While the economic situation has forced an increasing number of Margaret River grape growers to abandon the region, Vasse Felix is actively looking to expand its vineyard holdings.
Willcock: ‘More dependen on our own vineyards’
In the current expansion phase, which began in 2006 with the purchase of the Valley and Gibraltar vineyards, Vasse Felix holdings have grown from 14ha to 48ha under vine.
And with a number of vineyards for sale in the region, the winery says if the right property comes onto the market it will certainly be a potential consideration for further expansion.
Vasse Felix chief winemaker Virginia Willcock (pictured) said the sites were acquired to allow the winery to further refine its focus on producing Margaret River’s best performing varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends.
‘We are reducing our fruit contracts with local growers and becoming more dependent on our own vineyards, with the right soils and the right clones. Our annual production has been capped at 150,000 cases for some years now and that is not going to change,’ Willcock said.
‘By focusing on our three main varietals, we hope to further enhance the quality of our wines and how we present them to the world in terms of clonal and site selection.’
The winery now has three blocks within its Wilyabrup vineyard and in 2010 it acquired a vineyard in the southern sub-region of Karridale where its white blending varietals are grown.
In the Valley vineyard, formerly owned by Arlewood Estate, Vasse Felix inherited established 15-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay vines. In 2008, the Gibraltar blocks were planted with 12ha of Cabernet Sauvignon and 10ha of Chardonnay.
‘We picked our first crop from Gibraltar last year and the fruit looks unbelievable. It makes such a difference when you achieve the right combination of soils and location, without the use of broadcast fertiliser,’ Willcock said.
Vasse Felix won an International Trophy at the 2008 Decanter World Wine Awards for its Cabernet Sauvignon 2005.
Written by Danielle Costley in Western Australia