not as rich as expected; even the icing was manageable!  It was soft and fluffy with little purple pieces of beetroot.  It was a great combination of subtly sweet flavours.

 

Afterwards, we got on the grog and sampled their four beers.

 

  • Boring Beer – 4.4% rich gold colour with fruity citrus and stone fruit aromas.  It was easy to drink, no bitterness at all, with a gentle and mild flavour that was fresh and crisp.
  • House Ale – 5.2% a red ale with a cloudy orange colour and peach smells.  It was gently hoppy, crisp and refreshing and medium flavoured.
  • Big House – 6.2% another cloudy orange beer with fine bubbles, bitterness and a mellow finish with lots of sweet fruity flavours.
  • Gangster Stout – 4.9% cola coloured with hints of coffee and smoke, it was a full bodied beer that covered all of the mouth.

 

 

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery

This venue is very new, with the grand opening occurring on the 4th of May 2012. The owner, Murray Burton wanted to share his beers with the area and created the brewery brand based on his four cheeky monkeys, his three daughters and one son. At their current rate of production, the brewery produces about 40,000L per year and they make a variety of craft beers, such as pale ale, IPA and ginger beer.

 

  • Travelling Monk – 3.5% a mid strength red ale that is fruity, smoky from the crystal malt, quite hoppy but light and refreshing.
  • Hatseller – 4.8% a deep gold brew that was a creamy mouth-filler, herbaceous and citrusy with gentle hops and a good head.
  • Old Reliable – 5.0% a classic pale ale made with crystal malt to give it a smoky flavour, but it was clean and fresh with honey and fruit flavours and a bit of hops at the end.
  • Southern Wailer – 4.8% sweet taste with ginger on the nose, it was mild and a bit hoppy with gentle ginger flavours and no spice.
  • Belgian IPA – 5.8% a red ale with honey and fruit but smoky and hoppy.

 


There is also Cheeky’s restaurant onsite that cooks up delicious tapas, burgers, pizzas.  The atmosphere is totally chilled, plays great music, and the décor is a mixture of modern comfort and cosy homeliness. The gardens outside are the perfect place to enjoy a cold brew on a summers day.

 

 

Bootleg Brewery

Since opening in 1994, the Bootleg Brewery has been producing award winning beers, including the delicious ‘Best in Class’ Raging Bull Dark Ale and takes pride in being an ‘oasis of beer in a desert of wine’.  The brewery has a great laidback atmosphere with heaps of seating outside in the beer garden.  They also offer have a great menu that pairs the meals with their beers and includes burgers, fish and chips, ribs and roo fillets.

 

 

We ordered a tasting paddle and enjoyed it outside while we were entertained by a live guitar duo who did a great job at setting the mood and other patrons played a game of giant Jenga nearby.

 

  • Sou’ West Wheat Beer – 4.7% a light golden brew that was light and crisp with low bitterness, gentle hops, a well rounded texture and slight sweetness.
  • Hefe – 4.7% clear, golded German-style hefeweizen.  ‘Hefe’ means yeast and ‘weizen’ means wheat. This unfiltered brew was fruity with banana and cloves, and is also known as a breakfast beer.
  • Tom’s Amber Ale – 4.0% a deep caramel colour that was bitter with Ringwood hops, lightly carbonated and quite smoky.
  • Wils Pils – 4.9% light and summery with fine bubbles and a clean sweet but dry finish.
  • Settlers Pale Ale – 4.8% an American style ale that was full of passionfruit at first but finished with bitter grapefruit.
  • Raging Bull – 7.1% a rich, dark coloured beer with intense malty flavours full of coffee, crystal and roasted malt.  It was smooth and creamy but full flavoured and very potent!

 

Cowaramup Brewing Company

The staff are really friendly here and the atmosphere was upbeat with cool music and furry cow hide stools while the grey, concrete décor added a cool, modern element. They brew six handcrafted beers, including ales, lagers and their award winning pilsner.

