There’s no need to drive hours on end for a spicy shiraz this autumn – just head south of Perth to Mandurah for an indulgent weekend of wine tasting in the Peel region.
Located just south of Perth, the Peel Region is a 45-minute easy drive from the city centre. With a Mediterranean climate characterised by limestone soils, mild winters and relatively cool summers, the area is well suited to growing chardonnay, chenin blanc, semillon, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Today, there are 27 producing wineries in the region, of which 14 have cellar doors.
A handful of these wineries are making quite a name for themselves, particularly with big, soft reds. Falling into this category is Cape Bouvard on Mt John Road in Mandurah. Set in a grove of tuart and willow trees on the edge of the Yalgorup National Park and Lake Clifton, this winery is worth a visit just for the scenery. The surrounding tuart soils are ideal for peppery shiraz-styles.
Keen to maintain a small, niche operation, grape-stomping is still part of the operation at Cape Bouvard. About 1.5 tonnes of shiraz are stomped each vintage, the owners claiming it enhances the flavour because some whole berries are left behind in the fermentation process.
If the wine goes to your head, spend some time in the Indonesian-style rotundra overlooking the national park. While relaxing there, you can tuck into one of the winery’s cheese platters, which features four local cheeses from Waroona and Harvey. You can pick up a more substantial bite to eat from the cafe or use the barbecue facilities if you’d rather bring along your own picnic. Cape Bouvard is open daily between 10am and 5pm for tastings and cellar door sales.
Dry reds are again favoured at Peel Estate on Fletcher Road, Baldivis, although you’ll also find a good range of whites including chenin, chardonnay and verdelho, as well as some Portuguese port varieties. Peel Estate’s winery is cut into the hillside with a bush setting, giving it a relaxed atmosphere. You can even watch the winemaking process in action. While there’s no food available at Peel Estate, there are free barbecues so you can bring your own picnic. Peel Estate is also open every day with tastings and sales offered.
Some relative newcomers to the Peel wine scene include Plavins Vineyard and Amarillo Vines. Located five minutes east of Dwellingup, the drive to Plavins takes you through tall timber country where picturesque scenery is plentiful. The 2002 cabernet sauvignon and shiraz with vibrant fruit flavours are worth sampling here. Plavins is open 9am until 5pm on weekends and public holidays for tastings and sales.
A very small boutique winery, Amarillo is near the town of Karnup, midway between Rockingham and Mandurah. There are only 2500 vines, which are grown on one hectare of land and kept under a permanent bird net canopy to ensure maximum production. Amarillo has an unusual Medieval-style cellar with handcrafted doors, beyond which is a small, temperature-controlled tasting room lined with bottles of wine. The winery produces unwooded chardonnay, an early picked verdelho, a small quantity of rose, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and a full-bodied shiraz. There’s also a picnic area with a barbecue available if you feel like a relaxing lunch after your tasting. Amarillo offers cellar door sales and is open every day.
If you’re heading to Mandurah for a weekend of wine tasting, there are many accommodation options available, from houseboats to resorts on the waterfront. Call the Mandurah Visitor Centre on (08) 9550 3999 before heading south.
Cape Bouvard, (08) 9739 1360
Peel Estate, (08) 9524 1221
Plavins Vineyard, (08) 9538 1065
Amarillo Vines (08) 9537 1800