Swan Valley, Australia’s second oldest wine region, is just 25 minutes from Perth, Western Australia’s capital city. Like so many wine regions throughout the world, Swan Valley’s scenery is idyllic. Vineyard-covered hills, small rustic towns, and welcoming wineries, their picnic grounds surrounded by green grapevines and bubbling brooks, invite visitors to slow down and stay awhile.
With more than 40 wineries to choose from, wine lovers can make a full day of it or stay for a while in one of the region’s boutique hotels.
A 20-mile drive through Swan Valley
But Swan Valley is not just about wineries. Breweries, cideries, distilleries, gourmet food shops, fine dining restaurants, and salt-of-the-earth pubs provide plenty of choices for food and drink. A 20-mile drive winds through the valley. Roadside stands selling just-picked local produce dot the drive during summer months. Customers stop and linger at art galleries and specialty shops along the way.
Plentiful sunshine for most of the year makes Swan Valley an ideal wine region to visit anytime. The valley’s warm, Mediterranean style-climate and rich, fertile soils provide an ideal growing climate. The region is known for growing Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, and Petite Verdot. Sparkling wines made in the traditional Methode Champenoise are also popular here.
You’ll need a car or bicycle to get around. Or choose from one of several tour companies for safe transport. Most people start in the town of Guildford where the Visitor Center, open seven days a week, can supply you with maps and recommendations.
Visit Sandalford for a taste of their luscious estate chardonnay. Aged in French Oak, aromas of stone fruit and honey, followed with a layer of vanilla and toasty notes, add to its complexity.
One of Australia’s oldest and largest family-owned wineries, this place sports fun and friendly vibe. If you need a bit to eat before you start wine tasting, their onsite multi-award winning restaurant serves lunch daily.
Mandoon Estate’s stunning grounds overlook the banks of the Swan River. The winery is known for its Verdelho, with aromas of tropical fruit and undertones of fresh lime and rockmelon.
With an onsite restaurant, its Homestead Brewery, 32 beautifully appointed rooms, and its popular Llawn-Beer Garden, Mandoon makes an ideal home base for a long weekend.
Voted Best Swan Valley Cellar Door in 2018, Sitella Winery is named after a small bird that lives in the nearby tree-lined Swan River. Highly regarded for their sparkling wines, I especially loved the Sparkling Shiraz. Perfect for holiday celebrations, this sweet-scented, fruit- driven, sparkling red wine is made from grapes that come from 50-year-old Swan Valley vines.
Enjoy an ala carte lunch in the Nest, a new food and wine bar open on the weekends.
Olive Farm Wines and Cheese Barrel
Next, visit Olive Farm Wines and the Cheese Barrel, both in the same location. Olive Farm is Western Australia’s oldest winery, dating back to 1829. They produce a wide range of whites, reds, and fortified wines.
I chose a glass of their Chenin Blanc to pair with my Farmer’s Board made of Cambray Cream Brie, Peaceful Bay Gruyere, quince paste, and a freshly baked baguette. The Cheese Barrel’s outdoor deck overlooks the scenic Susannah Brook, perfect spot to while away an afternoon.
Lamont’s has been making wine for 40 years. They also opened one of the first winery restaurants, still operating today. Known for making bold and dramatic wines, the White Monster, a balanced white blend with tropical aromas, caught my fancy.
Named Swan Valley’s Best Small Cellar Door in 2017 by Australian Traveller Wine, Upper Reach makes some of Western Australia’s best Shiraz. Their Reserve Shiraz is a true reflection of Swan Valley vineyards. Powerfully structured, a hint of coffee and spice, and a softness adds to its complexity.
Upper Reach also has a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch daily. Their extensive menu features grazing platters to share, as well as individual entrees.
If You Go to Swan Valley
No doubt about it, Swan Valley and Perth is a long way from Sydney and Australia’s eastern coast. It’s like traveling from New York to San Francisco. However, a direct flight from Sydney will get you to Perth in about five hours, and it’s definitely worth it to explore Western Australia.
Ideally situated in town, the Westin Perth is close to public transportation where you can catch a bus or train to Guildford. And a small number of hotels and resorts in Guildford and Swan Valley are also available.