Day 21 of the Around Australia Ride was another designated rest day, this time to be spent in Margaret River. I opted to take a winery tour on that day and had originally planned to spend the morning getting an update done and would explore the town later. This is until a smart individual told me that by the time we got back from the tour any of the shops in town would no doubt be closed seeing as it was a Sunday. So I did go into town that morning, however I neglected to factor that being there at 8:00am nothing was open at that time either with the exception of coffee shops. Oh well, I had a nice coffee.
10am was the schedualed start of our winery tour and we where promptly on a couple of buses to be taken around the countryside. Now anyone hoping to find some amazing insights into the wine culture of Margaret River are about to be sorely dissapointed. While I do greatly enjoy a glass of red I must confess to being quite the novice when it comes to wine.
At the start of the tour, and repeatedly during it we were told it was the polite thing to do to actually pay attention at each winery when they are giving their presentations during tastings. I think maybe we had been pegged as a bunch of rough and ready motorcycle riders but they needn’t have worried. We were all very polite and very attentive indeed. And why wouldn’t you be? The vintners in Margaret River obviously take a lot of pride in what they do and have reason to be proud of their accomplishments.
Through the day we saw three wineries, a liquour distillery, a brewery, a cheese factory and a chocalate factory. With the exception of the first winery Xanadu Wines, we were advised the others being Knotting Hill and Hay Shed Hill were only available via cellar door or internet order. So we were going to try wines that you can’t find at your local Jim Murphys.
Each of the wineries we visited were quite lovely in their own right. The attention to the cellar door was impressive although I think the Knotting Hill winery was maybe my favorite. We were told that only 10 years ago (or so) the Knotting Hill winery was nothing more than a paddock for some cows to graze on. The building and the man-made lake were new additions with the lake also being filled with perch that we could see from the deck. We had lunch there as well with the tour providing a bit of an Outback experience by serving kangaroo, bush turkey and roast meat. There were also whichetty grubs for those adventurous enough. Nutty.
Probably the favorite destination for most was The Grove winery where they mainly seem to promote liquors and ports. The presentation was great with a lot of laughs from all with a drop from the only slightest hints of pretension we had seen earlier. No small amount of coin was spent here either and it was noted that the ladies made a bee-line for the Shockalot pre-mixed cocktails at the end which quickly sold out. We didn’t have to worry though as more was able to be made before we left.
The cheese and chocolate factories were small diversions. I do admit feeling a little disappointed with the cheese – less than half a dozen for tasting and move from left to right and out the door with your purchase, if you please. And the chocolate, I am sorry to say ladies, just didn’t interest me although the presentation hall was quite impressive. The day wrapped up at Bootleggers Brewery for some beer tasting. This was the only locale that we had to pay for the tasting ($12) and unfortunately this is what I finished the day on. Yeah, unfortunately. I like beer, I like commercial beer, but it would appear that I do not like boutique beer. Pity more that there is not a whisky distillery down here that I could have have sampled.
All in all it was a most enjoyable day. I haven’t been on winery tour before and I guess I can see the mentality of some that it is an opportunity for a big piss-fest. To this I say if that is your idea then save your money and just go down to your local and swill something there instead. As mentioned earlier, the winery operators take pride in what that do and to have groups come through with no other intention than getting drunk on free grog (ignoring tour costs) I guess you can understand their disappointment. I don’t think they were sorry to see the likes of us though with quite a number of riders making purchases to be put in support vehicles, or shipped straight home for cellaring. Next time I would like have to do a tour with a friend who is knowledgeable of wine so they too can take me on their journey. You know who you are.
And what did I think of the wine? I really enjoyed it, sorry I can’t give you a more in-depth review than that. We had some great tasting drops during the day and I purchased my fair share of red to be sent home to try later at my leisure. These businesses made themselves available to us to try their wares and it only seemed fair to ensure I spent coin where I felt it was worth.