Australia: Six Ways to Wine & Dine in the Margaret River Region
Coffee Tasting – Yahava Koffeeworks
Whether you race along the highway route or choose the more scenic roads through the stunning Western Australia countryside chances are by the time you've reached Margaret River you'll be needing a real big pick-me-up to recover from the general relentlessness of any road trip. So, what better way than with a brawny cup of coffee! Enticed by a couple of signs posted along the road I soon stumbled upon Yahava Koffeeworks. The swirling aromas immediately alert you to the fact that this is no ordinary coffee stop. Yahava is in fact a “coffee tasting venue”, the first I'd ever heard of such an innovative concept. It works just the way wine tasting in vineyards does. Anyway, I rocked up, sampled five separate blends ranging from rambunctious to suave, and was even guided through each journey by a highly enthusiastic local gentleman who did a phenomenal job of explaining and dissecting all the notes and flavours surprising my tastebuds.
Chocolate Tasting – Temper Temper
With all that bitter flavour in my mouth and feeling rather wired I shuffled outside for some fresh air and discovered yet another delectable gem, the Temper Temper chocolaterie, sitting right next door! In the days that followed I tried a range of chocolateries in the area but none even came close to the quality of this little chocolaty corner of heaven. From giant-size natural honeycomb chunks to 85% Mexican cacao nibs, there was literally something for every type of choccie chaser under the sun. Sensual, smooth, luscious, caffeinated or tangy, you can find the perfect complement to the coffee that still lingers on your tongue. Bon Apetit folks!
Cheese Tasting – Fonti Farm Cheese Factory
After indulging at both Yahava and Temper Temper you'll probably be feeling slightly ill (I know I was). What better way to transition from sweet to something with a little more sustenance and slightly more savoury content than by paying a visit to a natural dairy farm company. The Fonti Farm Cheese Factory offered a generous selection of top notch dairy produce and contains a nice, steady flow of customers so you feel you're a part of something great but you're not fighting against the masses for a tiny morsel of triple cream brie on the end of a toothpick. My personal top-shelf favourite was the aged smoked cheddar but they also had a variety of naturally flavoured full cream yoghurts which were simply to die for.
Accomodation – Pearl River Cottages
If you've managed to make it this far into my Margaret River food binge extravaganza give yourself a pat on the back. Then take a “nanna nap”. I myself dozed off in the car for a bit watching a few kangaroos lazing about in the late afternoon sun before heading back to my idyllic accomodation for the week, the picture-perfect Pearl River Cottages. Pearl River Cottages are an excellent accommodation option offered toward the coastal area of Margaret River, right along St Alouarn Place. With views of verdant pastures, the river valley and the distant ocean from the superb hilltop perch, I'll definitely be back to visit. The afternoon sun slanting across the landscape was the final artist’s touch, transforming the scene into a gallery masterpiece. The cottage even comes with its own mini herb garden so if you're feeling extra creative – you can go to town on a funky salad and make the most of the kale patch. Kayaks are also provided, so you can paddle through natural bush down to the Edenic river mouth, and collapse on a warm sandy beach, while gulls fluff themselves in a self-important frenzy in the lagoon.
Wine Tasting – Hay Shed Hill Winery
Now, a trip to Margaret River naturally just isn't complete without a visit to a winery. Hay Shed Hill Winery sits along Harmans Mill Road and boasts a phenomenal collection of award winning local wines. The staff will greet you like old friends and appear genuinely delighted to guide you through a free tasting. Although let's be honest, these varietals are simply so enticing that you'll probably walk away from here feeling somewhat tipsy and very much weighed down by that exquisite bottle of something or other you ended up purchasing. Try their award winning Block 2 – 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, an earthy wine with hints of blackcurrant, or even the Block 8 – 2015 Cabernet Franc, giving off a bold taste of red berries with a smooth finish. The vineyard itself boasts having some of the oldest vines in Margaret River which (as I learned) gives the flavour enhanced fullness and a richer complexity.
Beer Tasting – Colonial Brewing Co
If swilling vino back and forth from cheek to cheek and pretending you're highly versed in the importance of acidity levels just ain't for you, fret not! There's something here for every style of drinker. Keep motoring on down Osmington Road and you'll be met by two large white arches. The Colonial Brewing Co offers a wide range of award winning handcrafted beers with a great selection of mouth-watering eats to match. I recommend ordering the “Brewer Paddle” to start with. This way you'll be able to sample a wide range of their unique brews while still consuming responsibly and saving a bit of moolah for the next day's adventures. Bottoms up! Food and drink aside, the Colonial Brew Co grounds are picturesque. Dine while you survey a pink sunset over sprawling greenery, a pristine lake, and they even have an impressive playground to let the kiddies loose on while we adults work on our imminent beer bellies. Glug glug glug!