Having gone to bed freezing cold (<10degrees), we both woke up apprehensive of the weather forecast for today so we chose our activities for the day according to the rain which was forecast around noon. Ava woke up in giggles saying “Trixie is holding your wine Daddy, you won’t be able to drink it” – they both thought it was hilarious.
We headed off to the Margaret River Farmers Market first thing to see a market full of locals and tourists filling up their recyclable shopping bags. We purchased some yummy bread and also a fantastic Angus sirloin steak for this evening (we were going to have an adults dinner tonight rather than share our dinner with the girls – only 2nd time this holiday we have done this….very exciting!). Margaret River definitely attracts a mixture of people from all walks of life – we have the hippies walking around with dreadlocks and no shoes right through to the well-dressed people driving smart cars with designer handbags. Everyone fits in. Having been to Margaret River (MR) >10 years ago with Mum, things have definitely changed – its much smarter and much more commercial, but still got that small town feeling.
After we left the Farmers Market (having devoured some delicious pastries for morning tea) we asked the girls what their choice was for the day – ice-cream farm, winery with playground, cheese factory or olive oil tasting – they actually chose a winery with playground! So off we toddled to ‘Cape Mentelle‘ – a winery which is internationally well known, and not normally what we would go for as we like the boutique ones, but one which I visited with Mum years ago, so I let Lach do the tasting whilst I had a few sips. The girls were entertained in the playground and also the colouring table … our official MR wine tasting began. To be honest none of their wines blew us away, apart from the $$$ ones – we didn’t even buy a bottle (a 1st for this holiday – visit a winery and not buy a bottle (or a few!).
The girls had been so good that we decided to then go to the ice-cream farm ‘Millers Ice-Cream‘, where a girl from work (thanks Sam) had recommended we visit, as the owners were friends of hers. They had a huge playground and about 30 flavours of REALLy good ice-cream to choose from. So the girls chose theirs, we chose ours and we demolished them pretty quickly. then the girls went to the playground where they could milk a ‘dummy’ cow. Ava’s comments were that she had milked a real cow before and milking water wasn’t working as well, and doing it properly was easier (which I admit is true).We headed home via an off-road track (we didn’t expect to be off-road in MR!) and came across an Ostrich (which Lach thought was ready for the table) as well as many cows which we explained to the girls made the ice-cream that they had just eaten.
Then the rain came down – about 2 hours of rain. The first rain we have had during the day since we left Sydney 29 days ago. Luckily I was inside reading with Audrey sleeping, whilst Lach was entertaining Ava outside – they headed off in the car to explore MR village. As soon as Audrey woke up, we went to another vineyard (which had a children’s entertainment corner – Tourist office provide of list of all this!!!) which had been recommended called ‘Howard Park & Mad Fish Bay Wines‘ – Lachlan offered for me to taste this afternoon as he had done all the tastings so far, so I decided to concentrate on the Howard Park and the Marchand&Burch Labels. This vineyard owns vines in the Great Southern Region (around Denmark) as well as MR – the two wines were considerably different considering it was the same grape – both Lach and I preferred the MR Shiraz to the Great Southern Region, but the MR for the Chardonnay – its great to be able to compare the two directly. We purchased 2 bottles from this vineyard:
- 2015 Howard Park Flint Rock Chardonnay
- 2013 Leston Shiraz
It was now time to do something for the girls so we headed to the ‘Margaret River Dairy Company‘ to taste some yummy cheeses and yoghurt. Needless to say the girls follow after their mother in the cheese department….the both picked up their toothpicks and were selecting cheeses upon cheeses from every plate (only meant to taste one piece per plate, but i reckon our two averaged about 5 per plate!). Audrey’s favourite was by far the Port Cheddar, and Ava’s the Vintage Cheddar. Having realised the time was getting close to dinner time we thought we should head back home, as maybe we were pushing it with the girls considering they had been so good today. Then one winery, across the road from the Dairy Factory, stood out like a sore thumb and Lach persuaded me that we should just ‘squeeze’ in one more….boy what a fantastic idea that was.
It used to be known as ‘Moo Town Wine’, but has recently rebranded as ‘Harmans Estate‘ and it was a fantastic little winery that purely sells as cellar door and a bit to local bottle shops (right up our alley!). The lady had just dealt with a minibus full of people, and so I think the 4 of us walking in was a quiet relief. The girls sat on the big leather sofa whilst i started talking and choosing wines. I picked up the leaflet and immediately noticed that we were in a boutique winery and was very excited. The first wine we tried was a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (SSB) and it blew me away. I have commented to Lach over recent weeks that MR does a lot of the ‘wrong way around’ SSB’s – properly known as Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (SBS) which i am not a fan of, so i was excited that this vineyard did a ‘proper’ SSB and that it was fantastic – I put a double tick on the tasting sheet! (single tick means we tasted but not a ‘buyer’), then we moved onto the Chardonnay and the Semillon (they all got double ticks). Lach then came over to commence the red tastings and for his sips, we mentioned to the lady that Lach liked a heavy Shiraz so she said to try the Cabernet Sauvignon first (single tick) and then she suggested the Tempranillo as the Shiraz wouldn’t be heavy enough for Lach – I initially tasted and immediately said “Lach will love that”, he wasn’t so sure, but immediately tasted and went “I love it”. A new grape for Mr Lachlan!!!! We ended up buying 4 bottles from this vineyard for the caravan and sending a case home – in total we purchased (the lady gave us a 20% discount for xmas!!):
- 2014 Harmans Regional Chardonnay
- 2016 Harmans Regional Semillion Sauvignon Blanc
- 2016 Harmans Reserve Semillion
- 2015 Harmans Reserve Tempranillo
We also learnt today that Langton’s produce an Australian Langton’s Vintage Chart which gives an indication of the good/bad years for each of the 52 Australian Wine Regions up to 2013 – we will be using this in the future!
Normally the girls go hyper when given apple juice or lollies, but today when leaving the Harmans Estate winery the girls were so giggly as if we they had been fed something – Lach and I racked our brains and they hadn’t even had afternoon tea – all they had was cheese! So wondering now whether its a preservative that makes them go all silly rather than the sugar that we assumed it was. Something to keep an eye open for…. We let them run around the playground when we got back to run off the energy and then we fed them dinner and put them to bed. So lovely enjoying their dinner time without us having to not enjoy our dinner (if that makes sense!).
Lach turned on the BBQ and put on the steaks – the smell and the sizzling was divine. We opened a bottle of the Tempranillo, and decided that we should buy two Riedel wine glasses tomorrow so that we can enjoy good wine from glass, rather than plastic – as long as we keep them in the box – they should be fine! The steaks we had were beautiful – they melted in your mouth and significantly different from steak bought from the butcher – fresh from the farmer is the way….now to find when all the local farmers markets are on – Fantastic!
Who knows what tomorrow will bring – a safe assumption is more wine and food!