Really. Because by road from Perth (about 4 1/2 hours) is pretty much the main way to get to Great Southern wine region. Unless, maybe, you’ve been lucky enough to hop on a regional flight and make the hour long air trip from Perth to Denmark
However you’ve got there, you’ve made the effort, selected your travel tunes, snacks at the ready, and fab friends or family with you ready for a great time wine tasting in the Great Southern.
That effort is well worth it. Why?
- Great Southern is Australia’s largest wine region and the most diverse agricultural region too;
- It has five subregions, the Porongurups, Mount Barker, Albany, Denmark and Frankland River;
- It comprises a rectangle 200 kilometres from east to west and over 100 kilometres from north to south, covering close to 1,000 square kilometres;
- Diverse conditions – some parts have Mediterranean conditions while others enjoy a maritime climate – have resulted in the Great Southern producing a wide variety of wine styles with something for all tastes;
- Standout varieties include shiraz, riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.
But with over 55 cellar doors spread out over a vast area of 1000 square kilometres – where on earth do you start? Even for most of us wine lovers, 55 cellar doors equals a very big wine headache.
To help you with the decision making, and to ensure you make the most of your time in this gorgeous part of Australia, here are ten of our favourite Great Southern cellar door experiences that no wine loving gal should miss. (In no particular order…)
Wingebellup Road, Frankland River Open: Seven days a week 10am – 5pm. Closed Good Friday, the morning of ANZAC Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Alkoomi Wines is one of Western Australia’s largest family owned and operated wine producers and is also one of the most remote! Now run by fabulous lady of wine Sandy Hallett and her family, the property was originally purchased by Sandy’s grandparents in 1946.
Sandy’s Mother and Father made the bold decision to plant vineyards in 1971, and Sandy and her husband Rod took over the Management of Alkoomi Wines in 2010.
Today, together with their three daughters, Laura, Emily and Molly, Alkoomi Wines is continuing to grow. The Alkoomi philosophy is to favour quality over quantity, while carefully managing the land in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Alkoomi produce an extensive range, so there really is something to suit everyone’s budget.
From the ‘White Label’ Rose, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Merlot at only $15 per bottle! Perfect for any-day-of-the-week quaffing.
The ‘Black Label’ is the next step up in the range, and it’s hard to beat the luscious and generous flavours of the Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.
For something very spesh reach for something from the ‘Icon Range’, Melaleuca Riesling launched in honour of Alkoomi’s 40th year, or the Blackbutt (Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Cabernet Franc (3.5%), Merlot (10%), Petit Verbot (3.5%) and Malbec (20%)) A special drink that you will want to bring out for those special celebrations.
The Gilbert family has been growing great flavours for the world for four generations. The vineyard was planted in 1985. And each time they planted a block of grapes along came a son!
Hence the “Three Devils Range” wine range they produce. Recently they added a new line: “3 Lads Cabernet”. The boys are all in their late twenties or early thirties now though, the label still sticks!
Fabulous lady, co-owner and original founder Bev Gilbert has now been in the industry for 31 years. Bev’s been active on many boards and heavily involved with tourism in Western Australia and in particular the Great Southern wine region.
The farm boasts a culinary garden, where they like to use the fresh produce in the café which is attached to the cellar door.
There are four wine varieties produced on the property: Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. Gilberts was given a 5 star rating by James Halliday in the 2016 Wine Companion. The Riesling is extremely popular and past vintages have picked up numerous awards.
Mount Shadforth Road, Denmark Open: Mon – Fri : 8:30am – 5:00pm Sat – Sun : CLOSED
The quaint country village of San Giorgio a Liri, in Italy’s Lazio region, was Sam and Maria Castelli’s birthplace.
In 2004, the Castelli’s dream of a family-owned winery became a reality when, upon the slopes of Mt Shadforth, the Castelli Estate property was purchased – A 120 acre farm which overlooks Wilson’s Inlet, Mt. Lindesay and the lush countryside around Denmark.
Together with winemaker Mike Garland they have one of Western Australia’s premium boutique wine brands.
The entire range, through from the entry level to the premium wines, have taken out countless awards, medals and trophies.
Recently the 2011 il Liris Rouge was awarded a spectacular 98 points in the 2015 edition of the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. This mid-priced wine outshone its competitors and provided wine enthusiasts the rare opportunity of purchasing a Halliday 98 point red at a tenth of the price of competitors.
Moorialup Road, Porongurup Open: Mon -Sun : 11:00am – 4:00pm
Fabulous lady of wine Rosie Singer and her partner live in the original 1940’s cottage on site developed by the Monastic community that lived at the site of Zarephath Wines and planted the vines.
The site is on the edge of the most ancient mountain range in the world – the Porongurups – and to get there you have to drive through 5 km of gravel roads taking you through dedicated DPAW Nature Reserves.
But the effort is worth it with a wonderful warm welcome.
The onsite cafe serves up vegies, herbs and fruit from the garden together with house made pate, dukkha and cakes and all can be devoured while you gaze out at the wonderful view out to the Coast.
Zarephath’s wines are made by 2015 James Haliday Winemaker of the Year Rob Diletti at Castlerock Estate located in the Porongurups.
