Worthwhile investment

DURING the past four or five years Sandalford Winery owner Peter Prendiville has created the ‘Sandalford experience’, a $6 million investment in upgrading the facilities at Sandalford. Just as everyone seemed to be heading out of the region, the Prendivilles saw an opportunity to develop an exciting growth in wine tourism into a unique product that will result in more tourists and, for that matter, more locals visiting a dynamic wine region on our doorstep.

Sandalford is acknowledged as one the State’s founding wineries. In 1840, Queen Victoria granted John Septimus Roe a tract of land on which he began what is now Sandalford, so named after his father’s priory in Berkshire in the United Kingdom. The Roes’ association lasted, remarkably enough, until the Prendivilles took over about 150 years later.

One of Western Australia’s oldest and largest privately owned wineries, Sandalford has undergone some exciting changes over the past few years, making it one of the most interactive wineries in Australia. Peter Prendiville remains committed to the long-term development of Sandalford, which is encouraging, given the takeover bids that are rife within the wine industry.

The ‘Sandalford experience’ has included the renovation of most of the existing buildings at the Caversham site. Besides adding a restaurant, which was a gold plate finalist in 1999, a film room gives visitors a chance to expand their knowledge about wine with an educational look at processing and manufacture. One of the highlights of this development was the addition of a suspended walkway, which allows visitors to tour through the winery and observe some of the behind the scenes action – the red and white wine fermentation areas, the laboratory, oak storage area and, during vintage, the crushing and pressing procedure.

It is a complete educational experience that is very informative and hands on. With nothing like it in WA, it really is worth a visit.

Sandalford Shiraz 1998 rrp $16.75/20 points Margaret River-Mount Baker-Swan Valley

Displaying scrumptious cool climate perfumed aromas with some cracked pepper and spice, together with black cherry and mulberry characters. The palate is mid weight and displays flavours of cranberries, mulberries and ripe plums with soft integrated tannins and approachable acidity. The wine displays flavour right through the palate and has a finish that demands a second date.

Sandalford Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 rrp $16.5/20 Mount Barker – Margaret River

Oak dominates the aromas that stand up in the glass, with rich flavours of cassis, prunes, chocolate mocha and a hint of eucalyptus, all mill around in the glass ready to liven up your palate. Blended with around 70 per cent Mt Barker fruit and 30 per cent from Margaret River, the wine spends time maturing away in a combination of new and used French and American oak for 13 months. There is plenty of fruit to find once you hit the palate with cassis, ripe blackcurrants, brambles and a touch of medicinal eucalyptus. It finishes with life and length that will reward some patient cellaring.

Element Chenin Verdelho 2000 rrp $16/20

This a fun and funky wine that is perfect to have in the fridge when unexpected punters drop in for a drink. It is not a wine that you should get too involved with, just sit back and enjoy the lively aromas of fresh citrus and exotic touches of tropical pineapples and melons. The palate follows with tempting crisp tropical fruits, zingy acidity with a touch of fruit sweetness. Bonnza .

Sandalford Sandalera rrp $19/20

If you only buy one wine this winter then this must be your choice.

Former Sandalford wine maker Bill Crapsley introduced this wine to me a number of years back and it is an ever-popular brew at my place while sitting in front of the box watching yet another game of footy. This wine is made using the solera system, a system that involves blending the wine over many years, in this case some of the material is over 20 years old. As you pour out a glass you encounter a rich rancio character that reminds you of Christmas cake and spice. Once you hit the palate there will be no turning back, it is rich and sweet; full of complex flavours.

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