Voyager Estate winery, near Margaret River
Originally a chilled out surfing town south of Perth, Margaret River has long been a nirvana for wine lovers, producing award-winning chardonnays, cabernet sauvignons and semillon sauvignon blancs from its boutique wineries. Its Mediterranean climate, pristine environment and nutrient-rich soils, make it ideal for grape growing with the region producing more than 30 per cent of the nation’s premium wines – a testament to its exceptional quality.
Yet, this slice of Western Australia has more than just wine on offer. Artesian cheese, chocolate and olive oil producers are popping up, alongside microbreweries that are part of a thriving craft beer industry. Local restaurants make great use of fresh seafood gathered from the Indian Ocean, from rock lobsters and prawns to marron, a local type of crayfish.
November 2012 welcomes 25 of the world’s finest food and wine celebrities (including Sat Bains and Rene Redzepi) taking part in the inaugural Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Visitors can sample the best local produce at a range of special beach barbecues and long-table lunches while enjoying stunning views of the region’s landscapes.
One of the more recent ventures in the South West is the harvesting of black truffles, found in the tall karri forests around Pemberton. These “black diamonds” are exported to top restaurants in Australia, US and Europe. In nearby Manjimup, the Wine & Truffle Company offer exclusive escorted truffle hunts through its oak and hazel tree plantations. Visitors can even sample the delicious fungi in truffle honeys, oils and mustards.
Five top tips include:
Black truffles - Last year Western Australia produced a record crop of these 'black diamonds', becoming the biggest producer outside Europe. As one of the most expensive foods in the world, truffle prices range from $2,000 and $2,500 per kilogram. The best way to taste these delicious treats is to sniff out a truffle hunt at the Wine And Truffle Co.
The grape escape – Margaret River accounts for roughly 3% of Australia’s total wine export, producing 25% of Australia’s premium wine from boutique vineyards. Take an insider’s tour of some of the best in Margaret River and compare its signature sauvignon semillon and cabernet sauvignon blends with the rieslings and merlots produced in the cooler, upcoming southern areas of Mt Barker and Frankland.
‘Whet’ your appetite – Catch your own supper on a fishing trip or taste local oysters by the dock at Albany, on the south coast.
Advice from the experts – take part in a cooking lesson at Cape Lodge, a five-star boutique hotel in Margaret River. Alternatively, paddle up Margaret River in a canoe before embarking on a wild food walk, learning about the local bush tucker.
A taste of adventure – Take surfing lessons, snorkel in crystal clear waters and join a guided walk on the Bibbulmun track, Australia’s great long distance walking trail.
Visit http://www.westernaustralia.com/southwest for more information.