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Wine regions Australia


Wine regions - Great Southern

Great Southern   Western Australia

Albany   Denmark   Frankland River   Mount Barker   Porongurup

The Great Southern is a large and diverse region, home to many of Western Australia's most successful and individual wineries.

Albany coastline

This whale shaped island signifies the
dominance of whales and dolphins in
the waters off Albany.

The Great Southern Region is a large region running along the south coast of Western Australia. Lake Muir marks its western boundary and the Pallanup River marks the east. There are two other rivers the Frankland to the west and the Kalgan which enters the ocean near Albany.

The region has five sub-regions, Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup. The main town is Albany, followed by Denmark, Porongurup, Mount Barker and Rocky Gully.

The region's viticultural history is entirely recent. John Gladstones and Harold Olmo gave the green light for development in the late 50's early 60's. WA's Department of Agriculture under Bill Jamison established trial plantings at Forest Hill in 1965. Further trials ensued and by 1972 the first harvest was sent to Houghtons and Sandalford for winemaking by Jack Mann and his son Dorham. What transpired was development that gained momentum in the 70's and accelerated in the 80's.

The climate is maritime influenced Mediterranean, with significant differences reflected between the sub-regions.

It is a spectacular region to visit with a stunning coastline, rich, undulating country full of native floral treasures and a very interesting history.

Harvest time: mid February to early April.

Middleton Beach

Walk - bike - swim - fun at Middleton Beach.

Albany Sub-region, Western Australia

Albany is a small wine region with a growing reputation. Pinot Noir is proving to be surprisingly successful.

One industry dies and another is born. So it was with Albany the centre of whaling in Western Australia that closed operations in 1978. Fortunately for the region viticulture took root in 1974 producing very fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Suitable soil is somewhat patchy in this sub-region and sites have to be chosen with care. The climate is Mediterranean with maritime influences from winds locally called the "Albany Doctor" and humidity levels.

Albany is a substantial city with a very interesting history. It makes a good base for the wine traveller checking out the Great Southern Region.

Harvest time: early March to mid April

Valley of the Giants

Valley of the Giants. Walk through the canopy
along the 600m tree top suspension bridge.

Denmark Sub-region, Western Australia

Denmark lies west along the coast 59 kilometres from Albany. This established wine making is the latest to join the family of Great Southern sub-regions. The area's reputation is forming around its distinct Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The climate is Mediterranean with wet winters and warm to hot summers. The sea tempers the heat and dryness in summer. The soils are a mix of marri loam and karri loam. There is a focus in the area on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, however, red varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and white varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are also grown.

The main town is Denmark named after an English naval surgeon Dr Alexander Denmark. The town is the centre of a thriving tourist industry which has been boosted in recent years by wine tourism.

Harvest time: early March to mid April

Thelymitra variegata

Thelymitra variegata - the nature of art

Frankland River Sub-region, Western Australia

Wines of defined varietal character are the hallmark of this small region. Crisp intense Riesling and deeply coloured Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly appealing styles.

Wineries such as Alkoomi established in 1971 and Frankland Estate established in 1988 have given rise to this sub-region's reputation as a fine producer of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Four rivers the Frankland, Gordon, Kent and Tone converge in this sub-region. The soils are of the 'marri' type derived from granite. The climate is Mediterranean and unlike the other sub-regions has virtually no maritime influences.

Harvest time: mid March to mid April

Stirling Ranges

The wine growing region of Mount Barker
backdropped by the Stirling Ranges

Mount Barker Sub-region, Western Australia

Home to many fine and stylish wines, the Mount Barker region is well worth discovering. Distinctive styles of Riesling and Shiraz can be found, along with world class Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Mount Barker area was the birthplace of the Great Southern wine region. It was this area that was first recommended for table grapes by the American viticulturalist Harold Olmo.

Most wineries and vineyards in the Mount Barker Sub-region are to be found west of the Albany Highway on gently undulating ground. This region is distinguished by its gravelly loams called "marri" that have good drainage qualities and low fertility. The climate is Mediterranean with lower levels of humidity and more sunshine than the coast.

Mount Barker is winning awards for Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Other varieties grown include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Malbec and Merlot.

Harvest time: mid March to late April


Vineyards in the Porongurup Sub-region
sweep towards the Stirling ranges.

Porongurup Sub-region, Western Australia

With sweeping views of the Porongurup Ranges, this picturesque region is well worth a visit.

The Kalgan River forms the eastern boundary of the Porongurup Sub-region.

The regions' vineyards are grown on "karri" soil, loams which are formed from granite. Principle varieties are Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Verdelho, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Shiraz. The climate is Mediterranean. Events include the Porongurup Wine Festival in March.

Bibbulum Track

The Bibbulum Track takes you through
a magnificant coastline national park

Harvest time: mid March to late April

Sites with more information:

All photos courtesy of Tourism WA