Alcohol and Service

Finally we managed to get through the road block.  It was a new sealed road, and speed limit was set at 40 km.  The car in front obviously missed the first 4 mentions of this new limit set – because he sped off leaving us leading the entourage of cars down this scenic journey back home.

The man at the visitors center (that said 15 minutes to the cave and was WRONG)  said there is about 100 wine farms on this road.  As he was wrong before I questioned if there were ANY wine farms on this road.  And so out came the map just to make sure.

Venison with class
Venison with class

I realized at this point that the reason why I was so cranky was that I did not have lunch.  And as this dawned on me I asked the girls what they had eaten during the day – to which they went through all the items consumed in their lunch box.  Phew!  I do have this awful habit of starting the day with a cup of tea and then sort of forgetting to eat along the way.  Then somewhere near the end of the day I wonder why I am so “irritable” only to realize that I must be hungry!  So when I saw this little shop:  Margaret River Venison- I had to stop.  Two reasons – food and coffee.  If coffee was a food group – then I would be able to check that box at least once today.

We were welcomed by a very friendly staff member.  In fact they were all very happy.  I sort of stepped back and observed.  Reason being – this was a little odd and what is wrong with this picture.  I looked around,  trying to see something that maybe I had missed.  And then I fell back into the “self Q&A” of the situation.  I settled down to the fact that this was really good service.  I was disappointed to find that they did not have coffee, but I thought some sausages and juice would be better than nothing.

We quickly exited with our sausages and drink, to continue this journey which was now speeding up to – how many places can we stop in 30 minutes.  Because, this is about all the day time we had left.  The sausages were amazing, and I did not realize how hungry I was as I wolfed it down.  I took a quick check to see what the girls thought – but they had finished theirs before I could even ask.  They were also obviously hungry!  I settled down a little, feeling a little better and ready to go forward – in hunt of a wine farm or two.  I was really hoping that one venue would have coffee but knew that this probably be more on the hopeful side.

Howard Park Wines
Howard Park Wines

Low and behold we found a vineyard almost a stone throw away from Margaret River Venison.  And as it was literally on the side of the road, we drove down the driveway to complete check box – “Wine Tasting Experience!”

The entrance to the "Cellar"
The entrance to the “Cellar”
Inside - clean and inviting
Inside – clean and inviting

There were a bunch of things that I like about Howard Park Wines:

  1. They had a very comfy leather couch
  2. They had a kids corner (right next to couch)
  3. It was clean and very presentable
  4. The staff member was friendly
  5. The interior was huge and very very refreshing

But they did not have coffee, so while I sank into this leather couch – the girls entertaining other kids – I entertained myself with these adults trying wine.  I was wondering – what exactly is the alcohol limit and how would that impact someone if they stopped at ALL wineries.  Obviously  – stupid question – because I am sure they would have surpassed the legal alcohol limit after the 2nd wine tasting.  But then – not all are like me – thank heaven for that – where the limit would have been reached after the first taste!

My passenger had his wine tasting moment, and had purchased (what I thought to be) a very expensive bottle of wine.  Personally – would have spent that on coffee (if they had) but I am not sure if coffee and wine go well together!  So I guess that is why they did not have this facility.

It was not long before we found another wine tasting cellar.    We noticed this Bull along the little road to this cellar.  It was definitely worth a photo.  I just think Bulls are just so – not sure how to say it – confident!  They stand there and just look at you.

A very stunning Bull
A very stunning Bull

The photo moment was shorted lived, and we continued down this little road to Lenton Brae.

Lenton Brae
Lenton Brae

Now the pathway to Lenton Brae is gorgeous.  The architecture is just as amazing.

Spanish style winery
Spanish style winery

I almost thought that we were in California for a minute, and took a few moments to digest all the new input!  As it was near the end of the day – it made for this place to be even more enchanting.

gorgeous entrance
gorgeous entrance

The little man-made water fall sets the moods for an experience of a lifetime.  We entered into the “cellar” which was coolish.  It was small (little odd for the size outside), and the staff member was probably the same temperature. The girls made their way to the kids corner, and as the girls picked up a book, the staff member gave them a death stare which did not sit well with me.  It was quiet inside and a little movement like this created such venom – it was amazing.  She then turned her attention to the couple in front of her – whom clearly had reached their alcohol quota for the day.  There is a lot in a word when spoken from a mouth laced with over-intoxication!  I picked up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon – year 2007.  Hmm…I thought 5 years old – this would be a really good bottle of wine.

I suggested to my passenger to try it.  And he glanced down at the card in front.  WINE TASTING – $5.50 PER PERSON AFTER 5:30PM AND FREE IF YOU BUY A BOTTLE OF WINE!  This was rather interesting I thought – what happens you don’t like the wine.  Needless to say I thought that wine was going to be bought and never really questioned the $5.50 until I looked at the price of the bottle of wine!  Wow – did it come with a gold coin? – I thought to myself.

The staff member never spoke a word to us or asked if we were keen to try something.  And we soon picked up that we were not going to be served, and left promptly. I began to question if this was a common element in the Margaret River Region and was really amazed by that experience.  Here is a wine farm that obviously spent a lot of money creating this atmosphere of grandeur only to put – what I termed – the worst customer service staff member in front of customers.  Wow – what a BIG mistake.  While I would not invest in wine, I do know some people that would.  And, if there was a time that I did this trip again with them – I probably side step this winery regardless of venue!  Of course I do what I do best and dissect this whole experience trying to come up with a reason of why:  but I guess the truth is in the experience itself!

It did not take me long to shake off the past experience – because we were homeward bound. And I was still in search of coffee…or food…but mostly coffee.  I knew this drink alone would get me home!


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