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Tuesday 13 July 2021

A West Australian gourmet destination you must not miss

Combine 180 years of history, fine wines and food and beautiful riverside gardens and you have a "must visit" destination in the Swan Valley, just a short drive from downtown Perth.

Sandalford Wines, one of the founding wineries in Western Australia, is now also one of its major gourmet tourism drawcards.

Sandalford’s establishing estate at Caversham, Swan Valley, had its genesis in 1840 and coincided with European settlement in the burgeoning colony of Perth.

Queen Victoria granted John Septimus Roe, Western Australia’s first surveyor general, 4,000 acres of land on the riverbanks at West Swan in honour of his 57 years of service to the Commonwealth.

He named the property Sandalford after a priory in Berkshire, England - his original home.

Sandalford became the Swan Valley’s pioneering agrarian estate with crops, cattle grazing, vegetables and extensive vineyards and fruit orchards.

The Roe family purchased a 300-hectare property at Wilyabrup in Margaret River, planted vines in 1970, and joined a handful of others in pioneering Western Australia’s second classic wine region.

In the 1990s, the business was sold to the Prendiville family, who have continued to build on tradition.

Opened earlier this year, the new Sandalford Bar and Restaurant is open for lunch, Monday to Sunday from 11:30am, and for drinks and dinner on Friday to Sunday evenings until late.

Featuring an open kitchen and a wood-fired Sicilian pizza oven, the facility offers a selection of wine from Sandalford's Swan Valley and Margaret River portfolios.

CEO Grant Brinklow said the total spent on the enhancements, which were completed during the property’s Covid-19 closure, was in excess of $3.5 million.

Executive chef Alan Spagnolo, a vastly experienced pan-handler, heads the kitchen team and was in top form during our recent visit.

The vibe is less formal than it used to be; but the food remains seriously good with dishes incorporating fresh regional produce.

Standout vegetarian dishes include Gin Gin paprika cotolette with coal roasted chilli tomato aioli; or maybe try Dardanup lamb rump, char-grilled medium, with roasted eggplant, carrot, feta and date relish.

All menus feature an abundance of local Western Australian seafood. 

Two standouts for me were Abrolhos Islands char-grilled octopus, orange, basil, purslane and pink peppercorn dressing (above) and the shellfish risotto (below) with lobster, local prawns, scallops, tomato, basil and Aleppo pepper.

There are several activities on offer. First, you can travel to Sandalford Estate by river boat.

Cruise into the upper reaches of the Swan as you sample wines before disembarking at Sandalford Estate’s private jetty for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, video presentation and Flight of Wines wine tasting.

A gourmet two-course lunch is presented on-site before a dessert buffet and afternoon tea is served back on board the vessel.

Alternatively, a one-hour Sandalford Experience tour and tasting is priced at $25 per person and operates daily at noon. Bookings are essential.

Or, perhaps you'd prefer to create your own wine blend.

First you participate in a winery tour, learning about the winemaking process up to the blending stage. Then, you’ll put your knowledge to the test, creating your own original blend of wine, which can be enjoyed over a meal.

This three-hour experience is priced at $145 per person and operates every Saturday at noon.

During summer, Covid permitting, Sandalford regularly hosts concerts featuring the likes of Neil Diamond and Jimmy Barnes. It is also a popular wedding and conference venue. 

# Sandalford Wines has recently welcomed wine industry veteran Ross Pamment (above) as its senior winemaker while Hope Metcalf is on maternity leave. He will oversee both Swan Valley and Margaret River operations.

For details and experiences visit  

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