Taste Bud Tours “speed graze” through the Swan Valley

Taste Bud Tours “speed graze”
Taste Bud Tours “speed graze”

What’s your name and what do you do?My name is Loris Harding and I’ve been involved in Tourism in the Swan Valley region for just over 20 years.  My first tourism experience was horse-drawn wagon trail taking visitors through the upper Swan Valley to places motor vehicles were unable to venture.  As marketing was my background I took on responsibility for the marketing of this venture including the building of the business website, brochure development, and distribution, itinerary development and souvenir photo service.  This business was very successful attaining finalist status in the Western Australian Tourism Awards for a number of years culminating in the Minister of Tourism’s Encouragement Award.  My tourism journey also included conducting Wine Tours for other Swan Valley Tour Operators as well as co-building Pink Bus Tours which was awarded the “Best New Business” in the Hanson Swan Business Awards.

In 2011 I decided to venture out on my own and develop the Swan Valley’s first “food focused” experience – Taste Bud Tours – and launched a unique concept known as “Speed Grazing”.  My marketing background and my previous tourism experiences helped me to develop a successful award-winning unique experience exclusive to Perth and the Swan Valley.  Taste Bud Tours has consistently been ranked the number one “Food Tour” in Perth on TripAdvisor.

Where’s your business?Taste Bud Tours “speed graze” through the Swan Valley – Perth’s Culinary Playground – ideally located only a short 25 minutes from the city.  The historic town of Guildford – gateway to the Swan Valley – is located only 13kms from the centre of Perth, making Perth unique in the world.  No other capital city enjoys its premier wine country so close.  Swan Valley is the oldest and most awarded wine region in Western Australia, grows 50% of the State’s grapes, is home to the State’s three largest wineries and recently acknowledged as the most visited region.

Where are you originally from?I’m originally from Oakleigh, Victoria, however, my mother is from Western Australia and met my father while on holidays in Victoria.  Dad followed my Mum back to her hometown of Kalgoorlie where my grandfather owned the Boulder City Hotel where my father worked in the mines as an engineer.  They married in Kalgoorlie and then immediately headed back to Victoria to raise a family.  Every few years our family would travel across the Nullarbor Plains to Western Australia to visit our family.  Eventually, my parents moved our entire family, including our grandmother, to the West. I find it incredible that my tourism business now visits Guildford which is the town my mother lived in as a child.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?“Speed Grazing” features small personalized groups of 6-16 people visiting at least 10 delicious locations and enjoying 25+ different tasting experiences in a fast-paced yet fun half day tour.  There is just so much on offer in the Swan Valley I needed to develop two “speed grazing” options – Good Food Wine & Cider morning tour (Wed, Sat & Sun) as well as a Good Food Wine & Beer afternoon tour (Sat & Sun).

I love the opportunity to take my guests to meet the people behind the labels, to uncover precious indigenous history and culture, to enjoy hands-on experiences like feeding local friendly Emus.  I enjoy observing guests excitement as they view production wherever possible, meet the Coffee Roaster and view the last stages of coffee roasting at Yahava KoffeeWorks, peer through the viewing windows at the Margaret River Chocolate factory, Mondo Nougat as well as Morish Nuts, meet a beekeeper as he introduces a live beehive and explains how honey is collected and of course taste pure unprocessed honey.

Why do you love the (YOUR AREA) region?Swan Valley has been a wine region since 1829 and is the second oldest wine region in Australia behind the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.  The families who call this region home are often third and fourth generation with amazing stories to share and experiences to offer.  The region is a compact 32 km loop packed with wineries, breweries, distilleries, cider houses, a meadery as well as restaurants, cafes, varied accommodation and roadside farmstalls brimming with seasonal local fresh produce.  Of course, the region is also home to galleries, specialized activities like supa golf, cuddly animal farm, equestrian facilities, river sports and much more.

This region is a seasonal food haven boasting over 30 roadside stalls and farm gates offering fresh seasonal produce direct from the grower.  Swan Valley is known for table grapes, wine grapes, stone fruit, asparagus, melons, strawberries, figs, citrus, fresh honey, gourmet fresh fruit juices and much more.

Where’s your favorite place to hangout out at the weekend or after work?I don’t feel this is a relevant question as I work weekends …

Where’s the best place to get a breakfast? And what do you order?If you were looking for a super healthy breakfast I would suggest Taylors Art & Coffee House in Middle Swan.  These guys make the best breakfasts using local treats like free range eggs, fresh asparagus, mushrooms and herbs from their own garden as they support “paddock to plate” and baking their own bread and cakes as well.  You need to book ahead and you can even reserve your favorite spot in their incredible garden which includes artists’ shops on weekends.  By the way, the coffee is pretty special.  Make sure you check out Jude Taylor’s awarded gallery.

What pubs should visit?Guildford offers a broad choice with four historic pubs plus great restaurants, cafes and unique Alfred’s Kitchen established in 1946 and open daily from 5 pm to 2 am and lunch on weekends. Some years ago Alfred’s Kitchen was acknowledged to make thebest hamburgers in Australia” by Master Chef Mat Preston.

What’s your favorite local wine and meal?My favorite “spoiling someone special” treat is a delicate High Tea at Lavender Bistro & Boutique, or perhaps a rustic Cheese Board offering international cheeses at The Cheese Barrel accompanied by sparkling, still and fortified wines from Olive Farm Wines (oldest winery in WA)

Why should we come to the (YOUR AREA)?If you’re visiting Perth do yourself a favor by visiting the Swan Valley.  This historic awarded wine region is a mere 25 minutes from the centre of Perth and offers an exciting range of culinary experiences.  The Swan Valley is predominately privately owned which makes it different to any other wine region in the country.  The family-owned venues are friendly, passionate and welcoming.  Meeting the people behind the labels is an experience in itself and will create memories to take home.

Anything else you would like to add?I’m particularly proud of my business – Taste Bud Tours – and excited our unique “Speed Grazing” concept has won international recognition in the form of awards.

Awarded Certificates of Excellence from TripAdvisor for the past 7 years is a testament to our guests’ confidence in our product.

Other awards include ….

WINNER:

Travel & Hospitality Awards 2018 – Culinary Tour Company

APAC Insider Awards 2017 – Best for Food Experiences – Western Australia

Affordable Tour Operator of the Year for Perth, Australia – Luxury Travel Guide 2017 Global Awards – Holiday & Tour Specialist Category

Culinary Experience of the Year for Perth, Australia – Luxury Travel Guide 2016 Global Awards – Holiday & Tour Specialist Category

Gold Medal – FACET Golden Guide Award – Best Tour Guide – W. Australian Tourism Awards 2014

Viator Tr
avel Awards –  Best Local Operator 2014

Experience Oz – Top 10 Things to Do –  Perth Region  2014

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence – 2012, 2013, 2014,  2015, 2016 & 2017

RAC Gotta Go WA Campaign – Category Winner (Wineries/Wine Tours) 2013

Best New Business 2011 Belmont Small Business Awards