For many years, Margaret River has been basking in the limelight as Perth’s gourmet paradise.
Little do many know that only 25 minutes from the Perth city centre lies the best gourmet trails waiting to be discovered. Swan Valley’s proximity also makes it a perfect weekend getaway for those who wish to explore what this food and wine paradise has to offer.
Food lovers will be spoilt for choice with over 150 wineries, restaurants, cafes, breweries, distilleries, a meadery, and an abundance of artisan producers to experience. Swan Valley also offers more curated trails such as the Cider and Ale Trail as well as the Sweet Temptations Trail.
If wining and dining on holiday is your thing, take your tastebuds on a gastronomic adventure in Swan Valley. Here are some reasons why you should visit Swan Valley in Western Australia:
1. Taste creative homegrown craft beers and ciders
Some local gems include craft beer and cider specialists Feral Brewery and Funk Cider. What sets them apart from other breweries is that their beverages contain no preservatives and are unpasteurised. This usually results in a more unique flavour profile that is also healthier and tastier. Beer geeks would appreciate Feral Brewery for being experimental and progressive, while adventurous cider drinkers would enjoy the chilli cider at Funk Cider. With so many varieties to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find one that you will fall in love with.
Feral Brewery and Funk Cider are both part of the Cider and Ale Trail, a drinks-focused trail that should be on any beer- and cider-lovers’ list.
Feral Brewery; 152 Haddrill Rd, Baskerville WA 6056.
Funk Cider; 55 Benara Rd, Caversham WA 6055.
2. Go on a wine journey
No visit to Swan Valley is complete without wine. Swan Valley is lined with cozy wineries and sprawling vineyards.
Visit Sandalford Winery, one of the Swan Valley’s oldest and largest vineyard. Join their Sandalford Experience Tour and Tasting to learn about the winemaking process followed by a comprehensive wine-tasting session. If you are feeling peckish, stop by the Sandalford Estate Restaurant next door for some delectable food.
Another wine estate worth checking out is Houghton Wines & Cafe, a picturesque place for you to try award-winning wines and visit an art gallery. There are delicious sharing platters for you to cure your hunger pangs. If the weather permits, request for outdoor seating so you can enjoy a lovely view of the lawned area.
Pinelli Winery is a younger and cosier family-run estate but nevertheless holds many award-winning wines at a value-for-money price tag. Tip: Taste the wines at the cellar door before committing to a purchase.
Sandalford Wines; 3210 West Swan Road, Caversham, WA 6055.
Houghton Wines & Cafe; 148 Dale Rd, Middle Swan WA 6056.
Pinelli Winery; 114 Benara Road, Caversham, WA 6055.
3. Chocolate & Wine Masterclass at the Providore
Partake in an indulgent chocolate and wine masterclass at the Providore because nothing goes better together than chocolate and wine. This interactive masterclass allows you to sample a variety of chocolates from Margaret River Chocolate Company, thoughtfully paired with handcrafted wine and chocolate liqueur.
Why not pick up some gifts for your loved ones back home while you are at the Providore? I would recommend the Sambarino chocolate liqueur, a premium liqueur handcrafted by Coward and Black Vineyards. This dark and seductive liqueur was created with the idea of bringing together two loves – chocolate and wine – and it can be enjoyed on its own or with milk, over ice cream, or as a dessert sauce.
Sweet tooths will also enjoy their Cinnamon Vanilla syrup, which is “the most amazing pancake syrup” you will ever taste. Made from verjuice (unripe grape juice), it adds an extra zing to your French toast or ice cream. The Providore store offers free tastings of their products so you can try them before buying.
The Providore; 5123 West Swan Road, West Swan WA 6055.
4. Get caffeinated at artisan coffee roaster FiORi Coffee
Not a wine drinker? There are places in Swan Valley to get your caffeine fix too. Immerse yourself in the Perth coffee culture by visiting FiORi Coffee. We were privileged to have a hand-poured cuppa at the roasting facility of artisan coffee roaster FiORi Coffee, located in Oakover Grounds. The latte came with a lovely swan latte art, befitting of the Swan Valley region.
