The fact that the Margaret River area produces excellent wine is not exactly a huge secret. Although the wine takes centre stage, the fact that Margaret River also boasts a fantastic selection of cafés and winery restaurants for both locals and tourists to enjoy is not as well known. Despite that, Margaret River actually has a rich history that shows why the area is able to grow high-quality produce.
The region's first settlers were aboriginal, and the Dutch settlers who followed were persuaded to settle in what became the town of Augusta. Not long after, another group of settlers found that the region's jarrah wood was so incredible, they were able to repair their ship, the HMS Success, and sail home. Many of them found the quality of the wood to be remarkable and attributed the quality to the naturally rich soil found in the Margaret River region.
Initially, foreign settlers attempted to use the jarrah wood to jumpstart the lumber industry in the region. Unfortunately, the wood was difficult to cut and shape, making it difficult to manufacture useful exports. As the lumber industry began to shrink, town residents looked for alternative sources of income. One of the ideas was to take advantage of the rich soil by starting vineyards. The rest, as they say, is history.
Understanding the history of the region certainly provides its wine and food an added layer of depth. The burgeoning Margaret River wine industry has given the area a new identity, one of sauvignon and sweet berries offered at fine local cafés, such as the Cottage Café at The Berry Farm. The woodiness of the region reflects its lumbered history, while the deliciousness of the fresh food there reflects its farming excellence.
The next time you are in Margaret River, be sure to set aside time to have a hearty meal at a café or winery restaurant. Many of these establishments offer fantastic wine and food pairings that bring out the best of both the food and the wine. This way, you are truly able to experience and savour the essence of the storied region at its fullest.
Margaret River wine route: top 10 guide. www.theguardian.com
100 years of Margaret River: Timeline. www.margaretrivermail.com.au