Great Southern

Western Australia

Great Southern Skirting the south-west Australian coast for over 125 miles and pushing northwards back into the hinterland almost 60 miles, this is a very large region even by Australian standards. It ranges from the coastal, maritime subregions of Albany and Denmark to the unequivocally inland and continental subregions of Mount Barker, Porongurup and Frankland River; from fat country to lean, with large areas untouched by vineyards. In these circumstances it is indeed surprising that there is such a degree of coherence in the wine styles being produced as to make generalizations possible. The potential of the region is vast; its sole physical limitation being that of water availability, the issue of salinity, and the distance from the manufacturing and marketing resources of the eastern states.

The subregions are Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup, all of which are now registered under Australia's Geographical Indications legislation.

As one moves north and inland from the strongly maritime climate of Denmark, the continental influence and hence temperature variability increases significantly, although there is a lesser increase in total heat summation. Elevation, aspect and site vary widely, but in general terms the climate of these northern areas is similar to that of Bordeaux and tends to be slightly warmer on the higher sites.

Though rainfall is greater and relative humidity increases in the south around Denmark, heat summation and sunshine hours do not change greatly; so careful site selection allows the production of virtually every wine style from Riesling to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Immense granite outcrops, the Porongurups, are visible for many miles away and are a physical landmark of both massive size and beauty.

The predominant soils are similar to those of the Margaret River region; either lateritic gravelly sandy loams (marri country) or sandy loams deriving directly from granite and gneissic bedrocks. They are typically brown to gray brown in colour, with the percentage of clay varying from one location to another. Fertility is moderate, as are typical yields.