The Road to Margaret River

Busselton Jetty

Busselton Jetty

Aside from the growing pains of learning to drive on the wrong side of the road and answering the questions of why are my windshield wipers going when I try to use my indicator light?; or what side of the car does the driver get in?; and where are the clues for driving in a parking lot when there are no lanes?…my drive to Margaret River was pretty uneventful. It was easy to maneuver out of town to the highway and very straightforward from there. I targeted Busselton for my lunch stop even though I had gotten away much later than intended.

It was grey and windy but since all the travel advice says you have to walk the Busselton Jetty, I decided to stop and walk it. All one thousand nine hundred and thirty nine meters of it. It was a long walk. The story of the Busselton Pier is very interesting. It has it’s own railroad tracks for loading and unloading the ships. Really! Now can you visualize the length of the pier?

What with stopping to take pictures and watching some fisherpersons and walking, it took well over an hour to walk. Plus I had to spend a couple of minutes in the tiny museum before I left. Not only is the original history of the jetty interesting, but how it came to be restored and in the fine shape it is today, is also a fine story.

After my Busselton break I drove straight through to Margaret River. I was hoping to get a room at The Margaret River Hotel. As luck would have it, they had space for one night. Now I haven’t quite figured out the love for pot pourri that the WA hotels seem to have but it definitely exists. I had read about this hotel’s love of vanilla potpourri and I will admit it was true, although not completely offensive. With the big bouquets of floppy roses that turned out to be fake, I almost succumbed to the old-timey inn ambience.

However the Vintages Motel that I checked into the next day should come with a warning “DO NOT ENTER if you value your nasal passages.”. At 11:30 am I opened all the windows and placed the offending scented reeds outside the unit. When I returned five and a half hours later the unit still reeked. I turned the two bathroom fans and the kitchen fan on and went out for dinner. Luckily a storm blew in and the wind was howling through my front windows when I got back. It’s the only thing that saved me from awakening with a splitting headache. Somebody needs to educate these people on scent sensitivity.

That second day I learned a lot about scent. Well, scent as it pertains to wine and how to correctly swirl the wine to release the aromas. It was particularly striking on the first couple of wines we experienced at the Voyageur Estate. My usual swish, swish, swish really did nothing, but once I got the wide circular swirl around the inside of the wine bowl going my nose was inundated with aromas of grapefruit and lemons.

The Voyageur Estate is one of the oldest family owned wineries in the Margaret River area. The formal gardens as one passes by the bell hanging in a white stucco archway, are very reminiscent of a French chateau. At the end of each row of vines sits a beautiful red rose bush. I asked if this was for the beauty or if it served a purpose and learned that the rose will be the first indication of powdery mildew which affects both roses and grape vines. It’s the canary in the coal mine. The rose will show signs first and defensive action can be taken.

The next stop was The Watershed Winery which is a little different than most in the area in that it is an “investor” winery. When they first set it up they planted 350 km of vines in one shot. Unlike a family owned operation where different areas get planted in vines over a period of time. Watershed has a very west coast Vancouver feel to it with its high ceiling, wood and stone restaurant and tasting hall. These overlook row after row of neatly planted vines. Contrasted with the white stucco and dark beamed hall of Voyageur one could see the contrast between old and new approaches.

The next vineyard was Vasse Felix. With the sinuous river winding its way beside the path to the tasting room it was an interesting mixture of old and new. The tasting room itself was highly polished with reflective surfaces and great wines.

Our last stop was a great contrast to all the places before. Moss Brothers Vineyard which is a small family affair. Father and brothers have built this business up and it’s down home unpretentiousness was a dramatic change to what had come before. We tasted samples from bottles and then were taken into the barrel room where the one brother opened the bunghole and drew off samples of the 2013 Grenache. We sat on the picnic tables and asked our questions – no highly buffed surfaces here unless one peered into the metal cask room at the back of the shed.

All in all it was a very fun thing to do. I don’t think I could have done a full day tour for at the end of this tour my pallet was exhausted, not to mention I was feeling a tad tipsy. Such a variety of wine and so much fun to educate oneself and ones pallet. If you go to Perth I recommend you include a trip south and experience a Margaret River wine tour. With Margaret River Tours and a great guide, it was a fabulous way to while away a cloudy afternoon.

And I apologize for not posting a bunch of great photos here. Because I do have them! They are all on the hard drive or my computer, neither of which will link up to Word Press today. Maybe tonight.

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