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Laura Pearse
19 April 2020 | Laura Pearse

Virtual Wine Tasting Class | Trio of Reds

Virtual Wine Tasting Class | Trio of Reds


Back by popular demand from our last Livestream, we have decided to explore Red wines ranging from Light - medium-Full Bodied and explain the difference. 

We will take a look at:
- 2018 Grenache
- 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
- 2016 Petit Verdot (NEW CLUB MEMBER RELEASE)

We'll be talking about tasting notes, food pairing, age-ability & the wine making processes make for a light/full bodied Red Wine.


Join us next session for Chardonnay MasterClass. We will be looking at Good, Better, Best....(in our opinion) of the Chardonnay varitey. Unoaked vs Oaked.... winemaking secrets, food and wine matching and tasting notes.

Time Posted: 19/04/2020 at 1:52 PM
Laura Pearse
14 April 2020 | Laura Pearse

Virtual Wine Tasting Class | Verdelho

Virtual Wine Tasting Class

Verdelho 2014 vs 2019 vs 2020

Bringing the Tasting Room to you whilst we social isolate...This class was run live via facebook so everyone could give their thoughts and ask questions.   

Find out about the history of Verdelho in Australia, the wine making process and of course practice how to taste it, what the 'expert' thinks it smells, tastes and even looks like!

Along with tasting notes, food suggestions and aging tips.



Well that’s our first virtual tasting!
Ideally you'll be watching this with at least one of the Verdelhos in your glass to taste with us.

If you would like to try the wines in this video you can get them here

If you are needing a top up of wine, please support local & family owned first before going to the bottle shop.

Next class On Saturday 18 April will be for all the red wine lovers, with a trio of reds.
We'll taste Upper Reach's 2018 Gig Grenache, our 2017 Cabernet Merlot and the just released 2016 Petit Verdot

We'll focus on the different weight and body of these wines, and so have choosen a light, medium and full bodied red to contrast and compare.
You'll explore their differences, we want your food reccommendations and let's discuss how to navigate a resturant's red wine list.

Of course it would be best to taste the three featured wines, so just pause this and buy them now. 😜

If that's not possible, grab a red from your wine stockpile and have some fun with us while you work out how much body your wine has!

Let's keep doing the things we love!   🥂 🍷

Time Posted: 14/04/2020 at 4:42 PM
Laura Pearse
24 September 2019 | Laura Pearse

Dog Friendly Winery Here in the Swan Valley

‘Wherever wine is made, you’re likely to find a loyal canine snoozing in the cellar or roaming the vineyard …celebrate the working (and relaxing) dog in the wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms’

 -Wine Dogs 2019


It’s a thing, almost every family winery has a dog or two hanging around the cellar door or vineyard.

I’ve been thinking about it and I reckon its because every vigneron (the technical name for a grape grower and winemaker) spends a lot of time on their own, particularly during the growing season.

In winter Derek and our winery dog, Indi ,spend two and a half months hand pruning the vineyard. It can be a race to get this done before the buds start to burst in early September.

All through Spring the two of them are flat out in the vineyard monitoring and managing the growth of the vines, their canopy, flowering and the fruit.

You will find Indi literally flat out- sleeping at our entrance. (except for lunch time when she’s back at Cellar Door waiting for pats and hoping for treats!) Indi has a huge instagram following, there are more pictures of her on our instgram page than wine! Next time you are here, get a selfie with Indi and post to our page so we can share.

At lunch time you will find Indi watching our diners on the deck enjoying a fabulous lunch with stunning views. She is hoping there is a morsel for her...dont fall for those pleading eyes!

Important Note: Please do NOT feed winery dogs, all and any of them, our dog is a Golden Retriever she’s an absolute greedy guts- she’ll eat everything. She is literally a walking stomach! I promise I feed my dog, and anything that you give her is extra, and is just making her fat, which is already affecting her knees and hips.

We all love dogs at Upper Reach and your fur baby is welcome to visit, however as this is a public space there are a few reminders:

Dogs are welcome on lead
Please don’t allow your dog to bark, so that everyone can relax
Dogs may not enter the Restaurant
Obviously please pick up their poo, but if you could take it away with you that would be much appreciated (apparently in Canada you have to empty dog poo down the loo and flush it away before putting the bag in the bin!)

Lunch or Breakfast with your dog:

If you’d like to have a meal accompanied by your dog, RiverBrook Restaurant will do their best to look after you. You and your fur baby can sit on the Lawn Terrace under the pergola, however food service there is always at the Restaurant’s discretion, if they are super busy they may not be able to look after you outside of the restaurant. I’d suggest getting here at 12 and getting your order in early, as peak time is 1-2pm, so give yourself the best chance.

Nearby Walks with your Dog:

Bells Rapids close by is a fabulous walk for you and your dog is welcome there too. There are a variety of walks of differing lengths, from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours long. There is a three hour walk, which I’ve never done. We also have a lovely walk here at Upper Reach  going through the vineyard and down along the Swan River Bank. 

Apparently behind every great winemaker sits a loyal, taste-testing, crumb removal, grape testing, lawn-watering pooch. These gorgeous dogs are the real palate-power behind the skilled business of making wine.

Time Posted: 24/09/2019 at 4:47 PM
Laura Pearse
28 August 2019 | Laura Pearse

Tasting etiquette at a winery- what to do? And how to look like you know what you are doing!


Let’s face it, we all find walking into a winery for wine tasting a little daunting. I sometimes feel the same, and I work in a winery! Will I be judged? Will they think I don’t know about wines? What do I ask for/ how do the wine tastings go?

Here are some things you should know before you head off to your local wine region this weekend.

Tip number 1: The tasting notes

The winery will usually put the wine tasting list in “tasting order”- from top to bottom.  