FiORi Coffee; 14 Yukich Close, Middle Swan, WA 6055.
5. Eat your greens at a healthful vegetarian cafe
To negate the holiday feasting, have breakfast at Swan Valley Vegetarian Café & Valley Teahouse, a wholesome vegetarian cafe that offers a healthy and nourishing menu. My favourites include the Housemade Granola with Yogurt and their specialty rainbow lattes. They offer a host of lattes in their colourful glory, such as turmeric latte, beetroot latte, black pepper latte, matcha latte, and chai latte. Vegan, raw, and gluten-free options are available too.
Swan Valley Vegetarian Café & Valley Teahouse; 990 Great Northern Hwy, Millendon WA 6056.
6. Enjoy French cuisine for dinner at Fillaudeaus Restaurant
One of the best meals during this trip was at Fillaudeau’s Restaurant, which is located on the Pinelli Winery estate. Fillaudeaus combines traditional French techniques with the freshest and finest produce from the region to serve up sublime food. Some must-tries include a no-frills steak frites, the Grass Fed Local Sirloin with Black Pepper and Brandy Sauce, and the fresh housemade seared Gnocchi. Make room for dessert and order the Crepes Suzette, flambéed ala minute with Grand Marnier and doused in a butter caramel and orange sauce with vanilla ice cream.
Fillaudeaus Restaurant; 114 Benara Rd, Caversham WA 6055.
7. Try Mead at House of Honey
Swan Valley is not just about wines and beers. There is also mead (Honey Wine). This trip marks my first encounter with mead. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water, and sometimes fruits, spices and/or hobs.
The meads at House of Honey are made with honey harvested from around the Western Australian region. Despite it being honey-based, the alcohol content still ranges from about 8% to over 20%.
At the shop, we were drawn to the honey-tasting station that had over 10 varieties of flavoured honey. One of my favourites was the Jarrah honey, a type unique to the region and is said to have healing properties that surpass that of manuka honey.
House of Honey is part of the Sweet Temptations trail, a sweets-focused tour that includes places which will put your tastebuds on a sugar high.
House of Honey; 867 Great Northern Hwy, Perth WA 6056.
8. Learn how to make cheese at home at The Cheese Barrel
Try your hand at making haloumi cheese from scratch at The Cheese Barrel. This fun-filled class allows you to experience making haloumi (also dubbed squeaky cheese) under the guidance of an expert. It is a hands-on class and you can nibble on canapés while learning to make cheese.
We concluded that it is not difficult if you are a meticulous cook and can follow the step-by-step guide. The entire process was almost surgical, from the measurements to the cutting and temperature control. Besides haloumi, they also offer other types of cheese-making classes such as mozzarella and blue camembert. The cheese also make great edible souvenirs which you can use to prepare meals back home.
The Cheese Barrel is set just behind Olive Farm Wines, one of the oldest wineries in Western Australia. After all the hard work, treat yourself to some sparkling wine while enjoying the sprawling views of the vineyards at sunset.
The Cheese Barrel; 920 Great Northern Highway, Millendon.
9. Take a break from wining and dining and visit Caversham Wildlife Park
If you want a change of scenery and like being up close and personal with animals, head to the Caversham Wildlife Park. This wildlife park features many of Western Australia’s native animals, including kangaroos, koalas, owls, quokkas, owls, and wombats.
There are plenty of animal interaction opportunities there too. You can have a photo (or selfie) taken with a cuddly koala or friendly wombat. You can also roam about the open areas to feed a roo.
Caversham Wildlife Park; B/99 Lord St, Whiteman WA 6068.
Getting to Swan Valley
Ready for an adventure of a foodie’s lifetime? Jetstar flies up to three times daily from Singapore to Perth, from as low as S$129 one way, all-in. Visit www.jetstar.com for more details.