The home vineyard was historically referred to as Redland Valley. It was planted on an open lyre trellising system in 1995 and purchased by Kevin and Jenny McKay in 2001. The property runs north-south up the eastern flowing Wildwood Valley.
The open lyre trellis demands more manual labour and less machinery doing the work. The resulting decreased vigour and increased sunlight penetration provide unique fruit qualities that favour riper fruit spectrums and fully developed tannins.
Quality and Variety
With over 20 years grape growing experience in the region, Kevin McKay has built relationships with a number of key growers to ensure Forester Estate has access to older vineyards.
Considering that Margaret River is only 40 years old as a commercial wine growing region, we view vines greater than 20 years of age as mature here!
Sourcing fruit from up to 14 vineyards in a given vintage allows the Forester winemakers plenty of options when it comes to maximizing quality and preserving varietal expression in each wine.
Each property has unique site characteristics that are reflected in the fruit it grows. In some cases individual blocks of fruit on the one vineyard are picked in stages to further isolate subtle soil boundaries impacting on fruit quality.
These unique site characteristics of soil composition, aspect to the sun, drainage patterns and climate all interact in almost magical ways to stamp a vineyard’s fruit with a certain quality.
The French have acknowledged this for generations and applied the term ‘terroir’ to the summary of a particular site’s sense of place or viticultural potential.
So much so that in fact the French Appelation d’origine controlee (AOC) system which defines winemaking and wine labelling laws in France is heavily based on historical knowledge of terroir in each of the sub regions around the country.
While quality has always been tied directly to site in France, the new world winemaking countries have generally allowed the finished quality of a wine in the bottle to define the perceived quality of a producer.
Small batch winemaking
There is however a growing trend for Australian producers to focus more specifically on small, unique vineyard blocks with exceptional terroir to create their premium and ultra-premium wines.
Forester Estate is absolutely committed to this approach to fruit sourcing with considerable resources applied to small batch winemaking in an effort to discover the ‘gems’ that lie among the hills and valleys of Margaret River.
Access to fruit from a range of unique vineyard sites provides options and potential complexity.
How then does a winery define its style and provide the consumer with wines they can get to know and trust over successive vintages?
The Yallingup Sub Region
In the case of Forester Estate this encompassing style parameter is the choice to source nearly all of its fruit from the northern third of the 100km long Margaret River wine region.
With lower rainfall and higher sunshine hours than the southern end of the region, and being impacted by the large body of warm water in Geographe Bay to the northeast, the Yallingup sub region lends towards riper, fruitier white wines and finely structured elegant reds.
Finding good vineyard sites is a big part of the quality pie, but it is not all of it.
Viticultural management practices are crucial to the maximizing of fruit potential and to the protection of Forester’s assets in years of adverse weather or strong disease pressure.
The decisions that can be made in establishing a new vineyard are endless, however once well established our approach to each vineyard is more or less the same – minimal inputs for the most natural output attainable.
Irrigation is only used if absolutely required to keep vine health at an optimum. Chemical inputs are extremely low and again only used as a supplement to physical forms of pest and disease management.
The goal is always to let the vines find a natural balance in the dirt they call home and then to assess the fruit on its merits.