Support swells for sub-region

Augusta Margaret River Times

Developing Wilyabrup as a wine sub-region could lead to mapping the whole Margaret River wine appellation, triggering more distinct wine brands in line with Bordeaux’s famed Medoc and Margaux sub-regions.

Winery owners and members of the public attended a forum held by Wine Australia’s Geographical Indicators Committee last month to get a better understanding of what a sub-region would mean.

The application for a Wilyabrup geographic indicator was lodged by Cullen Wines, Fraser Gallop Estate, Lenton Brae, Moss Wood and Woodlands Wines in December.

But not all wineries support the proposal, seen as a push for elitism.

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Co-applicant Vanya Cullen from Cullen Wines told the Times a sub-region would “protect the name of Wilyabrup”.

“A sub-region, or a GI, would demonstrate the differences between Wilyabrup and other areas of the Margaret River wine region,” she said.

“We see it as a step forward for Margaret River and an evolution of the wine region.”

Ms Cullen said Wine Australia needed more data and information before any decision could be made.

However, Natalie Burch said her Burch Family wine group, which includes MadFish, Howard Park, and Marchand and Burch, was reluctant to support development of the sub-region.

“Our first question is “why?” and no one has been able to clearly answer that,” she said.

“It is bold a group of five wineries haven’t consulted us.”

Wine Australia told the Times a labelling requirement would be enforced if a sub-region was established.

“If Wilyabrup was the single GI claim on the label, the wine would be required to be made from at least 85 per cent of fruit sourced from within its boundaries,” the organisation said.

“However, wine producers who source fruit from Wilyabrup would still be able to use the Margaret River GI on labels, in the same way that producers can currently label a wine as WA or Australia.”

In 2013, Cape Mentelle sought to trademark the name Wallcliffe, another potential sub-region, before dropping the proposal amid a fierce backlash.

Margaret River Wine Association chairman Barry House said the group would continue to “work with their members to better understand their views, to ensure those responsible for the final decision ... have the best information available.”

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