Geographe has four distinct wine-producing districts, Harvey, Ferguson Valley, Donnybrook and Capel. These embody a range of soil types but it is the influence of the cooling afternoon sea breezes off the Geographe Bay that drives the wine style that is distinctively Geographe.
With over twelve hundred hectares under vine, the Geographe wine region represents 11% of the state’s planted area and is a major contributor to Western Australia’s premium wine output.
Visitors to the region can taste Geographe wines with a growing number of boutique wineries with cellar door sales. You can sample hand crafted wines at 8 wineries in the Dardanup-Ferguson Valley area, a further 9 in Harvey, 3 south of Bunbury and 11 in the Donnybrook area.
The Geographe Wine Region produces some outstanding wines every vintage from particular grape varieties. These varieties we call our ‘Regional Heroes’. The reason Geographe can produce these consistently outstanding regional hero wines is as a result of having grape varieties which are ideally suited to the soils and climate of the region.
The Regional Heroes for Geographe are considered to be Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz.
Considered to be the Queen of white grapes and often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for Classic White blends. Semillon is a versatile grape which produces a wine with texture and citrus notes, which ages well when matured in oak.
This is a widely planted grape in the region and can result in either a tropical fruit driven style of wine or a grassy herbaceous one. It can be wooded but more often is un-wooded and blended with Semillon for the popular Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
Shiraz is the most widely planted grape variety in the Geographe region and thrives on the climate, and soils. Wines can take a range of styles from full bodied and spicy to soft, elegant and leafy depending on the vintage, particular vineyard aspect and the winemakers’ style. This is a wine which is almost exclusively matured in oak and consistently produces full flavoured award winning wines.
Geographe is planted to numerous other red and white grape varieties which also thrive in the growing conditions offered by the region examples of which are given below
Chardonnay – Widely planted in the region and displays characters of grapefruit, through to peach and melon in warmer sites. When wooded produces wines with buttery cashew flavours when aged.
Riesling – Plantings tend to produce a rich full bodied style with lime leaf, spiced apple flavours and some floral notes.
Verdelho – Increasingly popular Verdelho has tropical fruit characters with hints of jasmine.
Chenin Blanc – Produces tropical fruit driven wines with fresh crisp acidity.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Produces wines with softer and lighter blackberry fruit flavours.
Merlot – A popular variety which can produce plumy wines with a velvety mid palate
Grenache – Often used to make a Rose style and used extensively as a blending grape to produce fleshy full flavoured wines.
Geographe is also home to several other alternative varietals, which are being pioneered by local vignerons. The consistent growing conditions and maritime climate have supported growers in their quest to produce excellent wines,. from these varietals, which are not widely planted in other parts of Western Australia, but feature extensively overseas.
In time, some of these alternative varieties may well become Regional Heroes for the Geographe region. Find out more about these alternative varieties which are producing interesting and often award winning wines in the region.
Viognier – Produces full flavoured juicy wines with aromas of fresh apricots and honey. Often blended in small proportions with Shiraz.
Tempranillo – Often made as a single varietal wine in Geographe to produce wines of sweet berry flavours balanced by savoury tannic notes. A highly vigorous variety.
Nebbiolo – Possibly a difficult variety to tame but produces wines with aromas of cherries, violets and black liquorice with rich deep long lasting flavours.
Sangiovese – Often resulting in big, bold wines with cherry, blueberry and plumy flavours. Sometimes blended with Shiraz.
Zinfandel – A variety which seems well suited to the warmer growing areas of Geographe producing big full bodied wines high in alcohol.
Barbera – An Italian variety which produces a wide variety of wine styles from spicy and rich to smoky and smooth.