Driest white wines at the top, sweetest white wines at the bottom for the whites…. Lightest/softest reds at the top to more full-bodied red wines at the bottom, for reds list. 

So, if you are in doubt over where to start on the list, start at the top and work towards the bottom.

If you know you only like sweet wines, or a certain type of wine, say a full-bodied red, ask for them. Cellar door staff are happy to show you around the wine list. You do not have to try all of the wines. Especially if the winery has an extensive tasting list.


Tip number 2: Have a conversation.

There is nothing more awkward than silence while watching someone struggle with a wine list. It is ok to say, look, I like sweet wines or dry whites, or I usually drink Sauv Blanc- what do you suggest? Actually, we love that! It also helps us get a feel for what you like, so we can make some suggestions for you to try.

Chat about the wine you like, the food you like with your wines, even if you just like a “drink now” style wine for under the pergola, tell us.

A tasting at cellar door should always be a conversation, never done in awkward silence. We aren’t going to quiz your wine knowledge. Good conversation and wine go together like…well, good conversation and wine!

Tell the cellar door staff what you usually like to drink and be guided by them….you might stumble across a variety or style you would not have otherwise tried that you love. That’s what wine tasting is all about.

Handy tip: we love a good chat about the footy and cricket too if you are not THAT into wine!


Tip number 3: Tasting fees

Some wineries charge a tasting fee. So be prepared. Some producers will charge a one-off tasting fee to taste all wines. Others may charge for only the premium wines on the tasting list if you choose to try them. Sometimes the tasting fees are waived if wine is purchased. There should be no expectation that wine tasting is free.


Tip number 4: The Spittoon

The dreaded spittoon….so scary sitting on the counter for the novice…. can I really spit out the wine? Can I pour wine into it? What’s it for?

The spittoon is there for those that do not want to swallow the wines, just sip, get the flavour of the wines then spit it out (they might be driving). This is perfectly fine etiquette. But that is not its only function.

You might have tasted a wine that’s not your favourite and decide not to finish the sample, it is perfectly fine to tip the rest out into the spittoon.

Rinsing the glass with water between tastings is common (but not essential) you can either drink the water to cleanse your pallet or tip the water into the spittoon. I personally only rinse my glass after the white wines going onto the reds or before going on to dessert wines. I don’t rinse after each sample.


The big no-no: What is not ok is putting your chewing gum into the spittoon. That’s gross. Don’t do it. Ever.


So there you have it… walk into your next cellar door with confidence! When was the last time you visited the Swan Valley Wineries? Now is the perfect time to get out and see some terrific local producers and make a day of it.



Have we whetted your appetite? Would you like to REALLY learn about wine? We have terrific beginner "Wine 101 "wine classes in Perth ( Swan valley) that are fun, friendly and we will start you at the very beginning and show you how to taste and appreciate wine like a pro.

We won't leave you there…Wine 102, the next step of your wine journey. Take an educational winery and vineyard tour where we show you have we grow the grapes and make the wine. Learn the winemaking process from grape to glass!

We will have you being that very annoying friend that "talks wine at you" in no time!

Time Posted: 28/08/2019 at 3:30 PM
Stephen Wallace
7 February 2019 | Stephen Wallace

My First Vintage

My First Vintage ~ Stephen Wallace at Upper Reach Winery


Click to See Latest Post

Hello and welcome to my way of giving you a glimpse into the vineyard and the wonderful process of winemaking.

I have worked for Laura & Derek at Upper Reach for just over a year now, and this is my first time getting hands-on with the grapes during a vintage. I'm so grateful that Laura & Derek are letting me have this experience.

I am truly passionate about wine, and the process of turning that cordial-like grape juice into wine fascinates me!

After vintage, I will be starting my WSET Level 3 course which focuses on oenology and viticulture. I'm hoping that doing this vintage will give me a significant head start. I've been half excited and half terrified about working in the vineyard, I didn't know if I would have enough stamina or be able to stand the heat of an Aussie summer. The main thing that had me quaking in my boots, were the snakes... I seriously hope that I don't have to write about an encounter... 

Now, the process for White Wine Making is as such.

1. Pick Grape Bunches - We pick by the bunch to avoid oxidation of the fruit

2. Chill Grapes - We have to chill the fruit from the hot outdoor temperatures to 4 Degrees. We do this to minimise the rate of oxidation and to preserve flavour.

3. De-Stem Bunches - Our clever machine separates the fruit from the stems depositing the stems into a tub.

4. Crush Bunches - The same machine lowers the separated fruit onto rollers which squish the fruit gently without breaking the pips.

5. Press Crushed Grapes - We pump the 'Must' (skins, pips & flesh of the grapes) to the press. This machine has a bag inside, which we inflate, to press the grapes against the sides of the wall to get more juice out.

6. Remove the 'Must' & Ferment Grape Juice - We pump all of the juice over to a steel tank, leaving behind the skins & pips of the grapes. We then have to test the acidity, sugar content & sulphur levels of the juice to judge how much yeast is needed to convert the sugar to alcohol.


The process for Red Wine Making is slightly different:

1. Pick Grape Bunches - We pick by the bunch to avoid oxidation of the fruit

2. Chill Grapes - We have to chill the fruit from the hot outdoor temperatures to 4 Degrees. We do this to minimise the rate of oxidation and to preserve flavour.

3. De-Stem Bunches - Our clever machine separates the fruit from the stems depositing the stems into a tub.

4. Crush Bunches - The same machine lowers the separated fruit onto rollers which squish the fruit gently without breaking the pips.

5. Plunging the 'Must'  - We pump all of the juice to an open fermentor. In this tank, we plunge the grape skins into the juice to maximise skin contact with the juice. The skin contact adds flavour, texture, tannin & colour. We will do this process every 3 hours of every day for the next three weeks. We then have to test the acidity, sugar content & sulphur levels of the juice to judge how much yeast is needed to convert the sugar to alcohol.

