This is Paris Hokin from Arlewood Estate.

Paris has been at working at the Cellar Door for 7 years, but her connection to Arlewood runs deep having lived on the estate for a decade. Not only does she manage the Cellar Door, she is hands on in the vineyard and winemaking as well! She was also the recipient of the 2020 Margaret River Wine Cellar Door Excellence Award.

We caught up with Paris and asked her to share a few things with us.

How did you get into the wine industry?

I worked in the Perth hospitality scene from a young age. Thankfully, I had some inspirational peers who encouraged me to try different Western Australian wine brands with them each week. It was when I was working in fine dining as an apprentice chef, that I developed a passion for high end wines, whilst cooking with WA produce. It was a really exciting time in my late teens/early 20’s, finishing a long shift in the kitchen and sitting down to talk to the restaurant sommelier and taste some incredible vintages that I wouldn’t have been privy to otherwise. When I moved to Margaret River in 2014, I applied for a position as cellar door host at a small winery in Wilyabrup. Fast forward 10 years, I hold a Diploma in Viticulture and have completed the course Manage a Wine Making Process at Margaret River TAFE.

What is your favourite varietal and why?

Early on it was all about dry Rieslings, now medium weight, aged Chardonnays and anything Nebbiolo. I like the intricacy and layers of wine. I love drinking aged whites and reds, for their mouthfeel and the influence from careful oak selection.

What is your Favourite Food & Wine Pairing?

Chocolate and wine pairings of course! My favourite is milk chocolate with Turkish Delight, raw coconut and almonds, paired with a rich red Bordeaux blend.

Where is a hidden gem in the region to visit?

Hands down, Eagles Heritage.

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?

Our Margaret River wine industry is so tightly connected, I think the people and their stories make this region so special. I think the longevity of the founding wine brands should be celebrated, as well as the succession and evolution that the next generation can bring to a wine brand. Our visitors become part of the framework of our brands and to include them our journey is extraordinary.

Introducing Annette Milne, who has worked in the Cellar Door at Amelia Park Wines for nearly six years.

Annette has deep connections to the region, with her family being one of the first settlers in the Cowaramup area after receiving a grant to settle here in 1939. The original home where her mum was born is on part of the property, which is now Howard Park Wines.

We met with Annette and asked her to share a few things with us.

How did you get into the wine industry?

My mum worked at Sandalford Wines, one of Margaret River’s first cellar doors. She then spent time at Fermoy Estate, Q Wines and Deep Woods Estate before retiring. It was an industry that always interested me, so when my husband and I returned to the area, I completed my WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) studies and began my Cellar Door career.

What is your favourite varietal and why?

I love a Chardonnay, and lucky for me, Amelia Park produces three! A Chardonnay can be so varied from rich and buttery to fresh and light with citrus notes.

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?

Our region has so much to offer, from wineries with world class wines, incredible food from casual to something a bit more fancy catering for all needs, special scenery and beaches that are the best in the world.

Where is a hidden gem in the region to visit?

I always take my visitors to The Berry Farm at Rosa Brook. Amazing scones can be enjoyed in the beautiful gardens with visiting Blue Wrens and Honey Eaters near your table whilst you enjoy your jam and cream.

Meet Bec Phillious; she is the Cellar Door Manager at Edwards Wines and has been working there since it opened in April.

She doesn’t have a favourite wine variety; telling us she prefers to choose her wine “depending on the day, my mood, the weather, the company, and what I’m eating!”

We caught up with Bec and asked her a few questions about working and living in the Margaret River Wine Region and what exciting events are coming up for Edwards.

What is your favourite food and wine pairing?

A bold, oaked Chardonnay with buttered popcorn because it’s fun and accessible to everyone.

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?

Oh wow, so many things the history of our wine industry, the diversity of our region and the fact that you can go wine, spirit and beer and hiking all in one day.

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?

Save your hand luggage for wine, quality over quantity when visiting wineries, and make sure you make time to drive through Boranup.

What’s next on the events schedule at Edwards?

