Science first marked the Margaret River is a premium wine region in the 1960s. Agronomists saw the similarities between this corner of Western Australia and France’s most famous wine-producing areas. A group of Italian migrants used that observation and planted the first grape seeds in the Margaret River.
Today, the five thousand hectares of wine country in the Margaret River region account for almost a quarter of Australia’s premium wines. Consumers and critics alike appreciate the Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonny, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc made from the region’s fruit.
With the sea bounding the Margaret River on three sides, its climate bears more than a passing similarity to French wine-growing regions Pomerol and St Emillion. The soil is a gravelly loam, which easily absorbs moisture but still allows it to flow to the lower parts of the valley.
Howling Wolves Wines – at Rivendell Estate, one of the closest vineyards to Ramada Resort by Wyndham Dunsborough – uses the terroir to produce premium European favourites, while fearlessly inventing fresh, Euro-inspired tastes.
The Howling Wolves story has all the elements of an Old World romance. “Serendipity encouraged the venture – and a big dose of blind faith and love of fine wine,” reflects Vaughan Sutherland, the Wolves’ director and co-Founder.
He says it was a “no-brainer” to set up in the Margaret River region. “I think this region is like God’s own vineyard. The stable climate translates to high rainfall in winter and spring, and the proximity of the Indian and Southern oceans means the warmth builds quite evenly during the growing season.”
Climate and terroir vary across the Margaret River sub-regions, giving the grapes different characteristics. Howling Wolves also sources from various growers outside the Rivendell Estate, meaning it can produce a broad range of European wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillion Sauvignon Blanc and even Pinot Noir.
Sutherland, however, champions innovation; he believes there’s still more the region can do. “We are now becoming famous for our SixPointSix Cabernato – a premium Margaret River Cabernet of a lower-than-usual alcoholic content, with an exotic, contemporary style at its base that is sweet, but with a subtle sting in the tail – a jalapeno chilli finish. It really personifies the innovation that drives us.” A Tuscan-influenced Sangiovese and French White Shiraz are also available for vineyard guests to taste.
Rivendell Estate’s rustic Cellar Door gives travellers a chance to spoil their tastebuds and experience the diversity on offer in the Margaret River region. The nearby restaurant’s menu evolves with the seasons and the offerings of local south-west growers and producers. “Our food is all locally sourced and fresh,” says restaurant owner Carol Bull. “We also pride ourselves on being family friendly, pet friendly, and celebration friendly. Everyone can feel relaxed and part of our restaurant.”
That atmosphere is an extension of the Margaret River as a destination: a perfect place for quiet enjoyment with friends andfamily. Sutherland promises that visitors will fall in love with the region.
He still has no intention of going anywhere. “The future for us is steady as she goes. We will continue to make the absolute most of the Margaret River terroir we have been blessed with. We will continue to use it to produce outstanding Margaret River wines.”
Reaching the Lair
Howling Wolves’ Rivendell Estate is located at 1171 Wildwood Road, Yallingup, a picturesque 15-minute drive from Ramada Resort by Wyndham Dunsborough. The Cellar Door and Restaurant sit high on a ridge and offer beautiful views of vineyards, forested hills and cultivated grounds. Enjoy a drop by itself or pair it with a gourmet creation of local produce and meat.