6. Ferment Grape Juice - During plunging, the fermentation process would have started. We pump all of the juice over to a steel tank, leaving behind the skins & pips of the grapes. We then have to test the acidity, sugar content & sulphur levels of the juice to judge how much yeast is needed to convert the sugar to alcohol.

7. Press Crushed Grapes - We pump the 'Must' (skins, pips & flesh of the grapes) to the press. This machine has a bag inside, which we inflate, to press the grapes against the sides of the wall to get more juice out.

8. Barrel Ageing - Now we have just the fermented juice with no skins, pips or other material, it can be aged in French Oak Barrels. We put our reds in oak barrels to soften the acidity & tannins. Oak also incorporates flavours such as vanilla, spice and will enhance the body of a wine. Wines are kept in oak for up to a year & a half. 


If you would like to find out more about how we make our wines, we have a fantastic hour-long Winery Tour where we follow the steps from Grape to Glass, tasting fermenting grape juice along the way.

Book Now


Day 1  |  Thursday 24th January 2019  |  Picking Up Verdelho

We were so lucky with the weather! Instead of it being a scorcher, it was a beautiful crisp morning with a little rain. An absolute blessing as Derek & James normally with work outside in 30-40 degree heat.

We had to go out and pick up the crates full of freshly picked grapes and stack them onto pallets. I would pick the crates up from beside the vines and pass them up to James who would be stacking. It really helped having Isobel, Laura & Derek's daughter driving the tractor. 

It made the day a lot more fun by cheekily throwing Verdelho grapes at Isobel... Plus, when you are picking crates up, you eat a couple of grapes here & there and end up eating your body weight in grapes hahaa!

After the trailer is loaded up, we use a forklift to lift the pallets off the trailer, they are weighed and cooled before the next day's crush. 

Day 2  |  Friday 25th January 2019  |  Crushing the Verdelho


Excitement over... this was HARD!

We lifted the crates of grapes up high to load them into the crusher/de-stemmer... this is an intense workout on your shoulders.

The crusher's job is basically to remove the grapes from the stems, those are put back as mulch into the vineyard. Whereas the precious, juice, flesh, skins, pulp & pips are pumped across to the press. The free run juice, literally runs out of the press, helped by gently rotating the wine press (it looks like a big horizontal drum with slits in, allowing the liquid to run out). The beautiful sweet juice tastes like passionfruit & lime. I think this will make a stunning wine! 

Once we had crushed the whole load, we got down to cleaning.... every single bloody crate...Three hundred and eighty-four yellow tubs...

Very achy arms... 

The final job was setting the crates out in the vineyard for Sunday's pick. I don't take any chances... I had the snake gaiters on..

Day 3  |  Sunday 27th January 2019  |  Picking Up The Rest Of The Verdelho

We started a little later than usual this morning, so we enjoyed a nice lie in :) Arrived at the vineyard at 9 am and my lord... It was SO HOT! 

We had to go out again and pick up the crates full of freshly picked grapes and stack them onto pallets. Same as the first pick we had Isobel driving the tractor, but were slowed down when we discovered the pickers had missed a row of grapes :(
This added an extra hour onto our day, but can't waste those grapes!

I reckon we could just about have started a meadery with the number of bees that were in the grapes. Scarily, James is allergic, so I was super concerned and ready to run to the car to drive him to hospital. Turns out I was the only one concerned, he's worked over 10 vintages at Upper Reach and not yet been stung!

When moving the pallets into the cool room, I managed to squish my finger- that's my first vintage injury!

Day 4  |  Monday 28th January 2019  |  Final Verdelho Crush

An absolute scorcher! It reached 42 degrees today, I did feel very lucky not to be picking though- that's a seriously hot job!

We started the destemming and crushing process at 7:30 this morning, for some reason this time, the crusher ended up covered in ladybirds! I performed my good deed for the year by saving every last one.

Karma wasn't working out so well for me, as while rinsing out the crates the grapes are picked into, I saw a HUGE Hunstman Spider underneath one of the crates!

Finished work with Burgers & Chips for all the crew!


Day 5  |  Tuesday 29th January 2019  |  Picking up Chardonnay

The pickers managed to finish super quickly this morning! Once again, we travelled through the rows collecting the crates of grape bunches. There were swarms of bees out today! I very nearly got stung.. Luckily the stinger got caught in my shirt... phew...Ashley was driving the tractor hell for leather today! We were chasing after him with the crates! James & I had a work out and a half! BRING ISOBEL BACK! The boys told me about the time they were going up the hill outside Riverbrook Restaurant, and a whole pallet of Shiraz fell off the back of the tractor hahaa!

Safe to say they were quite red-faced about it! 

Day 6  |  Wednesday 30th January 2019  |  Crushing the Chardonnay

Today we loaded 10 pallets of Chardonnay into the crusher! Chardonnay is a lot more labour intensive that the Verdelho. They are less juicy and their stems collect and can jam the crusher. Luckily, we had a smooth run! 

We finally have a speaker! Who'd have known that everyone is a Gaga fan! After the crushes, more and more washing of crates. Great day! The weather forecasts 40 degrees tomorrow.. not looking forward to that...


Day 7  |  Thursday 31th January 2019  |  Picking up Semillon & Chardonnay

Our day started off nice and cool, but quickly heated up to the promised 40 degrees.. 

The Semillon grapes are much larger than the Verdelho & Chardonnay. Packed full of delicious juice!

After we had brought the load in, Derek showed me how they test for ripeness. They do an experiment that detects Baume. It is a measurement of sugar that will be converted into alcohol by yeast. So when the grapes have a Baume of 13.5, they will make a 13.5% alcohol wine by the end of fermentation. The Semillon looks like it will be delicious!

 Now time to spend the rest of the day in the Cellar Door :) No rest for the wicked...

