Discover The Margaret River Wine Region

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, encompassing around a third of the country, yet due to formidable climatic and near-desert conditions in areas to the north and inland, the vineyards are confined mainly to its remote southwestern edge.

Visiting the Margaret River region in this isolated corner of the globe is well worth the trek. The surfer beaches are world-class, the drives through kangaroo populated bush and karri forests are breathtakingly exotic.

Plus, the incredible array of prized produce ranges from Manjimup truffles, to Denmark macadamias, to the blue manna crabs of Mandurah and the delicious local yabbies (crayfish). Western Australia accounts for only a tiny proportion of the wine production of Australia – roughly 3% – but much of what little is produced clearly demonstrates the general emphasis on quality over yields.

Great Margaret River Wineries To Visit

Pioneer wineries such as Moss Wood, Cullen Wines, Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, Cape Mentelle and Woodlands Wines today remain amongst this region’s benchmarks. Many of the vineyards that are producing fruit for the major labels were planted in the 1970s or earlier, and there’s a good amount of respectable vine age knocking about Margaret River.

Although Houghton’s winery in the Swan Valley dates back to the 1830s, Western Australia’s wine-rush really started around Margaret River in the 1960s, many of the prospectors coincidentally or otherwise coming from medical professions. The sudden increase in wineries around Margaret River in the late 1960s / early 1970s followed Dr. John Gladstone’s advice in 1965 highlighting the area’s climatic similarity to Bordeaux.

Wines of the Margaret River Wine Region

Margaret River alone stretches over 100 km, so it’s quite varied in terms of climate not to mention the whole gamut of relatively free-draining soil compositions, colors and textures. Generally speaking, it’s a maritime-influenced climate that receives most of its rainfall in the winter and therefore is considered Mediterranean.

The region is home to some very serious Cabernet Sauvignons and pretty good Sauvignon / Semillon blends, though it’s the more recently established Chardonnays that regularly challenge the greatest examples in the world today. Along with the highlighting of single vineyards/blocks that excel, the selection of clones (the well-established Gin-Gin or Mendoza clone gives very interesting fruit here) and better vineyard management, Chardonnays are simply being made better than ever.

There’s a concerted movement away from the old-school Aussie Chardy (big, oaky, buttery, high octane) towards a real sense of balance and elegance. Other less common grapes that can be found in Margaret River include Shiraz, Chenin and Zinfandel, all of which can be very good, but don’t truly measure up to the caliber of the Cabernets and Chardonnays.

Wine Tours and Experiences in the Margaret River Region


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Lisa's wine career began by happenstance when, living as a struggling playwright in London after college, she was offered a job as the manager of a wine bar and then promptly enrolled at WSET. She progressed through wine sales and marketing roles in the UK wine trade throughout the ‘90s and early 00's before moving to Tokyo in 2002, where she worked as a wine buyer for one of Japan's top fine wine importers and a wine educator at Tokyo's Academie du Vin. In 2008 Lisa moved to Singapore and began writing a column for Robert Parker’s website, Later that year she achieved her Master of Wine qualification and the Madame Bollinger Medal for excellence in wine tasting. In 2013 she became the Editor in Chief for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and and remains the publication’s critic for the wines of Australia and New Zealand. In 2015 Lisa’s first book, Taste Like a Wine Critic: A Guide to Understanding Wine Quality, was published.

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