My personal quest to visit as many wine regions around the world finally landed me in Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region dating back to the early 1800s. Though the Margaret River wine region is typically considered the poster child for vino from this part of Australia, Swan Valley has plenty to offer from the many boutique wineries dotted alongside the river.
The Swan Valley wine region is located conveniently just outside of Perth, which makes it an easy day trip destination for travelers headed to this west coast city. The Swan Valley wineries produce a number of regional wine styles that thrive in the warm sunshine-filled climate and fertile soil; in particular, oenophiles who are partial to a dry white wine will love the crisp Verdelho or the Chenin Blanc which is also grown extensively across the Swan Valley vineyards. Red wine aficionados will appreciate the region’s Shiraz, and Swan Valley’s array of sparkling wines often grace the tables of celebratory events like weddings and anniversaries.
There are about three dozen wineries in Swan Valley – give or take a handful. With so many vineyards to choose from and so little time, how do you narrow it down for your Perth to Swan Valley day trip?
Here are some wineries in the Swan Valley that I loved visiting, plus some bonus tips for how to plan your perfect day trip to the Swan Valley wine region. First things first, here are some essential planning tips for your wine-filled Swan Valley day trip itinerary!
You may also like: Planning a trip to Perth? Here is my Perth city guide
How to get to Swan Valley from Perth
The Swan Valley wine region is just north of the Perth International Airport, with wineries flanking the winding namesake Swan River. The Swan Valley vineyards span from Caversham in the south all the way up to approximately Henley Brook and Baskerville in the north. Unlike the Margaret River wine region down south where the wineries are spread out, the vast majority of Swan Valley wineries are concentrated and scattered within 15-or-so kilometres – this means that you can drive between each of them in just 5-10 minutes and really pack in your Swan Valley wine tour itinerary and sip on as many of the region’s warm climate wines as possible.
The best way to get to the Swan Valley wine region from Perth is to rent a car (we have used Keddy by Europcar, Budget and Thrifty in the past) as public transportation is limited – this gives you the most flexibility to plan your perfect Swan Valley winery tour. The drive from Perth’s central business district (CBD) will take just under half an hour. Remember, you drive on the left in Australia (the steering wheel is on the right) and you may be asked to show a valid international driving permit.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
In Australia, it is an offence to drive while your blood alcohol concentration is 0.05 or above but there are exceptions where a 0 blood alcohol concentration applies. For more details click here. You may exceed this limit if you are going on a winery tour in Swan Valley, so make sure that you either have a responsible designated driver or alternatively you can go on a small group Swan Valley wine tour which picks you up from your hotel in Perth. Alternatively, kick your feet up and go on a gourmet Swan Valley wine cruise and see greater Perth from the water.
Visiting Swan Valley is one of the most popular day trips from Perth, so make sure you book ahead – especially if you are booking during the peak tourism season between late November to February (during the Australian summer), or during school holidays.
Where to stay in Swan Valley
Thanks to the proximity of Swan Valley to Perth city, you essentially have the option to stay in the heart of the wine region itself, or book a hotel in Perth and embark on a day trip to Swan Valley.
If you decide to stay overnight in Swan Valley, 1-2 nights is sufficient. I highly recommend booking this brand new Swan Valley winery accommodation: The Colony at Mandoon Estate. The Colony is a lovely boutique hotel located on the award-winning Mandoon Estate in Caversham. The modern rooms are comfortable and make for a perfect base for a quick Swan Valley trip. The property offers several dining options, though it’s best to visit during the weekend as some do not open during the week – you can even hop on over to the estate’s very own cellar door for a tasting. Click here to book your Swan Valley stay at The Colony at Mandoon Estate! You can also check out other highly-rated Swan Valley hotels here.
Planning a day trip to Swan Valley from Perth for a short city break? I’ve got you covered! Check yourself into Accor Hotel’s Sebel West Perth, a boutique aparthotel with spacious rooms with a well-equipped kitchen and in-room washer and dryer. The bed was delightfully comfortable and the shower water pressure was fantastic – there is also an on-site pool and gym if you’re looking to stay active. What’s not to love? It is located just a hop and skip away from Perth CBD or a 5-minute drive from King’s Park. Click here to book your stay at The Sebel West Perth or you can check out some other highly-rated accommodation options in Perth City.
Tip: Room rates tend to go up from early December to around February during the Australian summer, so make sure you book your room ahead of time!
Best time to visit the Swan Valley wine region
Swan Valley tends to receive lots of blissful sunshine, though you will still need to bundle up to stay warm if you are visiting during the Australian winter or autumn. The vineyards are especially picturesque and lush during the summer months (December to February), though you may also enjoy the quieter wine tasting opportunities during the autumn and winter months (though do expect the vines to be pruned and bare during these seasons).
As many of the wineries in Swan Valley are boutique or family-run, many smaller wineries close on certain weekdays or have limited operating hours, and some restaurants will open only on a weekend. For those looking for a buzzing atmosphere the best time to visit Swan Valley is on a weekend during summer or spring. That being said, we enjoyed the intimate and peaceful visit to Swan Valley this past July – in the dead of winter. The days were warm and crowds were thin.
The best Swan Valley wineries to visit
Need some help compiling your 1 day Swan Valley itinerary? Here are some of the top Swan Valley wineries you won’t want to miss. You can very easily spend a day hopping from cellar door to cellar door, sipping on wine from grapes grown on vines that are over a hundred years old!
1. Mandoon Estate
Mandoon Estate is an award-winning boutique winery with a vineyard that is planted with Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Frontignac. The sprawling grounds are begging to be explored – head to the brewery for a hearty pub meal, or Wild Swan for something more refined.
