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Thursday 23 November 2017

Riding a wave of 50 years of wine history in Margaret River

Margaret River is one of the best-known wine regions in the world; a magnet for gourmets looking for a uniquely Australian travel experience.

But turn the clock back just 50 years and Margaret River was a sleepy country region with weekend shacks owned by Perth doctors and lawyers, who shared the deserted beaches with a handful of surfers.

Those Perth high-flyers who planted vines back in the 1960s and 70s were very much ahead of the curve as Margaret River's natural beauty, ocean beaches, superb wines and gourmet produce has seen it soar to global recognition.

Located a leisurely three-hour drive from the booming Western Australian capital of Perth, Margaret River is today home to over 200 vineyards and more than 100 cellar doors – and is regarded as one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the country with its remarkable diversity.

Massive events like the Margaret River Gourmet Festival would have been unthinkable when vines were planted at Vasse Felix in 1967 and quickly followed by Moss Wood, Cape Mentelle and Cullen. 

The fascinating history of the local wine industry has been captured by two of Australia's leading wine writers, Perth-based duo Peter Forrestal and Ray Jordan, in the newly-released book The Way It Was.

Beginning in 1967, with Dr Tom Cullity planting the first vines, Forrestal and Jordan use text, photos and their own intimate knowledge of the region to paint a fascinating picture of a Western Australian success story. 

Fascinating characters and inspiring stories abound from an obsessive scientist to an ambitious politician and some brave pioneers. Wine lovers will find it hard to put down. 

The Way It Was by Peter Forrestal and Ray Jordan. $39. Margaret River Press

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