The Kalamunda Farmers Markets located in the centre of Kalamunda seemed like the most logical place for us to start our tour of the Hills for the Bickley Harvest Festival. These markets are on every Sunday from 8am until noon and include a number of local growers and producers selling their wares with many stall owners offering free tastings.
We nearly bought one of each of everything from the Ringwould Dairy stall as everything tasted so fresh. We settled for some Caillot (quark with added herbs and garlic), Moroccan marinated cheese and a strawberry lassi to share. The lassi was not overlying sweet and was very refreshing.
Moving on from Kalamunda we commenced our self-drive tour of the picturesque Bickley Valley. Gentle slopping hills, fruit filled orchards and brilliant green vineyards decorated the countryside like a holiday post card. We both wistfully dreamed of ditching city life for a tree-change. Our first stop was Aldersyde Estate which is the oldest commercially operated winery in the Perth Hills. This is a lovely spot to grab a few beautiful reds; we enjoyed their Merlot the best. I love how their pet Border Collies have made it onto their wine labels too.
Our second stop was Ashley Estate where they had set up a sausage sizzle which sent wafts of barbecued onions and sizzling dogs downwind into the car park triggering your senses immediately upon arrival. This winery is still run by the original owner and their speciality is Pinot Noir. They offered a fabulous vertical tasting journey of their Pinots ranging from 2005 through to 2010. It was fascinating to taste the change in each year’s vintage and the effects of cellaring and different seasons. We bought some of their 2008 and the popular 2009 vintages.
Brookside Winery was absolutely packed with a fully booked restaurant and I regret not planning ahead and reserving a table here! Their restaurant The Vineyard Kitchen focuses on using the freshest local produce, free range meats and line-caught fish and the meals I saw heading out of the kitchen looked worth coming back for. Although we missed out on trying their food we did hang around to sample their wines. The wine of most notable merit is their Petit Verdot; a grape that thrives on dry climates and has floral notes with fruity berry like flavours.
Sad that we had missed out on lunch at Brookside, we stopped in at Hainault Vineyard for a bite to eat to soak up all the wine. Their café was also fully booked however they also sold some take away plates to eat on the grass in front of a live band. We selected a vegetarian platter to share which cost us a scorching $18! What made the high price hurt even more was that the bread roll was stale (according to the Boy) and I tasted a distinctly horrible mouldy flavour in the hummus. Ugh. Inedible.
Hungry and disappointed we pushed on to our last stop for the day; the Core Cider House. This joint was a hive of activity with a live band playing, a bustling gourmet BBQ selling hot dogs and burgers and face painting for the little ones. You could even buy an apple tree to take home! The pork sausage was gluten free and they kindly had gluten free bread available too. Feeling much happier with some edible food to devour, we both sat back in the sun on the grass and soaked up the atmosphere.
I was shocked to learn today that apparently the Bickley Harvest Festival has run for over ten years yet this is the first time I have even heard of it! After chatting to a few wine makers it appears I’m not the only one as there are some people living in the region that have only learnt of it in recent times. It was a wonderful well organised day out and the drive showcased the Bickley Valley region beautifully. I really look forward to returning again next year.Elmars in the Valley The Vineyard Kitchen, Brookside Winery Hainault Vineyard Cafe Core Cider House