Day 8  |  Friday 1st February 2019  |  Crushing the Semillon & Chardonnay

Semillon is so different when you crush it! So much juice and barely any skins to clog up the machine! When you taste them, they are so limey. 

The same fabulous process, load them in, let the machine de-stem the grapes, then drop them into the crusher, between two rollers.

But it wasn't that uneventful...

Whilst I was spraying the crates clean... I flip over one of them only to find a Redback Spider, two inches from my ha..... I hate this country sometimes... Wherever I go in this vineyard, I seem to be rather close to something dangerous hahaa! 


Day 9  |  Sunday 3rd February 2019  |  Picking Up More Chardonnay

Last night was our Twilight Concert with Nueva Salsa! It was such a fun evening, however.. made me quite rough for the vineyard... hahaa. Luckily, it was a lovely cool morning, not a problem in sight, very very lucky for my poor head.

This block of Chardonnay was up towards the Cottage and the grapes were huge and really juicy! Cross fingers this means the crush will be nice and easy tomorrow.

Safe to say, my favourite room was the cool room today... 

Day 10  |  Monday 4th February 2019  |  Crushing More Chardonnay

We found a mutant grape! 

Nice & easy day today with only eight pallets of Chardy needing to be loading into the crusher.

The block that we picked from today had been Cane Pruned instead of keeping to the traditional Double Cordon style. This made a huge difference in the flavour and yield of the vines. Higher yield and much juicier.

Day 11  |  Tuesday 5th February 2019  |  Picking The Last of the Chardonnay

A perfect day for the last white pick! A nice 32-degree day and a cool breeze running through the vines today.

Before we started we had to prepare the French oak barrels. The way we test them, to see if they are secure & water-tight, is by pouring water onto the heads of the barrels.

Back in the vineyard, there were loads more bees than usual.. to James' dismay.

Ashley was driving again with James helping me pick up the fruit. We loaded them on, weighed them and popped them in the cool room :D 



Day 12  |  Wednesday 6th February 2019  |  Final White Crush of Chardonnay


The final white crush of 2019 & I got to turn the machine on AND load in the last crate of grapes :P Exciting to me... but.. you're probably thinking.. gotta get a life buddy.

I've really enjoyed picking up & crushing the white varietals that Upper Reach has grown over the years :D 

The main differences between crushing White & Red is that: rather than Splitting the load into two manageable crush & washes.. we go through the entire load in one go as we don't have to press the reds at this point.

Apparently, the reds are a lot quicker to get through.. so cross fingers, it'll be as much fun as the whites!

Day 13  |  Thursday 7th February 2019  |  Picking up Shiraz & Grenache Delivery

The first day of Red Grape picking! We didn't think it would be this soon, but we tested the Baume of the Shiraz block in the corner of the vineyard and it was ready at 14.5! When we pick grapes down at the bottom of the vineyard, we have to be very careful driving the tractor... There are a lot of hills and bumps. If you go over one to quickly, the pallets of grapes could fall off (as mentioned above).

Today we also received a delivery of Grenache from one of Derek's good friend in the Valley. He owns a vineyard of Grenache which is 60 years old and we use it to make our Shiraz Grenache.

Day 14  |  Friday 8th February 2019  |  First Red Crush, the Shiraz Grenache

I was so excited for this as Derek & James had said it was a lot easier than the white wine crush... I thought they were wrong... this was the toughest morning yet! 

When we process reds, we only crush the grapes and pump them into open fermentors.. this means there is no limit to how much we can do it one continuous crush. We loaded in 488 crates of grapes... BACK BREAKING!

The first thing we did was load full bunches (including the stems) into the first fermentor. Derek has been experimenting with a reaction called Carbonic Maceration. It is where the yeast converts the juice inside the grapes into alcohol while still on the stems. It adds complexity and beautiful floral & herbaceous notes. We crush & pump both Grenache & Shiraz one after the other in a 70-30 ratio to co-ferment. 

The washing was daunting... Each of the 488 containers needed washing out... 

As I was going along... I had another encounter with a Red Back Spider...


The Days In-between  |  Pump-over

While the Shiraz Grenache is bubbling away in the Open Fermenters, we have to do a process called pump-over.

This is where we pump the juice from the bottom of the tank over the top of the tank. This action helps extract colour, flavour & tannin from the grape skins.

We have to do pump-over EVERY 3 HOURS, DAY & NIGHT


Day 15  |  Friday 14th February 2019  |  Picking up Shiraz

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!  Today we had a huge load to pick up.. a total of 13 pallets of Shiraz.

We started off at the block by the river. This was very challenging as it is quite uneven & there are a lot of inclines between the vines. We had to hold onto the crates as best we could to avoid sheepishly picking up the load from the floor.

It was really hot down in that block.. we didn't realise how important having a nice cool breeze is...

Not looking forward to the washing tomorrow...

Day 16  |  Friday 15th February 2019  |  Crushing Shiraz

What a day! It was the biggest crush we have done so far. Loading thirteen pallets into the crusher was super tiring! 

Luckily it went very smoothly. We managed to load in eight of the pallets in under an hour. This fruit was delicious! The ripe grapes were like blueberries and the slightly shrivelled ones tasted like chocolate! :D

The cleaning took AGES! I did the maths and worked out that I managed to clean 1040 crates... This endeavour came with its fair share of creepy crawlies as well...Four Redbacks, Six Huntsmans and I lost count of the number of cockroaches...

At the end of the day, we all popped out for burgers! 

We're all looking forward to our Twilight Concert with Libby Hammer tomorrow :D

Day 17  |  Tuesday 19th February 2019  |  Picking Tempranillo, Merlot & Shiraz

Hillarious start to the morning when James gave me a little toy sword & shield.. he said it would complete my Gaitor look hahaha!

We started off by picking the final block of Shiraz. These grapes were so juicy and we had Indi following us the whole morning. 

