While facing the ravages of winter, David Pike also discovers some of the hidden treasures that abound in WA’s Great Southern.
AFTER spending the last few days exploring the wineries around Frankland, Denmark and Mt Barker I am certainly aware that winter has arrived.
The temperatures felt like they were bouncing off zero most of the time.
However, once I found myself inside with the log fire blazing away and tucked into a glass of local produce things quickly warmed up. The Great Southern wine region is certainly alive and richly diverse in terms of the qualities of wines and hospitality of cellar door staff.
Spending a few days popping into a dozen or more cellar doors I can assure you that the quality of product is certainly very good.
In particular, all of the shiraz and riesling that I tasted had, in some ways, what I expected.
What was interesting to learn was that there is still a dividing issue concerning the use of Great Southern to describe the region.
It has been a hot topic and after talking with a number of people throughout the region it seems that it will remain that way for a time yet.
While marketing the five sub regions as one and under one banner (the Great Southern) seems perhaps a little clumsy looking at responses from the local market and perhaps even in the eastern States, conversely I think that it becomes essential when thinking about establishing the region globally.
Howard Park is losing the services of Denmark-based winemaker James Kelly who has bought Harewood Wines around the corner from the Howard Park winery.
James has plans to establish a small winery on the property and undertake an amount of contract winemaking and, although his skills will be missed at Howard Park, he will quickly make an impact
with his own wines.
I only wish there was not any pinot noir at Harewood.
If anyone is looking for an opportunity to pick up a piece of Denmark the Somerset Hill vineyard and Cellar door is currently on the market with a price tag of around $1.8 million.
Contract winemaking is a great opportunity for wineries to help offset their start-up costs.
One contract winemaking facility situated in the Porongurup region was established specifically to make wines not only for the half-dozen wineries that set it up but also the growing number of small producers in the region.
The Porongurups Winery has faced a number of problems since opening its doors a few years back –
allegedly due in part to a number of faulty batches of wine and associated issues.
Contract winemaking can be a stressful busi-ness as has been observed at the Porongurups facility.
One of the more colour-ful identities in the Great Southern, winemaker and owner of Galafrey Wines owner Ian Tryer celebrates 25 years in the industry this year.
Galafrey has over the years produced a num-ber of classic wines from its home in Mt Barker, the 1991 Riesling it particular.
Discovering Mt Barker when he was working in the town on the communications tower, it did not take Ian long to discover the virtues of the grape.
The rest is history so to speak.
Who can forget the early Galafrey wine labels that showed the colour photograph of Ian with his trademark beard crouching in among his vines.
Ian was part of the first wave of grape growers in the Mt Barker region and has been an active member of the Great Southern wine community.
If you are passing this year I know he would love to share a taste of his wine with you.
There are plenty of wines to look out for when travelling through the region.
A few of the wines that I was impressed with along my journey were the soon to be released Frankland Estates Olmos Reward 2000, Castle Rock Riesling 2002, Gilberts Riesling 2002 and also a sneak preview of 2003 looks stunning, West Cape Howe 2003 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Mt Trio Shiraz 2001.
There is an abundance of very good wines in the region that are worth exploring.
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