 

  • Pilsner – a clear golden colour with plenty of bitter hops and a refreshing fizz.
  • Hefeweizen – a cloudy yellow Bavarian wheat beer that was slightly sweet with gentle hops and a fruity, banana flavour.
  • Lightsign Summer Ale – clear and golden with a fruity, passionfruit flavour without any bitterness.
  • Special Pale Ale – rich amber colour with a lightly smoky flavour from the Maris Otter barley and creamy, full bodied texture with plenty of English hops.
  • IPA – deep copper with coffee and chocolate, it was very hoppy and quite strong.
  • Porter – deep dark coffee colour with a robust, full flavoured and dark roasted punch.

 

Vasse Felix

Margaret River Food & Wine Region

Vasse Felix

We were really looking forward to exploring one of Australia’s most notorious wine regions, but our first 24 hours in the region wasn’t too pleasant. We got to Augusta first and found it to be a chronic retirement town where you are hated if you are younger than 40.  We went to the Information Centre in down and the lady behind the counter was very rude and dismissive!  With such a cold reception, we blew that joint faster than Cheech and Chong.

 

Another disappointing nose was that the region did not offer any free camping.  You have to camp either in a caravan park or national park.  We chose the national park option on the first night and stayed at Chapman Pool in Blackwood National Park for $7 each.

 

 

In the morning, we woke at dawn and drove into Margaret River to wait for the supermarket to open.  While we were in the car park, a council worker aggressively called out that we were assholes and that her town wasn’t a caravan park.  It must have looked like we had stayed the night in the car park, but considering that we hadn’t, it was quite rude and presumptuous of her to swear and badmouth us.

 

Thankfully, that was the last dose of bad taste that we received, because at about 8am, our mates who had been living in the UK for the last two years cheekily appeared at Troopy’s window and we were reunited for a brief four days to sip and taste the goods of Margaret River and beyond!

 

Margaret River is a young wine region that started when the soil was dubbed good for growing grapes in the 1960s.  Cardiologist Tom Cullity capitalised on this information and planted the first vines on his property in 1967.  He named his land Vasse Felix after a sailor named Vasse who was lost overboard from the Naturaliste in 1801; ‘Felix’ is Latin for happy.  Since then, the Margaret River has grown to have over 140 wineries.

 

 

The area gets the best of all worlds, from the coast and surf culture to the beautiful, lush forests, and with so many wineries, breweries and gourmet food outlets around, it’s no wonder that the region is full of resorts, hotels and units to accommodate all the visitors.  We knew we were in for an amazing time, and as we prepared for the next two days, we promised ourselves that this would be our last wine region.

 

The Berry Farm

The first place on our list of places to visit – the Berry Farm was originally a group settlers home in 1925. In 1984 the Lindsay Family purchased the property and since then, they’ve been producing delicious fruit wines and fortifieds, as well as yummy preserves, jams and dressings like nectarine chutney, chilli jam, eggplant relish, mango macadamia jam and 3 citrus marmalade.

 

When we arrived, we were greeted by the most awesome chick you could meet behind the counter of a cellar door, and after a flavour sensation session of tastings, we roamed around the store and sampled the gourmet delights on offer.

 

  • Club House Dark Plum – a rich, dark caramel liquid made with Satsuma plums, it was light and fruity with a spiced fruit finish.
  • Club House Boysenberry – pink and crimson with a musty sweetness, it was a little tart but smooth and fruity.
  • Limoncello Liqueur – green and gold, thick and viscous with a punch of bitter lemon.
  • Hazelnut Liqueur – a gorgeous, luscious drop very similar to Frangelico, but thicker!

 

Vasse Felix

The first winery in the Margaret River region, established by Dr Tom Cullity. The estate is absolutely beautiful, with a long driveway passing rows of vines drooping with plump grapes. Also onsite is an archive wine museum, a restaurant, an art gallery and of course the cellar door.

 

 

We had a wonderful picnic lunch amongst the artistic outdoor sculptures before heading inside for a tasting session.

 

  • 2011 Chardonnay – pale with a hint of green, it was warm and creamy with a gentle, wooded smell and oily palate full of nut and apricot.
  • 2011 Heytesbury Chardonnay – butter and peaches, citrus and apricot, it had a gentle spice bloom before a creamy, rounded finish.
  • 2011 Cane Cut Semillon – a light golden colour full of floral scents and honey.  It was mouth-watering with explosions of apricot and sweet raisins but still vibrant and crisp.

