Sandalford Wines is one of Western Australia’s oldest, largest and most distinguished producers of premium wine with a history in the Swan Valley linked to the time of European settlement in the state, whilst also being a pioneer of the world-famous Margaret River wine region. The key objective for Sandalford wines is to produce outstanding Margaret River premium wines. At the same time, Sandalford has a vision to provide visitors a truly world-class wine tourism, education and hospitality experience.
Behind the global brand of Sandalford Wines lies a rich and fascinating history. Sandalford’s establishing estate at Caversham, Swan Valley, had its genesis in 1840 and coincided with both European settlement in the burgeoning colony of Perth and the birth of Western Australia’s world famous wine industry.
Queen Victoria granted John Septimus Roe, Western Australia’s first Surveyor General, 3,000 acres of land on the riverbanks at West Swan in honor of his 57 years of service to the Commonwealth. He named the property Sandalford after a priory in Berkshire, U.K. – his original home. Among J S Roe’s significant legacy was the setting aside of Kings Park, and laying out the towns of Perth and Fremantle.
Roe and his wife Matilda had 13 children, and Sandalford was left to his eldest son James Broun Roe. Upon J B Roe’s death, Sandalford passed to his son John Frederick Roe, who took a keen interest in the fertile lands of the estate.
A fascinating memoir by Frederick Logue, the son of Sandalford Estate’s manager in the early 1900s, illustrates this significant era.
Sandalford was the Swan Valley’s pioneering agrarian estate with cropping, cattle grazing, vegetables and extensive vineyards and fruit orchards. The property hummed to seasonal rhythms – Summer stone fruit picking was followed by harvesting grapes until late Autumn when the currants, sultanas and raisins were dried on wire netting racks and the yearly task of seducing the soil into producing the next crop began all over.
An early emphasis was on table grapes for the local market. John Septimus had experimented with all the varieties that found their way to the new colony – many from South Africa – and the most suited to the estate’s terroir thrived. Muscats, Malagas, Frontignacs, Chasselas and O’Hannes, a thick-skinned Spanish grape which proved highly suitable for export, were harvested by hand in what young Logue described as ‘a pursuit of excellence where bunches were handled in such a way as to not disturb the grape’s natural bloom’.
A horse drawn lorry collecting the full cases supported the labour of picking. Table grapes positioned in open, overflowing jarrah boxes were carted to metropolitan markets the evening of the day they were packed.
Sandalford’s export grapes were the ‘aristocrats of the vineyard.’ J F Roe was the first of the Swan Valley vignerons to engage overseas markets and pioneered the use of cork dust as a means of preserving grapes during the long sea transits.
The picking of the wine grapes – Shiraz, Burgundy and Frontignac – was a relatively easy matter; the bunches were left on the vines until a simple test revealed they had reached their desired sugar content. The grapes were transferred, by horse lorry and later a very impressive Chevrolet truck, to the nearby Valencia winery where Roe oversaw pressing and bottling.
The estate survived the Depression because it was both well diversified and well managed. Commercial winemaking accelerated during the 1940s after World War II. Migrants – particularly Croatians and Italians – had began to come to the Swan Valley after the first war, and the second wave was particularly auspicious for the wine industry as the immigrants brought new knowledge and techniques.
The estate flourished and wines produced from its vines satisfied the requirements of the local community and indeed further afield as the region’s reputation grew.
The winemaker at Sandalford Wines from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s was Dorham Mann – son of famed wine-making pioneer Jack Mann. Under Dorham’s advice, the Roe family evaluated expanding into the Margaret River region in South Western Australia.
This area had earlier been assessed by University of WA viticultural scientist Dr John Gladstones as being an ideal climate and terrior for growing premium wine grapes, with its general conditions likened to the famed region of Bordeaux in France. Based on this, the Roe family purchased a 300 hectare property at Wilyabrup, planted vines in 1970, and joined a handful of others in pioneering Western Australia’s second classic wine region – a destination now recognised on the world stage for amazing Cabernets, Chardonnays and now Shiraz.
