05/09/2006 - 22:00

Head for the hills – it’s show time

05/09/2006 - 22:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

It’s an exciting time of year for all those involved in the wine industry, with retail shelves stocked with the first offerings from the 2006 vintage and wine journos writing reviews intended to entice and inspire consumers.

Head for the hills – it’s show time

It’s an exciting time of year for all those involved in the wine industry, with retail shelves stocked with the first offerings from the 2006 vintage and wine journos writing reviews intended to entice and inspire consumers.

And it seems everywhere you look there is an Australian wine show of some shape and size.

This month there are two very important events on the local wine calendar – the hills wine community is getting ready for the Perth Hills Wine Show this coming weekend, September 9 and 10, while The West Australian Great Southern Wine Festival will be held from September 30 until October 2.

The Perth Hills Wine Show is growing in popularity and quality of produce with every year. An annual event, it works from a grass-roots level to celebrate the wines of this burgeoning region.

The hills wine region stretches along the Darling Scarp from Chittering to Serpentine, and really hit its straps in April 1999 when given official status as a gazetted wine-growing region.

People have been making wine in the hills for more than 100 years, but only relatively recently have some of its producers been recognised for their excellent wine.

The size and stature of the event has grown over the years. In 2006, more than 100 wines will be poured and medals and trophies distributed through local judging panels.

But what is really unique about this event is that it gives wine consumers direct access to the wine producers and grape growers. You won’t find winery lawyers, accountants or smartly dressed advertising execs pouring the vino; you’ll see the men and women responsible for the wine introducing it to you.

In such a competitive industry the time requirements for marketing, shareholder demands, and overall winery management mean access to the winemakers responsible for your favourite drops is often limited.

But, thankfully, a rise in quality and consistency in their products have not forced small independent winemakers behind corporate veils. They are still the main attraction at events such as the Great Southern Wine Show.

At the Great Southern show, 25 producers will gather in a giant marquee to provide tastings, information and sales of their new vintages. It is the most important event on the calendar for this important wine region.

The Great Southern is the largest and most varied wine region in Australia. Its immense expanse runs along the south coast and inland to Mount Barker and Rocky Gully.

The region’s wine potential developed to fill the economic vacuum left by the whaling industry, with substantial growth and vineyard concentration in recent years. The wine-producing area officially comprises five sub-regions – Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup – and there is great diversity among these.

It’s unlikely that Dr John Gladstones and Harold Olmo could have conceived the growth of the area when they gave the green light for development in the late 1950s.

Still, it is in the examples of wineries such as Ferngrove, Alkoomi, West Cape Howe, Plantagenet, and more recently Forest Hill and Gilberts, that have proved the region’s worth.

The rise of Ferngrove in particular mirrors that of the entire region, with a pioneering tradition of beef and dairy founded by Murray Burton eventually converted to premium winemaking more than 10 years ago.

That decision led to the foundation of one of the most awarded and commercially successful vineyard operations in the Frankland River area.

With preparations for this year’s Great Southern Wine Show well advanced, it is expected organisers are again going to focus on local talent to best exemplify their products.

Last year’s highlights were local vignerons James Kellie, Dave Cleary and Craig Drummond, who talked consumers through the  characteristics of Great Southern riesling, chardonnay and shiraz.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options