How to spend a day in the Swan Valley

Image: Flickr (Robert Young)
Image: Flickr Robert Young

It’s an easy 25-min drive from Perth CBD to the Swan Valley. This makes it one of the closest wine regions to a capital city in the world. A great reason for an indulgent day out to sample the region’s many fantastic wineries, craft breweries and local produce from Australia’s first humane food region.

With so much to do, how do you spend a day in the Swan Valley? Aim  to visit  three or four wineries with one visit including lunch. If you’re a beer lover, substitute one of these stops for a brewery.

Not to be missed are the many gourmet shops where you can generously sample a fantastic array of local produce. Think cheese, chocolate, ice cream and plenty of other tantalising goodies.

Swan Valley

But first Breakfast..

For a breakfast among the wines, head to the eclectic Grounds Cafe at Oakover Grounds. Open on weekends for brekky, this is your perfect start to a day in the Swan Valley, complete with the excellent in-house roasted Fiori Coffee.

Oakover Grounds

Oakover has all of the best things of the valley, beautiful grounds with lush grass, plenty of trees and stunning vineyards alongside delicious food and wine. There’s also a damn complete with pedal boats and if you’re still there when the cellar door opens at 11am, there’s a superb range of Oakover wines to taste.

Now for the Wine…

If it’s your first visit to the Swan Valley, I recommend visiting one or two of the older, more established wineries. However, be sure not to miss the charm of the smaller, family run wineries in the valley.

The Bigger Ones

Established in 1840, Sandalford Winery is the oldest winery in the Swan Valley. Sandalford boasts an impressive range of award-winning wines, along with an equally impressive setting.

This is one of the most commercial wineries in the valley but it’s a good place to get a sense of the historical significance of one of Australia’s most compelling wine making regions.

Sandalford Winery is the Swan Valley's oldest wine producer

Another Swan Valley oldie is Houghton Wines whose classic white burgundy is as famous as its stories of pioneers and bandits. Like Sandalford, Houghton’s is one of the most commercial wineries in the valley, complete with a shop, gallery and a large restaurant.

At Upper Reach Winery owned Derek and Laura, have poured their soul into their enterprise. The result is beautifully full-bodied reds and whites. The adjoining Broads Cafe overlooking the vineyards is also one of the valley’s most picturesque lunch spots.

Located down a beautiful tree lined boulevard,  Lancaster Wines offers a rustic and very down to earth experience. The wine tasting is done in the gorgeous tin shed among the vineyards.

Lancaster Wines

lancasterwines

….and the smaller ones

Some of the real charm of the Swan Valley is off the main roads. Here you’ll find the small, family establishments whose wineries are often a labour of love rather than a commercial enterprise.

Most of these smaller wineries boast a casual ambiance that feels like you’re among friends. Best of all you get to chat with the wine growers themselves.

Tylers Vinyard will have you leave as if you were one of the family.  Tyler’s produces a superb range of grenache wines from their century old, non-irrigated grapevines. It’s also where you’ll get the best souvenir or present in the Swan Valley – your own wine label. At Tyler’s  you can print off one of your favourite photos and stick it on the bottle.

Harris Organic is the Swan Valleys first certified organic winery. Affable owner, Duncan Harris will happily guide you through his range of wine including the awarded Vintage Shiraz. It’s not all about the wine either, while you’re there try the certified organic vodka made with grapes.

Fig Tree Estate has a small but unique range of wines. The cellar door was opened in 2014 and all wines at Fig Tree Estate are made using traditionally handcrafted techniques.

For the Beer Lovers..

The Swan Valley may be famous for its wine, but beer lovers are increasingly well catered for too. For a taste of Bavaria head to Elmar’s in the Valley where beer is brewed following the strict rules of the 1516 German Beer Purity Laws.

Elmars Swan Valley

Hungry? No problem,  On the menu are all the favourite German goodies –  Bratwurst, spaetzle, schnitzel and pork belly. If you do order your lunch here, think big – portion sizes are as huge as the two-acre beer garden out the back.

For more of Germany, try the original Ducksteins. Handcrafted German beer and cuisine await in unpretentious surroundings.

At Feral Brewery beer lovers have the choice of  16 beers on tap. These are all handcrafted and include many exotic and experimental flavours including the Watermelon Warhead, a German wheat beer, with you guessed it, watermelon infused flavour.

..Now for the Foodies

Along with wineries and breweries, the Swan Valley boasts a large variety of gourmet produce. The Swan Valley is the first and only Humane Food Region in Australia which means that it is committed to supporting the welfare of animals and producing high quality, healthier, tastier food.

Providore Swan Valley

You’ll find a big range of gourmet goodies at  Providore. These are produced from the Providore’s own organic veggie gardens, olive grove and orchards. Try the big selection  of herbs and spices, chutneys, jams, sauces, oils and dressings.

There are plenty of sample tastings on offer at Providore.
There are plenty of sample tastings on offer at Providore.

Next door to Providore is sister company, the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. If chocolate is your vice, you’ll find plenty of unusual flavourings here.

Margaret River Chocolate Factory

A world of cheese awaits at The Cheese Barrel where the best cheeses have been sourced from around the world.  For an indulgent lunch, you can design your own cheese platter with the matching wines. Incidentally, this is where Princess Mary of Denmark was spotted on her last visit to Perth. As they say, if it’s good enough for a princess….

Also worth looking out for are the numerous road side stalls selling seasonal fruit and vegetables. You’ll find many of these on the side of the roads around the Swan Valley so be sure to take some spare change with you.

Coffee and the Sweet Life

For a before or after coffee kick, try Yahava Coffee Works on West Swan Road. Yahava has over 20 coffee blends sourced from around the world. Along with the traditional lattes and flat whites, Yahava also has chai lattes, ice coffees and a big selection of flavour essences to give your coffee a special kick.

Have a seat and sample over 20 types of coffee sourced from all over the world.
Have a seat and sample over 20 types of coffee sourced from all over the world.

Tea lovers are also equally well catered for with a varied range of teas on offer. Yahava  also offers coffee appreciation sessions, coffee tastings and there’s plenty of comfy seating throughout the store. For a seat with a view, there’s a beautiful terrace out the back to enjoy your brew.

Hints and Tips

  • Check the opening hours of the places you intend to visit. Most wineries and attractions open from 10 or 11am. However many of the smaller wineries are  open Thursday to Sunday or on weekends only.
  • If you don’t want to drive there are some excellent tours of the Swan Valley available. These take the pressure off having a designated driver and everyone can sample the wine.  Explorer Tours, D’Vine Tours and Out and About Tours are all excellent options.
  • For more on Swan Valley wines, including excellent reviews, visit www.travellingcorkscrew.com.au

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8 thoughts on “How to spend a day in the Swan Valley

    1. Thanks so much Julie, I love an outing to the Swan Valley and no matter how many times I venture out there, I find something new. On my last trip it was Lancaster wines. One of my new favourites!

  1. I love Lancaster wines, it is such a relaxing environment. It has been ages since I have been to the swan valley but I should head out there again soon.

    1. Hi Anne, it’s a great time to head out to the Swan Valley, everything is looking lovely and green. It’s a good day out with kids too, there’s heaps of kids activities at Oakover, there’s a sandpit at the Cheese Barrell and plenty of goodies at the Chocolate factory.

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