Oh, we have so many wonderful things planned. Upcoming members tasting events, the release of our members exclusive Ocean Series, Miss Chow’s coming in Spring 2024, our chocolate and wine pairings becoming a daily offering, serving a light platter to go with our wine by the glass, the list is pretty endless at the moment and I’m so excited about what we will have to offer!

The Margaret River Fine Vines Festival is a chance to savour the grape!

Held over 10 days and at various venues across the region from 20-29 October we invite you to join us on a journey of discovery.

There are plenty of events for every kind of budget. Because after all, world-class wine does not mean out-of-this-world prices.

Our region’s producers are committed to making the world of wine accessible to everyone, with offerings under $100, including intimate tastings and masterclasses to free gatherings in the name of wine.

If you’re seeking the pleasure of a wine-laden weekend without the price tag, explore our range of budget-friendly events. And scroll to the bottom of the blog for a list of ‘free entry’ events, allowing you to purchase as you go, based on your specific budget.

 

Events Under $100

Women in Wine in Witchy  Sunday 22 October

Join four of the South West wine world’s leading ladies for an afternoon of sipping and snacking in Witchcliffe. Converge on the terrace at the Witch and Windmill in Witchcliffe and enjoy high tea-inspired snacks from local artisans while you sip on small batch wines.

Cath from Arlewood, Liv and Mij from South by South West and Sharon and Alex Peters from Amato Vino will be on hand to chat through their wines and what it’s like to be a woman in wine in here the Margaret River region.

Willespie Cabernet Tasting   Saturday 21 October

Dive into forty years of sensational wine over four tastings with a grand tour through Willespie’s Cabernet Sauvignon. This unique tasting event, focusing on one single varietal, offers a robust understanding of Margaret River’s most renowned and loved grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Come to understand how a great Cabernet ages over time, as the Willespie team dive deep into their cellar, showcasing a Cabernet Sauvignon from each decade between the 1980s and now. During the tasting light lunch will be served on the balcony overlooking the Willespie vines.

 

Patisserie Meets Passel Estate Saturday 28 October

Indulge in beautifully crafted treats alongside equally beautiful wines when Maison Lassiaille teams up with Passel Estate.

Explore the lush grounds of Passel Estate through a progressive wine tasting enjoying award-winning, single-vineyard wines including the rare and exclusive Lot 71 Reserve wines and a museum vintage, all paired with decadent high tea treats with vegetarian options available.

Roam at your own pace or let owners Barry and Wendy Stimpson lead the way, all to a soundtrack of live, classical music. Dress in your most elegant garden party attire but remember to bring appropriate footwear for the vineyard and trails.

Petit Pet Nat Party Thursday 26 October

For the lovers of Pet Nat, the Pet Nat party goes petit this year to offer just 30 guests an exclusive showcase of Western Australian Pet Nats in the Bungalow Wine Room.

Guided by a local wine maker Rhys Parker of Dunsborough urban micro winery Vallee du Venom, you’ll get to taste 6 Pétillant Naturel wines from wineries such as Vallee du Venom, Brave New Wines and L.A.S. Vino, famed for their light fizz and fresh aromatic expression, matched to canapés from the Bungalow kitchen over the course of the evening.

An intimate yet casual affair.

 

SkinSea Saturday 28 October

An unforgettable wine and seafood safari awaits you at Bungalow Social. Traverse through a curated selection of skin contact wines from beloved South West wineries including Vallee de Venom, Black Cocky Wines, Skigh Wines and LS Merchants, to name a few.

Spend your Saturday afternoon sipping your way around the venue, then venture to the seafood station and choose from an array of coastal creations including lobster rolls, prawn cocktails, fresh oysters and seafood skewers to enjoy with your skin-contact wines.

DJs will be spinning vinyl throughout the afternoon and into the evening so stay on for an afternoon of skinsy drops and delectable bites.

 

Busselton Wine Hop Saturday 21 October

This progressive wine tasting through Busselton’s city centre is a multi-stop, self-guided wander where you’ll meet and greet with a swag of Margaret River region wineries at your own pace.

