Margaret River

Western Australia

Margaret River One of the most vibrant and popular wine destinations in Australia, the Margaret River has an exceptional range of restaurants, accommodation and tourist activities. After a much-publicized birth in the early 1970s prompted, in part, by Professor Harold Olmo's research but, more importantly, that of Dr John Gladstones in 1965, the region briefly lost its momentum in the late 1980s before emphatically regaining it in the 1990s.

Initially regarded as a producer of powerful yet elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, the region has since also forged a great reputation for its white wines notably Chardonnay and a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend. However, it is capable of producing all the classic varietal wines with the possible exception of the continental varieties, Pinot Noir and Riesling.

More than any other major Australian region, as might be expected in one surrounded by the sea on three sides, Margaret River has a strong maritime climate. With the lowest mean annual temperature range of only 45.68°F, it also has, for good measure, the most marked Mediterranean climate in terms of rainfall with less than 25 percent of its annual rain falling between October and April. The low diurnal and seasonal temperature range means an unusually even accumulation of warmth. While spring frosts are very rare and highly localized, lack of winter dormancy and salty winds during spring can cause problems that are unique to this region. In terms of warmth, the overall climate is similar to that of Pomerol and St. Emilion in a dry vintage hence the quality of its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others.

The varied landscape is given character by the abundance of small creeks and gentle valleys as well as the profusion of native trees, shrubs and flowers. In physical terms, a degree of protection from winds blowing in from the ocean is the most important factor. The principal soil type is that of the ridge which runs from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin; it is predominantly gravelly or gritty sandy loam that has formed directly from the underlying granite and gneissic rock. The soils are highly permeable when moist but moisture is quickly shed from sloping sites. Overall water capacity is low, placing additional emphasis on the need for irrigation.