The French Connection at Geographe

By Fergal Gleeson

Willow Bridge Vineyards
Willow Bridge Wines vineyards

With a strong tradition of discovery, the Geographe Wine region takes its name from Geographe Bay. The bay was named by French explorer Nicholas Baudin, who first mapped the coastline with his two ships, the Geographe and the Naturaliste in 1801.

The wine region wraps around the bay, extending from Harvey in the north, southwards through Capel to Busselton and eastwards to encompass Donnybrook and Ferguson Valley. Home to 57 growers, 26 producers and 36 different grape varieties, Geographe is the most diverse wine region in Western Australia.

The Wine Show

The French connection is remembered at the Geographe & WA Alternative Wine Show each year with the Nicholas Baudin Trophy for Excellence in Winemaking. This trophy is based on the accumulated medal scores for Geographe wines entered into three categories.

Previous winners have been Peter Stanlake (who makes wine for a variety of small wineries including Talisman Wines and Fifth Estate), Kim Horton & Dougal Herd (Willow Bridge) and Stuart Pierce, (Harvey River Estate) who is also a previous Jimmy Watson winner (arguably Australia’s most prestigious prize for a red wine).

The 2019 winner was Damien Hutton, of Millbrook Winery which uses Geographe fruit, though sorry to say visitors, the winery and cellar door are outside of Geographe in the Perth Hills wine region!

This year’s wine show was a triumph for Willow Bridge Wines winning trophies across 8 categories including ‘Best Wine of Show’ for the 2018 Dragonfly Shiraz. Other ‘serial’ trophy winners included St Aidans with 4 trophies and Millbrook with 2.

Barrecas cellar door pour unnamed (3)
Friendly faces at Barrecas Wines Cellar Door

The Geographe Wine Region

Nearby Margaret River is now famous for it’s great estates and world class Cabernet and Chardonnay. The Geographe Wine Region gets it’s distinction from the fact that most wineries are small and are family run, where you are likely to meet the owner and winemaker at the cellar door.

Geographe also makes highly awarded versions of the Western Australian classics: Cabernet, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Sauvignon Semillon blends, but it is also getting considerable attention for Italian and Iberian varietals. This is a real point of difference for wine drinkers wanting to explore new flavours and approaches to wine.

Geographe also remains somewhat under the radar with the advantage for drinkers that you can you can buy high quality, small batch wines at very reasonable prices.

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From FOUND Magazine

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