Busselton’s best venues will host several small-scale producers including Credaro, Black Cocky Wines, Churchview Estate, Di Latte Estate, Brookland Valley, Morlet Wines, Vallée du Venom, Cha Cha Wines, Wines of Merritt, Corymbia, Altair Estate, Skigh Wine, Capel Vale Wines and Passel Estate for a low key day of vino and fresh air.

Spaghetti Disco – Wine Hop After Party  Saturday 21 October

Keen to keep on dancing after your time around town on the Busselton Wine Hop? Or just love all things disco and/or Italian and looking for a fun Saturday night?

Join us upstairs at Shelter for the official Busselton Wine Hop After Party; Shelter’s take on Spaghetti Disco (an Italian dance music sub-genre) is all about embracing the flavours of Italy and taking a step back to the disco era of the ‘70s.

DJ Cuppa Tea will spin her favourite disco tunes as you explore a dedicated wine list focussing on Italian varietals grown in Margaret River. A Meatball Sub special to help soak up those tastings from earlier in the day. Guests are encouraged to dress in glitter, jewels, and bright prints.

 

Brunch at the Bazaar Sunday 29 October

Let your taste buds take you on a journey through the Middle East with Inspired Feasts and Mandoon Estate Wines over an exotic, 4-course tasting menu paired with the Mandoon Margaret River range of wines.

Crafted by Inspired Feasts using locally sourced produce, each course will be paired to a carefully curated selection of wines to complement each plate in front of you. Taste Mandoon’s award-winning range of Reserve Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Merlot made right here in Margaret River.

Free Events

Skip the ticket all together with our free entry events.

 

Strings With Vin Sunday 22 October

Spend a glorious Spring afternoon in the stunning gardens of Skigh Wines listening to the contemporary sounds of string quartet, Dolce Ensembles.

Bring along a picnic or purchase a grazing board from Skigh’s selection of local cheeses to enjoy alongside their much-loved wines. Perfect for a relaxed-paced afternoon with a stunning soundtrack.

 

The Orange Party Sunday 22 October

Head to LS Merchants for volume two of their energetic orange immersion. Gather at their Treeton cellar door as LS assembles their friends from the region to pour a selection of their finest orange wines for you to enjoy.

Dive into the world of skin contact whites and see why they are making waves in the wine world. Food will be available for purchase from local food truck with DJ sets from LS Merchants and friends.

Dressing in orange attire is encouraged.

Open Vineyards Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October

No cellar door normally means no visitation. But for one weekend, Fine Vines Festival has your exclusive invitation to get behind the gate and go between the vines to meet the makers at wineries and vineyards generally not open to the public.

Meet the makers behind some of your favourite Margaret River Region wines and get to understand their own wine making process, right where the magic happens.

 

Margaret River Main Street Takeover  20-29 October

Taste the best of the Margaret River Wine Region in one central location this Fine Vines. From 20-29 October, Margaret River Main Street’s iconic restaurants and bars will join the festivities offering their own unique experiences.

From wine-by-the-glass offers to curated wine lists and opportunities to meet the makers, you can discover a range of Fine Vines wines and experiences right in the heart of Margaret River townsite this October.

This is Rob Currell, he’s been working at the Cellar Door at Juniper Estate since February 2017.

Rob was working in Leonora at a gold mine during the late 90s. When the price of gold dropped and the mine closed, Rob picked up a job behind the bar at the Margaret River Hotel. After working in a few bars, including Wino’s, now Swings Tap House, his passion for wine landed him a job at Juniper.

Rob’s favourite varietal is Riesling, and he would love to one day visit Germany, especially Mosel, for the fantastic Riesling.

A lover of nature and the coast, Rob is partial to fresh-shucked oysters (Coffin Bay, Streaky Bay or Tassie) and (you guessed it) a glass of Riesling.

We caught up with Rob and asked him a few questions about working in the Margaret River Wine Region.

What’s your favourite varietal and why?

It’s a tough call, but I would have to go with Riesling. I love the way it shines in its youth, and the aromatics and texture it develops over time. It is so representative of it’s time and place, and reflection of the winemaker that I think it is truly a wine that can offer something to everyone. It was also my first serious love when I started drinking wine (Thank you Pikes).

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region? 

