Our Story

Our story has been a long time in the making. After working for many years for highly regarded wineries across Australia, we reached a point where we had acquired a vast array of skills and experience between us and we were ready to ‘do our own thing’ and to start making our own wines under our own wine brand.

In 2003 we found just the perfect property to plant a vineyard in the Whicher Range at Chapman Hill, and in 2008 we released our first wines under the Whicher Ridge brand.

Our Philosophy

Our grape growing philosophy is to use sustainable biological management practices in our vineyard. We use a minimal spray application programme to prevent disease, and we do not use pesticides. Under-vine grasses and flowering plants are retained providing habitats that encourage predatory insects and insect diversity throughout our vineyard. We compost our winery and garden waste, and use this compost back in our vineyard and in our gardens.

Our winemaking philosophy is to keep it simple, using hands-on, traditional artisanal winemaking techniques and minimal additions in the winery. We utilise extended yeast lees contact with our white wines and the additives that we do use are all natural.  The way we manage our red ferments is very labour intensive, but the results in terms of colour and flavour intensity are well worth the hard work. Our red wines are fermented in open topped fermenters, with a portion also fermenting in barrels to add extra complexity. We utilise a traditional basket press for pressing off our red ferments once they are dry.

OUR VINEYARDS

For us, it all comes back to terroir, the French concept that encompasses everything to do with growing a grapevine, the soil, the micro climate and the aspect of the land, as well as how the grape vine is trained and nurtured. The terroir has a major influence on the flavours, style and structure of the final wine made from those grapes. So, it’s vitally important to match the grape variety with the ideal terroir for that variety. Get this match right, and the wine that you make is of the highest quality possible.

Some of our grape varieties we grow ourselves in our Whicher Ridge and Tapalinga vineyards, and others we source from grape growers with whom we have a close working relationship, who share the same passion and dedication to growing quality grapes as we do. The end result for us  is that we grow and source the grapes for our wines from three wine regions in Western Australia, spread across the wine regions of Margaret River, Geographe and the Great Southern.

Pin 1: Our Whicher Ridge vineyard is in the Geographe wine region. With it’s rocky gravelly ironstone sandy loam soils and cool evenings in summer, we planted sauvignon blanc, viognier, petit verdot, malbec, mouvrèdre and cabernet sauvignon.

Pin 2: Our Tapalinga vineyard is in the Margaret River wine region. With it’s milder summer temperatures and cool nights, combined with gravelly sandy soils, this is perfect for the slow ripening of the intensely flavoured shiraz and cabernet sauvignon varieties which are planted here.

Pin 3: The Langley vineyard in the Geographe wine region, with it’s warmer temperatures and deep loamy soils produces shiraz with a soft velvety mouthfeel and intense blackberry and cherry fruit flavours which are ideal for making The Jetty Shiraz.

Pin 4: The Powderbark Vineyard is in the Great Southern wine region. It’s warm summer days and cold nights, along with it’s lean sandy loam granitic soils, produces shiraz with intense blackberry  flavours with a peppery aromatic lift, essential for making our Long Road Shiraz.

Pin 5: The Clairault Vineyard in the Margaret River wine region grows the chardonnay grapes for both the Whitetail Sparkling and Henry Road wines. Soils are similar to our Whicher Ridge vineyard, but the aspect is more undulating. It produces grapes with a high natural acidity, with crisp pear, lemon, white nectarine, and apple flavours.

Pin 6: The Knotting Hill Vineyard, also in the Margaret River wine region grows Malbec for our Ironstone Malbec. The gravelly ironstone soils produce grapes with earthy, blackberry and plum flavours perfect for the style we are aiming to make with this new wine.

Our Team

Cathy Howard

Owner / Winemaker

I moved to South Australia from Tasmania in 1995, after working for Pipers Brook Vineyard and Cascade Brewery. I worked at Orlando Wines, then St Hallett Wines in the Barossa Valley, and in 2002 I moved to Margaret River in Western Australia, to work as Chief Winemaker for Watershed Wines. I have gained a solid reputation for making high quality premium wines, most notably Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. I now also hit the road promoting and selling our Whicher Ridge wines.
Favourite Pastimes – horses and gardening

Neil Howard

Owner / Vigneron

I have worked in vineyards starting in the Pyrenees region of Victoria with Taltarni and Blue Pyrenees Estate in the mid 1980’s, then worked for 2 years at Mount Avoca as Vineyard Manager. I moved to Margaret River in Western Australia in 1998 and managed the Sandalford Wines vineyard for several years, then developed and managed a number of smaller vineyards throughout the Margaret River region, including setting up and managing an organic vineyard. I now also help Cath with making our wines in our winery and keep our compost project ticking along.
Favourite pastime – playing petanque!

Polly

Wine Dog/Customer Relations

I am a black kelpie, super good looking and I love having my photo taken. I also love people, especially children and don't mind the odd doggy visitor either as long as they are well behaved and leave my sheep and chooks alone. I was born in Lake Grace and found my way to Whicher Ridge via an advertisment on Gumtree, lucky me!! I will be the first one to meet and greet you when you arrive at Cellar Door, just follow me and I will lead you in the right direction.
Favourite pastime - riding in the truck with Neil!

Our Label

Our label is inspired by a photo taken by Neil of our vineyard. The large marri (red gum) tree stands proudly in the top corner of our vineyard. The lightning bolt on the label and on our logo is about our ESP, our EnergyStrength and and Power.

The lightning bolt striking the ridge is symbolic of our energy that has gone into developing and nurturing our vineyard to produce grapes of the very highest quality, and the energy that goes into the making of our wines. The strength and power of the lightning bolt also represents our unique partnership of an experienced viticulturalist and a highly skilled winemaker, with an enduring passion for what we do, and why we do it.

SIDE PROJECTS

With a 50 hectare farm to manage, we don’t sit still around here much, except perhaps for Polly who makes relaxing in the sun an art form!  Here are two of our side projects that we are particularly proud of.

SUSTAINABILITY PROJECT
We compost all of our plant based winery waste and garden green waste, and use this compost across our vineyard as well as in our extensive farm gardens.

BOOTS & ALL WINES
We make a range of wines under the Boots & All label for Naked Wines. These wines are made in a similar way to our Whicher Ridge Wines.

Visit Naked Wines