The Swan Valley has more than just delectable red wines and bowls of pasta to warm your soul this winter.
With whimsical scenes, wineries and many places of heritage and wonder, it is the perfect place to abandon feelings of cabin fever. Here we share our top unique things to do in the Swan Valley this winter.
Find your new favourite at Winter Wines in the Valley
Enter merry mode at the Swan Valley's newest festival, Winter Wines in the Valley. For the month of July, numerous wineries, farms, and vineyards will offer bespoke food and drink experiences to suit all budgets, moods and palates.
Indulge in red wines and cheeses at Sittella. Or pair wine with another guilty pleasure, chocolate, at Garbin Estate Wines. Appreciate luxurious fortified wines through the ages with a tasting that includes vintage drops spanning five decades at Talijancich Wines.
No passport is required to taste the best of Europe: savour Iberian flavours at the Wine & Tapas Extravaganza at Olive Farm Wines or join in Bastille Day celebrations at Naked Fox Wine Lounge. Tickets include a glass of champagne and five tastings of French cuisine. Oui, oui!
For more events, see Winter Wines in the Valley
Bee-come a master of beekeeping
See what all the buzz is about in the Swan Valley on a bee farm tour at The House of Honey. The tour discusses the history of beekeeping and how to set up a beehive in your backyard. Pop on a beekeeper outfit to observe the difference in hives – sentinel, top bar, and traditional working Langstroth – up close to understand how life's sweeteners can vary.
From hives to pots, see how honey becomes prepared and labelled by visiting the production area. The sugar-inducing morning includes light pastries, tea, coffee, orange juice or sparkling honey mead. Yum!
$48 per person plus a booking fee.
Learn how to blend wines
Ever thought of perfecting your own drop? Swan Valley staple Sandalford Wines offers intimate masterclasses in the art of blending wine. The experience starts with a behind the scenes tour of the much-celebrated vineyard, gaining insight into the winemaking processes and pairing grapes to create liquid greatness.
Then, test your newfound winemaker skills by creating your own blend with cellar door staff, judging the best tipple. The best blender will be awarded a bottle of wine for their palatable creation.
$75 per person. Classes run 10:30am – 12:00pm Saturdays only. A minimum of two people is required.
Follow the Fortified Wine trail
For those that have a penchant for sweet wines, this is the trail for you. The Swan Valley produces some of the world's most unique and complex fortified wines, often blended from many vintages. The self-guided Fortified Wine Trail features over 30 wineries fusing the distilled grape-based spirit (mostly brandy) with myriad Swan Valley's grape varieties – Muscat, Shiraz, Verdelho – and more to create the perfect liquid dessert.
Join a Wine Appreciation Class
Learn to talk (and drink!) like a sommelier by joining a Wine Appreciation class at Upper Reach Winery. This guided tasting discusses wine styles and how explains how each grape differs. The class is perfect for wine enthusiasts keen to expand their knowledge and vino vocabulary.
$95 per person or $155 per person with lunch. Classes run 10:30am – 12:00pm
Test your scavenger skills
Sharpen your detective skills on a free scavenger hunt. A perfect family day out, the Great Valley Rally guides explorers through the region’s historical sites and landmarks to discover clues. Once completed, drop in the Swan Valley Visitor Centre to receive a certificate and free gift. How fun!
Go on a bushtucker tour
See the Swan Valley as one giant supermarket with Dale Tilbrook's Bushtucker Talks and Tasting tour. It's a sensory overload, with the tour guiding you through Aboriginal agricultural practices and learning about the native food and medicinal plants found in the valley.
You'll then get to sample the best of the bush with fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and leaves and tucker into sweet and savoury snacks that hero native ingredients. Keen to deepen your connection to Country? Check out Dale Tilbrook's other indigenous experiences in the Swan Valley.
$70 per adult, $35 per child (5 – 10), $63 per concession. Classes run 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Head to Ginversity
Add mixologist to your CV with a gin blending masterclass. Limeburners and Giniversity in the Valley hosts two-hour gin blending classes that delve into the spirit's chequered yet fascinating history. Once dubbed 'Mother's Ruin' in eighteenth-century England, learn how the gin craze has advanced, learning the core botanicals and building blocks involved in creating good gin.
Enjoy a guided tasting led by a distiller, tasting the distillery’s much-loved gin varieties. Then, master your bespoke gin concoction using an array of botanicals on offer and take home a 500ml bottle of your new ginnovation. How neat!
$150 per adult. Classes run 11:00am – 1:00pm every second Saturday.
Turn into a rev-head
If you are a motoring enthusiast, make a pit stop at the Motor Museum of Western Australia. The museum exhibits a range of well-kept vehicles dating from the late nineteenth to the present day. Heads will turn at the museum's most famous drawcard, the state's most revered racing car – the Red Bull RB 10 – once driven by Perth-born Formula One champion Daniel Riccardo.
Even if you aren't a rev-head, you'll appreciate how engineering has evolved, with over 200 cars and motorcycles on display. Ride on.
$16.50 per adult, $7 per child (7 – 17 years), $13 seniors. RAC members receive a discount. Museum open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm, 7 days a week (Christmas Day closed)
Article by Julia D’Orazio
Julia D'Orazio is a travel writer based in Perth. Besides happily earring her way in over 70 countries, she counts Eurovision and scuba diving as her two greatest loves. Julia has been featured in publications worldwide, including New York Post, SBS, Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, Virgin Australia, Rough Guides, and more.