Next up was the Tempranillo. I was shocked at how big these grapes were and how sweet they were! I'm looking forward to crushing these tomorrow as they'll flow through nice and quickly.

Last but not least, our Merlot. This is when the temperature really soared.. Where the Merlot is planted in the vineyard, there is no breeze at all.. this was a tough final pick of the day.

Day 18  |  Wednesday 20th February 2019  |  Crushing Tempranillo, Merlot & Shiraz

Second last red crush of Vintage! We set out the three open fermentors to pump in to. We started with the Merlot, then the Shiraz and finished with the Tempranillo. 

As we expected, the Tempranillo was the easiest to crush with it being so juicy. 

I think the thing that makes the cleaning go by so quickly is our Playlist!

You can listen to what motives us here: Spotify | Upper Reach Vintage 2019


Day 19  |  Tuesday 5th March 2019  |  Picking & Crushing the Muscat

James & I got hands-on with the grapes today. We picked, collected & crushed our three rows of Muscat.

It was a beautiful cool morning. It was actually quite tranquil & relaxing. Towards the end of picking the three rows, I had even greater respect for our amazing pickers :D

We brought in just under a pallet of Muscat to be used to make our Liqueur Muscat. Once fortified with brandy, we will add this to our Solera System. This is an ageing method that has been used in winemaking for centuries to build complexity & consistency in their fortified wines. 

Our solera system has been on the go for 15 years which gives a rich syrup-like texture.

Day 20  |  Tuesday 12th March 2019  |  Picking the Cabernet Sauvignon

Today was the last pick here at Upper Reach! The vines are now bare :D

We worked our way through the vines at lightning speed! I guess we were full of energy knowing that this was the last time we would pick for a whole year :) We had quite a lot of fun as you'll see in the pictures.

It took us three runs out to the vineyard to pick the crates up, totalling at around 3.5 tonnes.

The grapes were really tasty so we are really looking forward to this Cabernet Sauvignon.



Those 'End of Picking' Feels... ;D

Day 21  |  End of Vintage | Wednesday 13th March 2019  |  Crushing the Cabernet Sauvignon

A nice leisurely crush today! We had to be nice & slow loading the Cabernet into the de-stemmer. This is because Cabernet grapes are smaller & generally less juicy than other red varietals. They tend to pump more slowly across into the open fermenters. 

Plus, for some glorious reason, there weren't as many bugs in the crates! 



What an absolutely amazing experience. I would 10/10 recommend that you get involved with vintages in the future.

Thank you so much to Laura & Derek for giving me the chance to get hands-on, best bosses EVER :D

Finally a huge thank you to you, the readers. I hope you have had a few chuckles about me and my insect fear. If you would like me to guide you around the winery and see what we do, book a winery tour.


Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog

Thank you to everybody who helped us during Vintage

Keep up with everything we get up to in the vineyard.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email us at

Time Posted: 07/02/2019 at 1:00 PM
Stephen Wallace
9 October 2018 | Stephen Wallace

What Wines Should I Be Ageing?

In the Cellar Door, we are often asked about cellaring and storing wine, and what types of wine to age, so I wanted to answer some of your most asked questions about aging wines...

Wine is constantly changing and evolving in the bottle. Its life goal is to turn into vinegar. If you are able to catch a wine at the perfect place on this journey, you will experience flavours that you didn't think were possible in wine. 

However, not all wines improve with age, if it is not good when young, it isn’t going to miraculously transform into a great wine with age. Investing in a bottle that has a proven cellaring life is the best way to start. I like to buy 6 or 12 bottles, then open a bottle every year or two and keep track of how it's evolving. 

If you’ve stashed some wine away and years later you discover a treasure, don’t be afraid to call the winery for guidance, they’ll be delighted to hear from you. We often get calls asking about one of our wines that have been discovered in the wine rack at home. We can give advice on whether it is going to be great now, or even if it has a few more years in it, should you want to keep it longer.

To get some great knowledge on starting your own cellar, or learning more about aged wines, join one of our Wine Education Classes. The Wine 103- how wine ages, we take a look at older wines together with their younger counterparts to discover how wines age, what wines have good cellaring potential and discover the difference a little and a lot of aging makes.

Cellaring wines will change (and generally) improve a well-chosen wine, and this is where buying at the Cellar Door is perfect, as the person will be able to give you the very best advice about the ageing potential of that specific wine. 

What Wines Should I Age?

White Wines

The majority of white wines are made to be drunk young, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Moscato. 

I’d suggest only ageing Oaked Chardonnays and white wines with higher acidity, such as a dry Verdelho, Riesling and Semillon.

If you have never thought to cellar a dry Verdelho- think again! These crisp white wines develop into the most wonderfully rich, unctuous wine with some bottle age. They can develop beautify honey, dried herb and spice characteristics.

The colour transformation in white wines over time is astonishing, they transform from a light water-like colour to deep gold. 

Red Wines

When Cellaring a red wine, it ought to have a solid structure, bold tannins, good acid and oak, plus great fruit! Generally, the less expensive or mass-manufactured wines don’t cellar for as long, the fruit may be less intensely flavoured, and hence the wine will have less oak, so the structure, essential for ageing will not be as complex.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the best ageing option for beginners. We have picked two here that will age beautifully. These will suit a longer cellaring of up to 10 -12 years.

Over time, the tannins will clump together and fall to the bottom of the bottle as sediment. This smoothens out the wine and will alter the colour of it. Over time, red wines will lose their colour and become more translucent.


                                                                                                                                    Red Wines for Cellaring


How to Store the Wines?

Believe it or not, you do not need a purpose-built wing of the house or basement to age your wines! I personally keep my age-worthy wines inside an esky in the cupboard. The two most important factors for cellaring wine at home, are the stability of temperature (don’t worry too much about the actual temperature, as long as it's not hot, it is more important that there aren’t wild fluctuations) and the physical stability of the wine, so try not to move it around too much.

