Perth must be one of the luckiest, if not the luckiest, of capital city’s in the world. Especially for wine-lovers. Why, do you ask? Because we have not one, but two wine regions right on our doorstep – the Swan Valley and the Perth Hills wine region.
Despite their proximity to each other, both regions are quite different and can offer a very different experience for day-trippers.
Both wine regions are amazing in their own right, but we want to delve into how you can go about choosing the Perth wine region that best suits YOU. Whether you’re a local or visitor, we want to make sure you see the best of the WA wine scene.
The perks of visiting the Swan Valley wineries
The Swan Valley, dubbed ‘Perth’s Valley of Taste’, is the oldest wine region in Western Australia and second oldest in the country. Vines were originally planted way back in 1829 in the Swan Valley. Not to mention it is home to many wineries whose founders have passed their legacy down through the generations.
If you live in Perth this is probably a wine region that you have visited at some point – but have you REALLY explored the Swan Valley? Some of the most amazing wines, families and stories are the ones that are tucked away off the beaten track at the smaller, boutique wineries.
So, alongside the immense amount of West Australian wine history, what else do you have to look forward to in the Swan Valley?
Maximise your time on the ground rather than in a car or tour bus
The Swan Valley wine region is a mere 25-minute drive from Perth City. Which means on a full day Swan Valley wine tour, less than an hour of that will be getting to and from the region.
But not only that, there are about 40 wineries within a 32-kilometre stretch. Therefore you’ll spend more time soaking up the sun and wine than in a car or on a tour bus.
There’s also craft breweries, cideries and distilleries hidden in the Swan Valley. Not to mention plenty of amazing foodie options – any (or all) of these can be included on your customised private tour!
Unique cellar doors
With the history of the Swan Valley and generations of winemaking families comes some very special experiences.
From 100 year old underground cellar doors to rustic tin-shed tasting venues to modern and architecturally beautiful spaces, every winery has a little something different to offer and a story to tell. Not to mention you’ll meet the families, friends and wonderfully passionate people who own and operate these local wineries.
And the wine? The Swan Valley is a warm climate wine region (one of the warmest in the country) – so think dry whites such as Verdelho and Chenin Blanc, and medium to full bodied reds like Shiraz, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Durif. And of course there is the amazing Swan Valley Muscat, which is used to make the famous fortified wines of this region – some of which are four generations old.
Some Swan Valley winemakers also have vineyards in the Margaret River wine region, or source some amazing fruit from lesser known regions like Frankland River, so you find plenty of variety with some Margaret River Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Frankland Malbec (must try!) thrown in for good measure.
Of course, with so many options and such little time, it helps to have a friendly local who can help you plan your perfect day. Including finding some delicious foodie spots!
World class wine region endorsed by Master of Wine Fongyee Walker & more
The Swan Valley wineries continue to receive awards, accolades and endorsements from wine professionals and wine-lovers around the globe.
In 2017 Master of Wine Ms Fongyee Walker visited the Swan Valley and was the International Judge for the Swan Valley Wine Show. She absolutely loved the region and continues to promote the Swan Valley back in her homeland of China. Alongside Fongyee, the Swan Valley has had the pleasure of the bright and bubbly singer P!nk, celebrity chef George Calombaris and the Punk Princess of Pastry Anna Polyviou all visiting. Plus of course renowned Western Australian wine writer Ray Jordan is regularly spotted out and about in the Swan Valley!
The perks of visiting the Perth Hills wineries
So you haven’t heard of the Perth Hills (aka Bickley Valley) wine region… trust us when we say you are not the only one – and that’s not a bad thing! One of the things we love about our wine tours in the Bickley Valley is that most locals haven’t ventured here before, so this truly is a day of discovery.
From Perth City, if you manage to make it to a high enough vantage point you’ll be able to spot the Perth Hills in the distance. The region has long been known as one of WA’s fruit growing regions (there are still orchards where you can pick your own fruit). It was in 1999 when the region was gazetted as an official wine region.
Most of the wineries are family owned and operated, and most are noticeably smaller than the Swan Valley wineries. While the Perth Hills region itself is quite large, you’ll find the wine and cider producers located in the sub-region of the Bickley Valley. They make up the Bickley Valley Wine and Cider trail.
So what do you have to look forward to when heading to do some wine tasting at the Bickley Valley wineries in the Perth Hills?
Beautiful nature & Insta-worthy opportunities
The Bickley Valley region is truly beautiful with lots of hills and valleys. If you know the right time of year to go, the rolling orchards explode with brilliant autumn colours and spring blossoms.
Despite being only a 30-minute drive from Perth City, you literally feel like you’re a world away because this area is a little bit of a local secret.
If you love nature and taking Instagram photos of a glass tilted in the air with nothing but vines and orchards in the background, then a wine tour in the Bickley Valley region is the perfect choice for you.
Out of the ordinary tastes
If your taste buds are after something a little bit special, then you’ll definitely find some gems in the Bickley Valley wine region.
From award-winning Methode Traditionelle style cider (aka cider made in the same way that Champagne is made) to trying wine grape varieties such as Fiano, Pignoletto, Mourvedre, Barbera, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and more. Being a continental climate, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian varietals flourish in this region.
Most of the wine tastings in the Bickley Valley are poured for you by the owner of the winery, and generally here the wines are mostly estate grown (ie grown in the vineyards right in front of you). And just like the Swan Valley, nearly all of the wineries sell exclusively from their cellar door – so you won’t find these wines in your local bottle shop.
There are many treasures for those with an adventurous palate in the Perth Hills. Not to mention some fantastic little winery restaurants taking advantage of all this fresh regional produce! Lunch with a view anyone? There’s no shortage of that here.
Unique wine experiences
We’re not going to lie. If you travel with an insider to the Bickley Valley, you will be able to uncover some pretty special experiences.
*Cough cough*, if you need the inside goss on some unique hands on wine experiences in the Bickley Valley, we know someone who can help 😉
For instance, as a little sneak preview of what you can be in for: Do you want to learn to make your own sparkling wine in the Bickley Valley one-on-one with the winemaker who is known as the Sparkling Queen?
If not, then how would you like to make your own red wine in a private wine blending masterclass? The opportunities are endless if you know the right people.
Shhhh.. we better not give all the Perth Hills secrets away!
If you’re still unsure which is the right region for you and your palate, feel free to get in touch today. We are more than happy to point you in the right direction. Or better yet, why not book a private tour and visit both regions – then you can make up your own mind!