Everyone who knows me will tell you, I enjoy a glass of vino or five. Luckily for my thirst, and not so lucky for my wallet, I live less than a half hour’s drive from an award winning wine valley.
The Swan Valley, less than an hour from the centre of Perth, is home to a host of award winning vineyeards, distilleries, restaurants, cheese makers and chocolate factories. In other words, for me, this is heaven on Earth. Here are my top tips for the smaller local places if you ever find yourself in Perth.
EATS & WINES:
BLACK SWAN WINES: The black swan is synonmous with Australia, and specifically WA. So much so that the swan appears on our state flag. At Black Swan you will find award winning food, wonderful whites, and some pretty radical reds feature at this small bistro, with wide panoramix windows overlooking the vineyard of the same name. You’ll need to make a reservation for lunch, especially on the weekend. Arrive early so a cellar door tasting before you take your seats. Plenty of vegetarian options on the menu as well, and the desserts are to die for.
BROADS RESTAURANT: The restaurant attached to one of my favourite boutique wineries, Broads boasts a beautiful menu with a heavy Meditteranean influence. Reservations are absolutely essential, and if you leave without trying the chicken liver pate, I will hunt you down. Again, arrive early and stop in at the cellar door, or make a day of it in the summer – Upper Reach host a Twilight Concert series well into March every year.
LITTLE RIVER CAFE: Attached to the Little River Winery, run by French-born Bruno de Tastes, the Cafe serves French-inspired meals, which can be perfectly matched to the high quality wines made by Bruno and his team. Brunu’s family has a long and pround history in the Bordeaux region, and he brings his skill and knowledge to the rich soil and sunny climate of Western Australia.
JOHN KOSOVIC WINES: Established in 1922, Kosovic operated as Westfield Wines until 2003, when they changes names to celebrate the 50th vintage. In 1995 John Kosovic was awarded the Order of Australia for his ongoing contribution to Australia’s wine making industry. In 2013 the vineyard celebrated their 60th vintage, making them one of the Valley’s oldest and most successful small winemakers.
STEWARTS AT BROOKLEIGH: For fine dining, it really doesn’t get much better than Stewarts, the award-winning restaurant that also caters for weddings and functions. Brookleigh Estate is about relaxation with family and friends, and Stewarts certainly maintains that, from their large dining area to the seasonal menu and extensive wine list. Head Chef, Jamie Skinner has a strong belief is using locally sourced produce, and this ethos is reflected his stylish menus.
OTHER EATS AND NON-WINE:
ELMAR’S IN THE VALLEY: If you like frites, wurst, large steins of German beer, and need a child-friendly venue for a sunny Sunday afternoon drink, Elmars is the place for you. With a huge, open expanse of lawn for the kids to run around, and picnic tables a-plenty, as well as reasonably prices steins of Germany’s finest (locally brewed), you’ll find this a perfect end to a big wine tasting day.
MARGARET RIVER CHOCOLATE FACTORY: Love chocolate? Me too. Who doesn’t? I actually recommend this place on Margaret River itineraries, but if you’ve only got a short time in Perth, and you don’t have enough time for the four hour drive south to get to the other major wine region, then stop off at the sister site in the Swan Valley. Same amazing chocolate, all hand-made on site. Get your loved one a gift box while you’re there, and have a taste test of the pellets.
YAHAVA KOFFEEWORKS: Now I love coffee almost as much as I love chocolate. It’s a close call which one I love more, and they alternate depending on the time of day. In the summer, I’m 100% addicted the the Bitter Boy carbonated ice tea made by Yahava. It’s almost sugar free, and comes in either Lemon or Spiced Apple. Come in, wander through the gift shop and have a coffee outside in the shade, overlooking the pond. For anti-caffeine people, there’s also tea. But know that since you don’t drink coffee, we can’t be friends.