West Cape Howe Wines, Mt Barker
Although West Cape Howe didn’t know it, it came perilously close to receiving this award in the 2015 Wine Companion. While the field of contenders this year had many wineries with seriously good portfolios, West
Cape Howe was clearly the best. The reason why it was (and doubtless will continue to be) able to street the field lies in the history of very astute acquisitions of an exceptional array of vineyards and a modern 7700-tonne winery.
It is owned by four Western Australian families, and headed by viticulturist Rob Quenby (who has played a key role since 1997), and long-term regional winemaker Gavin Berry (who has 27 vintages in the Great Southern region under his belt).
The winemaking team of Berry, Andrew Vasey and Caitlin Gazey is matched by the viticultural team of Rob Quenby and Glen Harding. The portfolio covers riesling, sauvignon blanc, sauvignon blanc semillon, chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet merlot and tempranillo.
The estate vineyards are managed with organic practices. The winery is also able to contract-make wine from external vineyard sources as far afield as Margaret River, Geographe, Pemberton and Manjimup. Thus the grapes being used by West Cape Howe are specifically grown for the end use of the business, the cost of production known before the first grape is crushed.
The prices of the five wines receiving 95 or 96 points ranged between $19 and $30; two wines with 94 points were $22 and $17 respectively. Finally, those who work in the West Cape Howe group do so because they love the business – and the unpolluted environment in which they live.