Brendon is mixing it up at Sandalford Winery where he gets to make his own blend of red.
Sandalford is one of Western Australia's oldest and largest privately-owned wineries, established by John Septimus Roe in 1840 on the banks of the Swan River, just 25 minutes from Perth.
The winery oversees two vineyards, one in the Margaret River region and the original in the Swan Valley.
Peter and Debra Prendiville acquired Sandalford in 1991 and put together a revitalisation program. Peter has controlled and managed more than 40 hotels. Debra's responsibility was the design and outfitting of the cellar, restaurant, wine-tasting and cruising facilities. Their efforts have placed them at the top end of wine tourism in Australia.
Recent modernisation has increased the Swan Valley vineyard's capacity to almost one million litres in French and American oak barrels and 600 square metres of underground storage. Their wines are to be found in leading bottle shops, hotels and restaurants in Australia, on five continents and around 40 countries.
Sandalford is about wine education. Guests take a winery tour to learn about the wine-making process up to the blending stage. They then go through the reasons for blending between varieties and regions and put their knowledge to the test creating their own blend to be judged by Sandalford's experts.
The restaurant has vineyard views and fresh regional produce is turned into innovative Australian cuisine, accompanied, of course, by some of their fine wines. It is beautiful for relaxed dining in the rustic ambience of limestone, wood and an open fire. Alfresco dining is under wonderful 114-year-old vines.
A marvellous way of visiting the vineyard is to board Miss Sandalford at the Barrack Street Jetty and cruise along the Swan River. The river cruiser has polished floorboards, plush décor and comfortable seating. Petit fours, cheese and coffee are served on the two-and-a-half-hour journey.