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50 Years of Margaret River Wine: Cape Mentelle

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 5 we look at Cape Mentelle, founded in 1970 by three brothers.

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’ve been looking at a few of the key founding wineries, all of which are still going strong today.

Cape Mentelle

In this series we’ve looked at some of the founding wineries that established the Margaret River wine region. In today’s wine industry, with global corporations such as Accolade Wines and Treasury Wine Estates owning a multitude of wineries, it’s fantastic to see family owned and run businesses still going strong. A look at wineries such as Vasse Felix, Cullen, Moss Wood and Leeuwin Estate has shown us that these family businesses can hold their own against the corporate giants.

One winery that is important to the founding history of Margaret River is Cape Mentelle. This is the final winery we will look at in this series, and it’s the only one that is no longer owned by a local family in the region.

Cape Mentelle was originally started by David Hohnen and his brothers Mark and Giles in 1970. They originally planted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and it is wine from this original vineyard (Wallcliffe Vineyard) that now produces the estate’s flagship bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Prices start at about $75 depending on the vintage. To try something at a lower price point, see the Trinders Cabernet Merlot, the Zinfandel or Shiraz.

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Wanting to expand the business (or should we say, businesses – Hohnen also established the well known Cloudy Bay winery in New Zealand around the same time), luxury brand Veuve Clicquot became involved as financial backers in the 1990s. It was in 2000 in which they become sole owner of the wineries. When the LVMH group took over Veuve Clicquot, the original founder, David Hohnen left the company in 2003.

Hohnen is still producing wine; co-founding the McHenry Hohnen winery with his brother in law, with a focus on biodynamic viticulture and producing expressive, authentic, fine wines.

If you’re interested in some further reading about David Hohnen, check out this excellent article.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the series looking at some of the founding Margaret River wineries and got to try some new wines along the way. It would be great to head over to that region to join in with the celebrations – but if not, a toast with a Margaret River wine is in order at some point this year! Cheers!

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