The level of humidity was more important when wine was sealed with corks, as you didn’t want them to dry out, and no longer be air-tight. Wines with cork will need to lay flat (on its side) to keep the cork moist and prevent air from entering and oxidising the wine. Stelvin sealed wines (screw caps) can be stored upright. 

Ensure that the wines are kept in the dark, as the light will lead to more variation in the temperature and can trigger chemical reactions which lead to the tainting of the wine.


When Can I Open Them?

As a general rule of thumb, if you find a wine that you like (budget permitting) buy a dozen, put 6 bottles within easy reach, and then squirrel away the other six to be enjoyed over 6 or 12 years.

The best wine producers will give you an ageing estimate on the back label, this would be under good cellaring conditions, so use it as an estimate. Make sure you ask at the time of purchasing your wines for the cellaring potential of each wine and write it on either the bottle or using one of the many handy apps to keep track of your personal cellar. 

When buying wine, you probably have a plan as to how long you’d like to keep it for, I’d suggest that you put a sticker with the year that you plan to drink the wine in, on the top of the bottle. 



The Benefits Of Buying Older Wine From A Winery

The main benefit of buying aged wine at a winery is that you can be confident that it has been stored perfectly. The way it is kept will be done in accordance with the winemaker.

Derek, our winemaker, has a vision for what his wines will be like in 5, 10 and 15 years. The best way the wines can achieve this is by being meticulously observed and tasted over time for quality assurance.

Our Museum Wines are available to our wonderful Cellar Club Members only, so join up!

Click the link below if you want to access the Museum Range:
I Want To Join the Cellar Club

Buy aged wines

"The most important thing to remember is, ageing wine is a hobby, so don’t get too caught up in the technicalities, just enjoy the journey!" ~ Laura Pearse


Time Posted: 09/10/2018 at 2:30 PM
Stephen Wallace
24 August 2018 | Stephen Wallace

Why Aerate Wine?

Why Aerate Wine?                                                            

Simple answer.. because it makes all red wines and some white wines taste heaps better!

I often get customers to taste the huge difference that aeration makes.

I pour them some wine straight from the bottle and then in another glass pour some wine using our Vinoair Aerator.


Every customer so far has prefered the aerated wine 'the aerated wines seems smoother, with a bit more to it.' The aerated wine is more lifted, bigger and brighter. The more full-bodied reds open up and show more complexity after the extra air contact.


How does Aeration work?

Aeration works by allowing the wine to oxidise. The increased oxidation softens the tannins and seems to smooth out the wine. Aerating plays a huge part in enhancing your drinking experience; first off, it releases a wine's beautiful aroma. The aeration creates bubbles this increases the surface area allowing the wine to show off its beautiful scents.

While in the bottle, wine is reacting with oxygen and constantly changing, just at a slower rate than when it's out of the bottle. 

In a sense, aerating wine is mimics or speeds up the wine's ageing, so effectively giving you a snapshot of the wine's cellaring potential. 

And of course, this means you are going to get the very best out of the wine you are drinking today! 


So, if you're tucking into a beautiful full-bodied red like our Reserve Shiraz or Petit Verdot or have a certain penchant for our Museum Wines, make sure you aerate them before you drink them.


A marvellous way of not having to decant a whole bottle is by using one of these amazing pourers. It aerates your wine as you pour! And the best bit...if you haven't finished the bottle, you've only aerated the wine your drinking.

If you aerate wine by decanting the bottle and don't finish the bottle, as you've speeded up the ageing process the wine is unlikely to be any good the next day.



What wines should I aerate?

  • Young tanic wines, with a lot of attitude
    • aeration will help the tannins to mellow a bit, softening any harsh edges in the wine and making it a more pleasant drinking experience that isn’t overpowered by a tannic punch.
    • Effectively wine aeration is trying to replicate the wine’s natural aging process, and tries to make up for lost years bottled in the cellar within an hour of open oxygen exposure. Both ways help break down harsh tannins.
  • Aged Red wine with visible sediment

    • Red wines are often aged, after a while various elements in the wine, such as tannins and other chemicals, begin to bind together, solidify, and sit as a sediment on the bottle of your wine bottle.
    • This usually occurs between eight and ten years of aging, although this depends on the type of red wine being stored, the conditions of its storage, etc. 
    • The sediment of aged wine can taste bitter - which makes sense, it is mostly tannins
      • So it’s always a good idea to segregate the sediment while you’re decanting aged wine.
      • To do this - remove the bottle from its aging rack (it has probably been laid sideways). Stand it upright for a day to allow the sediment to slowly float down and settle at the bottom of the bottle.
      • When you’re ready to decant the wine, pour very slowly so as not to mix the wine and sediment on the bottom, and keep an eye out for when to stop pouring. Make sure the murky wine and sediment on the bottom stays in the bottle, and doesn’t pour out into the decanter with the rest of the wine.
  • Some white wines
    • Some whites can also highly benefit from aeration. These whites are usually dry, full-bodied, and with heavier mouth feels than other whites.
    • Reserve Chardonnay & aged Verdelhos



Decanting Wine

Decanting wine is another way of aerating your wine. 

Decanting is usually best for full-bodied red wines or wines that have aged. It does 3 essential things:

  • Aerates
  • Catches Sediment
  • Increases surface area in which the wine can release the aroma.

Over time, as a red wine ages, the Tannins clump together and fall to the bottom of the bottle forming sediment. This sediment is not very tasty and should be avoided at all costs. If you allow wine to sit in a decanted for an hour or more, the sediment will fall to the bottom of the decanter and be caught in the dimple at the bottom, making the wine you drink from it free from sediment, while also aerating. 