The 1990s heralded a new era for Sandalford Wines. WA’s Prendiville family was already immersed in tourism and hospitality when they identified Sandalford Wines as a perfect fit for their growing portfolio of iconic businesses. In 1992, the Prendivilles successfully acquired Sandalford and devised a plan to revitalise the 160 year old Western Australian brand. After spending $6 million dollars redeveloping the company’s facilities, their vision of a business that not only produces wines of distinction but also has the perfect synergy of wine and tourism has come to fruition.
With a declared passion for creating excellent wines, Debra and Peter Prendiville and their family continue to bring innovations from around the world to Sandalford. Their travels broaden distribution to dozens of countries where wine was uncommon such as China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Norway as well as expanding traditional markets into Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
In one of Australia’s most sustainable wineries at Caversham, Swan Valley, Sandalford creates today’s collection of Prendiville, Estate Reserve, Margaret River Range and Element award-winning wines from its two fertile vineyards. With advanced viticultural practices and a progressive winemaking team, the Sandalford brand enjoys a long-standing reputation for quality and exceeding expectations at every price point.
John Septimus Roe would have been amazed – and very likely proud – to know today wines from his founding estate are exported to over 40 countries around the globe.
Enjoy a visit to Sandalford’s charming Cellar Door in Margaret River. The rustic, rammed earth building sits amongst a beautiful country garden surrounded by grape vines and southwest bushland. Bring your family and friends to relax and picnic in this gorgeous location, utilising the covered pergola and free BBQ facilities.
On Metricup Road in Wilyabrup, about 260 kms south of Perth, the Margaret River Estate hosts most of Sandalford’s vines.
At the Margaret River Estate you can sample and purchase Sandalford’s complete range of Estate Reserve, Margaret River Range and Element wines, as well as the fortified Founders Reserve Liqueur Port, Botryitis Semillon and Sandalera. You can also discover and purchase a variety of local artwork, wine accessories and Sandalford merchandise.
The Cellar Door at Sandalford’s Swan Valley Estate is one of Western Australia largest cellar doors, brimming with everything wine related, from glassware, bottle openers and gift ideas to local and international artwork. The Cellar Door is located only 25 minutes north east from the Perth CBD.
At the Cellar Door, you can sample and taste the entire range of Estate Reserve, Margaret River and Element Wines, as well as the ultra-premium Prendiville Cabernet Sauvignon, new Botrytis Semillon, Founders Reserve Liqueur Port and flagship fortified wine, Sandalera. Case purchases come with free delivery (Australia only).
Click here to see a 360 degree panorama of the Swan Valley Cellar Door.
Bring your friends or group for wine tastings, wine appreciation sessions and winery tours, which operate from the Cellar Door. Please click on the link in the left column for information our exciting Winemaker for a Day Package.
The Cellar Door accepts all major credit cards (no eftpos cash out available) but an ATM is positioned adjacent to the Cellar Door entrance.
Peter and Debra Prendiville have a long standing passion for the wine industry as well as a significant interest in the tourism industry.
Peter has managed or owned over 40 hotels employing approximately 3000 personnel and Debra has been responsible for the design and outfitting of Sandalford’s unique assets and facilities that have placed it at the forefront of wine tourism operations in Australia.
Having acquired Sandalford in 1991 from overseas interests, the couple devised a plan to revitalise the 160 year old iconic brand. After spending six million dollars redeveloping the company’s facilities, their vision of a business that not only produces wines of excellence but also has the perfect synergy of wine and tourism has now come to fruition.
They continue to bring innovations from around the world home to Sandalford. Their travels also broaden Sandalford Wine’s distribution to dozens of countries; in particular, countries where wine was uncommon such as Poland and Denmark.
Garry Prendiville and older brother Peter have built a group of diverse Australian companies in sectors such as wine, petroleum, hospitality and tourism.
Garry was educated in engineering and commerce and embarked on his petroleum business in 1976. After a series of acquisitions and joint ventures he accumulated a national network of 28 major refuelling outlets, turning over AUD $350 million and employing 650 people.
Since the purchase of Sandalford in 1991 by the Prendiville family, Garry has played an active role in the company’s renaissance guiding strategic direction and export development. Exports particularly have expanded and now include 35 countries.
Sandalford Winery 3210 W Swan Rd,
Western Australia, 6055
Phone 9374 9374