Day 136: Friday 13 October – Sampling the delights of Margaret River

Author: Mr A

Location: Margaret River region

The day dawned sunny, finally it was warm enough to have breakfast outside again. A certain member of our family group particularly enjoyed the warmth:

So we’re not usually tour group inclined, but on this occasion I’m glad we signed up to today to do this all day guided exploration of some local producers. I really enjoyed having someone do the driving and make the decisions about where we go. We left at 10am and got back at 6pm – thats a big day of sampling I reckon, and for $80 a head, great value.

We had a wine tasting, followed by a decent lunch, another wine tasting, with nougat sampling thrown in, then a chocolate factory, another winery, a venison farm and finally a distillery!

A little background first. The Margaret River is a relatively young wine region, with dairy farmers starting to turn to grapes less than 40 years ago. Blessed with really fantastic terroir, they have aimed at the premium end of the market, with mainly low volume, bourtique producer (around 185 at last count). In total last year Margaret River wineries only accounted for around 1% of Australia’s total wine production. In an effort to diversify, a number of wineries have added other foods to their cellar door shelves. Nougat production, fine olive oils and chocolates. One has even built a distillery, offering premium (an overused word in this region I think) beers, whiskey, and liqueurs.

We drank some good wine…and some very ordinary wine, but had a lot of fun and learnt some things. Objective achieved. There has been very little about the food and wine in WA that we would perceive as good value, compared to what we have experienced in other states. My take is that those who truly are offering premium goods and services in their niche will continue to do OK, but those businesses who aren’t at the top of their game will find, as the economy in WA struggles, their usual queue of well heeled local customers will shorten or disappear. The customer demographics are also changing dramatically – UK visitors were down in WA this year by 10%, tourists from Asian countries are all up significantly. The businesses who understand how to meet these changing customer needs will prosper, but those who continue to present a very traditional white Australian face perhaps may not.

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