Sandalford is the oldest and largest privately owned winery in Western Australia and for that reason I had put off visiting them. I had thoughts of it being over-priced, overly touristy and completely commercialised. I was 100% wrong on all accounts.
Having started out in the 1840’s, Sandalford now has 40 hectares in their Swan Valley vineyard and a further 140 hectares in their Margaret River vineyard, which they brought in the 1970’s.
The Swan Valley property is located in Caversham, just up the road from the picturesque small town of Guildford, which straddles the Swan River. The winery sits about 500 meters back from the road – the drive in is simply stunning as you pass rows and rows of vines. The winery itself sits in the middle of the property with vines completely surrounding it. It just oozes tranquility and peacefulness.
There is plenty of parking and my partner-in-crime for the day did mention a couple of times that the great thing about the parking at Sandalford is that the designated parks are well spaced out with a good foot either side of the car before the painted lines. Not a huge highlight in my books, but it did impress my male counterpart!
We had about 45 minutes to kill before our lunch booking so we decided to taste through the extensive wine list and find out what tickled our taste buds. The cellar door was pretty packed when we arrived so we looked around the gift shop first. The shop is full of cute little trinkets and wine accessories; I think I’ll need to make a trip back before Christmas to do a bit of shopping!
A tasting at the cellar door is $3 per person – with this you can try all 14 wines on the list or pick and choose to your liking. We thought what the heck and tried the lot! I won’t give you tasting notes this time, as it was a date and I was in no mood to be spiting. Not a great way to impress a date!
However I can say that the picks of the day were; 2012 Margaret River Chardonnay ($20), 2012 Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon Rose ($20), 2009 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) and the 2011 Element Late Harvest ($14). We ended up buying a bottle of each after our lunch as eating at the restaurant entities you 10% off your cellar door purchases! It would be rude not to really.
Okay so now for the best bit – the restaurant! We decided to head to Sandalford particularly because they had just released their new spring lunch menu and for October only you can get a free bottle of either white or red wine with your lunch. I am a sucker for offers like this!
The restaurant is absolutely heavenly. Our perfectly set out table was on the veranda in the insanely romantic alfresco dining area. What really impressed me was that the tables were so well spaced out, you were a decent distance away from any other table that you truly were in your own little bubble amongst the twirling vines. It was great to see that they aim to give you the best experience possible rather than packing the area with more tables so they can bring in more money.
To match the perfect setting was the impeccable service. The waiters had the perfect mix of professionalism and friendly humor. Our meal started off with our complimentary bottle, we choose to go for the red – a Cabernet Merlot that went perfectly with our starters and mains. Soooooo… what did we eat???
We started off with marinated barrel aged feta; warm marinated local olives and royal blue chips with aioli. The feta was literally to die for, melt in your mouth goodness! To follow for our mains I we went for the cumin rolled lamb loin, roast red pepper, slow cooked shoulder, artichoke, feta and olives and my partner went for the Margaret River wagyu beef medallions, potato and celeriac gratin, manjimup truffled wild mushrooms and sprout leaves.
Both meals were scrumptious, the meats cooked to perfection and the spices and flavours intertwined and complemented each other flawlessly. At $45 a pop the main meals were definitely worth the expensive price tag.
The only disappointing part of the meal was that I was so full by the end of it that I couldn’t fit in a dessert and my oh my did they sound tasty. Perhaps next time I’ll be sure to enjoy one with a glass of the illustrious Sandalera that sells for $95 a bottle at the cellar door due and is made in limited quantities.
Lunch and wine tasting at Sandalford definitely rank up there for one of my best experiences here in Perth. Next time I’ll make sure to check out their underground cellars and perhaps even take on the 3-hour Winemaker for a Day course. I couldn’t do everything in the one visit because I need an excuse or two to go back for more!
For more information on Sandalford, click here.