Western Australia’s Great Southern wine region is in a very special part of the world. Due to the region's distance from major cities (it's a 4-5 hour drive in a southern direction from Perth) it is an uncovered gem for many wine lovers and travellers.
The Great Southern region lies on the coast of the Southern Ocean and is full of green rolling hills and temperatures often sub 15 degrees in winter. From its beautiful clean green image to its delectable produce from marron to wine, it’s an experience to be had.
Naturally, here at 3drops we love the Great Southern wine region. It's where our wines and olive oil are produced and it's home to a lot of our family's history. So today we wanted to share with you a bit more about what makes our region so special.
We suggest you get comfy, grab a glass of Great Southern Chardonnay or something equally as delicious and enjoy learning about what the Great Southern wine region is all about.
The Great Southern wine region's history
You might be surprised to hear, that the winemaking history of the Great Southern is over 150 years old. Mr George Egerton-Warburton planted grape vines on his St Werburgh's property (just out of Mount Barker) in 1859. And in 1861 he bottled his first Great Southern wine.
However, it wasn’t until the 1900s when the region's commercial winemaking foundations were laid. Some of the pivotal people involved throughout the 1900's included horticulturalist Bill Jamieson, Californian Professor Harold Olmo and the Swan Valley celebrated winemaker Jack Mann of Houghton Wines. All playing a part in the Great Southern's wine-history books.
In 1966 the Great Southern was officially registered and protected as a wine region by the Geographical Indications Committee of Australia.
The first commercial plantings were Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon vines, planted at Forest Hill Wines, just out of Mount Barker.
The largest wine region in Australia
The region spans across an amazing 100kms from north to south and 200kms from east to west. Around 23 km2 (5,775 acres) of it is under vine.
In terms of wine production in Western Australia, the Margaret River is the largest, followed by the Great Southern.
However, it's not only wine the region is famed for. Within the Great Southern region, there is an abundance of beaches (some great ones to check out include Elephant Rock, Greens Pool and Little Beach) alongside natural wonders like The Gap and The Natural Bridge.
Not to mention the gorgeous Western Australian wildflowers season which literally blooms from September to November around Denmark and surrounds.
Cool climate wine region
It's no surprise, that being right near the bottom of Western Australia, means cooler weather. In fact, the Great Southern wine region is the coolest Western Australian wine region.
This means grape varieties like; Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz really thrive in the region's cooler climates.
The climatic conditions of the region are fairly similar to that of the Margaret River with a similar maritime influenced Mediterranean climate, but with less rainfall.
Grape harvest is typically around March to April for many of the producers in the region.
What the Great Southern wine region is well-known for is the Riesling and Shiraz produced in the area. Wines made from these grape varieties have won numerous awards over the years alongside endorsements from many wine writers and pros. It's what the region is extraordinary at.
Great Southern Riesling
Great Southern Riesling is typically made in a dry style and is crisp, lean and incredibly fresh in the first couple of years after being released. It can be described as the G&T for wine loves with its citrus aromas and flavours.
Many of the Rieslings from the area are perfect to enjoy in their youth, however, Great Southern Riesling also ages exceptionally well. And by ageing, we're talking about 10 years or more in the cellar until it can reach its full potential.
If you love your aged Rieslings, then we highly recommend speaking directly to wine producers for advice on which vintages of their Rieslings are going to go the distance.
Great Southern Shiraz
Shiraz is Australia's most popular and widely planted red grape variety. It's a variety that grows well in a range of climates and excels in cool climates like the Great Southern.
The Shiraz from the Great Southern has plenty of plum and black cherry fruits alongside a nice balance of pepper, spice and liquorice.
Of course every producer and vintage will differ, so don't take our word for it, let your palate decide what it tastes and enjoys.