Explore the Whicher Ridge Wine Sensory Garden in Margaret River »

Where a garden wander can inspire food and wine matching

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Whicher Ridge Sensory Garden, Geographe, WA

Whicher Ridge Sensory Garden, Geographe, WA [©Whicher Ridge]

Whicher Ridge Sensory Garden WIde Shot, Geographe, WA
Sitting with your best friend at Whicher Ridge, Geographe, WA

 

Imagine wandering into a garden full of plants of all colours, sizes and textures gently moving in the breeze, with a myriad of tantalising smells wafting through the air. Imagine too this garden suddenly giving you inspiration for what to dish up with your favourite wine…

Welcome to the Wine Sensory Garden at Whicher Ridge, an artisan winery and vineyard near Busselton, part of the Geographe wine region and on the doorstep of the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. 

Cathy and Neil Howard are the winemaker and viticulturist respectively at Whicher Ridge, and together they create small quantities of single variety, single vineyard, single region wines. You’ll find the wines offered for sale online and of course, you can visit the farm style cellar door for tastings, but here it’s not only the wines that will intrigue you.

Cathy and Neil were searching for a real and tangible point of difference in the type of visitor experience they offered so when Cathy read about the Wine Sensory Garden planted at Kendall Jackson Wines in the Napa Valley, the vision started to form.  (And a visit to Napa added to the bucket list!)

Fortunately, Cathy’s other passion is gardening, being influenced by both her father and grandfather who were keen gardeners.  Whilst not having any formal training, she has adopted many common sense farming practices and ideas from her days studying Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia as well as building on her gardening knowledge with tips and handy hints accumulated over the past decade or two.
 

What is a sensory garden?

A sensory garden amplifies the whole garden experience by enhancing the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste as you wander through it.

Coloured flowers and foliage add interest and vigour. Fragrant herbs and flowering plants are used to excite the sense of smell and there are various plants and garden ornaments which are used to explore the sense of touch.

Taste treats are added with fruits and seasonal plantings of vegetables as well as culinary herbs and edible flowering plants which can be picked and crushed between your fingers then smelt and tasted.

A wine sensory garden builds upon this experience with plantings of various herbs, fruits and vegetables themed to a particular wine variety. It’s a gentle and subtle way to introduce various food and wine matches and simplify the pairing process. It doesn’t have to be elaborate –  wine and food matching really can be as simple as using a particular herb in a salad or in a sauce.

The plants themselves can present ideas as to what to plant in your own herb or vegetable garden to best match your favourite wines or wine styles.

The Whicher Ridge Wine Sensory Garden

Enter from the cellar door and it will feel like a kitchen potager garden around you, embraced by olive and lillypilly hedges. Ahead lay sections for each of six wines, each with two beds named the descriptor and the affinity.

Wander the descriptor and you'll find plants used to describe the aromas and flavours found in that particular varietal whilst the neighbouring affinity beds inspire ideas of what to cook for dinner tonight when sipping on your favourite wine!

There are many other benefits flowing from the garden too. It's also home to a number of resident blue and scrub wrens, willy wagtails, and robin redbreasts plus native bees and beneficial predatory insects. The compost from the winery’s waste products of grape skins and stalks, is used back on the garden as well as in the vineyard

There are challenges of course –  it can be quite breezy and some of the wildlife certainly appreciates the young plants and fruit to nibble. The weeds too are quite fond of the soil but keeping the garden interesting, colourful and inspiring to walk through in every season is one that Cathy relishes.
 

Wine Sensory Garden Plantings (varies through the seasons):
 

Riesling

Wine descriptors: orange blossom, pink grapefruit, melon, lime, pear, lavender
Affinities: caraway, fennel, persimmons, lime, snow peas, carrots, rhubarb


Sauvignon blanc

Wine Descriptors: melon, fig, pear, lemon, lemongrass, gooseberries, dill, olive
Affinities: rosemary, radishes, lemon grass, Jerusalem artichoke, lemon thyme


Chardonnay

Wine descriptors: apple, lemon, peach, pear, melon, quince, vanilla grass, grapefruit,
Affinities: pumpkin, squash, thyme, mustard, tarragon, sweet corn, artichoke


Viognier

Wine descriptors: honeysuckle, apricot, yellow nectarine, peach, lychee
Affinities: fig, Jerusalem artichoke, carrots, pumpkin, marjoram, ginger, chillies


Shiraz

Wine descriptors: peppercorn, anise, cherry, pomegranate, blackberry, plum, blueberry,
Affinities: tomato, squash, cumin, sage, green beans, cloves, saffron, green olives, fennel


Cabernet sauvignon

Wine descriptors: oregano, blueberry, black cherry, black currant, mint, olives, bay leaf
Affinities: eggplant, green beans, beetroot, radicchio, carrots, black olives, sage, rosemary


Malbec

Wine descriptors: peppercorn, blackberry, plum, blackberry, anise
Affinities: tomato, sage, cloves, saffron, black olives, fennel, pepper, savoury, basil

 

Find Whicher Ridge location, contact details and opening hours here »
 

Regions

  • Margaret River (WA)

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