Swan Valley

Western Australia

About

Two waves of immigration by Yugoslavs, the first in the early years of the twentieth century (principally from Dalmatia) and the second after the Second World War, gave the Swan Valley two claims to fame. The first is that, most surprisingly, for a time it had more wineries in operation than either New South Wales or Victoria; the second is that, more obviously, it joined the Barossa Valley (German) and the Riverland (Italian) as a significant ethnically- driven wine producing region.

It was not always so. Viticulture was started by English settlers, most notably Thomas Waters who dug the cellar at Olive Farm in 1830, thus giving this winery the distinction of being the oldest winemaking establishment in Australia to be in use at the start of the new millennium. Sadly, it has since been sold and decommissioned.

Swan Valley wine region image

Another link with the past comes through the colonial surgeon Dr John Ferguson, who purchased part of a substantial land grant owned by three Indian Army officers, the most senior of whom was Colonel Richmond Houghton. Even though Houghton never came to Australia, the property was named after him – likewise the Houghton wines of today (Western Australia’s largest wine company).

The Swan Valley (which is the core subregion of the Swan District, cowering in the south-eastern corner of the region) has always been a friendly place in which to grow vines and make wine. The completely flat, alluvial river plain provides soils which are immensely deep and well drained (or are so in the prime vineyard locations) and the hot, dry summer means that grapes ripen easily and quickly. This is an ideal climate for table grapes (huge quantities were produced for export markets in bygone years) and for fortified wines. It is likewise suited to the production of bulk table wine which was once sold to a large but uncritical local clientele, many of whom were of Yugoslavian origin, and they brought their own flagons, drums and sundry other containers to be filled up at their chosen winery.

Facts

Wineries 30
Tasting Notes 1232

Geographic

Latitude 31°50’S
Altitude 45 m
Heat Degree Days 2340
Growing Season Rainfall 145 mm
Mean January Temp 24.3°C
Harvest End January to end March