Many visitors to Perth who think of “wine” will probably think of Margaret River. Although a great region, the Margaret River is several hours away from Perth, and day trippers on a tour will spend more time driving than sampling. Many tours only visit one or two vineyards on a full day tour.
But have you heard of the Swan Valley and Taste Bud Tours? In just one half day, you can visit up to 10 different wine and food producers, all located in a cute historic village, just minutes from central Perth. Offering both a morning and afternoon ½ day tour (which actually have completely different tasting itinerarys), Taste Bud Tours allows you to sample the best of Swan Valley.
Strapped for time, and wanting to experience as much of Perth and the surrounding area as possible, Lauren and I hopped on the morning tasting tour. Loris, the owner and operator, picked us up at 8am at a convenient CBD location and we were on our way.
As we drove towards the Swan Valley, Loris explained exactly what “speed grazing” is. Well, it is exactly what it sounds like – it’s an opportunity to sample a large variety of different culinary delights produced by the Swan Valley.
Of course, there is more to the tour than just food. As we drove towards the Swan Valley (only about 15 – 20 minutes from Perth), Loris explained the history of the Swan Valley. As soon as European explorers discovered the rich fertile soil of the region, they were quick to develop the area. The result is a cute little town, full of quaint historic buildings, which offer all sorts of foody delights.
Loris is quick to stress that it is not a wine tour. Of course, we do visit wineries, but she didn’t want to only focus on the regions wine. Loris has worked in the region’s tourism industry for more than eleven years, and knows all the delicious little places just waiting to be discovered down the side streets.
We sampled coffee, lavender infused baked goods, chocolate, honey, ice cream, wine, cheese, dips and jams, aboriginal busk tucker, and nougat. While this seems like a daunting undertaking, Loris, who has over eleven years of experience leading tours in the Swan Valley, facilitated the morning with ease, making sure our small group enjoyed each tasting experience without feeling rushed.
The itinerary of our stops was also very well planned. Our first morning stop was at the Yahava coffee roasting facility and cafe where we got to sample several coffees as well as their amazingly delicious iced chai.
After perking ourselves up a bit, we moved on to sweet things of all sorts. Starting with lavender infused scones and jam (make sure you try their lavender infused muscato wine!), we then moved on to chocolate, ice cream and honey.
Now the honey is worth a mention. The couple who runs the bee and honey business were a joy to visit. Clearly passionate about what they do, and their product (which is as pure as it can get), they were happy to show us their bees and the different products they have for sale. I was amazed to learn that this small family run business is responsible for supplying bees for crop pollination all the way from the southern most point of Western Australia, all the way up to Kununurra in the north!
After all the goodies, we needed a bit of a break. We pulled into a small art gallery where we could view ethically sourced aboriginal paintings, as well as sample some bush tucker. The Australian bush is teeming with all sorts of plant varieties which can be pretty delicious when prepared correctly, although most Westerners would not recognize these plants at all since many are endemic to Australia. This made sampling the various sauces, jams, and chutneys such an interesting experience for the palate. Make sure to sample the Australian bush tomato. It packs quite a lot of flavour, for such a little fruit!
But of course, no visit to the Swan Valley would be complete without at least one visit to a vineyard. Loris took us to the Windy Creek estate where we got to sample a wide variety of their wines. Our personal favourite was the Autumn Red. A light bodied red blend, which finishes fresh and clean – this is a red that even staunch white wine lovers can appreciate.
Served along side the wines, we got to sample some Western Australian cheeses as well as the “Wicked Stepmother” preserves and chutneys. Made by Ruth’s stepmother (the owner of the estate), these preserves are all freshly made on the property. Make sure you try the eggplant and capsicum relish – it is guaranteed to knock your socks off.
To finish the tour, Loris presented us all with a special Taste Buds Tours VIP card. This card, which is fully transferable and has no expiration date, allows the bearer to receive discounts at almost every Swan Valley location. Because if you are like Lauren and I, you will probably be tempted to purchase quite a few goodies to take home.
My only regret is not stocking up on that Wicked Stepmother relish!
Our tour was provided complimentary by Loris of Taste Bud Tours, but all opinions (and weight gain) are strictly our own