Wineries in the Pemberton and Manjimup regions are confident the Southern Forests campaign is starting to gain traction with consumers and is building a regional identity that will ultimately support wine sales.

Wineries contacted by Fresh recently were enthusiastic about the campaign, which they say has the potential to build a regional brand strength in much the same way as that in the Margaret River region.

The Pemberton and Manjimup regions have produced some of the State’s best wines, under their own labels as well as labels from other regions, and yet they have never really captured wine consumers’ attention. The collective strengths harnessed by the Southern Forests branding might be the catalyst to change that.

Silkwood Wines manager Carla Reeve said it was “great that Pemberton is finally starting to get some recognition”.

“This region supplies most of the fresh produce in the State and it’s good that people are finally hearing about it, ” she said. “In fact, these days being able to let people know that the region producing their food is such a pristine, green environment is a huge positive, especially with so many bad stories about food sourcing.”

Ms Reeve said from a wine perspective a lot of people didn’t realise Pemberton and Manjimup were supplying a lot of higher-profile producers in places such as Margaret River with fruit for their wines.

“It’s early days but I think people will come to realise what we can offer from this region, ” she said.

Silkwood is one of the rising stars of the region and recently scored major successes at this year’s Timber Towns Wine Show, including wine of the show.

“We were delighted with that result, ” she said.

“It seems the varieties that are best suited to the region are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling and pinot noir.”


One of the other outstanding small producers in the region is Woodgate Wines, of Manjimup.

Winemaker and part-owner Mark Aitken believes the Southern Forests campaign is starting to build strength for fresh produce from the region.

“As a wine producer we believe we can hang off the coat-tails of that branding, especially in the area of wine tourism, ” he said.

“We are already starting to see a bit more activity in the town and there are a lot of grey nomads driving through, especially as the road has been sealed. We only just opened our cellar-door facility and had a very good holiday season.”

Woodgate, which was most recently awarded best small producer in the West Australian Wine Guide 2015, makes a range of outstanding wines. Aitken believes sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are the stand-outs, with sparkling having potential.

“I also think that merlot, if we can get hold of some better clones, has a real future for this region. We have made some pretty exciting wines from the clones we have and I’m confident that with better clones we can do something exceptional with merlot, ” he said.

For me, one of the best producers in the region is Hillbrook Wines, with its sauvignon blanc consistently a stand-out.


Brian Eade and Anne Walsh at Hillbrook Wines.

Owner Brian Eade said people were starting to get the message that Manjimup and Pemberton were pristine cool- climate environments producing wines that were different to those from Margaret River or the Swan Valley.

“No one comes through here and doesn’t comment on what a gorgeous place this is, ” he said. “And they are getting the idea that this is a cooler climate area producing wines that are different.”

Mr Eade also said after years of feuding the two associations were finally getting together.

“We expect this to be promulgated in the first half of the year, after which we will have a strong single voice that can only help deliver the message about the region as a whole, ” he said.


© The West Australian

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