James Halliday on Albany
It was not until Christmas Day 1826 that the western part of the Australian continent was formally claimed for Great Britain. The claim was not made at Perth or the Swan Valley (settled three years later) but here at Albany, 35 years after it had first been discovered and mapped in 1791.
While the surrounding country to the north, east and west was used for grazing and wheat farming, Albany became famous for whaling, which continued until 1978. Its convoluted bays and granite outcrops make this beautiful region (and in parts atmospheric town) seem like a mini Seattle, or perhaps Vancouver – itself named by Captain George Vancouver, the 1791 explorer of Albany and thereafter of British Columbia. Albany’s whaling museum is the largest in the world and is a justifiably major tourist attraction.
The first vines were planted by the Sippe family at Redmond Vineyard in 1975, using cuttings of Riesling supplied by Forest Hills Vineyard. (Cabernet Sauvignon was also planted.) The first two crops of grapes were sold, but in 1981 a Riesling and a Cabernet Sauvignon were made at Plantagenet; for some time thereafter the vineyard was neglected, but now forms the core of Phillips Brooke Estate. However, the emphasis these days is more on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir than on Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Mid-March to end April