Sunday, 10 May 2015

Swan Valley - wine and chocolate tours

Located just 30 minutes east of the city of Perth, Swan Valley, an area settled in 1829, is home to quite a  few award-winning wines and restaurants.

In February, just before leaving for Europe I had to use up a voucher given to me for my birthday the previous year, for an afternoon delights tour by Swan Valley Tours.

I took the train into the city and with some time to spare walked around the area surrounding the main railway station at Wellington street.

Old and new architecture side by side

At the arranged time, 11,50am the bus driver picked me up as well as a few of my fellow tour takers from the bus stop close to the station, and after he introduced himself and told us about the tour we drove to the Swan Valley area, where wines have been produced for the past 180 years.

We drove past the gateway to the Swan valley - the historical village of Guildford, settled in 1829 by the European, the village still has a lot of interesting old buildings, antique shops and cafes.

This area is also known for it's arts and crafts markets, art galleries, fresh produce road-side kiosks, wildlife parks like Whiteman Park, plus of course the many wineries, breweries, fine restaurants and accommodation.

Our first stop was at the Houghton Estates where we were give an array of white and red wines to taste ranging from Verdelho (a Portuguese white grape also grown in this region) to Shiraz. I'm not a great drinker at all, so I limited myself to 2 tastings and then perused the interesting shop and went into the garden.

Houghton shop at the Cellar door

Gardens at the Houghton wine estate

Next stop was at the Windy Creek Estate - again about 17 different wines were lined up to be tasted. I wonder if anyone actually manages to taste them all? 

This time I tasted two of the fortified wines - an Old Tawny (type of Port wine) and a Liqueur Muscat - actually the type of drinks I like are the sweet ones like liqueurs, so I liked these and bought a bottle of each to take home.
Here we were served some crackers with cheeses and preserves - "Wicked stepmother", which were also very nice.

Rows and rows of vine and mountain in the distance
A few of the tour takers were already in high spirits and we went back to the bus to visit the third winery of the tour, the family operated Swanbrook Winery.
I loved the old truck at the entrance, and they had a beautiful gift shop, a Cafe and a well cared for garden.

An old farming truck at the entrance of the winery

Gift shop and Cafe at Swanbrook winery
Outside in the shaded garden there was a big cage with a Galah, and a little boy informed us that it's wings were broken so he couldn't fly. He was aggressive though if anyone tried touching him...

Our next stop was a the Mash Brewerie , where they have a range of beers and ale.
We were all entitled to one free drink, everybody going for beers of course, but I hate beer, just don't like the smell of it, so it was a soft drink for me.
A very interesting venue where you can see the brewing tanks behind the counter. They also sell snacks as well as meals.

Mash Brewerie
The menu had some interesting beer quotes

- Milk is for babies! When you grow up you have to drink beer! (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
- You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. (Frank Zapa)
- Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. (Kinky Friedman)
- Beer - it's the best damn drink in the world. (Jack Nicholson)

Some people went for a second round, paid for this time, and the guide took some photos of the group for their site.
On our way again, to the Margaret River Chocolate factory.  Yummi!!  Alas, chocolate tasting was a bit restricted, a handful of chocolate chips and then we could choose one chocolate from their gourmet range. The chocolates are great, a bit on the expensive side though. Nowadays they also have a shop in Perth's city centre.

Chocolate factory

Across from the chocolate shop, at Providore - they had tastings of chocolate liqueurs, as well preserves and chutneys. They had containers with all sorts of goodies and you took a tiny disposable spoon and tasted what you wanted. The liqueurs were really nice! 
The shelves were full of lovely  jars of preserves, olive oils and other gourmet goodies - all very appetizing.

Providore - gourmet foods

It was around 5pm and time to return to the city, where the bus driver dropped us at various spots according to what suited us best. 
I was dropped near the train station in the city so I could catch the train home.

It was a wonderful afternoon with a handful of people from 5 or 6 different countries, who all had a good time and a few laughs. Pity I couldn't eat more chocolates....

Perth city skyline at one of our stops

Wednesday, 11th February 2015

A Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers of the world!
Enjoy your special day. Well, I know in Europe it was celebrated last Sunday, but here in Australia and some countries in the Southern hemisphere it's celebrated on the second Sunday of May.


  1. What a super time you had Sami.. Must admit I can always make room for more chocolate :)

    1. Me too, sadly we couldn't "taste" that much chocolate....only wine.

  2. Frankly I´d rather go for beer than chocolate ;-)
    Or soon for onion & thyme marmalade!
    Happy Mother´s day - it´s today over here, too.

  3. Glad that not everyone has the same taste, otherwise it wouldn't work!
    You go for beer, or go for chocolates.
    Thanks Iris, I thought the whole of Europe had celebrated Mother's day last Sunday, so it wasn't so...

    1. Sorry should read, "you can have my beer, I'll have your chocolates".

  4. There is chocolate-beer, though :-)
    Tried it, was yummy.
    But you are right, good thing different people like different things!

  5. Dearest Sami,
    Hope your Mother's Day was a blessed one with some delicious chocolate! That looks like a very interesting valley wine and chocolate tour!
    Sending you hugs,

    1. Yes, Mariette, I had a lovely day, my son invited us to dinner at his house, no chocolate though...

  6. Bloomin' confusing having the different dates for Mother's Day, especially for me celebrating on one date and having a Mother living on a continent with a different date! Looks like you had the perfect birthday and Mother's Day gift, the great day out and a true afternoon delight!
    Wren x

    1. I wonder why Mother's day and Father's day isn't the same day the world over? It would certainly make life easier.

  7. It sounds like a really nice tour full of different things to taste. I really like wine but 17 to taste??? Maybe 17 chocolates would have been ok ;)

    1. I agree Sara, I would rather have 17 chocolates than 17 wines, specially since I'm not much of a drinker...


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