Learn more about How Wine Ages

If you are having guests over for dinner who enjoy red wine, make sure you crack the bottle and pour it in a decanter at least 30 minutes before they arrive. Don't be scared to give it a swirl to slosh it around, this will open up the wine perfectly.

You're now ready to enjoy wine at it's fullest potential.

Warning: you will need to drink it all that night! After all that aeration the wine will taste 'past it' the next day.
Mind you I like an achievable goal!


*Important Note* - Not all wines need to be aerated. Aerating certain wines can actually ruin their complexity and destroy their flavour characteristics hugely.

Avoid aerating lighter-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, and fresh white wines, such as Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc or Unwooded Chardonnay.

Time Posted: 24/08/2018 at 2:00 PM
Laura Pearse
18 September 2017 | Laura Pearse

Spring Lamb - the perfect match for Cabernet Sauvignon

Winter has passed for another year!  If like us, you've had enough of hearty soups, slow-cooked casseroles, and stodgy puddings, it's time to celebrate Spring which calls for a juicy, tender Spring lamb dish washed down with a smooth and silky Cabernet Sauvignon.  A carefully aged Cabernet is a perfect match for lamb.

Upper Reach produces a terrific cool-climate cabernet - it's fruit for this "passion Project" of Derek's, the winemaker, is from Margaret River. This makes this 2016 Margaret River Cabernet a full-bodied wine with the trademark minty/ eucalypt nose. With age, Cabernet Sauvignon shows softer, dusty tannin which is mellow and ready to drink this Spring.

So, what exactly is Spring Lamb and why do we love it so much?  Here's what our Aussie butchers have to say about why it's so good.....

"The reason we have come to associate Spring with lamb season is that this is when lambs are most plentiful and consequently cheapest in Australia.

Most of the lamb in Australia is produced in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia where rainfall and grass growth is highest in Spring. Farmers take advantage of this by having more stock on the ground during this time. As such a typical Spring lamb is birthed in Autumn and sold between September and November when it is between 50- 60 kg in weight.

Contrary to popular belief Spring lamb is not exclusively milk-fed, milk-fed lambs are called sucker lambs. Because lambs are able to graze on lush grasses they take up nutrients from these such as Omega 3 and 6 making Spring lamb a healthy family choice. As the lambs have not reached full maturity the meat is much leaner and tender while also having a deliciously mild flavour".

So it's official! Spring lamb is best and we've put together one of our favourite recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Ottolenghi" for you to try at home.  All you need is a sharp knife, a bottle of the Upper Reach Cabernet (pour a glass to steady your hand) and a group of friends to share it with.....

Photo courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Ottolenghi"

12 lamb rib chops, French trimmed
1/3 cup olive oil
6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2tsp sea salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3 tbsp honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
100 g goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4tsp salt
4 fresh figs, quartered
Open the wine, allow to breathe.... then rub lamb chops with oil, thyme, rosemary, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Pour yourself a glass of wine...then combine the orange juice with vinegar, honey, cinnamon stick and star anise in a small saucepan and set over medium-high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until sauce is reduced by two-thirds, 30 to 40 min. Remove from heat and cover.

Toast walnuts in a small, non-stick frying pan over medium, about 5 min. Cool.
Pre-heat barbecue or grill pan to medium-high. Have another glass of that delicious Cabernet...

Sprinkle chops with remaining 1/4 tsp of salt. Season with fresh pepper. Oil grill, then barbecue chops 3 to 4 min per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand about 2 min before serving.

Toss walnuts with cheese, parsley, mint, oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Season with fresh pepper. Top with figs. Drizzle lamb with sauce.

Welcome your guests and if there’s any wine left in the bottle, share around ….. if not, open another! 
Time Posted: 18/09/2017 at 1:01 PM
Laura Pearse
21 August 2017 | Laura Pearse

Top 10 things to do in the Swan Valley 2020 edition

Top 10 Things To Do In The Swan Valley

This list was created for those with a day or two to spend in the Swan Valley or those with overseas visitors that want to get the most out of a day. In the Swan Valley you can check off those big ticket items, Koala's and Kangaroo's, as well as a world-class wine region, breweries and fresh local produce.

So here we go, our Top Things to do in the Swan Valley, written by a local who knows!


  • Coffee & cake at Taylor’s Art & Coffee House -  Perth's Best coffee & art gallery set in a wonderful old farmhouse. Rusty (and rustic!) old machinery is dotted around the venue, a nod to the "olden days" makes for an interesting stroll through whilst looking for the perfect table to claim for the morning. Food is casual yet homemade and tasty. Local artist Jude Taylor is on hand to show you her homewares, ladies handprinted designs on linen and silks and stunning Australian native landscape paintings. Dog Friendly.


  • Breakfast or Lunch at RiverBrook @ Upper Reach; RiverBrook offers small plates and large platters to share and a la carte options. Set in one of the most beautiful spots on the Swan River Valley, overlooking vineyards. Dog friendly outside only.

Menu                      Phone:  08 9296 3883

  • House of Honey – try their fantastic selection of honey samples and all things honey. Lots of fun for kids. Live beehive display behind glass- watch the bees make honey inside the shop. Dog Friendly outside only.                     Phone: 08 9296 3635

  • Feral Brewing - for the beer lover in your life. Tasting paddles of boutique beer and a great casual vibe. Feral is much awarded and have a devoted following they must be doing something right!  Open for dinner on the weekends.


  • Bells Rapids; Stunning scenery bordering the Swan River, with plenty of space to relax next to the river, or even kick your shoes off and go for a paddle, after a more (or less) strenuous walk through the walking trails. Beautiful picnic location with BBQ and toilet facilities. There are plenty of photo opportunities, none more exciting than on the bridge over the rapids.  Bells Rapids is dog-friendly.



