3 regions you need to know about in WA
From the renowned charm of Margaret River to the sprawling diversity of Great Southern and beyond, Western Australia has played a vital role in the evolution of Australian wine.
Following a ground-breaking survey commissioned in 1954 by the government to determine the state’s viability for viticultural production, Western Australia – and Margaret River in particular – rapidly began turning out quality wines that captured the world’s attention.
The viticulturalist who conducted the study, Professor Harold Olmo of the University of California, didn’t just stop at Margaret River. He also found the regions that make up what is today known as Great Southern shared similarly suitable conditions for winemaking.
The rest, as they say, is history. Here’s a brief introduction to three key Western Australian wine regions, from Margaret River to Great Southern, and the rising star of the Geographe region.
The celebrated Margaret River region is just one highlight of WA’s wine scene.
It is impossible to overstate the impact Margaret River has had on the development and international fame of Australian wine. A three-hour drive from Perth along the West Australian coast, it enjoys a Bordeaux-like climate and consistently produces some of the finest, most elegant Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia. Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends from the region are also held in high regard. Among its many producers, names like Vasse Felix, Howard Park, Leeuwin Estate, Cape Mentelle, Forester Estate and Sandalford have earned considerable acclaim.
Since 1996, the Dewar family of Willow Bridge has spearheaded the growing fame of Geographe.
Long celebrated for its premium grapes, Geographe has lately come into its own for its quality winemaking. Boutique production has boomed, and more people are discovering for themselves just what this region, stretching from Harvey to Busselton and inland to Donnybrook, has to offer. Elegant Cabernets and Shiraz reign here alongside notable Chardonnays, but new wave styles like Viognier and Tempranillo are also seeing great success. Just two hours from Perth, it’s the ideal day-trip destination, with wineries like Iron Cloud, Aylesbury Estate and Willow Bridge producing wines that are equal to those made anywhere in the country – if not the world.
The highly regarded Howard Park have long been champions of cool climate Great Southern winemaking.
A literal giant in the world of Australian wine, Great Southern consists of five distinct sub-regions – Denmark, Albany, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup – that are among some of the most isolated wine-producing centres in the world. Each has their own climatic conditions, from which emerge distinctive expressions of classic varieties – particularly Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. In fact, from the earliest days, Great Southern showed such promise that winemaking legend Maurice O’Shea once said that if ever he were to start over in wine, he would do so in Great Southern. Standout wineries include West Cape Howe Wines, Castelli Estate, Landsdale and Byron & Harold.
If you haven’t already, “Go West”, and discover an exciting new world of wine… you won’t be disappointed!