If you follow Mum on the Move you will know that we are huge fans of the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. The area is beautiful; it has so many family friendly attractions and has amazing beaches. But let’s be honest, the real reason we return here year after year is the wine.
That’s right – because the Margaret River wine region produces 20% of Australia’s premium wine, and you can happily spend your days driving around all the family-friendly wineries and stopping off for awesome cellar door lunches along the way.
But of course, this only works if one of you is designated driver and happy not to drink while the others quaff away on fabulous wine. So on every visit we make to the Margaret River, we sign up to a wine tour with Wine for Dudes, so that everybody can indulge in some fun wine tasting and nobody needs to worry about driving.
Wine Tasting Tour with Kids? Surely Not!
Of course a wine tasting tour with kids! Why not? The Margaret River wineries are really family friendly, often with toy boxes and garden games, kids menus in the cellar door restaurants and plenty of lawn space to run around on.
On our latest wine tour with Wine for Dudes, we signed up for a private tour for two families – with four adults and four kids in total. And what a great day we had. We visited six wineries, including an awesome lunch and a chance at blending our own wines, with a lot of laughs along the way.
As with our previous Wine for Dudes tours, tour guide extraordinaire and local wine buff John O’Connor was at the helm, imparting local wine knowledge along the way and keeping us entertained with his playlist – including the Wiggles for the kids (yes, really!) Bearing in mind that this was our fifth wine tour with Wine for Dudes, John did a great job at introducing us to some smaller boutique wineries that we hadn’t visited before and ensuring we got something new and memorable out of our tour.
Credaro Family Estate
We kicked off our Margaret River wine tour at Credaro Family Estate. Credaro is a great example of a family run boutique Margaret River winery. One of the pioneering Margaret River families, the Credaro family moved to the area in 1922 from Northern Italy and originally began producing wine for the family dinner table. Today they produce some of Margaret River’s best wine and export internationally to Thailand, Singapore and China.
We were greeted warmly at the Credaro cellar door and treated to stories of the family history, reflected in the names of the wines we were tasting – the Kinship label depicting the bond between the two brothers who sailed from Naples to Fremantle in 1922, and the 1000 Crowns label a reminder of the price paid to secure their first piece of land in the South West of Australia.
And best of all, while we were inside tasting the wine, John was entertaining the kids in the garden!
If you stop by here, I can definitely recommend you try the Kinship Shiraz – one of our favourite wines of the tour.
Snake + Herring
Snake + Herring was next up on our tour and is a new and fun addition to the Margaret River wine region. Launched by two old friends from university days, winemaker Tony Davis (aka Snake) and marketeer Redmond Sweeney (aka Herring), Snake + Herring is a great example of the non-stuffy approach to winemaking in Australia.
The wine they are producing is sensational – their approach is to choose small parcels of vines from around Western Australia to source their grapes for low volumes of wine. But in true Aussie style, they refuse to take themselves too seriously.
In the case of Snake + Herring, this is reflected in their wine labels, where each wine is named after a popular song from the past. Of course this gives wine tasters at the cellar door plenty of opportunity for some name-that-tune fun, and depending on how many cellar doors you have visited previously – the chance to sing along to your heart’s content.
While ‘Business Time’ Shiraz was the favourite for the song name (if you don’t know the Flight of the Conchords song, then look it up on YouTube), the winner for us at Snake + Herring was the 2012 ‘Black Betty’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hay Shed Hill and Lunch at Rustico
For lunch we opted for a short and simple affair at one of our favourite wineries, Hay Shed Hill (first introduced to us by John at Wine for Dudes back in 2010).
When you book a private wine tour with Wine for Dudes, you have several options for lunch, ranging from tasting platters to 7-course degustation extravaganzas. Given that we already had all the best wineries for lunch in Margaret River booked for other days in the week, we opted to keep it short and sweet (more time for wine tasting) and enjoy gourmet pizza at Rustico at Hay Shed Hill.
We love all the wines at Hayshed Hill, and ended up shipping a couple of cases home. The Hay Shed Hill Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is one of my favourite quaffing wines (James Halliday agrees, giving it 95 points), while the Kerrigan + Berry Riesling is a go-to dinner wine for us (also a 95 pointer), and we never visit the cellar door here without taking home a bottle or two of the Block 2 Cabernet Sauvignon (another James Halliday 95 point wine).
The highlight of our lunch here (apart from tasting lots of fabulous wine of course), was the chance to blend our own wines, each choosing different proportions of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to create our own blend.
Even the kids got to join in – although not with the tasting of course!
After lunch we called in briefly at Fraser Gallop Estate before heading off to the very impressive Amelia Park. As the automatic door slid back from the barrel-lined entrance lobby, we were greeted with sweeping views over the valley through the large tasting room window – a truly sensational setting for sampling the wine.
While John took the kids out to look at the vines and visit the pond, we enjoyed the view and tried out the wine – taking home a couple of bottles of their stunning Cabernet Sauvignon with us.
While we visited, construction was underway for a new restaurant at Amelia Park, due to open in May 2017 under the team from renowned paddock to plate restaurant Piari & Co in Dunsborough. When completed, this will have incredible views from its large outdoor decking – definitely one to add to the list for future visits.
The other great advantage of doing a wine tour with a company like Wine for Dudes is that you can benefit from their up-to-date and on-the-ground knowledge: Whose wine won best in show this year? Who is doing a fabulous cabernet sauvignon this vintage? And you also have the chance to visit lesser known wineries you may not otherwise have heard of – and visit wineries that do tastings by appointment only. This was the case for us at Grace Farm this year.
We were hosted on the deck of the farmhouse by viticulturist Tim Quinlan, who took us through their wines and answered all our hundreds of questions about managing the vines and choosing the grapes. Such an awesome and insightful experience.
The kids loved running around the grounds and playing on the rope swing in the big tree – and by this stage we had had enough wine that we didn’t care when they decided to get soaking wet by playing in the garden sprinklers!
Why should you take a Wine for Dudes tour?
We have taken several wine tours with Wine for Dudes – twice as a group of rowdy adults in the days before we had kids, once as a small private tour when my daughter was just 9 months old, and twice as a group of two families with four kids in tow. Each time has been brilliant fun, and I would totally recommend them to anyone who is looking for a fun and informative wine tour in the Margaret River. They really know there stuff, but aren’t stuffy with it.
And no they didn’t pay me to write any of this! We paid for our own tour, and always have done. I’m sharing this with you because I think they’re awesome, and I like sharing good tips with my readers.
Wine for Dudes offers both group and private tours, which can also include visits to the local gourmet food producers and breweries.
This article was written by one of our best customers, Marianne Rogerson of Mum on the Move! Check out the article, and more of her worldly adventure advice at her website www.mumonthemove.com