 

Killerby

This is one of Margaret River’s newest cellar doors and it was a pleasure to browse through. It shares the site with Cheeky Monkey Brewery and apart from yummy wine tastings, you can also purchase gourmet produce like Italian pasta, cheese, coffee, jams, olive oil, dukkah and chocolate!

 

  • 2008 Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling – champagne yellow with a creamy citrus scent, it was rounded and refreshing, mildly acidic with fine bubbles and a sweet, warm finish.
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – a fumé style pale yellow wine with peaches and other tropical fruits, it was sweet and smooth with warm, wooded characteristics amongst the passionfruit and peach. Delicious!
  • 2010 Chardonnay – light straw colour with a hint of yellow, it was warm, oily and sweet with a slightly dry, peppery entry that rounded off with a buttery finish fully of succulent apricot.

 

 

 

Howling Wolves

The Howling Wolves winery was built in 1998 and covers 17 hectares in Wilyabrup.  They have a few ranges, including The Claw Range, Eight Vineyards and Small Batch, and of the few wines that we did taste, the 2009 Small Batch Chardonnay stood out the most!

 

Pale straw with hints of green, it had French oak, cream and apricot on the nose with a crisp entry that smoothed out into a marvellous creamy nut finish with lemon zest.  Quite possibly one of the most delicious chardonnays we have tasted.

 

Treeton Estate

Treeton Estate is a small family-owned vineyard located in the ‘cool heart of Margaret River’ with higher ground and a cooler climate.  The vineyard had a very relaxed atmosphere, with lots of rustic, woody furniture underneath the shade of overhead vines.

 

  • 2011 Chardonnay – very pale with a rich, buttery scent, slightly acidic entry and warm finish full of melon and walnut oil.
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – light ruby colour with plenty of purple hues, it was oaky with sweet currants, juicy but dry palate and a fruity oak finish.  It needs a bit more time to age but once it’s ready, it’ll be marvellous!

 

Marri Wood Park

We were invited to Marri Wood Park to meet some fellow travellers – Mark and Alexis – who are also travelling around Australia.  They have been following our adventures online and we were stoked to meet these great people who were actively participating on our journey. We sat down and shared stories over a few glasses of fruity and delicious 2007 Guinea Run Shiraz Merlot Cabernet.

 

Marri Wood Park winery is based on bio-dynamic farming, so instead of using chemicals to ensure a healthy crop, they work with nature to maintain a sustainable balance with the plants and the soil.    The cellar door of is located in a tin-roofed shed and while we only tasted two wines, we spend quite a bit of time at the vineyard, soaking up the vibrant, glowing atmosphere and giggling at the chickens and ducks.

 

 

The environment at Marri Wood Park is further enhanced by the contributions of some of the seasonal workers that have passed through to help out on the winery. They’re encouraged to let their artistic juices flow and some of the real stand outs were the wine-barrel tables and rocking chairs.

 

Blackwood Meadery

To the south is a small boutique winery that specialises in mead – honey wine.  It is considered to be the oldest fermented beverage, dating back to 2000BC and was regarded in some cultures as the giver of life or nectar of the gods.  In Pagan times, mead was consumed for a full month after a wedding (hence the honeymoon), and due to the health benefits of honey, the ancient Romans thought that mead could prolong life and heal.

 

Blackwood Meadery is a humble winery with a wonderful selection of meads and liqueurs, as well as their own honey brew and variety of floral honeys.

