About Willow Bridge Estate

Two hours south of Perth, on the way to Margaret River, is a pristine piece of land that rises from the coast to form rolling hills, unique to this corner of the world. It’s here the Dewar family dreamed up the idea to grow grapes, establishing Ferguson Valley as one of the most important sub-regions of Geographe Wine Region. Find out more about Willow Bridge Wines and the Ferguson Valley below.

The Family

Jeff is the youngest of three brothers. His parents Gavin and Pauline Dewar have purchased a property in Broomehill in 1979, but Jeff decided that broad acre farming wasn’t for him. His two older brothers now run this property as two separate identities.

In the early 1990’s Jeff decided broad acre farming was not his passion and looked at diversifying however wanted to stay within the field of agriculture.

He and his wife Vicki looked at different options that included market gardening and chicken raising, but decided early that these were not lifestyle choices that appealed to them.

In the mid 1990’s viticulture appeared an attractive option – working on the land growing grapes with the end product being crafted. This led to getting to know many real estate agents and looking at properties in the Margaret River wine region.

Both Jeff and Vicki had a passion to start their own business rather than buy into an established brand, to build their business from the ground up and make it theirs.

A family friend was excited about the viticultural potential of the Ferguson Valley and after an initial visit to the region they were captivated. Not only was it a visually spectacular property, but when driving a two-wheel vehicle in the middle of winter without getting bogged, they were convinced that the site had potential for viticulture due to the undulation and well-drained gravelly soils.

Further extensive research led to the purchase of the 420 acre property in 1996.

In 1997 they planted 100 acres of wine grapes – and held their breath. Then another 50 acres were planted in 1998, making Willow Bridge the biggest planting in what was then a largely unknown region.

The Dewars’ confidence that they had made the right decision was boosted after a phone call from Rob Bowen, one of WA’s best and most highly respected winemakers. Rob showed great interest in what they were doing and was subsequently appointed Willow Bridge winemaker in 1999.

The Vineyard

The vineyard is sited high on the western watershed of the Darling Ranges, with the vines enjoying spectacular views over the coastal plain, and across the waters of Geographe Bay to Cape Naturaliste. The vineyard is 25km from the coast as the crow flies, and receives the cooling afternoon sea breeze during summer. At an elevation between 230 and 280 meters, the estate is generally two degrees or more cooler than the coastal plain, with ripening times similar to the cool southern parts of the neighbouring Margaret River wine region.

Annual rainfall is relatively high at 914mm, with 80% of this falls over four months in our winter when the vines are dormant. The summertime growing season is very dry and sunny, allowing the area a consistency between vintages possibly unrivalled in the world of wine.

The soils of the estate are all “Marri soils”, named for the regal Marri eucalyptus trees they typically support. Weathered from granite over some two and a half billion years, they comprise a free draining layer of lateritic red gravel and loam over yellow or white clay. Such pockets of Marri soils are prized by vignerons in Western Australia .

The 60 Ha of vineyards were established in 1997. Planting around two hills allowed us to match vine varieties to the choice of a full 360° of different aspects to the sun. The region is phylloxera free, so all vines were planted on their own roots and planting along the ridge line has minimised the risk from spring frosts. Initial plantings of the classic French varieties of Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, have since been bolstered with small blocks of Viognier and Tempranillo.

The Winemakers

Senior Winemaker, Kim Horton

A fascination with wine and vineyards at a young age whilst growing up in the Swan Valley, led to Kim’s first position in the wine industry during vintage 1995 with Houghton Wines. Following a successful vintage he went on to study Oenology at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. 21 years later, he finds himself at Willow Bridge in the Ferguson Valley and in front of him, an opportunity to work within a team whom have the drive and ambition to further build and enhance the Willow Bridge tradition. Kim has a firm belief that wines are made in the vineyard, the better the understanding of the vineyard and it’s unique characteristics, the better the wines reflect the soil and the climate.

Assistant Winemaker, Dougal Herd

During an early life on board the tall ship HMB Endeavour Dougal’s interest in wine was sparked by the food and wine culture experienced while sailing throughout Europe. This led to the desire to experience different wines and in turn developed into a yearning to make them; ultimately leading to the wine industry with Dougal heading back to Western Australia to study Viticulture and Oenology at Curtin University. After 11 years Dougal is excited to have the opportunity to join Willow Bridge and work with the amazing team of people with the goal of producing wines that reflect the quality of the Ferguson Valley.

