30/11/2004 - 21:00

Magic showing by Broomstick

30/11/2004 - 21:00


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WHILE Margaret River and wine have a long-standing connection in terms of recognition throughout Australia and around the world, the neighbouring town of Witchcliffe has not been so fortunate.

Magic showing by Broomstick

WHILE Margaret River and wine have a long-standing connection in terms of recognition throughout Australia and around the world, the neighbouring town of Witchcliffe has not been so fortunate.

But one of Australia’s youngest wineries, and the surprise packet at some recent wine shows, is determined to change that.

Witchcliffe, which is located about 15 kilometres south of Margaret River, is the home of Broomstick Estate.

The label, whose name was inspired by the town, has enjoyed success at several recent wine shows where its 2003 shiraz outshone others to win a gold at the Qantas Mount Barker Wine Show, and bronze at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, the Royal Perth Show, the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge, and last week at the Royal Hobart International Wine Show.

Not bad for a label that began at a vacated dairy.

Broomstick Estate grew out of Robert and Sue Holloway’s love for the South West, where they bought a property in 1993 that had been operating as a dairy.

Mr Holloway says wine wasn’t part of the plan when they bought the property.

“We weren’t seriously thinking about vines, we just liked the area a lot; later on we did some soil tests and found the property was very suited to growing grapes,” Mr Holloway says.

“We built a pretty substantial dam on the property for assured water supply then planted our first vines, shiraz, in 1997.”

He says the popular red variety was a good one to begin with, but the plan was for the fruit to be sold on contract to local winemakers.

“We really only considered ourselves grape growers to begin with and started with shiraz as we thought a number of varieties might be difficult to manage,” Mr Holloway says.

“Both Sue and I have full-time jobs in Perth, where we are based, so we balance our time between work and family there, and the vineyard.

“We had a contract with Xanadu up until last year, but we kept a small amount of fruit for our own experimentation.

“As we hadn’t planned on being winemakers ourselves the first Broomstick vintage was produced at Flying Fish Cove, in 2001.”

The Holloways were impressed with the shiraz from Flying Fish Cove and shared this first vintage among family and friends.

The following year about 300 cases of shiraz was produced, a commercial quantity, which had been produced by the winemakers at Rockfield Estate, another Margaret River winery.

This was followed by the successful 2003 vintage, a slightly larger quantity at 500 cases.

Since establishing the shiraz, the Holloways have added merlot, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to the estate, with 18.7 hectares of the property now under vine.

Broomstick’s chardonnay and sauvignon blanc varieties have been contracted to fellow WA winery Howard Park and is expected to produce in 2006, but Mr Holloway says the Broomstick label will remain fairly low key.

“We probably won’t build our production too much, we’re available in a few restaurants but our wines are sold predominantly directly to customers,” he says.

“At the moment we’re not in retail outlets and with the smaller amounts we produce it’s not really a viable option at this stage.

“We’d really like to keep it low key and stay as grape growers first rather than as winemakers.

“The variety of wines being produced in and around Margaret River is great and I think the novelty of seeing new labels that come from smaller family businesses is an important part of the industry; it gives people an alternative to the corporates.

“It’s great when you go to a dinner party and someone brings out a new label to try.”

Mr Holloway says Broomstick’s philosophy is for each vintage to do better than the year before; it’s a philosophy that has, so far, come to fruition.


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