March 15, 2023
7 mins Read
The Margaret River region’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for viticulture. And since the first vines were planted at regional pioneer Vasse Felix in 1967, wineries have sprung up in almost every direction, from Busselton in the north to Augusta in the south. Today the local industry numbers more than 150-strong, close to 100 cellar doors, and an ever-growing contingent of top-notch winery restaurants that are expressive of the region.
While this idyllic pocket of WA has garnered many a column inch for its wine, particularly chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, over the course of the last two decades it’s at risk of becoming overshadowed by the burgeoning local winery restaurant scene.
Now a hotbed for veteran chefs from across the country and abroad, as well as creatively minded up-and-comers, the Margaret River plays host to a raft of critically acclaimed eateries, many of which boast dramatic vineyard views, and, of course, tightly curated wine pairing menus that often encompass both current vintages and harder to find cellared wines.
While you may not be able to get to all of Margaret River’s winery restaurants in just one trip, there are certainly a few that deserve a spot at the top of your holiday to-do list. Read on for details of where to start.
Thanks to Dr Tom Cullity, who decided to become a winemaker in the 1960s, Vasse Felix is home to the oldest vines in Margaret River.
Today, the winery continues to raise the bar with outstanding chardonnay, as well as masterful Modern Australian fare.
Given head chef Brendan Pratt’s CV, which includes stints at The Fat Duck and The Ledbury, it’s little wonder that the winery’s eponymous restaurant has created plenty of fanfare.
Dining here is akin to performance art, with all the meals served on beautiful pottery hand-thrown by local ceramist and master potter, Ian Beniston.
Renowned for its Art Series wines, in-house art gallery and staging of summer concerts, Leeuwin Estate’s in-house restaurant offers five-star alfresco dining with sweeping views over the neighbouring karri forest.
The Leeuwin Restaurant menu, driven by head chef Dan Gedge, doesn’t shy away from less quotidian ingredients: indulge in the restaurant’s six-course tasting menu and you might sample cuttlefish, raw scallop and Akoya pearl oysters.
If you’re looking for an extra special occasion venue for lunch in the Margaret River, this is it.
The expansive and meticulously groomed gardens at Voyager Estate are much adored, as are this winery’s organically farmed reds, whites and rosés. But to visit and forego a long lunch at this winery’s restaurant would be regrettable.
Besides the grand feel of the dining room, with its lofty ceilings and chandeliers, there’s an equally impressive menu; one which pays homage to the seasons and complements the estate’s grapes.
Expect dishes such as steamed marron with macadamia emulsion, and koji-marinated wagyu sirloin served with confit mushrooms and celeriac puree.
An off-the-beaten-path winery restaurant, Arimia is well worth the detour.
Sustainability is not just a lifestyle here, it’s an all-consuming passion – this boutique winery, restaurant and organic farm operate entirely off-the-grid and almost everything you’ll devour has been grown, reared, cured, brined, or harvested onsite.
The contemporary, minimalist platings of food are among the region’s most daring and imaginative – an ode to Modern Australian cuisine with subtle nods to Japan woven throughout its tasting menu.
A self-proclaimed ‘little farm’, Glenarty Road is much more than the sum of its parts. This Karridale winery has been in the same hands for five generations, and the warm homeliness and hospitality radiate out of the simple timber farmhouse, which sits in the midst of the working farm.
Despite the moreish food, impressive cool-climate wines, and fetching rustic chic interiors, which look plucked straight from the pages of Vogue Living magazine, both the restaurant and winery are gloriously devoid of any wine snobbery or culinary pomp.
The three- and five-course house feasts are a celebration of the regenerative farm’s bountiful produce, best enjoyed with a glass of the estate’s ‘wild wines’. It’s not just fruit trees and veggie patches supplying the restaurant’s pantry either: owners Ben and Sasha McDonald rear their own grass-fed cattle and sheep, and even the charcuterie is housemade here.
Mod Oz cuisine reigns supreme in these parts, but it’s not the only offering. At Hay Shed Hill tapas is instead on the menu.
The second venue to represent the tapas brand, diners at Rustico Margaret River can savour a shared degustation menu that spans 10 different dishes across five courses, and includes some surprisingly luxe ingredients for the rather reasonable price of $75 a head – think Abrolhos Island scallops, western rock lobster and duck liver. It’s a seriously indulgent feed.
To reach the heady heights of fine dining nirvana, book a table at Wills Domain.
This Margaret River winery restaurant’s two-course choice degustation menu (available Thursdays and Fridays only) is overseen by veteran chef and culinary director Jed Gerrard – who steered eminent Perth restaurant Wildflower to critical acclaim – and talented long-serving kitchen brigade member Albee Lee, who heads up the team as chef de cuisine.
Expect a menu littered with sustainable, wild-harvested produce and a who’s who of the finest WA ingredients, such as Manjimup rainbow trout and truffles, Arkady lamb and Wagin duck.
For more insider tips and inspiration, see our ultimate travel guide to Margaret River.
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