Take your time. There is so much to see and do that if you try to cram in to much in too short a time you’ll only end up missing out. Remember, WA stands for ‘Wait Awhile’.

Where is a hidden Gem in the region to visit? 

Are there any hidden gems left in Margaret River?! I’ve always loved nature and exploring. Check out the rock pools along the coast around Yallingup and maybe spot an Occy (watch out for the pretty ones with blue rings). Discover Deadly – A fantastic reptile park in Carbanup and the Boranup Karri Forest.

What makes our region so special?

For me, it’s the diversity of people it attracts. In my role in the cellar door I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to all kinds of people from all over the world, from farmers to astronomers, and everyone has a story to tell.

We’ve been busy organising activities, finessing events and finalising details for the arrival of nine IWSC Judges in Margaret River Wine Region early next week.

Margaret River wineries have submitted their selection of red, white, sparkling and rosé wines for the IWSC Judging committee.

We are very excited to host the Judges in the Margaret River Region. This year, the IWSC judges have judged in-situ programs with South Africa, Argentina, Turkey, Austria and Georgia. Margaret River is the only wine region in the world where the in situ judging will focus solely on a region rather than an entire nation.

Showcasing the stunning Margaret River Region

But it’s not all about wine.

Over the six-day stay in the region, the judges will visit some of our most breathtaking locations, including places of cultural significance for the Wadandi People.

It’s a unique opportunity for the judges to encounter the region and gain an appreciation of what makes it so special.

While here, the Judges will participate in Masterclasses and tastings in situ at the wineries, where the winemakers will take them on a deep dive of Margaret River’s key varieties, organic wines and sparkling.

They will also have a chance to discover the quality produce and meet the chefs at our finest venues, including Ben Jacob of Lagoon Yallingup, Aaron Carr of Yarri Restaurant and Bar, and Ben Day of Cullen Wines.

Judging will take place over three days at Clairault Streicker, with results announced on the final day of judging at a sundowner hosted by Vasse Felix.

Who is the IWSC?

Established in 1969, the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) is renowned for assessing wines and spirits.

The distinguished organisation comprises expert judges and enthusiasts who conduct blind tastings to evaluate global submissions. In addition, they organise events, workshops, and educational activities to spread the love for wines and spirits and foster understanding of these beverages.

Its core objective is recognising exceptional quality and authenticity in the industry. Winning an IWSC medal holds significant prestige, boosting the reputation of wine and spirit producers.

The IWSC plays an essential role in maintaining and elevating industry standards in the world of wines and spirits.

Meet the Judges

Alistair Cooper MW is an independent British wine writer, judge, consultant and educator with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He writes for JancisRobinson.com and regularly contributes to several publications, including Club Oenologique and Decanter. Alistair is also the global consultant wine buyer for the Sydney-based Australian company United Cellars, Australia’s largest independent wine merchant.

Freddy Bulmer is a veteran IWSC judge and wine buyer for The Wine Society, the world’s oldest wine club, where he’s responsible for The Wine Society’s portfolio of wines. He also contributes a monthly column to OllySmith.com and judges in numerous wine competitions. Freddy strongly believes that wine should, first and foremost, be about having fun.

Melania Battiston traded a career in marketing for one in wine, swapping university for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Court of Master Sommelier (MS) exams. She’s now sizing up what it takes to become an MS. After working as Head sommelier/wine buyer at Medlar, Melania is now the Junior Food & Beverage manager at Aman Resorts. In 2022, she won the Young Sommelier Competition and was number 3 on Harper’s Top 25 Sommeliers in the UK.

Libby Brodie is the founder of London-based independent wine consultancy Bacchus & Brodie, co-founder of The Wine Collective and City AM’s dedicated wine columnist with her regular “Wine Without The Snobbery” page. Libby is a qualified wine consultant and self-proclaimed “wine translator” with a passion for accessible, entertaining wine communication. She regularly moderates and hosts panels and events, sources and curates wines for private clients, and guest lectures at Universities on Wine Communication.

