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 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 Story continues on ….

Our Philosophies

Our Story brings together our complimentary skills and experiences in growing grapes and making wine.

Neil’s grape growing philosophy is to use sustainable biological management practices in our vineyard. He uses a minimal spray application programme to prevent disease, and he does not use pesticides.

Under-vine grasses and flowering plants are retained providing habitats that encourage predatory insects and insect diversity throughout our vineyard. Neil composts our winery and garden waste, and uses this compost back in our vineyard and in our gardens.

Cathy’s winemaking philosophy is to keep it simple, using hands-on, traditional artisanal winemaking techniques and minimal additions in the winery.

She utilises extended yeast lees contact with our white wines and the additives that are used, are all natural.  The way Cathy manages our ferments is very labour intensive, but the results in terms of flavour intensity, wine structure, texture and balance 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

With our vineyards, our story is focused on terroir, the French concept that encompasses everything to do with growing a grapevine.

Terroir is 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.

Most of our grape varieties are grown in our Whicher Ridge vineyard, and others we source from grape growers who share the same passion and dedication to growing quality grapes as we do.

The end result for us is that we make wines from grapes grown in three wine regions in Western Australia, Margaret River, Geographe and the Great Southern.

Our Vineyard Terroir Story encompasses several locations:

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, mourvèdre and cabernet sauvignon.

Pin 2: The 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 Odyssey Garden 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 and Semillon. 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.
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 – creating garden sculptures and playing petanque

Polly

Wine Dog/Customer Happiness Manager

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 tells our story!

The single vineyard label design 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 label symbolises our story.

The lightning bolt striking the ridge is symbolic of our ESP, our EnergyStrength and Power.

It shows 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 represents our unique partnership of an experienced viticulturalist and a highly skilled winemaker, both with a shared and enduring passion for what they do, and why they do it.

Our Collaborations - Vineyard Stay with Heyscape

A New Chapter in Our Story – Vineyard Stays at Whicher Ridge

We are always looking at ways to spread our story far and wide, to entice more people to visit us, and to try our wines.

What better way, than to collaborate with Heyscape Tiny Cabins, who have installed 3, tiny cabins on our farm, with views over our vineyard.

Booking in for a vineyard stay at your favourite winery is one of the best ways to experience a wine region! It’s a truly immersive experience that gives you a glimpse of what life is really like on a vineyard and making wines from the grapes you grow!

If you are interested in wines and would like to learn more about how they are grown and made, then a vineyard stay in the South West of Western Australia should be on your “must do” list.

Learn More + Book at Heyscape