Wine region’s past unearthed

Therese ColmanThe West Australian

A new book exploring the Margaret River region’s journey from farmland to wine country will soon be released.

Co-written by freelance wine writer Peter Forrestal and wine journalist Ray Jordan, The Way It Was tells the story of Margaret River’s early wine industry, from the first plantings by Dr Tom Cullity 50 years ago.

The book explores the men and women who risked their finances to pursue wine-making in the region, and peels back the layers of the people who battled Margaret River’s terrain to establish wineries that are now the toast of the country.

Through detailed text and illustrations, the pair writes about Dr Cullity’s scientific research into the soil and the politician who envisaged Margaret River as a successful premium wine region.

Jordan, the wine editor at The West Australian, said the pair approached the writing of the book by questioning every piece of information they encountered.

“We thought we had a good idea of the history,” he said. “We were surprised when our research started to uncover new information and facts, some of which contracted with our own understanding.” Forrestal — who has been writing about wine for over 25 years and was a judge for some of Australia’s most prestigious wine awards — said the book was shaped by correcting misinformation about the wine region’s origins.

“Tom Cullity believed that ‘no one who wasn’t there will ever understand what it was like in the early days’,” he said.

“We have worked to make sure that that is not so. It is such a compelling story that we believed it (needed) to be carefully researched and accurately retold so that readers can better understand the way it was.”

The Way It Was will be launched by Australia’s Master of Wine Andrew Caillard at Riversmith on November 14. Visit

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails