Your guide to the Geographe wine region
The Geographe Wine Region is an undiscovered gem located between Perth and Margaret River. If you’re willing to turn off the Forrest Highway, you will find an adventurous bunch of winemakers living in a stunning landscape wrapped up in bushland and a sandy coastline.
We recently spoke to Anne Mazza, the Vice President of Geographe Wine and owner of Mazza Vineyard about why she loves the region. She immediately started to tell us about Geographe’s beautiful natural landscape and raised the question: Who wouldn’t want to taste delicious wines, explore rolling green hills, and see dolphins all in one day?
An idyllic landscape
The Geographe wine region faces Geographe Bay in the Indian Ocean and often gets bypassed when people travel from Perth to Margaret River. However, there is so much to explore. The landscape spans from an amazing coastline into the hinterland, from sand to soil. The climate is influenced by the Indian Ocean and the Darling Range runs parallel to the coast, creating variation in the soil types and microclimates.
It’s a highly productive agricultural region, with a lot of beef, dairy, and citrus grown near Harvey in the north. Apples, stone fruit, and cherries are grown further south near Donnybrook, due to the cooler temperatures and frost.
Geographe also produces many different grape varieties. It currently supports 36, due to the diversity in its soil types. There are fertile river valleys and coastal plains on one side of the escarpment that runs along the coastline. On the other side, there is a different type of soil and towering gums, lovingly called the Jarrah-Marri forests. If the winemakers are lucky, these trees flower during harvest time, luring the birds away from their grapes. In heavy years of flowering, the forests look like a wall of snow.
Standing in Anne’s river valley vineyard, you can see hills and Jarrah-Marri bushland. You’ll probably also spot kangaroos and wedge-tailed eagles. Other vineyards, such as Harvey River Estate are surrounded by dairy farms and orchards.
The majority of vineyards are family-owned and there are only a handful of big wineries. So, if you travel through Geographe, you’ll meet the owners at cellar doors and speak with people who are deeply connected to the landscape.
Strong agricultural heritage
The closest cities to Geographe are Bunbury and Busselton. Busselton is a major holiday town, whereas Bunbury is a coastal city and working harbour set around the beautiful Koombana Bay, home to a friendly pod of more than 100 wild bottlenose dolphins. Be sure to visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre to learn more about them. Many post-war immigrants from Italy, Croatia, Malta, Turkey, and Greece also brought their love of food and wine with them, and the agricultural area surrounding the Geographe region has become a major food bowl.
Image Credit: Geographe Wine Association
The Geographe wine region faces Geographe Bay in the Indian Ocean and often gets bypassed when people travel from Perth to Margaret River. However, there is so much to explore.
Anne met her husband, David, when she was backpacking in London. They both got to taste incredible wines while they were there and took trips to Spain and Portugal. He was saving money to buy a vineyard and when they relocated to Western Australia, they sourced Mediterranean varietals that had already been brought into the state.
Tempranillo, Bastardo, Graciano, and Touriga Nacional thrived in the local climate. The sunlight hours were similar to Northern Spain and Portugal, and their success had a knock-on effect throughout the region. Western Australia also has a new breed of winemakers who are passionate about travelling and experimenting with other European varieties.
Image Credit: Geographe Wine Association
Home to an eclectic mix
Geographe is becoming well-known for alternative varieties. Chenin blanc is a common variety throughout Western Australia and is found in Geographe. Tempranillo, Barbera, Zinfandel, Bastardo, Monduese, Pignoletto, Pinotage, and Verdejo are also favourites.
There is also a mixture of small wineries with no cellar doors and established estates. Capel Vale was a pioneer in the region with vines planted in 1974. Coughlan Estate is also a 45-year-old vineyard spread over six acres. The vineyard includes hand-picked Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Semillon.
Meanwhile, Bakkheia produces hand-crafted and hard-to-get Mediterranean wines such as Grenache, Graciano and Tempranillo. Whicher Ridge is also known for making single-vineyard and small-batch wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Mourvèdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon which offer a sensory experience as diverse as the landscape. Their Wine Sensory Garden helps visitors to discover wine flavours and delicious food pairings.
For over 100 years and three generations at Harvey River Estate, the Sorgiovanni family’s love of the land and pristine fruit flavours have been handcrafted into varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Montepulciano, and Merlot.
More to be discovered
The pandemic drove a wave of local visitors into the fledging wine region and there have been more accommodation options opening ever since. Driving north to south of the Geographe wine region takes about 1.5 hours. However, this is one trip that you wouldn’t want to rush. It’s a pristine region with bushland, hiking trails, dams, lakes, dairy country, Jarrah-Marri forests, and waterholes to be explored. The region’s adventurous, approachable, and juicy wines are just waiting for you to discover them.