Western Australia (pop’n: 1.21 million) was the last colony to join the Federation in 1901 to become part of what we know as Australia today. The state is enormous, about 1.5 times the size of Alaska. While it accounts for over half of the country’s mineral exports, it produces a mere 3% of Australia’s wine. But what good wine it is.
Its potential as a region was recognized a long time ago, seen here in a letter to The Scientific American published in 1848: “There is now every reason to believe that Western Australia will one day become a great wine country. Its vineyards are becoming more numerous and extensive every year, and the wine produced in them is of a quality to lead us to believe that when the art of preparing it is better understood, it will be found of very superior quality. It will, however, be a new kind of wine, and therefore, before it will be prized in Europe, prejudices in favor of older wines have to be overcome.”
There are three main wine regions in Western Australia: the hot Swan Valley, slightly north-east of Perth (state capital); more moderate-climate Margaret River, about a 3.5 hour southward drive; and the cooler-climate Great Southern, which borders a significant part of the state’s southern coast. Next stop…Antarctica.
The above map shows Western Australia’s wine regions. Each possesses its own sub-regions, climate (and micro-climates) and soil types. They may look small, but remember the size of the state itself. Margaret River is 62 miles long by 17 miles wide, and Great Southern about double that. Still, in terms of some of the world’s best-known wine regions, they’re a drop in the ocean: Margaret river has about one-twentieth the area under vine when compared to Bordeaux!