Once-upon-a-time we visitors to Australia, seeking wine-related adventure, had a small dilemma on our hands. Here was the thing…….we found ourselves in a country which we knew was bursting at the seams with wonderful wine experiences of the tasting, tour and activity variety. So far so good……in fact, heaven you may think for the wine-passionate……. but then you start to consider the ‘which’, ‘where’ and ‘what-suits-me-best’ of the vast choice and it is bewildering. Each region, understandably, promotes its own home-grown and trying to uncover all the gems, compare and then decide what is best across the board left me needing a glass of the good stuff more than ever!
Fast forward to 2013 and enter Ultimate Winery Experiences of Australia (UWEA – Jerry’s choice) – those wonderful folk who took it upon themselves to make my life – and countless others like me – so much easier. Backed by Tourism Australia and in collaboration with celebrated wineries and vineyards countrywide, UWEA’s role is to collectively showcase the country’s wine-themed tourism experiences – and what a diverse and exciting bunch of adventures-to-be-had that is; from simple but spectacularly located and top-notch tastings, through 4×4 vineyard tours and cycling wine trails to learning the secrets of what makes the perfect marriage between various food and wines.
And that’s just the beginning………..because should you have been harbouring a slightly more outlandish kind of wine-themed dream the chances are somewhere in Australia can offer it to you. A little peek at UWEA’s comprehensive website – www.ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au – and you’ll easily be able to figure out the ‘how’, the ‘where’ and the ‘who withs’ of turning your dreams into reality. Always fancied learning how to blend your own wine? No problem – you can do that. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to take a taste of your birth year, get airborne with a wine flight by plane or helicopter or even tuck yourself away in a vineyard-surrounded cottage while your private chef waits on you? All possible.
As if that’s not all exciting enough, UWEA is a work in constant motion and its list of member wine producers is added to all the time. The latest winery to be welcomed aboard boasts a ranking as one of Western Australia’s most esteemed and established – Vasse Felix – making up a Margaret River trio of members along with Leeuwin Estate Winery and Voyager Estate.
Considered a leading label for Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Vasse Felix also sits pretty in the higher stratum of lauded winery destinations thanks to some unusual offerings. You can of course find your usual cellar door experience here – if you can call something this good ‘usual’ – but otherwise the far less usual reigns supreme. It’s not everywhere that has an on-site art gallery displaying one of the world’s largest private collections or serves its dining guests in an Australian ‘Gourmet Traveller’ magazine’s 2014 top 100 rated restaurants.
And nice timing on Vasse Felix’s new membership too which adds perfectly-fitting emphasis and reinforcement to Tourism Australia’s recent ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign. This successful undertaking, aimed at enlightening gourmets, gourmands and wine lovers from home and abroad, turns a spotlight on the vast multitude of epicurean delights to be found all over the country. Don’t you just love it when everything comes together in this way!
Along with the tasting, wine education and dining both casual and formal, Vasse Felix offer two UWEA inspired bespoke experiences – the ‘Vasse Felix Original Tour’ and the ‘Vasse Felix Epicurean’. The first dishes up a behind-the-scenes experience full of all kinds of interesting, historical and otherwise un-glimpsed bits and bobs likely to have high appeal for the wine-passionate and concludes with a gourmet canapés-accompanied private wine tasting. The ‘Epicurean’ does all that as well as throwing into the mix a food and wine pairing tutorial and a three course dining experience from an a la carte menu.
Each UWEA family member winery can of course be visited and enjoyed as a stand-alone experience but the UWEA initiative is also intent on showcasing the regional wine trails – of which each member forms an integral part – spider webbing all over the country. Marrying up the wineries with the area’s finest food producers, local activities and first-rate fun stuff along with recommended accommodation, each wine trail is a suggestion showcase of getting an all-round best from a particular region.
Vasse Felix now becomes part of the ‘Margaret River Wine Trail’ along with the Leeuwin and Voyager Estates. The wine trail itinerary here suggests, for example, a stop at the Farm House to meet farmer David Hohnen and his happy pigs of ‘Big Red’ and Jarrahdene pork fame or a choice sampling of Olio Bello’s olive oil – some of Margaret River’s best.
All that perhaps remains to be said is something rather important and which I feel pretty certain will be echoed by endless numbers of visitors and Australians alike – THANK YOU UWEA! You have made our lives so much easier and, on a personal note, I am sure that you and I have a very happy future in front of us – cheers!
For more information about Ultimately Winery Experiences of Australia please contact jerry and his team here at World Travel with Bridge. Alternatively, just click straight through to their website (above).