06/08/2020 - 16:05

Wilyabrup wine region decision suspended

06/08/2020 - 16:05

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A move to list Wilyabrup as an official wine region has been denied until further notice by the geographic indications committee.

Wilyabrup wine region decision suspended
For a region to earn its own Geographical Indication it must produce at least 500 tonnes of grapes per year. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A move to list Wilyabrup as an official wine region has been denied until further notice by the geographic indications committee.

The application for Wilyabrup to become a registered Geographical Indication (GI) was made in 2017 by Cullen Wines, Fraser Gallop Estate, Lenton Brae, Moss Wood and Woodlands Wines.

The verdict was determined on the basis there was insufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate Wilyabrup as a separate viticultural wine-region.

The application will be suspended pending further scientific research on the region.

The Margaret River Wine Association (MRWA) is in the process of undertaking a scientific study on the region’s soils and natural environment.

The association has contested that new scientific evidence should be considered before Wilyabrup becomes its own sub-region.

MRWA chief executive Amanda Whiteland said the board was open to sub-regions if formed on a scientific basis. 

“We wanted to finish the work to make sure that any decision around a boundary is done on the latest scientific information, given that once it’s confirmed it can’t really be moved,” Ms Whiteland told Business News.

“We didn’t feel there was enough of a scientific basis at this point in time.

“We’re in the process of doing a project which is a deep dive into the soils, climates and the natural environments to determine if there are any distinct natural units that have any variation from others,” she said.

It is yet to be determined when that research will be completed.

For a region to earn its own GI it must produce at least 500 tonnes of grapes per year and include at least five vineyards that are not of common ownership, according to the GIC.

A wine that claims Wilyabrup as its GI would need to be made from at least 85 per cent of grapes grown in that region.

At this stage wine producers are free to label their wines with Wilyabrup, provided it meets the requirements.

Moss Wood winery co-proprietor Keith Mugford is one of the initial applicants.

“We don’t see ourselves as not in Margaret River, that’s not the point,” he said.

“The locality of Wilyabrup has been successful in making good wine for a while now and just general usage of regional names is becoming more commonplace.

“From a marketing perspective, one of the issues we find in international markets is we don’t have the same clarity for consumers who are interested in those sorts of things.

“I guess there’s a sense of sub-regional pride, that’s entirely an emotional connection, people feeling strongly about the place that they live work and do business.”  

Mr Mugford said he was unsure about the next steps.

“We’ve done our bit really, we’ve put together the information and endeavored to meet the committee’s requirements,” he said.

“Now we wait to see how that unfolds.”

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