Vasse Felix’s vineyard was planted in 1967 in Margaret River, making it the first winery established in the region. Dr Thomas Cullity, who had been doing trial plantings of vines in the area since 1965, had recently read a report by Dr John Gladstones, an expert in soil management and crop production, that the Margaret River region would be ideal for growing grapes, given its climatic similarities to Bordeaux in France. Dr Cullity thereafter spent a year searching for ‘red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18 inches below the surface’, finally locating a site, which he planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Riesling, thereby establishing ‘Vasse Felix’ and Margaret River. The first vintage occurred in 1971, yet was a disaster, due to disease and birds. Dr Cullity stated ‘I will not forget the exhaustion and disappointment.’ The subsequent vintage fared much better, with the Riesling receiving a gold medal at the ‘Perth Show’, which caused many people to notice Margaret River’s potential for wines. In 1984, the winery was sold to the Gregg family, who then sold it to the Holmes à Court family in 1987, who have remained as its owners to the present day. Fruit is sourced from four vineyards located throughout the Margaret River region planted in 1967, 1995, 1997 and 1998, with almost 160ha under vine.
Vasse Felix offers over a dozen wines, from budget to super-premium. The ‘Filius Cabernet Sauvignon’ is a regional blend of fruit from all the Vasse Felix vineyards, displaying redcurrant, plum, liquorice and mocha on the nose, and a core of blackberry fruit on the palate, with a light and bright palate thanks to the Malbec and Merlot. The ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ is the “father” of the ‘Filius’, with a complex nose of fruits and herbs and cranberry, blackcurrant and mushroom on the palate and a long finish. The ‘Tom Cullity’ is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and petit Verdot and is a glorious wine, bursting with red fruits and herbs on the nose and plum, teak, clove and black tea on the palate, and a superb finish. Not surprisingly, it will cellar for over 20 years.
For more information on Vasse Felix and their wines, head to the website.