Welcome to Wine Paradise: Cellar Door Guide to Margaret River

Welcome to Wine Paradise: Cellar Door Guide to Margaret River

My love letter to Margaret River. Not to be dramatic but I did move across the entire world because I fell in love with this region. Sometimes you see photos, read interviews and taste wines and you firmly believe that you belong in that place. That a region is so special that as a traveller and wine lover, if you don’t go, you’ll never reach your full potential. This was my obsession with Margs and can I just say, it was everything I wanted it to be. From the Boranup forest, with thousands of karri trees towering over you with elegance and poise or the most beautiful coastline in the world with pantone swatch blues that clash with the pure white sand beaches. The wine, the people and the best farm to table food (& SEAFOOD) I have ever had! The perfect destination to add to your bucket list. 

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This region is the Southwestern most point of the Australian continent. It’s a cape that on the Northern end meets the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean at the other end, providing drastically different climates and coastlines from North to South. Formed millions of years ago when India and Australia collided, the cape has ancient soils that provide a region with so much biodiversity and potential. Known as a biodiversity “hotspot,” aka a wonder of the world for people like me. If I were a grape, I’d grow here too!

Why ‘Wine Paradise’?

With some of the most pristine grape growing conditions, maritime climate and warm Australia sunshine, this region provides grapes with idyllic conditions to grow. The isolation of the region provides unique terroir that is only found in Margaret River. The wines are cool climate but ripen to perfection. The best grape varietals from the region are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay. Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends.

Fun fact: This region has never had an outbreak of phylloxera

Here are my favorite cellar doors on the cape! Wake up in the morning, walk on the beach and be drinking a wild ferment Chardonnay by noon. Is this heaven?

 

Vasse Felix

Cowaramup, Margaret River

#1 in my heart and #1 on this list too, of course. The founding wine estate of Margaret River provides the ultimate wine experience in Cowaramup. The most beautiful cellar door that I’ve ever tasted in, with wines that keep up the elegance & style. A feast for any interior designer, this modern log cabin-esque cellar door feels like it belongs seamlessly among the grape vines and marri trees surrounding it. It quietly sits within landscape without interrupting the natural motion of the region. They are in the process of becoming Certified Organic, already implementing organic processes in the vineyard and winery. The wines are magnificent and give you a taste of the history of the region. It also just so happens that the best restaurant in the region is also here. The food is created and developed to complement the wines and not vice versa. The wines are what lead Head Chef Brendan Pratt to discover new locally sourced dishes. The best of the best and worth the entire 22 hour flight from the States.

Open daily, 10-5pm.

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Vasse Felix
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Vasse Felix Restaurant

If you want to know more about my journey moving to Western Australia to work for Vasse Felix, find out more here!

 

Stormflower

Wilyabrup, Margaret River

From the wines to the cellar door, Stormflower executes minimalist and sustainable practices flawlessly. The woodwork in the cellar door is from a marri tree that fell down years ago. It’s homey and absolutely lovely. The Stormflower labels also happen to be my favorite in the region. They remind me of a fairytale. It’s a welcoming environment and the perfect place for a picnic. Right off Caves Road is this gorgeous oasis with easy drinking and Certified Organic wines. A must see!

Open daily, 11-5pm.

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Source: Stormflower

Marq Wines

Yallingup, Western Australia

A 10 minute drive from my favorite beaches in the world. Located under the trees and among the vines, the Marq Wines cellar door is inviting and one of the best in the region to grab a book, order a cheese platter and enjoy the serenity. I first had the ‘Wild Ferment’ (a wine that is not inoculated with yeast and is instead allowed to ferment using the wild yeast found on the grapes/in the winery) Chardonnay in Perth. Loved it so much I needed to meet it’s maker. With the most creative and eclectic wine list I have ever seen, Mark was there himself to talk me through the gorgeous wines on the list. I tried every single one of the varietals that I had never heard of before.

Vermentino (Sparkling and Still) – Native of Sardinia White Varietal

Fiano – Native to Southern Italy

Petit Manseng – Native to the Juracon in France

Yes, I bought a bottle of the Fiano and I am drinking it as I write this. It’s beautiful. It takes to the cool climate with such poise. It’s delicately floral with savory notes and balanced acidity.

Open Friday-Sunday, 10-5pm.

A website content shoot for Marq Wines new cellar door.
Source: Your Margaret River Region

Domaine Naturaliste

Wilyabrup, Margaret River

Nestled among the gorgeous vines of Wilyabrup, Domaine Naturaliste carries the name of one of the ships used by the French when mapping out the cape, called the Naturaliste. With a beautiful philosophy to winemaking and a gorgeous cellar door, this is one of the greats of the region. Winemaker, Bruce Dukes, aims to “leave the land in better health for the next generation.” Also – again with the labels! Get charcuterie and explore the history and future of winemaking in Margaret River.

Open daily, 10-5pm.

