Margaret River Wine Region is an ideal place to visit if you’re interested in taking a group wine tour, enjoying a wine holiday with family and friends, or for those interested in a solo day trip from Perth, just three hours away.
Margaret River Wine Region
The region saw its first vineyard in 1967 when a local cardiologist planted vines on land he got for the low price of $75 an acre. Since then thousands of acres have come under production, and those first eight acres of vines have exploded into the thousands.
Named after Margaret Whicher, the cousin of Busselton founder John Garrett Bussell, the town of Margaret River has been around since 1831, but didn’t have its first hotel until 1910. Today there are numerous places to stay, from five-star accommodations to more affordable options.
A Regional Wine Powerhouse
Although the region only makes up for three percent of the grapes grown in Australia, the wines produced here account for over twenty percent of the countries premium wine market. According to The Australian Wine Encyclopedia, there were a total of 5,500 hectares in production and 138 wineries in 2008.
Today the region hosts more that 150 wineries, and of those, the majority are smaller, boutique-sized wineries, but there are several that crush more than 7,000 tons of grapes each year. Those are the real drivers of the Margaret River wine explosion, and their products can be found on store shelves around the world.
The reason for this abundance of wine is the Mediterranean-style climate. The Margaret River Region is situated between the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge in the east and the Indian Ocean to the west. Between are two Capes, Naturaliste and Leeuwin. That environment ensures that the air will always remain at the ideal temperature for grapes to be grown year round.
The levels of humidity this setting allows, coupled with the great soil and viticulture practices, make Margaret River wines some of the most consistently high quality wines in Australia, and the world.
There are no extreme temperatures in either winter or summer either, creating ideal conditions for grapes to grow. Wine experts have compared the region to Bordeaux in both the climate and the wines produced. With that kind of acclaim, you know the region will be popular for years to come.
There are lots of great wines to choose from in the Margaret River Wine Region, but the most common wines are a mix of red and white and include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon;
- Sauvignon Blanc;
- Chenin Blanc;
Margaret River Wineries
With more than a hundred wineries to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin when you’re visiting the Margaret River Wine Region. The last thing you want to do when you get to this wine lover’s paradise is have to sit down and plan what to do. To make your visit more relaxing and less stressful, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular and well-known wineries in the region.
This great winery is one of the oldest in Western Australia, dating back to 1840. It’s situated on the banks of the beautiful Swan River, and is only a 25 minute drive from the city. You can find Sandalford wines on five continents, and over three dozen countries, so you can expect to see lots of people at this winery.
With 600 square meters of underground storage, Sandalford is a very high-capacity winery, able to provide custom maturation stocks on request. Their nearly one million liter inventory is stored in French and American Oak barrels, offering some of the best in wine ageing.
Founded in 1984 as a place for owners Malcolm and Deidre Jones to escape the city while pursuing the artisanal cheese business, Brookland Valley quickly switched gears when the potential of the region for wine became apparent.
While the business was sold in 2004 to the Hardy Wine Company, the Jones’ original decision to leave cheeses to others paid off: In 2009 the winery received the “Winery of the Year” award in the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.
The wonderful duplex soils in Barwick Estates’ 200 hectares of vineyards ensures that you’ll be getting a great wine, whether you want red or white. And they’re an easy drive from Margaret River, located just 15 minutes south of Dunsborough.
Their wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Cabernet Merlot blends, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. What’s more, they’ve been producing over 120,000 cases of wine for distribution to both Australian and international markets for years.
This unique winery in Cowaramup has been in operation since 1972, although not quite in the capacity you might think. Owners Merv and Jan Smith originally were wool producers, and their current 40 acres of vineyards were covered with sheered sheep, or those about to be.
Taking the initiative, the couple seized on the changes the region was undergoing, and in 1996 planted their first vines. Today their 40 acres of vineyards produce Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Chardonnay.
Located just 10 minutes from Margaret River, you’ll want to include this interesting and unique winery to your list of sights to see.
Green Valley Vineyard
This winery founded in 1979 produces excellent Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
Green Valley has consistently made world class wine, and their efforts have been recognized on numerous occasions. Their Cabernet Sauvignon has been critically praised, winning the Sheraton Silver Trophy in 1995, and the QANTAS and Stuart van Raalte trophies in 1996. And their Riesling won the Gold Medal at the Sheraton Awards in 2003.
One can only wonder which of their wines will win in the coming years, and if you’re planning a trip to the Margaret River Wine Region, make sure you put this wonderful winery on your list.
Margaret River Accommodation
There is an abundant choice of hotels, resorts, B&Bs and motels along the Margaret River. You can spend your time along the beach or close to the vineyards, the choice is yours. Accommodation in Margaret River can be best found in Busselton and Margaret River itself. Busselton, a beachside town just north of Margaret River, is a great place to stay if you want to spend your days in the wineries and your nights along the beach.