Have you heard of the Ferguson Valley? No? You’re not alone. Western Australia’s heavy hitting wine region has and always will be the Margaret River region. But there’s something you should know. Forty five minutes north of Margaret River, that’s one hour closer to Perth mind you, is Ferguson Valley. It’s small but mighty, with a tight knit wine making community committed to helping the region make its mark. And the fruit of their labour shows. Here’s eight reasons you need to put it on your map.
Top notch drops
Ferguson Valley is located inside the Geographe Wine Region, which stretches from Harvey down to Busselton. Many of the wineries’ rolling hills catch the sea breeze as it comes ashore, bringing cooler temperatures the vines love. Cooler climate characters hit the high notes, and many of these wineries have a slew of awards to show for it. Last year Talisman Wines swept the board for its Chardonnay, a wine the Margaret River region hangs its hat on. Pop in to their new tasting rooms, right on the waters edge (of a dam, but it’s still speccy) and you won’t leave empty handed. James Halliday is a big fan of Willow Bridge Estate’s wines; if you can get your hands on some of the Gravel Pit Shiraz or G-10 Chardonnay you’ll be very happy.
These Ferguson Valley folks aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun. At Green Door Wines (yes, there is a very big green door, not at the front door, but it’s used as a clever design feature that connects the enclosed balcony to the interior), we could call our tasting the ‘Tempranillo show’. They’ve got three different Tempranillos to choose from – the Amphora Reserva is certainly special. The boutique winery’s vines were brought back from the brink about 15 years ago, and now you’ll find unusual varieties like Monastrell and Fiano alongside the Tempranillo. Test your taste buds with their fun black glass tasting experience – much harder than it looks!
Did someone say affordable? Yes, yes we did! Ferguson Valley’s wines certainly don’t have the price tags of some of the Margaret River region’s wines so stock up! The wineries are working hard to build up their fan base, and keep prices low, and that we certainly respect. What are we talking? You can easily walk away with an award winner for under $30.
If you’re like me, maximising time on the ground and minimising time in the car is the name of the game. Good news, the Ferguson Valley is only two hours drive south of Perth down the Forrest Highway. That’s an hour closer than the Margaret River region, which makes all the difference if you’re on the road on a Friday afternoon. Just twenty minutes inland from Bunbury, it’s a cruisey drive from the city, but also a very do-able drive if you’d prefer to stay on the coast and day trip in. Even better, for the most part the wineries are clustered fairly close together around Pile and Ferguson Roads. At most we spend 15 minutes driving between tastings, compared to down south, where the wineries are sprawled between Yallingup and Augusta, your drive times could be double or triple that.
Honeymoon Pool is an insta-worthy sheltered spot tucked inside Wellington National Park. Beloved by all, not just honeymooners, the pool and its campground are hot property in summer with locals and travellers. There are BBQs, a steel terrace overlooking the pool, and steps right down to the waters edge. It’s all very civilised, especially when you have local tour company TraaVerse bring in a few kayaks and a grazing platter picnic box for you from local Gourmet Grazing Boxes. Now that’s our kind of outdoor adventuring!
B&B for the soul
Ferguson Valley’s rolling hills and towering eucalyptus trees are the perfect setting for the peaceful, flower-strewn cottages of Peppermint Lane Lodge. Owned by husband and wife tree changers Simon and Kim, these one bedroom cottages look out onto bushland and their sculpture garden. Go for a wander, via the chooks and the pool, before heading up to their main residence where you’ll take breakfast on the balcony, with native bees buzzing around the bushes and a hot breakfast to fuel your day. Evenings are my favourite time of day, when we join them for a meal – an added option for guests. It’s not for everyone, but we lap up the three course meal and the conversation – they’ve got some serious cooking skills and plenty of stories to tell. It’s a home away from home vibe and soothes the soul.
Put some produce on your plate
Bountiful harvest comes in generous serves when you dine at St Aidan’s. Famous for wine and food, it’s got a dedicated local following. With chunky serves of focaccia straight out of the oven, local olive oil and dukkah to dip in while working your way through a jurassic sized tasting paddle of wines, it’s easy to see why. And that’s before mains. We tuck into salads made from the kitchen garden and order a glass of wine and another serve of bread, because, well, this is living.
Take a trip to Gnomesville
Yes that’s right, Gnomesville is a real place, or at least a real place on Ferguson Valley’s tourist trail. People come from far and wind to stroll through thousands of gnomes, often bringing their own gnome to add to the crowd-sourced collection. What began life as a singular gnome in the 1990s has grown and grown. It needs to be seen to be believed.
Whether you’re after epic wine at great prices, or a bit of good old country hospitality, put Ferguson Valley on the agenda now, before the secret spreads too far!
Looking for more information? Check out Visit Bunbury Geographe.
Lisa was the guest of Australia’s South West.