We hosted Dan & Esther from Go Away on a tasting trail around Perth's Swan Valley. Read on to hear of their experiences... (Source: www.goaway.sg)
Beyond the better known Margaret River trail, Swan Valley is fast becoming the region's destination for drink and food lovers everywhere. Just 25 minutes away from the city centre and lined with 40 world-class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries, a cidery, meadery and countless gourmet artisan foods, it's hard to know where to even begin!
If you're thinking of taking your taste buds on holiday, here's a few tips to help you max out your visit to F&B paradise.
Look out for the local highlights
Wines from the area are absolutely a must-try and with good reason too. Swan Valley fields experience little rain and plenty of sun, making it the ideal place to host exceptional wines such as Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Cabernet varieties.
For fans of sweeter alcohols, long and hot summers mean grapes are treated to extra ripening time, creating the ultra-high sugar levels needed to make rare liqueurs and fortifieds. From bigger vineyards such as Sandalford Winery, to cosier family-run estates like Pinelli Wines, you'll be spoilt for choice.
Ask for tasting notes
To appreciate certain drinks, such as wines, craft beers and ciders, it helps to know which flavours to take note of. And while tasting will always have a subjective element to it (our sense of smell and taste is often tied to what our palate is used to), having a description in front of you can be a good way to guide your experience.
Thankfully, many of the stops in Swan Valley will have a set of tasting notes to accommodate both new and practised palates, so it doesn't hurt to ask! If you're looking for more of a verbal walk-through, have a chat to the person hosting your session, they'll be more than happy to share a thing or two!
"What you taste in Swan Valley, stays in Swan Valley"
When it comes to some local gems, this really is the case! Although most craft breweries and cideries do have bottles you can take home, there are some specials that won't last the plane ride.
This is because craft beer and cider specialists like Feral Brewing Co and Funk Cider take pride in making beverages that are either unpasteurised or without preservatives for a healthier and tastier alternative. What often results is a one-of-a-kind drink which takes surprising twists on traditional flavour profiles. Other breweries may also have seasonal one-off batches so do keep an eye out.
Stop over for some delicious bites
Another great thing about Swan Valley is that you can find some of the freshest produce in the backyard of many wineries. So when planning your trip, make sure to consider where you might like to grab a bite too. As a bonus, eateries like Houghton Wines restaurant have outdoor tables so you can enjoy a lovely view of the vineyard as you tuck into your lunch.
If you're out till dinner time, it's also worth visiting Fillaudeau's Café Restaurant. Trained to cook classical French cuisine, Head Chef Manu Fillaudeau runs a homely kitchen with an emphasis on making everything from scratch and showcasing local produce - whether it's locally grown vegetables, Rottnest Island scallops or Western Australian Steak - in his recipes. On a warm night, ask for a table outdoors to dine under a sky full of stars.
Join a masterclass and pick up a few skills of your own
Want to bring back a souvenir that'll last? Why not try a masterclass! Many of the Valley's viniculture, chocolate making and artisanal experts hold interactive classes to give you a chance to hone in on their craft, hear the stories behind their passion and most importantly, pick up some tricks of the trade.
For a unique experience, check out The Cheese Barrel at Olive Farm for a hands-on workshop with The Cheese Maker, Tanya Baretto, who'll teach you a thing or two about making your own delicious dairy treat and how to pair it with a glass of wine or bubbly.
Want to put your taste buds to the test? Jetstar flies up to three times daily between Singapore and Perth with one way promotional fares starting from S$109, all inclusive. Visit www.jetstar.com for more details. For more information on Swan Valley's tasting trails visit www.swanvalley.com.au or click the following links to download the maps: Food and Wine Trail and Cider and Ale Trail.