Vasse Felix was the first commercial vineyard and winery to be established in the Margaret River region at Cowaramup. In the early 1960’s, the region was identified as ideal for viticulture and in 1967; Dr Tom Cullity planted the original vines. Dr Tom Cullity was a Doctor and on more than one occasion adapted medical technology to winemaking devices. Tom Cullity was one of the few people of vision that recognised the early potential of Margaret River and actually did something about it.
He was a busy physician, but managed to get away most weekends and drove down the inland road from Perth and would spend the weekend looking for available land south of Busselton. He did this for a couple of years, averaging the 600 kilometres return trip about every fortnight.
He eventually bought 8 acres; four years later bought another 4 acres and 2 years later a further 14 acres at Cowaramup.
In August, 1967 after site and soil preparation, contouring, laying out of vine rows etc, planting started with about 4 acres of Riesling; 2 of Cabernet Sauvignon, half of Malbec and half of Hermitage. The cuttings were treated against nematodes by not clonally selected. They were not rooted cuttings but 98% of them still grew.
In 1972, off a small crop, they produced a Riesling wine that created quite a stir at the Perth Show. It was treated with bentonite in the fermenter and filtered off its lees. It was this wine and the subsequent publicity that brought Margaret River wines to the attention of the Australian public. They followed this up with similar success in 1973 with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Vasse Felix now have a reputation for consistent and award winning quality wines and the distribution covers all states in Australia and over 20 countries world-wide.
How Vasse Felix got its name.
Thomas Vasse was a French seaman who disappeared, presumed drowned, after his long boat overturned near the site of Busselton while exploring the coastline on the ship “Geographe” under Captain Freycinet. Felix is the Latin word for fortunate or luck. So Vasse Felix is a fortunate or lucky place in Australia discovered by the French.
It is interesting to note also the bird depicted on the label of the wines is the Peregrine Falcon. The native birds were an immense problem at harvest, so Dr Cullity used trained falcons to deter the silver eyes and parrots. This was not a complete success because of the falcons failing to return after being released and free flying.
With sweeping views of the vineyard and natural forest beyond, this is the sort of place you could easily spend all day at. Sorry, we must continue on to our next place to visit.