Wilyabrup close to become Margaret River's first official sub-region

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

12 December 2019

Margaret River – one of Australia’s most prestigious regions for Cabernet and Chardonnay – has moved a step closer to having its first officially recognised wine sub-region. This follows an announcement by Australia’s Geographical Indications Committee (GIC) that it has moved the application for the establishment of a Wilyabrup GI to the final phase of development.

The application is now open for a further three months of public comment, during which sceptics can register their objections. This process will close by 13 March 2020, after which Wilyabrup could be moved onto Australia’s Register of Geographical Indications and Other Terms.

Wilyabrup is to the north-west of the town of Margaret River, and the proposed boundaries would create a roughly oblong-shaped GI taller than it is wide. Extending east-west from the coast to the Bussell Highway, and from Abbeys Farm Road in the north to just below Gracetown in the south, it would take in some of Margaret River’s most famous names, such as Cullens, Moss Wood, Pierro and Vasse Felix.

Producers would still have the option of using the Margaret River GI, though to use the new Wilyabrup denomination, 85% of the fruit would need to come from within its boundaries.

For Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines, the move makes sense: ‘The term "Wilyabrup" means "place of red ochre" in the language of the Wadendi people,’ she says. ‘It’s a reference to the red soils which are so perfect for Cabernet. This application is pushing everyone to think about the land. All the winemakers use these regional descriptions.’

Not everyone is so positive, however: ‘I’m not averse to sub-regional division in any way,’ says Tim Lovett, winemaker at Leeuwin Estate, ‘but we need to look at it with a fine detail. There’s still so much data that needs to be gone through.’

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