 

  • Dry – golden yellow with fruity, floral scents including melon and honey.  It was crisp, refreshing and dry with a warm bloom of raw honey that stretched through into the nose with a rich, long finish.
  • Medium Dry – pale yellow with a tangy jalapeño freshness with just the right amount of chilli and honey and a delicate finish.
  • Sweet – golden liquid with a green tinge, there was plenty of honey on the nose.  A sweet and smooth entry finished with a citrus tang and a rich, full-flavoured honey finish that just kept going.
  • Traditional Mead Liqueur – a rich yellow colour with the scent of dusty honey, it had a smooth entry with a blossom of spirit and a long lasting honey flavour.
  • Honey Brew – massive head atop a pale yellow liquid.  It was yeasty and herby, very light and refreshing with fine bubbles, a sweet tang and clean finish.  We couldn’t leave without buying a bottle for later.
  • Honey Blueberry Dry Red – crimson and pink, it was dry and warm with plenty of fruity characteristics like candied berries, honey and caramel.
  • Blackberry Nip – pink caramel colours with a spirited brandy scent mixed with stewed fruits.  It was wonderfully warm and spirited with a fruity finish rife with honey.
  • Honey Plum Liqueur – rich red caramel with lots of ripe fruits, spirit, spice and a sweet plummy finish.
  • Boysenberry Liqueur – beautiful crimson and ruby with sweetness, spirit, warmth – plenty of honey and berries. This is the one we took away with us.

 

Margaret River Chocolate Factory

OMG – this place was so busy!  The car park was choc-a-block and inside was even more hectic.  It seems that people can’t help but go loopy for this incredible brown bean.

 

 

Chocolate has been around for thousands of years and started off in Central and South America.   It was consumed as a raw, bitter drink that was consumed for vitality and was considered the food of the gods.  Eventually, cacao beans became so valuable, they were used as currency.  Chocolate was shipped to Europe in the 16th century and they couldn’t deal with the bitterness so they added sugar. By the 1800s, it was common to add sugar to chocolate to make it more palatable, and these days, you can expect your chocolate bar to be around 50% sugar.

 

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory offered tastings in the form of three huge bowls, each piled high with droplets of white, milk or dark chocolate.  You could even help yourself, and go back for seconds, or thirds.  If you wanted, you could put a spoonful of all three in your hand and you didn’t feel awkward going back for more.

 

Yahava Koffee Works

We were stoked to hear about a coffee roaster in the area and made sure that our visit was perfectly timed for a perk up.  Yahava Koffee offers coffee tastings before you can purchase the beans or a brew in the café.

 

 

You can pick three varieties from light to strong and sample them plunger style.  The

skilled coffee guy showed us how to plunge coffee the right way – by stirring the coffee before plunging and how to pour it so that you get a layer of crema in your cup.

 

  • Outback – a light variety that has won a silver medal.  It is made with 100% Australian Arabica beans from Queensland. Medium roasted bean with a thin and young flavour that was smoothed out by milk.
  • X-Rated – another silver medal winner consisting of Arabica beans from Ethiopia, Brazil, India and PNG.  It was warm and sweet but robust and smoky with the full flavour hitting the front of the palate.  Milk mellowed it out and spread the flavour more evenly throughout the mouth.
  • Espresso – an Italian style coffee made with Colombian, PNG and Ethiopian beans, it had lots of body with a well-rounded finish.

  • Romeo No.5 – this is the bean that they were using in the café portion of the roasting house.  We ordered lattes and they nailed it – smooth and creamy without any bitterness and plenty of rounded, chocolate tones.

 

 

We also got to try Bitterboy Spiced Apple Iced Tea, the only carbonated iced tea available anywhere!  It was a little like ginger beer with apple, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and the slight bitterness of tea.

 

MARGARET RIVER CHEESE FACTORY

The Margaret River Dairy Company produces premium quality cheeses and yoghurts. From silky smooth camemberts and bries to distinctive cheddars, smooth style fetas, baked ricottas and creamy pot set yoghurts.

 

Located in the beautiful Margaret River region, the pure and unpolluted rain and fertile fields combine to create lush green pastures that are perfect for dairy grazing. Using traditional handcrafted techniques, the rich creamy milk is transformed into a variety of cheeses which are complex in both taste and textures.

 

Their expert cheese and yoghurt makers are committed to producing finest quality dairy products which consistently win awards in dairy competitions throughout Australia.

 

  • Club Cheddar Port – rich, full flavoured and super creamy.  It had a wonderful, savoury tang and melt in your mouth softness.
  • Dutch Edam – sweet and tangy with flavours spreading throughout the mouth and into the nose
  • Marinated Feta – smooth and busy with flavours, tang and spice.