The history behind wine region, Geographe

Published by Tamara Harrison - 4th Sep 2019

Winemaker Cathy Howard from Boots & All is here to explain her wine region, Geographe. Keep on reading to find out where the name come from (the spelling gives you a little clue!).

The Geographe Wine Region is named after Geographe Bay, which is a HUGE bay covering about 10,000 hectares in area and stretches from Bunbury around to Cape Naturaliste, near Dunsborough. 

There is a strong French connection in this part of Western Australia, due to a French scientific expedition that occurred here between 1800 to 1803. This same expedition was also responsible for naming plants, landmarks, rivers, etc … right along the south coastline of Australia from the SW of Western Australia to South Australia and Tasmania with many places being named after the crew and scientists on these two vessels. The Baudin expedition of 1800 to 1803 was a French expedition sent to map the coast of New Holland (now Australia). Nicolas Baudin was selected as the leader in October 1800 by Napoleon Bonaparte. The expedition started with two ships, Géographe, captained by Baudin, and Naturaliste captained by Jacques Hamelin and was accompanied by nine zoologists and botanists, including Jean-Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour, François Péron and Charles-Alexandre Lesueur as well as the geographer Pierre Faure.

Quite appropriate then really that this is now a region producing high-quality wines, particularly shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and sauvignon blanc! It’s a region with diverse soils and climates, capable of producing wines with flavour intensity, elegance, and structure. 

The Geographe Wine Region is a relatively new wine region, being officially registered as a Geographical Indication (GI) in 1999. GI is an official description of an Australian wine zone, region or sub-region. A Geographical Indication can be likened to the appellation naming system used in Europe, for example, Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. 

If a wine label has a GI stated on it, such as Geographe, then 85% of the wine in the bottle must be from grapes grown in that GI. 

As you can see from the Western Australia GI regional map, the Geographe Wine Region is HUGE! Our vineyard is located in the SW corner of the region, 20 km directly south of the seaside town of Busselton. To give you an idea of how big it is, for me to drive from home to the northern part of our wine region, takes me about 1.5 hours, halfway to Perth!! 

Santé, Cathy


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