Kids will love the on-site outdoor playground, and adults can saunter over to the Cellar Door to learn more about Mandoon’s approach to wine making and try a few of their varietals (a tasting fee applies and can be redeemed against a purchase). I especially loved the crisp, citrusy Surveyor’s White, you won’t want to skip this on your Swan Valley winery tour!
Psst: Mandoon Estate is also home to Homestead Brewery, one of the top Swan Valley breweries!
2. Sandalford Wines
Established in 1840, Sandalford Wines is one of the oldest winemakers in Western Australia and named by John Septimus Roe, the state’s first Surveyor General. Sandalford is world-renowned for its premium wine offerings and even expanded its operations by purchasing 300 acres of vineyard in the Margaret River wine region.
The Cellar Door offers a range of Sandalford wines for tasting and is one of the best Swan Valley wineries for hardcore oenophiles – the tasting fee is a reasonable $10 for 6 wines, and you get a further 20% off lunch if you stay behind afterwards for a gorgeous meal. Don’t skip the 1-year-old Verdelho or the sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir featuring delicate fine bubbles and a hint of crisp apples.
Traveling with kids in tow? Leave them at the on-site wine barrel playground!
Tip: Need a quick coffee or pastry break between Swan Valley wine tastings? Head to The Naked Fox for your flat white fix (it also transforms into a casual wine lounge in the evenings) or munch on some authentic French pastries at Maison Saint Honore. For a no-fuss, cozy pub meal head to The Henley Brook.
3. Lancaster Wines
Lancaster Wines is the cool kid on the block (but it doesn’t really care if you think it’s cool or not), offering wine tastings, cheese platters and freshly shucked oysters at their outdoor shed. This is the perfect Swan Valley winery to visit if you’re looking for an unpretentious and laid back venue – a natural casual gathering place for groups of friends and family! The Tin Shed White and Verdelho are definite crowd pleasers, or try the late-picked Chenin Blanc if you fancy a sweet dessert wine.
One of my best tips for visiting Swan Valley with kids is to head to places like Lancaster where they can run around – the winery is even home to a few farm animals who graze and laze all day!
4. Garbin Estate
I had the pleasure of visiting the 3rd-generation, family-run Garbin Estate and tasted a few of their excellent Swan Valley wines with Katrina Garbin (who used to label all of their wines by hand!). Their labour-intensive méthode traditionnelle sparklings are simply delightful to sip on (try the Chenin Blanc sparkling), as is the Sangiovese Rosé.
This would be my pick if you’re looking for an intimate Swan Valley wine tasting and direct conversation with the winemakers on their passions and methods.
5. Ugly Duckling
Ugly Duckling is a small boutique vineyard and cellar door with an expansive outdoor area (perfect for crisp spring and autumn days). This Swan Valley winery offers free tastings from a select menu for groups smaller than 6 people, or you can try their reserve Shiraz and sparkling Chardonnay for just $2 a pop.
I enjoyed the Red Duck, a blended red of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot, and of course had to dive right into the regional specialty Chenin Blanc.
Ready to get your wine on? I recommend staying at The Colony by Mandoon Estate for a luxury Swan Valley winery accommodation option, or if you are heading to Swan Valley from Perth for a day trip then check into The Sebel West Perth or check out some other highly-rated accommodation options in Perth City!
Other Swan Valley attractions
The Perth to Swan Valley day trip is extremely popular with families traveling with young children – this is because there are some fantastic kid-friendly things to do in Swan Valley beyond the wineries!
Swan Valley or Margaret River?
If you’re short on time I can understand why you’d wonder whether you should visit Swan Valley or the Margaret River region. Is it really necessary to visit both? It really depends on what you’re after as it isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. The Margaret River region is a 3 hour drive from Perth, which makes it a multi-day destination; by comparison, Swan Valley is only half an hour from Perth’s city center and can be easily visited as a day trip.
There are more than 100 wineries in the Margaret River region and approximately 30-40 boutique wineries in Swan Valley, so there are more options for cellar door visits in Margaret River. Few Swan Valley wineries have on-site restaurants, so if you are looking to indulge in a winery lunch or two (or three) then you may want to consider driving down south. The Margaret River region also has many stunning attractions and natural landmarks to visit, making it easy to fill your days with beach hopping, whale and dolphin watching boat trips, wildflower-laden walking trails and boutique cocktail bars.
That being said, the Swan Valley region is not only conveniently located, it (in my opinion) also offers a very approachable and non-pretentious setting for people looking for a laid back wine destination. There is an overwhelming sense of relaxation in the Swan Valley – where the pace is slower and everyone is welcome, a place where it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know what “tannin” or “terroir” means.
The crowds also tend to be slightly thinner than those flocking to the Margaret River wine region – many Margaret River wineries produce enough wine to export around the world, which means that the region also in turn attracts more international visitors who are familiar with the brand names.
In short, it depends what type of experience you are after – if you have a few days to spare on your Western Australia itinerary then I recommend heading down south to the Margaret River region. But for a perfectly enjoyable Perth city break then Swan Valley is a must-do in my books.
I hope this guide helps you plan your perfect Swan Valley itinerary!
You might also enjoy these reads:
- Using Perth as a base for day trips? Here is my guide to putting together your perfect Perth itinerary
- Heading down south? Here is my guide to the best wineries in the Margaret River region, and stunning landmarks you won’t want to miss
- Looking for another fantastic day trip from Perth? Take a ferry over to Rottnest Island for picture-perfect beaches and quokkas
- There are many, many picturesque wine regions around the world. Here are some top ones to add to your wine drinking bucket list
- For more Australia travel tips head on over here for even more Australia destination guides
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