When the Southern Forests Food Council chose 'Genuinely' as the tag for our region, they got it spot on.
When Lani from the Pemberton Sports Club asked me to create a wine tour for her and a couple of colleagues in the industry. I contacted a few of the wineries so she could try their wines and see if it's what they wanted for the bar. We were also fortunate enough to pick up Joanne and her team from the Pemberton Hotel so it was a great group of industry with lots of chatting on board the vehicle with plenty of common ground.
Our first top was a visit to Silkwood and George, Brandon and Ed pulled out all stops to make sure that our experience was nothing short of amazing. I won't say they forced us to try the food, but when we got there they made us sit down and enjoy the spread they put on for us (with no complaints from me!).
It's highly recommended if you're coming to the region to book in advance - the views are stunning, the food, the most amazing you can imagine and the wine is plentiful and excellent.
After our degustation, we rolled out of Silkwood and headed to Pemby. Now Pemberley of Pemberton is an iconic winery in the region.
They are more a vineyard as they don't actually produce their own wine, but sell it around the state to other people who need a bit of Pemberton magic in their wine.
This also means that the best winemakers are used to make their wines labelled under the Pemberley label.
If you get a chance to join them for a wine tasting, then do it. But make sure you have a driver. We try to visit Pemberley on our wine experiences and it is an amazing experience where you are sitting down with this generous family to try their wines and the food that's growing on the property.
It's advisable to go with your friends as groups are preferred, and also if you're not intending to buy then please don't take up their valuable time, the wine experience is not their full-time job. They are busy farmers and take the opportunity to relax and sell their wine in small bespoke groups.
If you are after a tasting experience only we recommend purchasing their wine at any of the Bottle Shops in Pemberton. This is a place where you go to stock up your cellar and have a great time in doing it. Like we did - we were so spoilt to have the whole family pop in to say hi, this included Des the newest edition of less than 2 weeks old and cute as a button!
Although we didn't make it this time, Ampersand Estates is the new kid on the block, and what they offer is absolutely stunning, delicious, and decadent. The winery is located at the old Donnelly River Winery which is around halfway between Pemberton and Nannup on bass Highway. All the buildings on the property have been renovated to the highest standard with windows facing onto the spectacular views encompassing the vineyard, the valley and forests of the National Park and Donnelly River surrounding the vineyard.
Corrie and Melissa and team did not go in half-hearted, with strong ties to the Crown Towers, and a helipad now built on location. It offers a quick link to the city for visitors travelling from Perth, interstate, and overseas.
Whilst you're there, try the selection of wines, or if you're into Gins and vodkas, then we highly recommend Rainfall, which is the gin distillery that has been developed on the property. The tasting paddles are an additional cost but definitely worth the drive out there, you can order a platter to share (advanced bookings please!) On occasion, they do have arrangements with different restaurant tours to provide other food options, including pizzas.
Favourites like Mountford Winery and Tangletoe Cidery are open and definitely worth a visit. If you're on the wine trail, they offer tasting paddles in their beautifully handmade mud brick cellar door with its rustic charm, gallery upstairs and huge fireplace. It's the perfect place to sit and discuss the finer things in life. They have also created a truffle liquor which is a favourite for many this time of year.
Another of our favourites is Hidden River Estate winery. They offer at unique twist to normal winery food in a beautiful setting. Don't expect simple the food is delicious, unique and there have a good selection of wine available with cocktails and local beer on tap.