Grace Farm's Cellar Door

If you are a regular to the Margaret River region, you’ll be familiar with the blues kicking in at the end of your stay. The wistful gaze out across Wadandi country, musing on how delightful it would be to have your own little place “down here”. John and Elizabeth Mair made that dream a reality in 2003 when they purchased a small rural property on the corner of Caves Road and Cowaramup Bay Rd.

After years of holidaying in a charming yet simple beach house in Gracetown with their growing family, the Mairs carved out their slice of paradise in the Wilyabrup sub-region, a unique site bordering the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park to the south, and less than 2km from the Indian Ocean at Gracetown.

Grace Farm Owners John and Elizabeth Mair
Grace Farm owners John and Elizabeth Mair. Photo Supplied.

Much of Grace Farm is a pristine sanctuary of private bushland, with many of the grand eucalypt species of the region. The Cowaramup Brook, which wends its way through the property, supports a variety of native wildlife and flora. The wine label is a tribute to the Giant Spider Orchid or Caladenia excelsa, a fascinating floral treat for only the most patient and observant bushwalker along the Leeuwin Ridge.

The wine label is a tribute to the Giant Spider Orchid (Caladenia excelsa). Photo: Supplied

Not surprisingly, the conditions, soils and topography of this unique maritime patch are ripe for grape growing. Viticulturist Tim Quinlan guided the initial designation of blocks for planting the predominantly Bordeaux-style varietals for which the region is known. He poured the first vintage for tastings on the main house veranda in 2011. By 2012 Grace Farm was winning awards, and if you ask them why, it is as simple as exceptional fruit.

The Grace Farm terroir is lovingly protected by certified sustainable practices and respect for the biodiversity of the land is at the forefront of its operation. Mineral-based fertilisers, harnessing solar power and the new lean, green lightweight bottle are all part of a concentrated effort to maintain a standard that meets and exceeds the requirements of Sustainable Wine Growing Australia.

Grapes on the vines at Grace Farm
The secret to Grace Farm's wines? Exceptional fruit. Photo: Supplied

In attention to treading lightly on the natural environment, the off-grid cellar door building was pre-fabricated and brought to the site. Fallen timber from the property makes up the deck, pergola and an impressive marri bar. Behind the bar, an aerial photograph of the site is cellar door manager Julie Hartley’s favourite tool. It illustrates that the 8-hectare grape growing area is only a fraction of the Grace Farm property. The rest is largely untouched natural bushland and valley.

Winemaker Jonathan Mettam has been with Grace Farm since the beginning and is part of the small, close-knit team. John and Elizabeth’s daughter Phoebe MacKinnon is Grace Farm’s General Manager, but there are touches of the entire clan on the property. The cellar door’s thoughtful landscape design is by Phoebe’s sister Harriot, who also designed and project-managed the cellar door.

Tastings are conducted by Julie in an intimate, no-fuss setting, allowing visitors to immerse in the tranquillity of the surroundings while sampling regional stars, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, or enjoying a glass of the award-winning French-style rosé.

Grace Farm's off-grid cellar door building was prefabricated and brought to the site. Photo: Supplied

“Occasionally Dad will have some organic produce available for sale at the cellar door,” says Phoebe. “He trusts the wines and winemaking to Tim and Jono and focuses on his orchard and vegetable beds.”

The quality of stone fruit, pears, apples, blueberries, quince and figs is a testament to the nourishing properties of the Grace Farm soil. Olives are both available to sample at the cellar door and excess fruit is processed into oil at neighbouring Olio Bello.

Phoebe MacKinnon, Elizabeth Mair, Tim Quinlan, Julie Hartley, John Mair. Photo: Supplied

September marks Grace Farm’s annual Spring Tasting, held at the Mair family property in Perth and featuring new-release wines and the occasional opera singer. It’s a chance for Grace Farm’s Excelsa Wine Club members and some lucky public to join Phoebe, Tim and the team for a sneak peek, swill and sniff of the new vintage and discuss the wines in person with Jonathan. Wine Club members receive 20% off current wines all the time and can book a private picnic site with a bottle to enjoy on the Grace Farm property.

Each November Grace Farm opens its arms to the public for Grace My Table, a collaborative event with Paul Salmeri of Sal’s Pasta fame. The lunch is a celebration of exhibition cooking, local produce and of course, the carefully matched wines that accompany each course. Being there feels like having a seat the Mair’s own long table.

Grace Farm is where a family comes together, as they have in Gracetown for many years. It’s a place of fine wine, love for the land and preserving it for future enjoyment. Like the Giant Spider Orchid, it’s a rare beauty.

The Cellar Door is open 11am-5pm Wednesday to Monday, and tastings are $10.00 per person redeemable on wine purchased.

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