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Margaret River – World Class Chardonnay

Webinar: Thursday 22 October 11:00 - 12:00 (BST)
22 Oct 2020 Webinar Watch replay
22 Oct 2020
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Margaret River, located in the far south-west corner of Western Australia, is one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world. But this isolation has been no barrier to the development of the region as it has evolved into a place dedicated to the pursuit of great food, exceptional lifestyle and fine wine.

Surrounded by the Indian and Southern Ocean on three sides, Margaret River has over 130kms of spectacular and diverse coastline. This maritime influence brings pristine fresh air, mild winters and cool sea breezes in summer, and most importantly, exceptional vibrancy to the grapes.

Chardonnay was first planted in Margaret River in 1976, and in a relatively short period of time, this coastal spot has become one of the world’s leading Chardonnay regions. Wines tend toward the elegant and refined, yet concentrated with a high degree of complexity.

Join us to explore the breathtaking Margaret River region and its fresh, elegant Chardonnays. Discover how the region’s maritime influences, ancient soils, modern history and Gingin clones all contribute to create this unique style.

Winemakers Steve James (Voyager Estate) and Virginia Willcock (Vasse Felix) beam in from Margaret River, whilst Tom Cannavan leads the conversation and fields questions.

The winemakers share their experiences in the vineyard and winery as well as their perspectives on the region and the wines. Find out what’s special about Margaret River and why it’s such a hotspot for Chardonnay. Discover the opportunities and challenges working with this grape variety, what the winemakers are learning and how they’re adapting.

Tom, Steve and Virginia tasted and talked about these six wines during the webinar:

  1. Thompson Estate Chardonnay 2018
  2. Flametree S.R.S. Wallcliffe Chardonnay 2018
  3. Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2018
  4. McHenry Hohnen Hazel's Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
  5. Voyager Estate MJW Chardonnay 2017
  6. Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2017


Virginia Willcock

Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix

Virginia Willcock is the Chief Winemaker at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix. Having grown up in Perth in Western Australia, Virginia’s interest in wine began as a teenager when her father bought a small vineyard just north of the city. As Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix since 2006, Virginia has transformed the winemaking style into a more hands-off approach that results in premium wines that couldn’t have been made anywhere else. Today, Virginia is an authority on Margaret River winemaking, having completed nearly 30 grape harvests in the region. She has won a number of prestigious winemaking awards, is a sought-after wine show judge and has served on the board of the Margaret River Wine Industry Association for several years.

Tom Cannavan

Wine writer and presenter

Tom Cannavan is a UK-based wine writer, presenter, educator and judge – having judged in Australia five times. Pioneer of Internet wine writing, his website was first published in 1995 and has grown into an enormous repository of information and thriving, active community. Tom has written for numerous publications and has contributed to 10 books. Winner of the Louis Roederer award for his writing, and named as Wine Communicator of the Year by the International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2018, Tom organises hugely popular tasting events, both on- and off-line. Having graduated from Glasgow School of Art back in the 80s, Tom had a short but successful career as a musician, his band of ageing rockers re-forming in 2018 and releasing an E.P. earlier this year.

Steve James

Manager of Viticulture and Winemaking at Voyager Estate

Celebrating two decades at Voyager Estate, Steve is the custodian of Voyager’s rich winemaking tradition, fostered by close collaboration between the winemaking and viticulture teams. Steve initially worked at Stonier on the Mornington Peninsula before a sea change brought him to Western Australia in 1996. After two years at Amberley Estate, Steve joined Voyager Estate in 1998. Believing that great wine is made in the vineyard, from the outset Steve has focused on sustainable farming, vine balance, clonal selection, and vineyard management in close liaison with the winery team. This focus has allowed the vines to shine and become more adept at expressing the purity and character of the individual vineyard blocks. Steve became Manager of Viticulture and Winemaking in 2009, and he’s currently a board member of the Margaret River Wine Association.


For more information about this webinar, please email

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