  • Supa Golf & Mini Golf; Supa Golf is a scream, who doesn’t want to play golf with a football-sized golf ball?   Great for young and old!   Mini Golf always classic family fun!                 Phone 08 9296 5566

  • Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm on John Street; lots of animals to pet and feed as well as a train ride that will take the little people around. Cuddle rabbits, bottle feed lambs and pet some chicks. A great place for small children and toddlers...create some terrific memories for the littles. P.S- pony rides!                                    0424 209 730 

  • Caversham Wildlife Park, the best place to see more kangaroos together than you’ve ever dreamed of! Get up close and personal with koalas, and snap a selfie. Hand feed the kangaroos and cuddle a wombat. They have loads of native Australian animals, some you can pet and hold, sheep shearing, cows being milked –fun for children and adults of all ages! Recommended visiting in the early morning to allow time for lunch in the afternoon.

                                                                                 08 9248 1984

  • Margaret River Chocolate Factory- Chocolate and ice cream- what’s not to love?    When your pallet needs a break from all of the wine you have been tasting, you need to finish on a sweet note. Free chocolate samples and wonderful selection, you'll be a kid in a....candy store?!?       

Phone 08 9250 1588


  • The Dogs Breakfast Cafe- a day out in the swan valley with your dog is possible with lots of dogfriendly venues. Here you can sit and have a coffee while your dog has a hydrobath, plays on an agility course, or has a swim in the dog pool. You might need to book ahead for some of these 

(08) 9296 4206



  • Wine Tasting or Winery Tours at Upper Reach Winery. Walk the vineyard, discovering the grape varieties that make the Swan Valley region so special then tour our working winery, wine tasting as you go while learning the whole winemaking process. Not many wineries will let you do this, so its an absolute treat, like a special backstage pass.

    Sample the wines directly from tank or barrels, like the winemaker.

    Enjoy a relaxed 2-course lunch with sweeping views of the vineyard; one of chef’s fabulous shared platters (your choice of 3)  and a seasonal dessert.

    Finish up with a tasting of Tawny and Muscat dessert wines at Cellar Door and some shopping. The cellar door is full of locally made produce, honey, truffles and preserves which make perfect gifts. Bookings for tours essential.

Book Tour

Gourmet Traveller: Wine | Best Additional Experience Swan Valley 2018
Lux Magazine: Food & Wine Awards | Best Wine Tasting Experience 2018 Perth


If a winery tour is not for you, just pop in to cellar door for wine tasting. 

There is so much to see and do in the Swan Valley- one day is not enough...we recommend at least an overnight stay at Upper Reach Spa Cottage to really make the most of your visit. We look forward to welcoming you to the Swan Valley! Upper Reach Winery is dog friendly (except for Spa Cottage or inside Restaurant)


Time Posted: 21/08/2017 at 5:21 PM
Laura Pearse
13 August 2017 | Laura Pearse

The Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairings

Have you ever been confused about which wine should go with which food?  It can be pretty daunting when you don't know the rules.  But here's the rub....there are no rules!!  The only rules we know of are to have fun with it, don't take it too seriously and enjoy experimenting.

Here are some tips we've come up with to get you started, however, pairing wine with food is a very personal thing and if you have a favourite combination, then stick with it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

So, settle in with a glass of wine and let's get the ball rolling with The Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing :

Rule #1 - As we pointed out in our intro, there are no rules.  Be brave, try anything and enjoy the process!

Rule # 2 - When in doubt, Sparkling wine goes with everything.  Try it with popcorn, fish & chips at the beach, Thai curries, roast chicken and anything salty.  It's traditionally superb with seafood but is also bosom buddies with fruits, nuts and most meats.  Pairing your favourite Sparkling (which would have to be a Sparkling Chardonnay) with a freshly-baked loaf of bread will enhance the delicious yeasty, bread-like aroma which comes from the secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Rule # 3Acidic foods are great with light-bodied young whites.  Salad dressings, tomatoes, citrusy sauces – these things can overwhelm or dull a lot of wines. Light, tangy whites handle it best. Sauv blanc is a good bet, but the Upper Reach 2019 Verdelho is even better.  A dry verdelho is such a terrific food wine, it goes with anything from fresh seafood to a pork belly. 

Rule # 4 - Yes, you can pair red wine with white meat and vice versa.  Pinot Noir is great with roast turkey, salmon and other fatty fish.  White wine with red meat is a bit more of a challenge, but aged white wines (and we have a few in our Museum Cellar) - or Sparkling wines - can hold their own with a steak or a leg of lamb.  The rule of thumb here is "red meat, red wine; white meat, white wine" but as we pointed out right at the beginning, this rule can be defied any time you like!

Rule # 5 - With spicy foods, some residual sugar is your friend.  The cuisines of Thailand, India, & Mexico, for example, use lots and lots of chilli peppers in their food and breaking open your best Cabernet Sauvignon is NOT going to do your burning taste buds any favours! Aromatic and slightly sweet whites and pinks will balance highly-spiced foods best.  We love drinking our Black Bream White and Black Bream Pink with our favourite Thai food.  Give it a try - we can certainly vouch for it!

Rule # 6 - Tannins need fat!  If you're a steak lover, this is the bit you've been waiting for. But before we start cranking up the barbie, a very valid question is "what IS a tannin"? It’s the astringent component in red wine that gives it structure. This needs fat for balance, fat will soften the tannins and bring a smoother feel. Serve a bold, beautiful red like the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice fatty piece of Prime Rib.  Salivating already? Order the wine and then call your local butcher!

Rule # 7 - Your very own quirky, personal preferences rule the rules.  And, as we mentioned in Rule # 2, when in doubt go for bubbles.  You don't need a PhD, all you need is a few bottles in your cellar to get you started, somebody to cook for you and a few friends to pat you on the back when you tell them you've completed the Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing.  Enjoy!

Time Posted: 13/08/2017 at 8:00 PM