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50 Years of Margaret River Wine: Leeuwin Estate

In honour of the Margaret River wine region’s 50th birthday, we’re looking at some of the key founding wineries, all of which are still going strong today. In part 4 we look at Leeuwin Estate, home of the famous Art Series Chardonnay.

2017 is the year that one of Australia’s leading wine regions turns 50. This is the Margaret River wine region. While only being 50 years old, and a small producer of Australian wine, the region accounts for 20% of the premium wine market.

In honour of this region’s 50th birthday, we’re looking at a few of the key founding wineries, all of which are still going strong today.

Leeuwin Estate

Established in 1972, Leeuwin Estate is still a family run business today. Denis and Tricia Horgan, along with their children, run this amazing estate most famous for their Art Series Chardonnay. However, amazingly enough, this premium winery was started as an ‘accident’ by the Horgans who knew little about wine at the time. Denis was a chartered accountant, who bought a plumbing business on a farm that just happened to be prime land for growing vines. There is much to be said about being open to new adventures!

Opening their vineyard to host concerts was another accidental and risky venture. In 1985, the couple took a risk to host, and underwrite the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance in their vineyard – a place that was then a fairly isolated area of the world. This risk paid off, with Leeuwin being synonymous with hosting an amazing concert each year. Tenacity is the nature of business though, with it taking nine years of concerts before breaking even. If you’re interested in further reading about the history of Leeuwin, check out this interview with Denis Horgan.

In regards to their wines, Leeuwin Estate offer three ‘labels’, which makes it easy for people to become acquainted with them. Start with the Siblings range (around $20); then the Prelude range (around $30). According to Leeuwin, wines in the Prelude range are made to drink immediately. Then, they bring out their big guns with their Art Series range. These are their most prestigious wines, which become even better with age. While the Art Series Chardonnay is the most sought after (being one of Australia’s best Chardonnays) and most expensive (at over $90 a bottle), the other varieties in the Art Series label, including Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc can be bought for under $30 a bottle.

To drink an Art Series Chardonnay though… this is something you need to do once in your life!

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