Willow Bridge Estate

Willow Bridge has quickly been recognised as one of the bright lights on the WA wine scene since being set up in 1996 on a spectacular hillside site in the Ferguson Valley, less than two hours from Perth. Its wines are consistent and top class and during the past couple of years have moved up a gear in consistency and quality. One of the best.

OWNERS : Jeff Dewar and Vicki Dewar
WINEMAKERS : Kim Horton and Dougal Herd
ESTABLISHED : 1996
VINEYARD LOCATION : Ferguson Valley
VARIETIES : Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Viognier, Tempranillo, Merlot

CELLAR DOOR : 178 Gardincourt Drive, Ferguson Valley
OPEN  : Monday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm
WINE PRICES : $20 – 65
PHONE : 9728 0055
EMAIL : wine@willowbridge.com.au
WEBSITE : www.willowbridge.com.au
DISTRIBUTION : Cellar Door, Retail, Wholesaler, Mail Order, Online

Willow Bridge Estate Dragonfy sauvignon blanc semillon 2017 ($16)

Made into a clean and pristine blended wine. It has none of the sweaty characters. Fresh and dusty with a subtle snow pea. The wine reflects the long ripening period. Real mouthful of flavour. Nice fine acidity. It has intensity and length on the palate.
SCORE 91/100 CELLAR 2 Years

Willow Bridge Estate G1-10 chardonnay 2016 ($30)

A powerful statement of chardonnay. Textured with layers of creamy roasted cashew characters, a touch of cereal and grapefruit with a lick of char on the finish. This about 60 per cent new oak. It’s a very rich wine with a touch of the oyster shell influence that the winemaker is seeking. The barrels aren’t stirred. Willow Bridge wants to retain the freshness and cleanness in the wine. This is a real step up in style.
SCORE 96/100 CELLAR 7 years

Willow Bridge Estate Solana tempranillo 2015 ($25)

Ripe and fleshy just as you want tempranillo to be. Big fleshy juicy number. Has a nice earthy savoury edge to it with plenty of dry tannins to balance the sweet fruit. It is made from a clone that is almost exclusive to WA. This is a cracking good wine for food. Nice tannin focus. Excellent wine for food.
SCORE 92/100 CELLAR 3 years

Willow Bridge Estate Dragonfly shiraz 2016 ($16)

Ripe and fleshy with a lifted sweet fruit character. Dense core in the middle with a slightly spicy savoury finish. Like the fruit that takes it into another zone that says it’s over-delivering. Chalky tannins. This is a terrific wine that is way better than you would normally get from this under-$20 bracket. There is a vibrant purity.
SCORE 93/100 CELLAR 5 years

Willow Bridge Estate Black Dog shiraz 2013 ($60)

This has been cut back significantly from the previous examples. It started life some years ago as a highly alcoholic brooding monster, but has been progressively refined. There is more licorice character with an almost liqueur fruit character here. The balance is very good. Has a touch of Irish moss. Nice tannin influence and good oak balance
SCORE 94/100 CELLAR 10 years

The Vineyard

The vineyard is sited high on the western watershed of the Darling Ranges, with the vines enjoying spectacular views over the coastal plain, and across the waters of Geographe Bay to Cape Naturaliste. The vineyard is 25km from the coast as the crow flies, and receives the cooling afternoon sea breeze during summer. At an elevation between 230 and 280 meters, the estate is generally two degrees or more cooler than the coastal plain, with ripening times similar to the cool southern parts of the neighbouring Margaret River wine region.

Annual rainfall is relatively high at 914mm, with 80% of this falls over four months in our winter when the vines are dormant. The summertime growing season is very dry and sunny, allowing the area a consistency between vintages possibly unrivalled in the world of wine.

The soils of the estate are all “Marri soils”, named for the regal Marri eucalyptus trees they typically support. Weathered from granite over some two and a half billion years, they comprise a free draining layer of lateritic red gravel and loam over yellow or white clay. Such pockets of Marri soils are prized by vignerons in Western Australia .

The 60 Ha of vineyards were established in 1997. Planting around two hills allowed us to match vine varieties to the choice of a full 360° of different aspects to the sun. The region is phylloxera free, so all vines were planted on their own roots and planting along the ridge line has minimised the risk from spring frosts. Initial plantings of the classic French varieties of Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, have since been bolstered with small blocks of Viognier and Tempranillo.

Wine Making Process

Cellar Door

178 Gardincourt Drive Henty WA 6236
Henty
Western Australia, 6236

CONTACT

Phone 9728 0055
wine@willowbridge.com.au

Website

www.willowbridge.com.au

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RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017