575 Commonage Road, Dunsborough
Ph: (08) 9755 3300
If you look closely, you can make out the builders’ finger marks on the hand-made bricks in the venue built in the 1970s. Happs Margaret River is full of character; evident everywhere from the cellar door to the pottery, gallery and magnificent gardens.
General manager Leah Clearwater showed us around and explained how you can grab a hamper basket and fill it with a range of gourmet local products. It’s that simple. Vegans and vegetarians are also catered for.
Before choosing your hamper, I recommend a wine tasting to go with the selection of fine foods, including charcuterie, local cheeses, dips, olives, chutneys, relishes, bread, crackers and more. Then you need to make the decision on whether to eat on the lawn, picnic style, at one of the outdoor tables, or inside in the wine lounge. And don’t worry if it’s a bit cool – its cosy inside beside the fire.
The staff are very helpful, recommending which wines go best with the various gourmet delights. With over 30 grape varieties and 40 different wines to choose from, Leah said the wine makers take pleasure in making wines to suit most palates. “The main focus of Happs is the wine and wine is enhanced by food. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
Leah put together a great combination for us. I hadn’t tasted some of the products before and it struck me just how lucky we are to have all this beautiful produce on our doorstep. One of those treats is the Ash Blonde cheese from Ha Ve Harvey Cheese – a deliciously soft flavoursome cheese great with the 2016 Happs Two by Two Cabernet Petit Verdot, a perfect blend of two grape varieties. The 2017 Happs Welcome Home Shiraz was also a great match with this cheese as well as with the Margaret River Venison pate.
With its fruity flavour and creamy mouth feel the 2018 Happs Fields of Gold Chardonnay was delightful with the creamy cheddar with fig and ginger from The Old Cheddar Cheese Company. This chardonnay is a pleasant wine with minimal oak making it a great lunchtime wine.
Happs’ merchandise shop sells a variety of products which are sourced locally and from regional suppliers wherever possible, including Holy Smoke (Manjimup), Beef by the Reef (Dunsborough), Ha Ve Harvey Cheese (Harvey) and Petra Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Yallingup), to name a few. And being only five minutes away from Dunsborough, people often don’t realise there is a retail outlet where they can call in and stock up on their way to their holiday destination.
“Happs is not pretentious. It’s a welcoming, warm and rustic place to visit,” said Leah. “It has regulars who return frequently for a picnic lunch or to play cards by the fire in winter while enjoying wine and cheese. It’s like a home away from home.”
Many couples have chosen Happs and its beautiful surrounds for their wedding. While there isn’t a restaurant, couples are welcome to organise their own catering in this glorious venue.
Open daily from 10am til 5pm , there are various artists in residence working in the studio gallery throughout the year, including potters Gary Hambleton, Karen Younger, Japneet Keith, as well as artist Susan Hood, encaustic artist Colin Pratt and metal sculptor Justin Webb. You can even wander through the giftware shop showcasing local crafts.
What a great way to while away the afternoon, living in the moment, enjoying a glass of wine or two and a selection of gourmet food.
by Ingrid Rickersey