How would a wine expert plan a trip to Margaret River wine country? This sommelier spills her trip details.
Thinking of going to Margaret River to explore the wines? If you do, here's what you should do as a wine enthusiast to get the most out of your trip. By the way, this is one of the most outdoorsy wine countries, so get ready for an adventure!
- Where to Go
- Wine-Focused Highlights Not to Miss
- Other Sights You Can't Miss
- Getting There (When and How to do it Best)
- Additional Planning Resources
Where To Go
It takes about an hour and a half to traverse the Margaret River region. So, you should be able to go everywhere you want, regardless of where you stay. There are plenty of fantastic lodging options, from glamping yurts to luxury hotels, and most sit around the central town of Margaret River.
How many wineries can I visit?
Realistically, three winery visits per day should leave you enough time for cellar and vineyard tours and lunch. If you're in a mad dash to taste everything, you can always set up 3 tastings and try to squeeze drop-in cellar door visits between. But trust us, you'll be tired.
Wine-Focused Highlights Not to Miss
Here's exactly what the wine geeks at Wine Folly would do:
Try the two most classic clones of Margaret River
Gingin clone Chardonnay and Houghton clone Cabernet Sauvignon have historic significance here. Seek out wines using these clones and learn, viticulturally speaking, the most famous wines of Margaret River.
Visit at least one of the "Big Six" wineries
Dine at a winery restaurant
There are about 20 cellar doors in Margaret River with restaurants. You'll get an entirely different perspective of these wines when you pair them with food. Plus, they are seriously classy.
Touch the oldest vineyard soils on the planet
It's hard to conceptualize soil age, but for comparison's sake, the oldest soil material in Napa Valley is between 140–150 million years old.
Margaret River has soil materials, including decomposing granite, aged 1.1–1.6 billion years old! The most important soil type here is Forest Grove, which contains granite gravel.
We're not saying you should lick the dirt, but we will. Absolutely.
Other Sights You Can't Miss
While you're in the most remote wine region in the world, here are the other sights you can't miss.
Visit the granite formations along the coast
These rocks epitomize Margaret River in travel photos of the region, and they're also what makes the vineyard soils here special. Check out Sugarloaf Rock and Canal Rocks (around Dunsborough).
Hike a portion of the Cape-to-Cape Trail
This trail is not for the faint of heart, but it is a beach hiker's dream. Cape-to-Cape is a natural trail traversing 150 km (about 90 miles) along the length of Margaret River's coastline.
The best advice would be to pick a portion of the trail that ends in a town and alert a taxi service to take you back to your vehicle.
Identify the 3 most important indigenous trees
Jarrah, Marri, and Karri trees are all indigenous to Margaret River. This area was excessively logged during colonial times and then replanted with pine. Fortunately, the local government and people have set aside parks and forests to maintain the native species.
Eat some abalone
The local foods in this area reflect the same terroir as the wines. And, since we're surrounded on 3 sides by oceans, there's a wealth of delicious seafood. You'll find abalone, octopus, kingfish, oysters, and even local cod for a delicious version of fish and chips.
Go to the local market
The town of Margaret River has a farmer's market, and Busselton features a creator's marketplace called Origins Market. You'll find the foods and goods (from honey to truffles) that typify the region.
Watch the surfers
The biggest swells hit Surfer's Point from about May to October (the off-season for wine country) but this area is renowned for year-round perfect breaks. If you want to surf here, be sure to check with a local surf school to learn the best times to avoid the great white sharks.
Getting There (and a few tips)
The best time to go to Margaret River is during the growing season, between November and March. The summer months fall between these months, so try to plan your trip at least 6 months in advance to get the best deals.
Here's what you need to know:
- Flights from North America have one to two stops and take 25–30 hours.
- The best move is to rent a car in Perth and drive 3 hours to Margaret River, although direct flights from Melbourne are available.
- The only way to get around is by car. Get an AWD as there are lots of dirt roads.
- Couples can expect to spend about $6k–$8k USD for flights, rental car, and accommodation for a week+ in Margaret River.
- There are fantastic private home rentals throughout Margaret River.
- Pack bug repellent. Mosquitos are most prevalent at dawn and dusk.
- Margaret River's website has detailed information about tours, travel and accommodation.
Additional Planning Resources
There are exceptional travel guides available with deep resources on traveling Margaret River. Here are a few worth exploring to tie a bow around your trip: