Margaret River Wineries Shine in James Halliday’s latest guide

Margaret River Wineries Shine in James Halliday’s latest guide

Halliday Wine Companion 2019

Halliday Wine Companion 2019

On 1st August 2018, James Halliday awarded the best Australian wines, wineries and winemakers at the annual Halliday Wine Companion Awards. The Margaret River region starred in many of the awards once again; the region produces around 3% of Australia’s total wine, but 20% of the premium wine.

You could easily spend a weekend – or a week – touring Margaret River on the back of a well-thumbed copy of the Wine Companion. We’ve done the hard yards for you and wrapped up some of Halliday’s picks with our local knowledge.

There’s around 100 cellar doors and the region is geographically huge – about 100 km north to south, so we’d recommend planning a day in the north – Yallingup and Wilyabrup, then a day in the south – Margaret River and Karridale.

Alternatively, pick your wineries based on your favourite varietals – this is how we usually arrange our private tours. We will ask what styles of wine you like and arrange the perfect day according to your taste, it depends on which style you love!

So belt up and enjoy the Chardonnay, Cabernet and the incredible winery restaurants!


Winemaker of the Year: Julian Langworthy of Deep Woods Estate and Goon Tycoons

Julian’s picked up many awards over the years including the Jimmy Watson medal and was a finalist in the Young Gun of Wine earlier in 2018. He’s known for his Cabernet and (our favourite) Rose.  Deep Woods is on Commonage Road, Yallingup, and you’re invited to take a picnic to enjoy on the picturesque grounds. Julian recently launched his own brand, Goon Tycoons, which shares a cellar door just around the corner, with his wife’s business, Yallingup Cheese Company.


The 99-point Cabernet Sauvignon: Cullen Wines’ Vanya Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon

Only two Cabernet Sauvignons were awarded 99 points, and Cullen Wines’ Vanya received this top privilege. Cullen follow a biodynamic farming and viticulture practice, and they’ve made Wilyabrup synonymous with outstanding cabernet.

Stop in for lunch and tour the kitchen garden; it’s a wonderful place to relax and soak up the south west vibe!


The Dark Horse: Windance Wines

We’re really excited about what Tyke and Billie Wheatley are doing at Windance in Yallingup. Long respected for their big, fruity reds, Billie’s parents handed over the reins a few years ago and the winery is going from strength to strength. In a region with so many family owned and operated wineries, it’s great to see the next generation doing such a ripper job.

Best Chardonnay

Halliday names several local wineries as having the best chardonnays – Devil’s Lair (no cellar door), Evoi Wines and Watershed Premium Wines (middle and south)

There’s also the Top-Rated Chardonnays list which includes;

North – Clairault Streicker, Deep Woods, Domaine Naturaliste (their cellar door opens in October), Driftwood Estate, Evans and Tate, Flametree, Heydon Estate, House of Cards, Robert Oatley, Vasse Felix and Windows Estate

South – Cape Mentelle and Xanadu Wines


Best Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc blends

Larry Cherubino’s Sauvignon Blanc and Stella Bella’s Sauvignon Blanc Semillon took out top honours in their respective classes, and it’s worth a visit to Cherubino’s impressive new cellar door, located in the homestead of the former Laurance Wines estate.

North – Larry Cherubino, Cullen, Domaine Naturaliste, Fraser Gallop Estate, Juniper, Higher Plane (part of the Juniper stable), Clairault Streiker, Evans and Tate, Heydon Estate, House of Cards, Passel Estate and Windows Estate are all considered Top Rated.

South – Stella Bella, Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu, Flowstone, McHenry Hohnen and Preveli Wines


Other Whites and Rose

Southern wineries: Arlewood Estate’s La Bratta Bianco, Flowstone’s Gewurtztraminer, Cape Mentelle’s Semillon and Preveli’s Wild Thing Rose all rate a mention.



Wilyabrup, right in the heart/middle of the Margaret River region is where most of the best Cabernet comes from.

As previously mentioned, Cullen Wines is a must-visit; not only did their Vanya Wilyabrup Cabernet score an outstanding 99 points, their Diana Madeline has long been the go-to collectable Cabernet if you want to tuck something special away in the cellar.

Juniper Estate’s one-off The Tribute, Robert Oatley’s The Pennant and Vasse Felix’s Tom Cullity are all exceptional wines worth looking at.

We can’t go past Woodlands for red wines; they have an incredible selection at various price points – you can taste the $150 cabernet but the Margaret and Clementine are also great value at around $70 and $39 respectively. Their Reserve de la Cave Margaret River Cabernet Franc was named a Top Rated Cabernet.


Other Reds

Check out Evoi Wines’ Malbec and Cape Mentelle’s Shiraz

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Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Interested in learning more about the wineries in the region? Ask us about our range of wine tours available or contact us for more information about a fully customised private tour to suit your itinerary.

