Margaret River Iconic Wineries

The Iconic Wineries

Cullen Wines

Vanya Cullen is at once part of the establishment and the avant-garde. With the encouragement of Gladstones, the estate was planted by her parents, Kevin and Diana Cullen, in 1971, being the fifth landholder to do so. Vanya was made Chief Winemaker in 1989 and General Manager in 1999. Since then, she has tirelessly pursued soil health through biodyamics, picked fruit earlier and earlier, and intervened in the winery as little as possible – an ethos that mirrors many cutting-edge makers. Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon are the flagships here, with fascinating forays into other styles, including a skin contact white and pét-nat. You’ll find both a highly regarded restaurant and cellar door at Cullen.

A: 4323 Caves Road Wilyabrup WA 6280
Ph: (08) 9755 5277
W: www.cullenwines.com.au

Leeuwin Estate

Leeuwin is one of the founding wineries of Margaret River, with the site identified by legendary Californian vigneron Robert Mondavi in 1972. Mondavi encouraged Denis and Trish Horgan to plant their site to grapevines, and also pushed heavily for a focus on chardonnay, which was to become Leeuwin’s most famous asset. Their ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay remains a national benchmark for the grape, with their expression of the Gingin clone (aka Mendoza) becoming a quintessentially Margaret River style. They also produce a notable cabernet, as well as bottlings of the emblematic varieties at various price levels, including a riesling – rare for the district. Their cellar door is impressive, and the restaurant one of the region’s most celebrated.

A: Stevens Rd, Margaret River WA 6285
Ph: (08) 9759 0000
W: leeuwinestate.com.au

Moss Wood

Planted in 1969 by Dr Bill and Sandra Pannell (Steve Pannell of S.C. Pannell in McLaren Vale is their son), Moss Wood has been one of Margaret River’s benchmark producers for its entire history. Here, cabernet is the champion, though chardonnay is also highly regarded, and they are one of the few producers who persist with pinot noir at a high level. The Pannell’s have long moved to Pemberton, where they established Picardy, with Keith and Clare Mugford buying the property in 1984, after Keith was appointed viticulturist and winemaker in 1979. Since then, they have expanded to include the nearby Ribbon Vale Vineyard, which they bottle separately.

A: 926 Metricup Road, Wilyabrup WA 6284
Ph: (08) 9755 6266
W: mosswood.com.au


Dr Mike Peterkin made his first vintage in 1979, a cabernet sauvignon, the same year that he purchased his property in Wilyabrup. That fruit was purchased from Moss Wood, and it wasn’t until the following year that the first vines were planted, with a deeper investment in chardonnay and the Bordeaux varieties seeing a new vineyard established in 1988. A medical doctor who was diverted into a winemaking degree at Roseworthy in the 70s, Peterkin is credited with pioneering the semillon and sauvignon blanc blend in this country, while working at Cullen in 1979. His blending of the cabernet varieties was also seen as deeply influential for the region, but he is perhaps best known for his much-revered chardonnay. Bucking the trend for nervy styles, the Pierro take is unashamedly bold, with powerful flavours and a silky texture – one of the region’s best. Pierro also own Fire Gully, in Wilyabrup.

A: 4051 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup WA 6280
Ph: (08) 9755 6220
W: pierro.com.au

Vasse Felix

Acting on the report by Gladstones, Dr Tom Cullity was the first to put down roots in 1967. The first vintage followed in 1971. Owned by the Holmes à Court Family since 1987, Vasse Felix is one of the region’s pinnacle producers, specialising in the benchmark varieties: chardonnay and cabernet. Virginia Willcock has helmed the winery since 2006 and is one of the country’s most highly respected makers and thinkers. Vasse Felix also has significant cellar door, with a range of tasting ‘experiences’, one of the region’s most celebrated restaurants and a gallery that features curated treasures from the Holmes à Court Collection.

A: Caves Rd (Cnr Tom Cullity Drive), Cowaramup WA 6284
Ph: (08) 9756 5000
W: vassefelix.com.au


David and Heather Watson first planted vines at their Woodlands property in 1973, making them one of the pioneers, and they have established somewhat of a cult-like following over the years. Although they have some of the region’s oldest vines, the Woodland’s label was rested for the majority of the 90s. The Watson’s opted to educate their children in Perth, so maintained the vineyards to sell as contract fruit. Those grapes informed some significant wines from iconic producers over that period. With production picking up again in 1999, the Woodlands imprint has become one of Margaret River’s most respected. They produce a dizzying range of Bordeaux varieties and chardonnay, with specialised cuvées bearing familial names. The cellar door is open daily.

A: 3948 Caves Road, Wilyabrup WA 6284
Ph: (08) 9755 6226
W: woodlandswines.com.au

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