>>>Relax in the intoxicating vineyards of Western Australia
Photo: Mark Higgins / Shutterstock.com

Relax in the intoxicating vineyards of Western Australia

Life is too short to drink bad wine. But this is never an issue in Margaret River, a small town with a big reputation for wine, fine dining, natural beauty and friendly locals.
S
eneca said that wine “washes away our worries, cleans the soul, and is a guaranteed cure for sadness”. For Dante, wine “sows poetry in our hearts”, while, according to Napoleon, wine is deserved in victory and needed in defeat. But it doesn’t take a philosopher, writer or general to acknowledge the many benefits of wine, though finding the perfect spot to enjoy a glass or two may require at least a little effort.
Margaret River offers art festivals, music festivals and exhibitions.
Photo: EA Given / Shutterstock.com

But what if I don’t like wine?

"No worries!" as the Australians themselves would say. There is another option. Bootleg Brewery is the first beer producer to set up in the Margaret River region. “An oasis of beer in a desert of wine” is how they describe themselves. The range of brews includes chocolate flavoured beer, or boutique beers with chili or ginger.

Lovers of good wines and the good life will find both in Margaret River, an idyllic spot in the south west of Australia. It’s a small town found in the valley of the river of same name, just 227 miles south of Perth, capital of the state of Western Australia. And, despite its small size, it’s home to a flourishing wine industry, with around 150 bodegas producing some of Australia’s finest vintages and attracting enthusiasts from all over the world. In fact, the rich and fertile lands of the Margaret River Wine Region now welcome more than one million visitors a year, most keen to enjoy a luxurious taste of slow living as well as indulging in the main attraction.
But it’s not always been this way. In fact, the first vines were only planted here in 1967, and even then, few people believed this part of Australia was suitable for commercial viticulture. Within the space of just a few years, however, the doubters were silenced and then, within a few decades, the Margaret River valley grew to become one of the world’s best-loved and most vibrant wine centres, particularly famed for its excellent Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, as well as its other specialties such as its Shiraz, Merlot, Semillón, Chenin Blanc and Verdelho.
There is more to Margaret River than grapes. It’s other star product is chocolate.
Photo: Sam Chadwick / Shutterstock.com
Few visitors to Margaret Valley will agree on their favouirte, but a select group of producers do stand out for their history as well as their consistently good wines.
Capel Vale Wines are proudly Western Australian. Their philosophy is that food and wine should always match.
Photo: Capel Vale
Capel Vale is a family winery that, since 1974, has been developing wines suited to the local climate and the soils of the region. For all their creations, whether elegant or fruity, the slogan remains the same: balance and complexity. Happs winery, meanwhile, works with around 30 varieties of grape and has won national and international praise for its range of sweet wines, all of them made with no extra additives. Settlers Ridge, in nearby Cowamarup meanwhile, is the only winery to boast a 100% organic wine certification and specialises in Shiraz, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.
Away from the best known wineries, Margaret River and its surroundings are home to many more smaller producers, almost all of them offering tours. Plus, the fine wine is complemented by fine dining at restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, while the wine renaissance has also brought with it the emergence of a rich cultural scene, with a number of small galleries or concert halls to visit if you want to take a break from the tastings.

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