Boasting 100+ cellar doors, Margaret River is the most beautiful wine region in Australia, producing internationally renowned chardonnay, cabernet and semillon sauvignon blanc. The growing conditions are almost identical with Bordeaux. In 2016, James Halliday noted that Margaret River produced 14 of the top 32 cabernets, 7 of the top 10 sauvignon blanc/semillon blends and 8 of the top 30 chardonnays in Australia.
These varieties are commonly associated with Bordeaux with both regions sharing almost identical growing conditions in terms of growing season, warmth, rainfall, and maritime climate. In 2016, James Halliday, Australia’s most renowned wine critic and writer of the industry benchmark ‘Australian Wine Companion’, noted that Margaret River produced 14 of the top 32 cabernets, 7 of the top 10 sauvignon blanc/semillon blends and 8 of the top 30 chardonnays in Australia.
This is only the beginning of what you will find amongst Margaret Rivers’ six wine sub-regions, more than 200 grape growers and 120 cellar doors. Many of the wineries are family owned and operated and full of character. Even the larger producers are still relatively boutique when compared to the East Coast and international giants, and that is exactly how we like it.
The doctors-cum-winemakers who dominated the early development of viticulture in the region still have families with a strong influence on the industry and many were unusually sensitive to the environment. That’s why most Margaret River wineries tend to merge into the countryside rather than stand superimposed on it. Stone or rammed-earth walls and skilful use of local timber are commonplace, with subtle bush landscaping enhancing their appeal.
It was Dr John Gladstones who first realised this, writing (inter alia) in a 1965 research paper about Margaret River: “Being virtually frost-free, and having a much lower ripening period, cloudiness, rainfall and hail risk than Manjimup and Mt Barker, it has distinct advantages over both those areas, and indeed over all other Australian vine districts with comparable temperature summations.” His report led Dr Tom Cullity to establish Vasse Felix in 1967, the first vineyard and winery in Margaret River, and he was followed quickly by others.
Wineries for kids
Around 50 wineries cater for children, with awesome playgrounds, treehouses, outdoor games, drawing materials and great kids’ menus. Some even allow pooches. Check out the list of the Scoop Wine Guide.
In terms of growing conditions the region is very similar to Bordeaux, a region also strongly influenced by a maritime climate and remarkable similar growing season, warmth and rainfall. Margaret River has also negotiated the best deal with the weather gods, having the most reliable and wonderful climate of any wine region in Australia, with excellent rainfall through winter and spring.
Margaret River Cabernet
In James Halliday’s 2016 Australian Wine Companion, Margaret River had 14 of the top 32 cabernets. The Coonawarra region in South Australia, which historically grew the best cabernet in the country, has only two of 32, so Margaret River is now absolutely dominant in the Australian context. While most Margaret River cabernet is termed ‘cabernet sauvignon’ on the label, typically up to 15 per cent of the wine will contain some of those Bordeaux varieties – a bit of merlot, malbec and/or petit verdot.
Margaret River Chardonnay
In James If you look at Margaret River chardonnay within the overall context of Australia, in James Halliday’s 2016 Australian Wine Companion, eight out of the top 30 are in the Yarra Valley, and eight are in Margaret River, including the highest ranked: 2013 Deep Woods Estate Reserve, the only chardonnay to earn 98 points. So Margaret River is equal top with the Yarra Valley, but I think most people would agree the regions produce very different styles of chardonnay.
Margaret River SBS
In James Halliday’s 2016 Australian Wine Companion, Margaret River has seven out of the top 10 sauvignon blanc/ semillon blends. The region is absolutely dominant in the Australian context. No one comes close to Margaret River when it comes to SBS.