Beth Pearce MW is the Buying Director for Lay & Wheeler, one of Britain’s longest-standing fine wine merchants. Before that, she spent ten years at Majestic Wine, initially managing stores in the UK’s South West, followed by five years in the buying team at Majestic Wine, sourcing wines, beers and spirits from around the world for their 200 stores. Beth became a Master of Wine in February 2020 and, in September 2021, won the ‘Outstanding Young Person award at the Vintner’s Company.

Chris Crawford is Group General Manager of Beverage at Crown Resorts (Melbourne, Perth & Sydney). Chris is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (UK and USA) and a past president of Sommeliers Australia. He is also a senior judge at various regional and capital wine shows and the outgoing chair of the Yarra Valley Wine Show and James Halliday Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenge.

Randall Pollard is a Roseworthy (Wine Production & Marketing) Graduate. Since 1999, Randall has been an importer and merchant of fine wines for Melbourne-based Heart& Soil Imports and Randall’s Fine Wines. He’s judged in Australian Capital City Shows widely since 1987 and smaller regional shows since the 1990s. Randall regularly visits many European wine producers, tasting and learning each year. He is a regular tutor at the Len Evans Tutorial.

Emma Farrelly is Director of Wine for the State Buildings & Como The Treasury, where she curates unique wine lists and wine events for each of the award-winning restaurants. For over 19 years, Emma’s passion for the wine industry has produced award-winning wine lists across top venues in Perth. For two years, Emma studied under the guidance of Dr Steve Charters, Master of Wine. Since then, Emma has worked as a Sommelier and consulted on various wine lists and menus, earning her recognition through numerous awards.

Erin Larkin is an independent wine writer and communicator based in Perth. In 2012, Erin left her successful fashion career and moved into the Wine business, where she is now a writer, judge, and presenter. She reviews Australian and New Zealand wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and contributes to publications, including The Wine Companion magazine and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Erin is also WSET Level 3 qualified and is a Barossa Wine School Specialist educator. In 2022, she was accepted as a scholar in the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial.

 

Cara Newton – Hay Shed Hill
Cellar Door Manager

Meet Cara Newton, for the past 8 years Cara has been working at the Hay Shed Hill cellar door. 

Cara has lived in the Margaret River Region for over 18 years, first working in winery restaurants and then at Clairault Strieker in the cellar door. 

While the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and Italy are on Cara’s bucket list to explore, she is also deeply passionate about the region she lives in, and loves to share her local knowledge with the visitors to her cellar door.

She’s partial to a glass of Chardonnay and loves the pairing of lobster profiteroles from Rustico with Hay Shed Hill’s Block 6 Chardonnay. 

We caught up with Cara and asked her a few questions about working and living in the Margaret River Wine Region.

What is your favourite varietal and why? 
I don’t have one favourite but one of the top ones for me would be Chardonnay. It’s so versatile.  I love how beautifully it can express where it is from and I love that the winemaker can have such an influence in the end result. I love how well it can age and how beautiful and fresh it can be young. 

What’s your top tip for visitors to the region?
Talk to a local. One of my favourite parts about my job is sharing with customers all the awesome experiences I’ve had down here. 

Your thoughts on what makes our region so special?
There is something for everyone down here. So much incredible produce, such a diverse range of places to eat and drink, so many great places for kids. Epic bushland, endless beautiful beaches. Our land here is so ancient, that’s super cool.

Samantha Bradley – Xanadu Winery
Cellar Door Assistant Manager

A sea change from Perth in search of world-class wine, unspoilt coastlines and beautiful forests led Samantha Bradley to quit her engineering job in Perth and buy a house in Margaret River.

As a long-time customer and big fan of Xanadu Wines, it was the first place she contacted for a job after completing her wine studies and the rest as they say is history.

A daughter of a wine merchant in the UK, Sam always had a strong interest in wine and food, with Champagne and smoked salmon blinis or Vermentino and ceviche as some of her favourites at the moment. Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley is on her travel bucket list, but it is Chardonnay, particularly from Margaret River, more specifically Steven’s Road, that she really finds exceptional.

With some wine studies and two years as the Cellar Door Assistant Manager at Xanadu, Sam has not looked back!

We asked Sam a few Q’s to share with us: