By Fergal Gleeson
Six boutique wineries in Margaret River have got together to create ‘The Small Family Winery Trail’. I spoke to Karen Karri Davies from Cape Grace Wines about the reasons why they’ve designed the trail.
“There are now 110 cellar doors in Margaret River so people are overwhelmed when they come here,” Karen says. “They don’t know where to start! So we put together a trail that people can do over a day or two half days.”
The trail solves a problem for many visiting the region. While it’s not hard to find the great estates such as Vasse Felix and Leeuwin Estate, it’s not easy to work out an itinerary of smaller producers.
“The criteria to be a member of the trail was that the winery had to be owner operated so that visitors could meet the owners when they go to the cellar door,” Karen tells me. “They have to make the red wine on site. Two of the Wineries Arimia and Glenarty Road also have restaurants.”
The trail starts with Windows Estate and Arimia in the north of the region. They you swing down through the heart of Margaret River to Burnside Organic Farm, Cape Grace Wines and Brown Hill. You can conclude your trail with a visit to Glenarty Road down south in Karridale.
“All the wineries have that relaxed, organic feel,” Karen tells me. “It’s a bit like a farmers market where you can talk to the person who’s grown the vegetables!”
Jo and Chris Davies are the proprietors of Windows Estate which Chris planted more than 20 years ago. Jo was telling me about their minimal intervention approach.
“We see the farm as an eco-system. We don’t do a lot to our wines because the winery should be a small part of the process. It takes 12 months to grow grapes,” Jo highlights “We want vintages to reflect the site.”
Jo’s husband Chris ‘fell into’ the wine industry when he worked in a vineyard after leaving school. Now a qualified Viticulturist, the passion is for maintaining the health of the vineyards.
Windows are in their third year of the organic certification process and should be certified in the vineyard and winery in December 2019.
“Our Cellar Door is in it’s 10th year. We don’t want it to be some place where you just come in and taste wine. We want people to immerse themselves in what we do and how we do it. Our Cellar Door staff are very experienced and take people on our journey from the grape to the bottle.”
The Cellar Door exhibits local photographers as well as local producers of cheese and condiments.
Their range aims to show a different side to more commercialised wines. For example their Sauvignon Blanc gets skin contact to develop a more textural style. Their Chenin Blanc is inspired by the famous Vouvray wines from the Loire Valley of France. They spend 24 months on lees and spend time in clay vessels and oak barrels. They are designed to age for up to 10 years. Windows have a Red 5 Star rating from the Halliday Wine Companion.
“The aim is to disconnect from the stress of life for a while!” Jo says.
At a recent Sydney tasting in Surrey Hills Standouts include the sparkling Chenin Mousseux, the 2018 Fume Blanc, an oaked Sauvignon Blanc and 2018 Chardonnay of the whites.
Some lovely reds too – the aromatic Cabernet Franc blend Violette, 2017 Cab Sauvignon and the 2015 Malbec Petit Verdot blend shone brightest. This little winery is well worth seeking out.
More at : www.windowsestate.com
For Arimia owner Ann spencer it’s all about sustainability. They have recently become certified organic. Arimia see themselves as farmers first and foremost.
Much of the food on the restaurant’s menu prepared by Chef Evan Hayter is sourced on the property. These include everything from the olive oil, to the vegetables, to the pork in the ragu and the trout from the property’s dam.
The winery and restaurant are bordered by Cape Naturaliste National Park offering a rustic, picturesque setting for lunch or a tasting.
They offer a wide range of alternative varietals for the region such as Petit Verdot, Grenache, Mourvedre and Zinfandel as well as bordelaise style wines.
More at: www.arimia.com.au
From Your Margaret River Region Magazine