Happy Birthday Margaret River
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 in News
Fifty years may be no more than a few blinks in wine-time, but it’s still an important milestone.
The modest ambitions of Margaret River’s founders must surely have been greatly exceeded. The region took a while to get going, but once it did there was no stopping it.
The initial scoffing from wine people in ‘the east’ soon turned to open-mouthed wonder – and not a little jealousy at the relatively high prices Margaret River wines seemed able to sustain.
Margaret River was born as a wine region when Tom Cullity planted the original vineyard at Vasse Felix in 1967. He was followed by the Cullen family, Bill Pannell at Moss Wood and the Watson family at Woodlands.
They were joined by wealthier players such as the Horgans at Leeuwin Estate and the Wrights at Voyager Estate and others including David Hohnen at Cape Mentelle and Mike Peterkin at Pierrot.
Today those eight producers account for all 10 of the 100% Margaret River wines in the Langton’s Classification. Leeuwin Estate and Vasse Felix each have two Classified wines.
Margaret River was also the pioneer of wine tourism in Australia, aided by existing natural attractions – beaches, rocky coastline, forests, wildflowers and caves – and perhaps also by the fact that both Jakarta and Singapore are closer to Perth than they are to Sydney.
It’s clear today that Margaret River has taken its place as one of the world’s great wine regions.
And the international accolades keep flowing for Vasse Felix.
Within the last week its flagship Tom Cullity Cabernet-Malbec was ranked number one in James Suckling’s Top 100 Australian Wines for 2017 and Vasse Felix was also named Best New World Winery by the important U.S. wine publication Wine Enthusiast.
Appropriately, Tom Cullity is the new name for the Vasse Felix flagship red wine, previously labelled Heytesbury (and Langton’s Classified ‘Outstanding’).
Suckling’s local correspondent Nick Stock says the 2013 Tom Cullity is… ‘everything a great wine should be and a new step for Vasse Felix, Margaret River and for Australian Cabernet’.
Langton’s Wine Manager Adrian Read is old enough to remember Margaret River’s beginnings. He can recall a conversation with Di (Diana Madeline) Cullen, mother of Vanya, about whether or not the flagship Cullen Cabernet-Merlot could survive a price rise beyond $30 per bottle, as proposed by her Singapore agent.