18/06/2008 - 22:00

Growth potential for Swan Valley wineries

18/06/2008 - 22:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

Microbreweries and candy factories may been the Swan Valley's most popular tourist attractions in recent times, but local wineries say that wine tourism is on the cusp of becoming serious business for the area.

Growth potential for Swan Valley wineries

Microbreweries and candy factories may been the Swan Valley's most popular tourist attractions in recent times, but local wineries say that wine tourism is on the cusp of becoming serious business for the area.

According to a recent study by Tourism WA, 'Swan Valley Better Business Blitz Presentation', only 7 per cent of the day trippers to the Swan Valley in 2006 nominated a winery visit as their main reason for heading to the area, while 23 per cent went to have a meal/drink.

The study also showed that the Margaret River Chocolate Factory is the most visited attraction.

The valley's wine producers have gone through a steep learning curve during the past decade. Limited formal training for many growers made the transition from predominantly table grape production to winemaking a difficult journey.

"The reputation of the region was seen as a bit of a bulk wine and fortified wine region that didn't produce great table wines for a long time," Upper Reach Wines principal Derek Pearse said.

Recently, however, a combination of factors has helped the oldest wine region in Western Australia to lift its profile and develop its wine tourism potential.

Prominent funds manager Graeme Yukich, whose family has been involved in the region since 1929, is waiting for council approval to open a new winery in the valley.

Y Wines will be separated from the current Swan Valley operations, Oakover Wines, which his family has operated since 1990.

The new winery will embrace a boutique approach to winemaking, according to Oakover Wines head winemaker, Rob Marshall.

"Oakover is well established, this [Y Wines] will be an opportunity to offer a slightly different product to the consumer. We are looking at growing different varieties such as petit verdot, malbec and tempranillo," Mr Marshall said.

According to Mr Yukich, wine tourism has grown in recent years and has potential to keep growing, thanks to the region's proximity to Perth.

"We actually noticed that once petrol prices started to spike, more people who would normally go down to Margaret River end up going to the Swan Valley for a day," Mr Yukich told Business Class.

An injection of fresh winemaking talent in recent years has also helped lift the quality of wine produced in the valley.

Seven years ago, a winemaking course was made available at Curtin University for aspiring winemakers, who, before that, had to relocate to Roseworthy in South Australia to study winemaking.

Among the up-and-coming wineries in the region are Sitella, Faber, and Upper Reach, which have joined the more established Lamonts in employing young graduates from Curtin.

Lamonts Wine proprietor and Tourism WA chair Kate Lamont believes improving the Swan Valley is also improving the touristic value of Perth.

"The Swan Valley makes Perth more liveable and adds value for people who work here. If Perth wants to be an international city and we want to attract that talent, we have to be a fantastic place to live, work and to visit," she said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options