Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive, Margaret River
The Margaret River wine region has developed an esteemed, international reputation, with Vasse Felix one of the estates championing the way. The estate was one of the first wineries in the region to be planted by Dr Thomas Cullity in 1967, with the first vintage being released in 1972. This is when the first variety of white wine was produced in the Margaret River with his 1972 riesling. Fifteen years later, the estate was purchased by the Holmes à Court family, and their drive and passion has seen the wine from this estate receive awards and accolades ever since.
A visit to Vasse Felix does not go without a trip to the award-winning cellar door and art gallery. Since 2017, the cellar door’s kitchen has been led by Brendan Pratt, a Perth-born chef who learned the ropes in fine dining and Michelin Star restaurants across the globe. He took over from the restaurant’s esteemed chef of 22 years, Aaron Carr.
The Cellar Door overlooks the vineyards and is complete with a thatched roof and luscious greenery. The architecture and interior design fuses this rustic charm with a modern, minimalist edge. The building is constructed from local materials – granite, jarrah, marri and steel. Bottle after bottle of wine adorns rustic wine barrels, and pristine glasses glisten in the sunlight pouring through the floor to ceiling windows that stretch from side to side.
A visit to the restaurant with its exceptional modern Australian fare, celebrating regionally sourced produce, is unlike many other cellar doors visits. Local staples like organic beef and pork, emu and marron adorn the menu, and you will find everything from vegetarian to mainstream dishes to enjoy, like the Roasted Pumpkin with laver, miso, dashi and yolk, or the Beef with Davidson Plum, beetroot and hay. Ask for a wine to match to enhance your dining experience – after all, you’re in the home of some of the best wine in Australia.
Move onto the sweeter delights, best accompanied with a sip of Cane Cut wine. Alternatively, enjoy wine the best way possible – with a charcuterie board full of delicious cheese, cured meats and olives. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 12 noon to 3 pm.
There’s little wonder that Vasse Felix’s chief winemaker, Virginia Willcock, is today recognised as one of Australia’s most celebrated female wine makers. She has completed almost 25 vintages in the Margaret River and tested her hand in vineyards across the world.
Along with the hard-working team that work the expansive vineyards, Virginia’s focus is developing Margaret River’s flagship varieties – chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
Don’t miss visiting the original winery where the Art Gallery is housed, and provides a seasonal program of exhibitions from the celebrated Holmes à Court Collection. The gallery experience extends to the Vasse Felix grounds where gardens of local flora have been embellished with a sculpture walk comprising works by local artists.
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Photography by Peter Bennetts.