The Swinney family (currently parents Graham and Kaye, and son and daughter Matt and Janelle) has been resident on their 2500ha property since it was settled by George Swinney in 1922. In the ’90s they decided to diversify and now have 160ha of vines across 4 vineyards, including the Powderbark Ridge Vineyard in Frankland River (planted in ’98, purchased in partnership with former Hardys winemaker Peter Dawson). The lion’s share goes to shiraz (67ha) and cabernet sauvignon (48ha), followed by riesling, semillon, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, viognier, vermentino and malbec. They also pushed the envelope by establishing grenache, tempranillo and mourvèdre as bush vines, a rarity in this part of the world. Exports to the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. -JAMES HALLIDAY
Swinney Vineyards is a family winegrowing concern located in the Frankland River region of the Great Southern in Western Australia. The vineyards are part of remote and isolated 2,500 (approx. 6,000 acres) hectare grape growing and grazing property which has been the home of the Swinney family for four generations.
George John Alexander Swinney was a pioneer of the Frankland River Region and settled at 'Franklands' in 1922. The 'Franklands' property is located on the banks of the Frankland River. The country is hilly and undulating and is dominated by jarrah and redgum trees growing upon ironstone gravel and loam soils.
This long farming history, coupled with a passion for understanding the complex relationship between soil, topography and other key aspects of the local environment and the production of wine grapes has been translated into a unique insight for vineyard site selection and wine grape production.
While the varieties grown are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the Vineyards also contain Grenache, Tempranillo and Mourvedre bush vines. Low-yielding and growing naturally without trellising, bush vines are a rarity in Western Australia and exemplify the Swinney's long term commitment to producing wines that are a true expression of their unique sites and variety and in as natural and unforced manner as possible.
FRANKLAND RIVER REGION:
The Frankland River region in the South West of Western Australia is the coolest and most remote wine growing region in Australia. Mediterranean in terms of its winter/spring rainfall, it has a continental influence, with cold nights and warm days creating ideal conditions for growing quality wine grapes.
The viticultural potential of the Frankland River region was first identified by the famed botanist Baron von Mueller on one of his trips to Western Australia (1867 and 1877), followed by Californian viticulturist Dr Harold Olmo in a report to the West Australian Government in 1956, and was later endorsed by Dr John Gladstones (well-known for his pioneering work in the Margaret River region) in two reports commissioned for the Swinney family and which are the source of the material below.
Over millions of years the Frankland River has cut its way through the ancient lateritic surface rock to expose the granitic and gneissic layers beneath and has created ideal gravel-loam soils for growing quality wine grapes. These gravelly surfaces protect against erosion and warm up quickly in the spring, while the clay loam subsoil retains water during the dry summer months.
Soils include gravelly loams on the middle valley slopes, which in the natural state carry vigorous marri (commonly known as red gum) trees. They merge on the higher slopes into mixed marri / jarrah soils that are lighter-textured but still gravelly and well suited to viticulture.
The Frankland River valley also has a profound influence on the region's climate and the resultant wine styles. As a river valley draining more or less straight to the Southern Ocean the river valley has excellent water and air drainage. Cold air flows freely to the south at night, setting up an air circulation between land and sea that minimizes the risk of damaging frosts in spring. Valley-side tributaries locally reinforce this pattern by forming a series of moderately sloping ridges that are largely frost-free.
In summer the valley performs a reverse function by funneling cool and humid air northwards from the Southern Ocean. This moderates the heat of summer afternoons, and combined with ripening that extends through March into April, ensures mostly mild conditions for ripening before the first heavy rains of autumn. These ripening conditions allow very reliable production of classic cool-climate wine styles.
Grenache, mourvedre, riesling, syrah
325 Frankland-Kojonup Road, Frankland River, WA 6396
(08) 9200 4483