Zarephath only makes wine from the grapes they produce in their vineyards each year so small vintages lead to a high quality and in demand product. They also have a delicious Rose, older Cabernets, Sparkling Shiraz, award winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to die for.
Turner Road, Denmark Open: Mon – Sun : 10:00am – 5:00pm
The Lake House Denmark is a gorgeous family owned cellar door, restaurant, function venue, gourmet food emporium and winery all in one! Located on the edge of a beautiful lake with stunning views it produces pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon and marsanne.
In addition to their wines, The Lake House also produce a gourmet wine-inspired food range called Vinofood and their own WineSpa beauty products, which are all made from the powerful anti-oxidents in found in grapes and grape seed oil.
FABULOUS, right? This really is the ultimate food, wine and spa destination. Make sure you allow plenty of time to linger and to dine at their restaurant or pick up a hamper and picnic rug for a gorgeous lunch or snack on the grass by the lake.
As though all that isn’t enough, they also have a biodynamic vegetable garden and orchard which provides some of the fresh produce used in the restaurant.
You’re in Denmark, darlinks, so do what the locals do and sip on their delectable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They have several options available at differing price points. They also have a gorgeous Sparkling which spends quite a few years on lees to develop richness and character. Perfect for that picnic!
Galafrey Wines established in 1977 is a true example of fabulous #winechicks, being managed by mother and daughter team, Linda and Kim Tyrer taking after their father’s legacy. Kim’s Husband Nigel Rowe also has a hands-on role and is an integral part of the team. (And in case you are wondering the answer is YES. They are MASSIVE Doctor Who fans!)
“To strive for excellence in producing small parcels of distinctive and consistently exceptional wines through commitment to producing fruit of the highest quality which we believe is the key to great winemaking”.
How’s that for an inspirational mission statement?
Galafrey Wines Dry Grown Reserve Riesling 2016 is minerally goodness, all flint and light chalky texture with plenty of pure citrus juiciness. The intense and very long finish will have you salivating for more. Serve as an aperitif or pair with the freshest prawns for a taste sensation.
Galafrey Wines Dry Grown Muller 2016 is a German grape variety that is a hybrid of Riesling. You certainly don’t see much of it around, so grab this opportunity with two hands! Tropical fruits, spice and citrus on the nose, this fellow has a rich palate coating texture. Imagine tasting some sweetness but balanced with citrussy zing. Every sip reveals more flavours and depth.
Redman Road, Denmark Open: Fri-Mon: 10:30am – 5:30pm and daily for school holidays.
New kids on the block are always worth a look-see. This one is amazingly on one of the oldest vineyards in the area!
Rising Star Wines are bubbly experts, with their brand spanking new cellar door inside the restored jarrah weatherboard Tractor shed. Not your run-of-the-mill, these are premium boutique Sparkling wines made in the traditional method with four or more years bottle ageing before release.
If it’s still wines you are after, then you are spoilt for choice as well with Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rose’ from estate grown fruit.
Rising Star take the time to age their wines in barrel and/or bottle to make the best wines possible, and only release them when they are drinking beautifully – not before.
Try the Rising Star Sparkling Chardonnay 2010, aged four years on yeast lees. Fresh and flavoursome with toasty complexity from extended aging. Winner of a Bronze Medal at the 2015 Perth Royal Wine Show!
Also try the Rising Star Cabernet Merlot 2010 with powerful flavours of blackcurrants, vanilla, cassis and hints of chocolate. Approachable in its youth. Will reward with cellaring.
Ferngrove Road, Frankland River Open: Mon – Sat : 10:00am – 4:00pm
Ever felt like getting away from it all? Well, Ferngrove Wines are one of the world’s most isolated wine estates! The trip is worth it though, the wines pretty darn fabulous.
Their vineyards are 90 kilometres from the coast, where the valleys and slopes provide them ancient soils as well as the cooling influence of the Southern and Indian Oceans. This allows the grapes to ripen more slowly, intensifying the flavour and giving the winemaking team the time to nurture the vines to produce their best fruit.
The relationship with the land is important to the Ferngrove Wines philosophy and they have one of Australia’s largest winery solar power systems. It is no surprise then that the rather distinctive Ferngrove symbol is an interpretation of the local bracken fern found around the winery, signalling new botanical growth.
If you find yourself in the Great Southern area of WA make sure you visit their gorgeous cellar door, which has great picnic areas.
Their range within these labels is extensive and includes Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Rosé made from Malbec, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Bonus Winery: Swinney Vineyards
Frankland-Kojonup Road, Frankland River Open: Order online
That’s what this gorgeous, family (sibling) run boutique wine producer has burst onto the Australian wine-landscape with. And they’re winning acclaim with wine aficionados nationwide.
The wines are all produced on their sustainable vineyards in the Frankland River region. There’s no cellar door to visit so you’ll need to keep a keen eye out for them or, even better, order directly from the Swinney website.
Their small range have all been given astronomical point scores by Monsieur Eyebrows (Halliday) and other notables in the wine crowd. So what are you waiting for? Jump in and try their…
- Swinney ‘Ingenue’ Frankland River Riesling
- Swinney ‘Ingenue’ Frankland River Shiraz
- Swinney ‘Tirra Lirra’ Frankland River Red – Tempranillo, Cab Sav, Grenache
- Swinney ‘Tirra Lirra’ Frankland River White – Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer