The Creation of our Wine Sensory Garden

It is 5 years now since the opening of  our Wine Sensory Garden to visitors at our Cellar Door.

My first passion is making wine, but gardening is definitely my second passion! Neil and I wanted to provide our visitors with an extra special experience that linked food and wine in a unique way that was unpretentious, fun, enjoyable and easily achievable for anyone to do. So, we decided to create a garden, and not just any old garden, but a WINE sensory garden as we wanted to offer something completely different to all of the other cellar doors in the Margaret River region.

So what is a sensory garden, and more specifically, what is a WINE sensory garden, and is it worth a visit?

The visual appeal of any garden comes primarily from a well thought out garden design using hedges and pathways, and plants of varying heights that lead the eye from one garden space to the next. Carefully selected flower and foliage colours add to the overall attraction of the garden setting, and scented flowers and foliage further enhance the garden experience, as you walk past or brush past certain plants.

A SENSORY garden adds a little bit extra to a garden experience, by enhancing all 5 senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste as you wander through the garden.

These gardens use fragrant herbs, such as rosemary and basil, and fragrant flowering plants such gardenias and lilacs, to excite the sense of smell. There are various plants and garden ornaments which are used to explore the sense of touch, such as the soft flowering plumes of ornamental grasses, the furry leaves of lamb’s ear, and smooth stones along a path or in a small dish to stimulate the sense of touch. Taste treats can easily be added through a sensory garden with fruits and seasonal plantings of vegetables as well as culinary herbs and edible flowering plants such as nasturtiums and violets, which the visitor can pick and crush between their fingers, smell and taste.

A WINE SENSORY GARDEN builds upon the sensory garden experience, with plantings around the garden themed to each wine variety. As a visitor to our Wine Sensory Garden, you walk out from our cellar door into the garden, (perhaps with a wine glass in hand!) into where each section represents one of our wines. There are beds for each of our wines Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Viognier.

Each wine has one bed, the ‘DESCRIPTOR Bed’ planted out with various fruit trees, flowers and herbs which have colours, flavours and aromas that can be used to describe the flavours in that wine. Adjacent to this bed, is another bed, the ‘AFFINITY Bed’, which has plantings of various fruits, seasonal vegetables and herbs which have an affinity for, or which match with the flavours in that particular wine. These affinity beds are aimed at giving our visitors ideas of what types of food, be it a vegetable, sauce, marinade or green salad mix, which will match, quite simply and easily, with one of our wines.

As an example, for our Sauvignon Blanc, the Descriptor bed is planted out with a pear tree, a lemon tree, a passionfruit vine, lemongrass plants, gooseberry bush, lemon balm, perennial and annual white and yellow flowering plants of varying sizes, lemon thyme and lemon verbena. The adjacent Affinity Bed has lavender, rosemary, a lemon tree dill, asparagus and a caper berry bush, along with seasonally changing plantings including radishes, spinach, parsley, silverbeet, peas, dill, salsify, yellow and green coloured butter and cos lettuces, lemon thyme and chives.

Timeline for the Wine Sensory Garden:

December 2013 – To the east of our Cellar Door garden, the planting of the hedges marked the official start to our garden. The northern and eastern sides of the Wine Sensory Garden were planted out to olive trees, a mix of Coratina and Kalamata spaced 2 metres apart. The southern side is planted to lilly pilly trees, a proven performer on our farm. The hedges will be trained and trimmed to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres.

May 2014 – Planning for the garden started in earnest. After many drafts and lots of reading and researching into garden design, I settled on a figure 8 design. Neil and I spent a good day with measuring tape and survey pegs and mapped out the garden design on the ground. Neil hired a bobcat and construction of garden beds and pathways began in earnest. The gravel was laid and compacted and the new garden rested quietly through winter.

September & October 2014 – Planting started in earnest! Dwarf fruit trees went in, along with herbs and perennial flowering plants. Seeds were sown of annual flowers, and some vegetables. The shadehouse started to fill up with trays of vegetables and flowers destined for planting out in early Summer. I source many of my seeds from the Diggers Club. Pea and oaten straw mulch is laid down.

November & December 2014 – Planting continues of vegetables and yet more flowering plants to colour theme the white and red wine varietal plantings. Weeding and more weeding is carried out, a never-ending gardening chore!

January 2015 – Our Wine Sensory Garden is open!!

My inspiration for planting a Wine Sensory Garden came about from reading about the Kendall Jackson Wine Sensory Garden in the Napa Valley, which is on my bucket list to visit one day … If you would like to read more about their wonderful gardens, visit Kendall Jackson Winery Gardens

Come and visit our Wine Sensory Garden, and See Smell Taste and Experience it for yourself!