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Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

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Seven best Margaret River breakfast spots

Seven best Margaret River breakfast spots

Breakfast with an ocean view, in the forest or the main street of Margaret River

Nothing beats a Saturday morning breakfast with a couple of coffees, delicious food and a quality newspaper. Except maybe the same again on Sunday morning. I’m often out collecting guests for our wine tours on a weekend morning, but when Monday rolls round I’m checking out the best Margaret River breakfast spots, and these are my absolute favourites, the ones I recommend.

So grab the table with the best ocean view or people watching potential, and enjoy!

Drift Cafe

Drift serves up the best Eggs Benedict you’ll eat. I can’t not order it – it’s ridiculously good, and I always get it with bacon and a side of mushrooms.

Margaret River famous for its amazing beaches, trees and walking trails, but it’s awesome too for fresh and locally grown produce. At Drift café you’ll sample this fantastic local produce in a super relaxed ambiance of a converted art deco building.

Coffee is excellent, made from Five Senses beans. I usually grab something sweet for the road – like their raw pecan slice.

1/72 Willmott Ave, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7am-2:30pm

White Elephant Cafe

Bring your bathers – this casual café is perched over Gnarabup Beach, and on a sunny day a swim is totally irresistible. I’d go as far as to say that you should have bathers and a towel in your car always, just in case the sea calls.

The view is simply superb – 180 degree view of the Indian Ocean, the boat ramp and stand up paddle boarders exploring the bay.

The food is simple, yet creative, and totally mouth-watering. I usually get the Breakkie Burger – a generous serve of egg and bacon with homemade aioli inside a brioche bun. Melts in your mouth. Coffee is always spot-on, however you have it.

Not just a summer time option, they’ve got an enclosed room with smashing views, where you can keep cosy even during a downpour.

Gnarabup Rd, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7:30am – 3pm

Sidekick Café

We love the warm welcome and quality coffee that’s consistently good.

Sidekick is a great place to enjoy healthy eats and sweet treats in the main street of Margs. Right across the road from our cousins shop, the Margaret River Book Shop.

Excellent people-watching potential here; the owners call it the ‘fish bowl’ due to the wrap-around glass on three sides.

With a wide range of nibbles, coffee and other drinks, such as turmeric lattes and local Bahen & Co hot chocolates, Sidekick Café will be your go-to for that Monday morning motivator or Sunday afternoon sit-down with friends.

5/110 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7am – 4pm

Margaret River Farmers Market

The Margaret River Farmers Market is your one-stop-shop for everything that Margaret River has to offer. From fresh food grown or produced within 100km and beverages, to chocolate and fresh flowers, the Margaret River Farmers Market is a great way for locals to showcase their produce.

Breakfast at the farmers market is the perfect way to experience the produce of the Margaret River region, whilst meeting the lovely locals.

Special mentions; Danishes and croissants from the Margaret River Bakery, homemade tarts by Jill James, coffee from Kombi Koffee and fresh Italian cakes and biscuits from Claudio Biscotti.

Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open Saturday 8am – 12pm


Technically ten minutes south of Margaret River in the quiet town of Witchcliffe, Yardbyrd is a little gem of a café recently opened by Robert Mayberry. He used to own Little Willies in Northbridge and The Dancing Goat in Cottesloe, and knows how to work his magic on the coffee beans!

Ingredients are locally sourced; Geoorganics milk, local free range eggs, nitrate free bacon. Everything is made in house except the bread from Margaret River Wood Fired Bakery.

I’m a big fan of the breakfast tortilla with plenty of scrambled eggs, bacon and relish – even the tortillas are made on-site.

10413 Bussell Highway, Witchcliffe, WA 6286
Open 7.30am – 4pm weekends, 6am – 4pm weekdays

The Hairy Marron

Calling all cycling enthusiasts! For a morning brekkie with friends, or coffee after a mountain bike ride, The Hairy Marron has got you covered. The Hairy Marron presents casual dining in the heart of the forest and only a short walk across the bridge from Rotary Park. This multi-purpose café has the best paninis, or chia puddings for a light brekkie.

69 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 8am – 4:30pm

Goanna Cafe

Okay, Goanna’s not strictly a ‘Margaret River’ café, but it’s totally worth the trip towards Dunsborough, hey, you can stop in at some incredible wineries on the way back!

The Scottish Chef who owns Goanna used to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London before making the sea change, and you can tell by the quality of his food.

Indo Rice, a spicy coconut rice served with pesto and avocado, is one of the most popular dishes and it’s also pretty addictive. There’s a Bush Brekkie, loaded up with vegetarian goodies, a Spanish Brekkie with friend potatoes and chorizo, and lighter options like the house made granola with poached fruit.

Set in a glorious bush surrounding, and with a lovely Australian-designs gift shop, be sure to put Goanna on your breakfast bucket list.

278 Hayes Road, Dunsborough WA 6281
Open Wednesday to Monday from 8.30am to 3.30pm (weekdays) and 4pm (weekends)

Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Would you like to include any of these delicious breakfast spots into your tour? Contact us to customise your ideal tour with a delicious start to your day.


Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated to our offers and deals!

