Wine regions - Perth Hills
Perth Hills Western Australia
Nestled amongst the native bush land, in the Perth Hills, passionate boutique winemakers experiment with a host of varieties, with Viognier and Shiraz emerging as signature wines of the region.
The Perth Hills is a large, geographically diverse wine region lying on Perth's doorstep. It runs along the Darling scarp from the northern town of Bindoon, south to the Serpentine Reservoir. The region has five major valleys, Bindoon and Chittering in the north, Mundaring in the centre and Bickley and Carmel to the south. The rivers Swan, Avon and Helena flow through the region.
Perth Hills is noted for the diversity of its
wine styles which are showcased by
excellent cellar doors and restaurants
Follow the Great Northern Highway and you will find a cluster of wineries between Bullsbrook and Bindoon.
In the centre of the region along the Great Eastern Highway there is the main town of Mundaring. South of the highway there are wineries around Darlington and north of the highway there are wineries around the tiny towns of Parkerville, Stoneville, Mt Helena, Chidlow and Wooroloo.
Further south is a major cluster of vineyards and wineries around the towns of Carmel and Bickley.
One of the unique features of the Perth Hills region is the diversity of wine styles produced. The region's topography is the key to this diversity with hills and valleys producing a number of microclimates suitable for different grape varieties resulting in production from fortifieds to cool climate table wines.
In general terms the climate is Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and cool, wet winters. Night time temperatures are very cool influenced by the elevation range of between 100 and 400 metres. The valleys experience frosts in winter.
The past few years has seen extensive growth in the number of vineyards and wineries. There was some wine production in the early 1880s but the area was predominantly orchards. Then in the late nineteen seventies and eighties there was a flurry of boutique vineyard and winery establishment.
Fortunately for wine travellers the recent developments have seen a blossoming of cellar doors and winery cafés and restaurants making the Perth Hills a great place to relax and dine. Summer temperatures are a good three degrees cooler than Perth, a fact well know to many Perth residents who flock to the region for cool fresh air and fine wines.
The major varieties grown are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Muscat,
These vines grow in a range of soils from sandy over gravel loams to rich clays to gravely and rocky. Valley slopes have ironstone and gravely loams; whilst to the north of the region brown loam over clay provides rich fertile soil.
Tourism experiences in the region are all about enjoying the countryside with open spaces, bushland, galleries and craftshops, cafes and restaurants, farmers markets and roadside fruit stalls.
In early May there is the Bickley and Carmel Harvest Festival and in September the Perth Hills Wine Festivals with many other performing arts events running throughout the year.
The region is roughly divided along its wine trails of which there are three, Chittering Valley Trail, Heart of the Hills Wine Trail and Bickley and Carmel Valleys Wine Trail.
Chittering Valley Wine Trail
The Chittering Valley is under an hour by road north-west of Perth. Its gently rolling hills form a tranquil backdrop to the myriad of orchards, farms and vineyards that dot the hillsides.
At 3 degrees cooler than Perth, the cool Hills
make a great summer heat retreat.
The beautiful Chittering Valley
Situated up to 300 metres above sea level, the climate and soils of the Chittering Valley are quite different to those of nearby viticulture regions.
The soils of the Valley are predominantly sandy brown and red loam over clay with some granite outcrop, while the climate is typically Mediterranean with cold, wet winters and hot dry summers. These conditions are ideal for grape growing with winter frosts ensuring good fruit set and hot summer days and cool summer nights guaranteeing grape ripening.
The wine trail is a circuit tour along which are eight wineries.
Wines are made from the characteristic grapes of the region - Shiraz, Verdelho, Grenache, Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.
Heart of the Hills Trail
Mundaring, the Heart of the Hills, has been a wine producing area since the 1880's, when the first vineyards were planted in Darlington.
Cellar doors are open on the weekends and by appointment during the week. The area specialises in Method Champenoise, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Vineyards to visit include Darlington Estate, Lion Mill, Chidlow's Well Winery and Lake Charlotte Wines.
Vines, olive trees and forested slopes
part of the patchwork of beauty.
From gourmet meals in wonderful surroundings, to light lunches and snacks, Mundaring offers it all. There are several award winning restaurants and wineries catering to a variety of tastes. Dine alfresco during summer, or enjoy the atmosphere of a cosy fire in winter.
The area is also home to artists and craftspeople affording opportunities for visits to studios and the galleries. There are walking and cycling tracks throughout the area and picnic facilities at Lake Leschenaultia and Mundaring Weir.
Mundaring has two lovely old hotels with modern accommodation facilities, bed and breakfast establishments and a youth hostel.
Bickley and Carmel Valleys Wine Trail
Situated approximately 35 minutes drive east of Perth and nestled in the Darling Ranges, the beautiful Bickley and Carmel Valleys form the southern part of the Perth Hills. The valleys, which lie west of Kalamunda, have a cluster of award-winning boutique vineyards and wineries.
Along the trail you will find cellar doors - Ashley Estate, Cosham Wines, Myattsfield Vineyards and winery eateries with vineyard platters of local produce to fine dining - Hainault Vineyard and Millbrook Estate.
The region is blessed with cellar doors
and fine cafes and restaurants
Millbrook Estate at Jarrahdale -
dining with water views
The area is a great place to relax and enjoy the pleasures of nature and the rural countryside. It has beautiful forests, extraordinary wildflowers, tranquil bushwalking trails along which you will see bird and animal life, creeks and waterfalls. Along the country roads you will find roadside stalls selling in season fruit and freshly picked asparagus. Picturesque picnic and barbeque spots abound in the national forest and parks, including the majestic Lesmurdie Falls, with its wonderful views over the city.
Harvest time: late February to mid March
Josh Davenport from the Perth Hills Vignerons Association said the 2008 vintage is looking good. Tonnages for reds are up and white tonnages remain steady. It has been a good weather year with the exception of a hot spell in February which brought the Cabernet on quickly. It has been a good season for Viognier, Shiraz and fortified varieties. With fewer bird problems and hardly any disease, this year's harvest will be a welcome one for winemakers.
Perth Hills Wine Show 2008
Western Range Wines most outstanding at this years
Perth Hills Wine Show
The official judging of the regions best wines took place on Saturday 19th July with Western Range Wines clear winners on the night.
Western Range Wines took home 4 trophys including the best exhibitor and also the best wine of the show. Securing a very impressive total of medals including 3 gold, 2 silver and 9 bronze, Marilyn Corderoy in her acceptance speech gave particular thanks to the tireless work of senior winemaker, Ryan Sudano.
The trophy for the best white wine 2007 or younger went to Millbrook Winery for their 2007 Estate Viognier which is described as dry, with evident acidity, stonefruit and marmalade sweetness and a creamy texture. A well balanced style that has a lingering flavour and is superbly suited to food, particularly rich flavoursome foods.
Best Single Red Variety went to Lion Mill Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel and the Best Dry Red Blend was awarded to the Hartley Estate 2007 Cabernet Merlot.
This year's judges were John Hanley (Chief Judge) Anthony Kosovich and Mark Warren. Mr Hanley in his presentation commented on how impressed he was with the region's commitment to continued improvement of its product and the professionalism of the association's wine show.
Public tasting at this year's Perth Hills Wine Show which will be held on 2 - 3 August in conjunction with the Mundaring Truffle Festival.
Media Release 23 July 2008
Perth Hills Vignerons Association
Sites with more information:
- The Perth Hills Wine Region
- Chittering Tourist Association Inc.
- Mundaring - Heart of the Hills
- Bickley and Carmel Tourism Association
Photos courtesy of:
Perth Hills Vignerons Association