Monday, March 14, 2011
Our Wedding Anniversary Lunch at Cullen Winery, Wilyabrup, Margaret River WA.
Well it has been a full past month, we celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary in early February, then my 43rd birthday in early March. This past week we attended a funeral of a friend, who sadly & suddenly died too young, leaving a beautiful wife and three teenage children behind. It was a wonderful celebration of Gary's life, all he had lived and loved and the amazing legacy he has left on the earth. Then on the weekend I enjoyed attending the wedding ceremony of another dear friend's, 22yr old son Jesse, who married a beautiful young lady Kirrily, under the shade of a grand old tree in Whitely Gardens, Lavender Bay, with views across Sydney Harbour. I do love a wedding and all the excitment and promise it brings, as two people dedicate themselves to one another for life.
We celebrated our 20yr anniversary of our marriage, by leaving our three children behind (in the care of others!) and flying to Perth. We then drove three hours south to the South West of WA, to the magnificent Margaret River region. We really made sure we got away didn't we!!
When reading Kylie Kwong's book "It Tastes Better" earlier this year, I read about the Cullen family and their Biodynamic Winery in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. When Paul said he would take me to the Margaret River region for our 20yr celebration, immediately I rang Cullen Winery and booked Sunday lunch in the Restaurant, as well as a tour of their biodynamic vegetable garden & winery.
The winery is located on Caves Rd, in the town of Wilyabrup, near Cowaramump, don't you just love the indigenous names of these towns. After a mid morning swim at a gorgeous beach called Gracetown, we travelled about ten minutes further up Caves Rd, to arrive at the winery.
The restaurant is set in a large stone building that adjoins the winery, there is a cellar door as you enter, for wine tastings, ably run by Cellar Door Manager - Collette Goddard. You then have the choice to dine indoors,
out on the veranda,
or under the trees in the garden.
Wherever you dine you can enjoy a picturesque view of the vineyards.
We were seated in the garden much to my delight, under the shade of a big old tree. We began with some sparkling mineral water and a glass of Mangan Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009.
The Summer menu offered a delightful variety of produce, both from the biodynamic veggie garden on site, as well as from the local producers of the region. I could see we were definitely going to be up for enjoying three courses!
Paul chose to begin with a combination of local seafood & fresh vegetables,
"Local Augusta Abalone with Daikon Radish, Cuttlefish with Chilli, Garlic & Cuttlefish Ink Dressing, Seared Scallop with Cucumber, Seaweed & Miso Dressing" $21.00
Delicious flavours with tender seafood, I scored a little taste!
I had a special of the day for my starter!
"Grilled Seasonal Vegetables from the garden with Olive Oil dressing & 'Over The Moon' Feta" $18.00
Talk about fresh vegetables, crunchy zucchini, green beans, zucchini flowers and succulent tomatoes, picked fresh from the garden that morning.
For our main course
Paul enjoyed more seafood....
"Local Whiting with Quinoa, Preserved Lemon, Almond & Snow Pea Salad" $38
This was an amazing dish, the combination of flavours was a hit and the fish was fresh as, plus had been cooked beautifully, so still moist. I had two tastes of this!
Paul also ordered a garden salad, not being able to resist the idea of eating a salad, sourced from the garden that morning!
I ordered the lamb, which had been sourced from a local farm just up the road!
"Lamb Rump with Potato & Mint Ravioli, Pea Puree, baby Carrot & Red Wine Jus" $36
It was absolutely delicious, the lamb tender and flavoursome and the little ravioli parcels & pea puree were a perfect accompaniment.
We enjoyed some Wilyabrup rainwater from the tank on site in between, and decided to share just one dessert.
We couldn't go past the local produce again...
"Honey Ice cream with praline & sun dried apricots" $14
It really was a magnificent meal, coupled with the sunny day, gorgeous back drop, delightful company and no need to hurry, it turned into a magnificent celebration.
The staff were extremely relaxed and friendly, whilst maintaining excellent service.
From those waiting on the tables, the kitchen team headed up by Chef Matt Egan, the cellar door staff managed by Collette & the vegetable garden looked after by Gemma, Vanya Cullen & family have developed a passionate and dedicated team at Cullen.
I would highly recommend a visit to Cullen Winery Restaurant, if you are in the Margaret river region.
We had also pre booked a tour of the Vegetable garden & Winery when we made our lunch reservation. Collette kindly showed us around and shared some of the history of the Cullen family and the biodynamic practices they have adopted at the vineyard.
History of the Cullen Family
Summer Harvest in the Vegetable garden...
Then we ventured to see where the grapes are processed and the wines are produced. Trolleys of freshly picked grapes, waiting to be sorted, squeezed & strained
Grapes are sorted by hand and then crushed by machine & strained.
What a treat, Collette let us sample the resulting grape juice, that would become the wine...so sweet and refreshing!
We completed our visit with a wine tasting of the latest release Cullen wines at the Cellar Door and then purchased a couple of bottles of wine to bring home. One special bottle of red to cellar and then share for our 25th Wedding Anniversary!
We were totally impressed with the WA South West coastline, beautiful beaches, Grand National parks & lighthouses, along with an abundance of fresh local produce, restaurants, winerys & brewerys & no crowds! Our three days there only gave us the taste for more and I'll tell you more of the region next time I write on the South West of WA!
Caves Road, Cowaramup PO Box 17,
Cowaramup Western Australia 6284
Ph (08) 9755 5277 Fax (08) 9755 5550
Restaurant bookings: (08) 9755 5656