We are committed to protecting your privacy

Popular Post
About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

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Day Tour

Chocolate and Cheese Tour of Margaret River

Chocolate and Cheese Tour of Margaret River

How to do a delectable cheese and chocolate tasting in Margaret River

A few years ago we dropped chocolate from our one day tours. “Guests want a bit more time at the wineries” we said. Cue the instant uproar, and we’ve had chocolate firmly on the itinerary ever since.

We’re also blessed with a handful of awesome fromageries – artisan cheese makers – in the region, and it’s always a pleasure to share a trip to check out their wares.

So, you’re on holiday, and you want to taste some of the superb chocolate and cheese (not to mention wine and craft beer) made in the region? Look no further – here’s our hitlist of some of the awesome producers who will happily let you taste their wares.

So, we present the ultimate chocolate and cheese tour of Margaret River. Grab a map and do a DIY tour or, if you’d rather relax and let someone else do the driving, let us show you some awesome wineries and more on the Eat Drink Explore one day tour.

Margaret River Chocolate Company

We love this place – the free tastings of white, milk and dark chocolate are awesome, the truffles, coffees and cakes all delicious, and the variety of boxed chocolates is incredible.

Best of all though (and they don’t usually shout about this) is their commitment to some pretty important environmental issues. The local population of around 500 quokkas was nearly wiped out in the Northcliffe fires of 2015 – it’s estimated 90% of the quokkas died in the fires. Margaret River Chocolate Company donated the funds for 30 radio collars to track the quokkas, and General Manager Daniel Robe reckons the population is recovering quite well. WWF estimates that there’s over 300 quokkas in the fire affected area now.

So, next time you visit, buy a Chocca the Quokka to help support WWF’s quokka conservation and research.

MRCC is our #1 go-to chocolate tasting place for the daily Eat Drink Explore tours.

Open 9am to 5pm
Address 415 Harmans Mill Rd & Tom Cullity Dr, Metricup

Gabriel Chocolate

A proper bean to bar producer, everything is made in-house at this family owned and operated gem. Cakes, ice creams, cookies, hot chocolates – not just chocolate! They source cacao beans from around the world and use them to create single-origin bars.

When we chatted in July 2018, they’d just won the Best Dairy Producer Award at the Royal Show for their ice creams, beating all the yoghurt and milk producers. Every ice cream flavour they entered won a medal, plus the overall Best Dairy award, a massive accolade.

We have a soft spot for the warmed chocolate chunk cookies – be warned, they’re pretty addictive!

Open 10am to 5pm daily
Address Corner Caves & Quininup Roads (14/5 Quininup Road), Yallingup

Margaret River Dairy Company

You’ll probably recognise their branding; Margaret River Dairy Company is a well-loved WA success story, and you can find their scrumptious products in major supermarkets now. A trip to Margaret River to visit their small retail space allows you to taste everything – bries, camembert, cheddar, yoghurt – right where it’s made.

Margaret River Dairy Company made the news in February 2018 when they got the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Cheese Tasting. Over 500 people took part!

You can also get the low-down on any upcoming product releases; they’re always working on something new, and we were thrilled to get a sneak-preview taste of their latest release full-fat yoghurt while it was still in research & development phase last year. Taste the new apricot, strawberry, vanilla full-fat yoghurts plus the peach and mango flavour which has returned after a few years hiatus.

Margaret River Dairy Company is usually on the itinerary of the Eat Drink Explore tours, unless our guests want to visit the next place on our list…

Open: Daily 9.30am-5pm except some public holidays
Address: 8063 Bussell Highway, Metricup

Yallingup Cheese Company

Winemaker turned artisan cheese maker, Alana Langworthy launched Yallingup Cheese a couple of years ago, and she’s doing a superb job creating some small-batch European style cheese. We can’t go past the St Julian, and usually bring one home in the esky!

A small tasting fee, currently $3, allows you to sample Alana’s five cheeses. There’s fresh cheese – a vache curd which is on many restaurant menus, marinated fetta and a mozzarella. The camembert is matured for 5 weeks, likewise the St Julian which is mould and yeast ripened.

Open: 10am – 5pm Wednesday to Sunday
Address: 1071 Wildwood Road, Yallingup

Cheese at the Margaret River Farmers Market

Another cheesy favourite is the Saturday morning Margaret River Farmers Market, held just south of the main street, rain hail or shine.

Koonac Heidi Goat Cheese make a beautiful haloumi cheese, plus a whole host of cheeses from the milk of their Heidi goat herd.

Cambray Sheep Cheese are from slightly further afield in Nannup, and make some highly aromatic camembert-style and a lovely herbed cream cheese.

Open: every Saturday 8am – 12 noon
Address: Lot 272 Bussell Highway, Margaret River

Picture of Lincoln McLeod
Lincoln McLeod

There is more to Margaret River than just wineries and breweries. There are plenty of hidden gems that showcase delectable dairy goodness. Whether you're a chocolate aficionado or a cheese connoisseur, we have great recommendations for all kinds of delicious treats. Get in touch with us to book a food-filled journey.

Contact us

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated to our offers and deals!

We are committed to protecting your privacy

Popular Post
About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter for exclusive news and discounts.