“When it comes to riesling, we have worked hard in the vineyard to create an environment that nurtures the creation of wines with minerality, nerve and drive. As the vineyard gets older and our understanding and management of it improves, we have found the intensity and natural acidity gets better with each year.” - Hunter Smith
Isolation Ridge Vineyard was named in 1988, after our friend Guy Grant visited the region and the newly planted vineyard, to help us to establish both a vineyard and winery name. After a few bottles of riesling over lunch, Guy jokingly suggested we call our vineyard site ‘Isolation Ridge’ due to the extreme remoteness of the site. Promptly adopted, we had no idea it would so aptly transmit the unique and humble approach we have taken to our viticultural and winemaking philosophy…
The vineyard is managed organically (certified in 2009), however the attention to detail goes further than just managing this way. The family live on the property and are in the vineyard every day. The viticultural techniques that we employ are constantly evolving in response to our observations of the behaviour of those vines. We know what we know from years spent looking after them and understanding their response to weather like rain, sun, thunderstorms, long hot summer days and cool night-time temperatures. These little adjustments might involve completing manual jobs on the right day as needed, as opposed to a set day of the week. In this way we are able to continue refining the things that make the soil healthier, the vines more resilient and at the end of the day, the wines more vibrant.
“It’s the little things… like noticing hot days can fatigue a vine, just like they do us, and asking ‘what can we do to give the vine additional energy to thrive?’ The cool breeze that rolls in over the landscape on a warm summer’s day brings relief to both the vineyard and vineyard worker equally - to share these moments with the vine is what makes a truly great viticulturalist.” - Hunter Smith
Vine resilience is central to the ongoing success of the vineyard. Frankland River has relatively low annual rainfall, so the vines are forced to drive their roots deep into the loamy, iron stone gravels in their pursuit of hydration. The absorbent clay bedrock swells with water during the winter months and allows the vines to access that water source during the months where surface hydration may be less frequent. This deep rooting means weather events on the surface have less impact on the vines, reducing the stress on the vines during the all-important growing season.
The notion of a great vineyard site (like great wine) is not the things that can be said about it, but rather those things that cannot be easily put into words. The way the breeze blows, the way it smells, what it feels like to walk the rows every day for 33 years… literally thousands of days. The memories of storms, sunsets and sunrises. All the while learning, observing and spending countless hours thinking about how best to enable and encourage the site to truly express itself in the bottle.
Isolation Ridge Vineyard embodies the philosophies we carry so strongly. Striving to let a vineyard site speak for itself through the wines it makes is what motivates us and hopefully moves those that drink the wines.
The results we believe speak for themselves.
“Frankland Estate is one of Australia's greatest wine producers with a thirst for excellence. The wine offering is underpinned by the pioneering work and vision of founders Judi Cullam and Barrie Smith only enhances the potency of Frankland Estate's wines.
The focus on riesling is, of course, at the forefront of any conversation about Frankland Estate. Established vineyards and considered single-site offerings have contributed to Frankland Estate's fame. They continue to craft wines that not only reflect their unique patches of Great Southern, but show that Australia produces wines to match the best of any riesling-producing nation”. Mike Bennie Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine
Vintage Report 2018
A very wet 3 months from July – September 2017 set the vines up for very good spring growth. Fine weather during November lead to good flowering and hence average to above average crops on the vines. From October 2017 to May 2018 rainfall was below average across each month and daily temperatures were cooler than usual leading to a mild season with lovely cool evenings.
Harvest started with the Chardonnay on the 28th February and finished with the Mourvedre and Touriga National on the 30th April. The annual red gum blossom was strong and kept the birds away while harvesting the whites. We purchased 5 Ha of nets for the reds to keep the birds off and they did a great job reducing the amount of bird damage.
At the time of writing, the Rieslings (Isolation Ridge, Poison Hill and Estate) are blended and tucked away in full tanks with some lees to mature and relax on over the coming months. The Chardonnay and Alter Weg Riesling are in barrel on full solids unsulfured at this stage.
The dry conditions allowed a very measured and considered intake for the red varietals all of which are in barrel for maturation. It was also a great year for the later ripening varietals such as Mourvedre and excitingly for the very first crop of Touriga National. All reds enjoyed the mild weather, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon had some lovely hang time providing reds with great depth and complexity.
This vintage we took receipt of our first large format shiraz barrel (3,500Ltrs) which aims to allow the elegance and origins of our shiraz speak even louder, an exciting evolution in our approach to this variety.
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That's right! Our Brian has been nominated in the Top 50 Young Gun of Wine awards for 2018.
You are invited to get along to the Top 50 tasting this Saturday night at the Prahran Market from 7pm to 10pm.
There will be live tunes, a selection of tasty eats and 100 wines on pour.
There are not many tickets left so head to Eventbrite to secure your spot!
For members of the wine trade and restaurant industry, you can secure a spot at the Trade Tasting on Monday, 14 May. To RSVP go to: TRADE ONLY Tasting Event.
Terrior, talent and tenacity; this is the bedrock of Frankland Estate.
Thirty years strong, our remote West Australian winery has conquered distance, isolation and any seeds of doubt, to take our wines to the world.
A chance meeting with Bill Hardy of Hardy Wines in the mid-1980s initiated Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam’s journey from sheep and crop farming to winemaking.
Barrie and Judi joined Bill on a journey through the wine regions of France.
They stayed on in Bordeaux to complete a vintage and fell in love with the romance and reward of wine production.
The first vines planted on our remote Frankland River property in 1988 were riesling, shiraz and cabernet franc. The first shiraz and cabernet franc wines earned some commendations – lauded as very respectable early efforts from an unknown region.
Riesling on the other hand, was broadly misunderstood Australia wide.
Barrie and Judi knew their terroir was close to perfect for this noble variety. Yet they were still honing their talent and soon realised it was going to take tenacity to really achieve the status riesling deserved.
Barrie and Judi’s belief in their riesling wines was unwavering.
The achievements and success achieved by Frankland Estate over the past three decades was spurred by this commitment.
Barrie and Judi came to champion riesling nationally and internationally through the establishment of a riesling scholarship and the Frankland Estate International Riesling Tasting, which has now evolved into Riesling Downunder.
We now produce six different riesling wines. And they are widely accepted as benchmark wines of riesling production in Australia.
Barrie and Judi’s tenacity has been well rewarded.
Today, Barrie and Judi’s children Hunter and Elizabeth strive to honour the talent and tenacity of their parents, along with a firm focus on the terrior.
Together with Elizabeth’s husband Brian, they have converted the vineyard and winery into a fully certified organic operation.
The wine range has expanded, wine sales have extended to 20 countries and the pristine elegance of the fruit has continued to develop.
Our thirty years has really only signalled the beginning of what we hope will be a long history of wine making at Frankland Estate, as we continue to experiment, refine and craft a lasting precision in our wines by honouring the health and purity of our unique environment and vineyard sites.
Today we celebrate Barrie and Judi’s talent and tenacity, and we have converted it into wines created with thoughtfulness and care, which we aim to share for many generations to come.
Barrie & Judi hand harvesting their first vintage at Frankland Estate.