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Source: Domaine Naturaliste

Blind Corner

Quindalup, Western Australia

Drive through the vines to find the most iconic sign in the Margaret River region, a skate ramp and the most lovely spot for a picnic in all of Western Oz! I first tasted the Blind Corner Sauvignon Blanc from Wise Child wine shop in Perth. Love the label and love the wine more! With a gorgeous array of wines that give you a sense of immense creativity and personality behind the wines. AND HELLO PET NAT!! I’ve missed you! This cellar door feels like Margaret River wrapped up like a present with a bow on top. It’s cozy. bright and the wines are worth staying awhile. I left with a bottle of the Orange *as in the colour* wine that is a white blend, fermented wild on the skins to get the color and tannins. Find yourself a skater boy and enjoy a chilled Beaujolais Nouveau, LOVE.

Open daily, 10-4pm.

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& many many many more! Happy sipping and enjoy Paradise!

Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

Wandering to Perth, Western Australia! American Working in the Australian Wine Industry

I must really be taking this whole “wander” for wine thing seriously. Yesterday I wandered (with a job & visa) to one of the furthest wine destinations from my home. Say hello to Perth’s newest expat!! Australia is not all shiraz and sunshine! Western Australia is the home of some of the most noteworthy and consistent maritime climates in the world for wine. Vineyards in Margaret River, about three hours south of Perth on the southwestern coast represent the largest winemaking region in WA. Producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and other classic Australian varietals.

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Source: The Western Australian

After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture & Enology, I had explored aspects of the wine industry that allowed me to chisel my own marble sculpture of a career that I ideally wanted. While loving the technical and hands on aspect of heading into the cellar, I found that my interests and passions in the industry were more focused on the marketing and business development side. If you can’t tell by now, I love wine. But what I love more is the experience that wine creates across generations and continents. It’s the universal language that can be easily understood and enjoyed without a translator. The experience that the wine industry provides for it’s consumers creates an achievable life of luxury with every bottle.

I started to explore jobs in California and New York within the business side of the industry. What I found was different strong holds in both regions.

New York: Small concentration of production, massive distribution and import job opportunities, many sales jobs in Manhattan.

Los Angeles: Large quantity of production jobs, sales jobs with large wine distributors and many wine service jobs.

I was applying and interviewing and found that I was turning down opportunities because they didn’t feel like the stepping stone I was looking for. So I looked further (apparently as far as possible).

I’ve been in LOVE with Vasse Felix in Margaret River ever since I started my education in wine. They embody traditional winemaking while targeting a global audience. With impeccable marketing strategy, a vineyard in one of the most beautiful places on earth and an international mindset, they have pioneered a small part of the world into the hearts and cellars of wine drinkers around the world. They are sharing wine paradise with the world, and I AM SOLD.

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Vasse Felix Estate. Source: Winedering

Starting November 1st (ha yes, the one tomorrow) I will be starting a six month internship in the Sales and Marketing department of Vasse Felix based in Perth, WA. It’s not common for companies in Australia to offer internships, but based on the visa options, it works out the best for this position. The work holiday visa only allows you to work for the same company for 6 months of the 12 month visa. Extending your visa includes farm work or company sponsorship.

Vasse Felix was not hiring or looking for a UCD grad living in Los Angeles, but I bought Linkedin premium and started reaching out to the company in February. I wasn’t (consciously) looking for a job, but I wanted to understand the company and get advice on how to navigate the business side of wine. It took about six months to finalize an offer and LOTS of follow up emails, but I knew from the first Skype call that I wanted Vasse Felix to be the Mr. Miagi of my Karate Kid career.

Lesson? Sometimes looking for a job is extremely daunting and seeing that you are 1 applicant among 49 on Linkedin doesn’t feel promising. How I’ve found the most important career stepping stones has actually been dissecting the process and finding the company first. Find a company that excites you and creates a brand/strategy that embodies the way you visualize success. The wine industry is different, I have found extremely helpful and kind people who want to give me advice and referrals. But I would never have bought my one way ticket to Perth if I hadn’t bought Linkedin Premium (since canceled because my god it’s expensive!!!) and decided to put myself out there. 

I’ve been drinking my fair share of California & Washington wines in order to get my fix before the move. No Trader Joe’s deals for six months, I’ll survive right?

After doing all of this research and the information I have learned through networking, working in the wine industry is a huge draw for US Citizens moving to Australia. If you are looking for a harvest or cellar job, I would recommend looking at these websites, Wine Jobs Australia, Wine Industry Jobs, Wine Jobs, and more!! But the best way to get connected is through the people who have already worked or done harvest there. The wine community in Australia is hired almost predominately through word of mouth or referrals. Keep your friends close and your harvest coworkers closer, because they may just know someone from Oz.

I’m absolutely terrified but there is nothing I wanted more than to work for this company and explore the world. Ask and you shall receive apparently. Stay tuned for my big move DOWN UNDER!!! Cue Men at Work.

Cheers and Happy Sipping!