Margaret River is one of the most acclaimed wine regions in Australia. Located on the Margaret River cape in the southwestern corner of the country, it’s isolated (1,300 miles separate Perth from Adelaide), surrounded by water on three sides (it sits between “twin” bodies of water, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean) and boasts some of the oldest gravel loam soils in the world. It’s so pristine, there’s been more than one comparison to “paradise”—the Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends produced here are top class.
But it could have been planted with beans, or remained isolated ranchland.
The story of Cullen Wines
is typical of the first wineries in Margaret River. In the mid-1960s, Kevin and Diana Cullen wanted to make a change in the way they utilized their land in Wilyabrup. They’d been raising sheep and cattle and thought they might do better with lupins (bitter yellow beans).
Luckily, they got in touch with Dr. John Gladstones. He was about to publish a paper on the suitability of Margaret River for grape growing—his research showed that Margaret River, with its maritime-influenced climate and gravel soils, might be the perfect place for vines to thrive.
At the urging of Dr. Gladstone, the Cullens began planting test vines in Wilyabrup. The rest, as they say, is history.
With the first commercial vines planted in 1967, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Margaret River region for grape growing. If you can’t make the long flight to Australia to enjoy the festivities, grab your tickets for the next best event: Robert Parker Wine Advocate is hosting a Margaret River 50 Year Anniversary Dinner
at New York’s landmark Tribeca Grill
next Friday, December 1st.
It will be a who’s who of Margaret River winemaking, with nearly a dozen wines from landmark producers like Cullen, Vasse Felix
, Moss Wood
and Leeuwin Estate
(four of the five first wineries in the region), who put Margaret River on the map. We’ll pop some back vintages like the 2006 Cullen Wines Chardonnay Kevin John (94 points) and explore red and whites from the delicious 2013 vintage.
Joe Czerwinski, our New York City-based reviewer for the wines of Australia and a veteran wine critic (he spent 18 years at the Wine Enthusiast) will be there to speak about the wines. He won’t need a mic—the intimate dinner will take place at the private loft in Tribeca Grill.
As a special gift to our Wine Journal readers, enter promo code AUSSIE when securing your seat for our Margaret River anniversary dinner. The promo code will trigger $50 savings and includes entry to the Grand Walkabout Tasting at our Matter of Taste event on Sunday, December 3rd, where you’ll get to taste over 300 wines rated 90 points or higher by Robert Parker Wine Advocate reviewers.
Seats are limited and so is this offer, so come celebrate the wines of the Margaret River with the Wine Advocate and give thanks that we’re enjoying fine wines—not beans—from this beautiful region.
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