Woodlands Vineyard was established in 1973 by David and Heather Watson on Caves Road in Wilyabrup, and was one of the first five vineyards to be planted in the Margaret River Wine Region. David and Heather aimed to create wines to emulate the great vineyards of Bordeaux. Woodlands came to fame early on with the release of the 1981 ‘Andrew’ Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine won trophies for Best Red Wine’at the Perth Wine Show, the Mt Barker Wine Show, and the National Wine Show. This wine was the first from Margaret River to achieve a National Red Wine trophy.
There are iconic vineyards throughout the world where you can literally see greatness. Think about Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Reynard, Montrachet, Pétrus, Monfortino, Romanée-Conti, etc. Woodlands is a vineyard where you look at the surrounding areas of Margaret River, it just exudes greatness. So much of the area sits on lower lying and almost concave soils while woodlands ascend into the horizon with the Indian Ocean just a mile to the west. In 1992 Woodlands production virtually ceased while David and Heather brought their children up in private schools in Perth, and fruit was sold to other high profile producers in the region. In 1999, with the children out of school, Woodlands began to produce wines again, making the most of its fully mature vines.
Cabernet Sauvignon is king here, but Chardonnay is a powerful queen. There are five blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon. The oldest (3 acres) was planted in 1973 on gravelly loam soil on a south facing slope. In 1975 they planted two further plots: one on gravel/loam soil near the top of our south facing slope below the Cabernet Franc (1 acre), and the other on heavy loam soil on a south facing slope below the ‘old’ Malbec plot (1 acre). In 1985 a further plot (2 acres) was planted on light gravelly loam below a Chardonnay plot. The flagship Cabernet only comes from the old blocks.
The young plot of Cabernet Sauvignon (10 acres) was planted in 1998 on a north-east facing slope. The soil in this plot is mostly heavy gravel loam, with sandy loam on the top half acre. This plot produces very ripe rich Cabernet fruit which makes its way into the Cabernet Merlot. The best ferment from this plot is blended into the older vines to add vitality and freshness to the Margaret.
David’s son Stuart took the reins as winemaker in 2002 and Stuart’s other brother Andrew joined Woodlands full time in 2005. In 2007 the Watson family purchased the Woodlands Brook vineyard, located on Puzey road in the Wilyabrup Valley. With Woodlands Brook, the Watsons see a great opportunity to plant more Cabernet Sauvignon on free draining, south facing Wilyabrup soils.