Vasse Felix was established in 1967, here's a snapshot of some milestones throughout history that have contributed to the Estate you experience today.
Following Professor Harold Olmo's (University of California Davis) report recommending Australia's south-west to plant wine grapes, Dr John Gladstones (University of Western Australia) publishes a report isolating the Margaret River cape for it's climatic similarities to Bordeaux. His report was published in the local Margaret River newspaper.
Dr Thomas Cullity had been trial planting vines in the South-West since 1965. Upon learning of Dr Gladstones' report, he spent around a year searching for the perfect site of “red gravel in redgum country, with clay about 18 inches below the surface.”
Finally locating the ideal site, he planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec and Riesling to establish the Vasse Felix vineyard; Margaret River's oldest vines.
The first vintage, off 4 year-old vines, was in 1971. The harvest was a disaster due to bunch-rot and silver-eyes (native birds). The winery vats and machinery were built and purchased in the preceding months.
"I will not forget the exhaustion and disappointment." Dr Thomas Cullity
The first Vasse Felix - and Margaret River - wines are made and included a Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.
"In 1972, off a small crop, we produced a Riesling wine that created quite a stir at the Perth Show [it won a gold medal]... It was this wine and the subsequent publicity that brought Margaret River wines to the attention of the Australian public. We had similar success with the Cabernet Sauvignon in 1973." Dr Thomas Cullity.
Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon wins a Gold Medal at the Perth Royal Show. (Pictured left, Cullity with Stuart Verman at 1973 Perth Royal Show).
David Gregg is appointed winemaker of Vasse Felix. (Pictured centre, newspaper article, 1973).
The Gregg family purchase Vasse Felix from Dr Thomas Cullity. This vintage Vasse Felix turned global, with headlines reading 'Vasse Felix hits the big apple'.
After noticing the estate listed for sale in the classified section of The West Australian newspaper, The Holmes a Court Family acquires Vasse Felix. The Family has remained owners of Vasse Felix since.
The first vintage of Vasse Felix Classic Dry White is made.
The Vasse Felix Restaurant opens. It was originally built as a 'champagne room' which had been the dream of former owner David Gregg. The Restaurant today is recognised as one of Australia's best.
The 1988 Hermitage wins the 'Chairman's Trophy for Best Wine at the WA Wine Awards' and sells out in three days.
Clive Otto joins Vasse Felix as winemaker (he becomes Chief Winemaker in 1992).
The first Heytesbury is made, and is a runner up for the Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Melbourne Royal Wine Show in 1996.
In 1996 a Reserve Chardonnay is made and is relabelled as Heytesbury Chardonnay in 1997.
A new state-of-the-art winery was built and opened and the old winery and barrel hall is converted into an Art Gallery.
Vasse Felix's Home Vineyard in Wilyabrup begins its most significant expansion since establishment as the Estate narrows its focus to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Virginia Willcock is appointed Chief Winemaker (October, 2006)
Vasse Felix acquires a new vineyard in Karridale, a 'sub-region' located at the south of Margaret River's cape which experiences a slightly cooler climate due to its increased cloud cover and sea breezes off the Southern Ocean.
The vineyard is a specialty site for white varieties Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
The 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay wins 11 trophies in wine shows to become one of the most awarded in Australian history. A year of significant critical acclaim:
The Vasse Felix Estate expands to include a fourth specialty vineyard, Gnarawary, located in the Walcliffe sub-region of Margaret River. The site has exceptional potential for Chardonnay and Shiraz.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Vasse Felix and the modern Margaret River wine industry. The pinnacle of the 'Golden Jubilee' celebrations was the release of the inaugural TOM CULLITY Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec, our highest scoring Cabernet ever:
Vasse Felix was awarded 'New World Winery of the Year' at Wine Enthusiast's 18th Annual Wine Star Awards Gala in January.
Vasse Felix is the first Margaret River and West Australian winery to receive the US publication’s award, surpassing estates from major international regions, including Stellenbosch (De Toren), Auckland (Kumeu River), Argentina (Trapiche) and Chile (Vina Ventisquero) to receive the coveted award.
Vasse Felix acquires the balance of the Watershed Vineyard in Margaret River's Wallcliffe area, neighbouring the Gnarawary blocks purchased in 2015. This is an idyllic site for premium Chardonnay.
Early August 2019, Vasse Felix was accepted into the Organic Certification program through NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia). Full certification for all four Vasse Felix Margaret River vineyards is expected by 2021. The decision to make the organic viticulture progam official supports the Vasse Felix vision for the ongoing sustainability of our land.
Idée Fixe; a decades-long fixation, birthed by Vasse Felix but all new.
A serendipitous discovery in the deep south of Margaret River; Southern Ocean, calcareous soils, biting cold. Méthode Traditionnelle. Chardonnay. From a dedicated sparkling house. Refined, expressive, distinctive.