Chris Davies planted the Windows Estate vineyard (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, chenin blanc, chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc and merlot) in 1996, at the tender age of 19. He has has tended the vines ever since, gaining organic certifcation in 2019. Initially selling the grapes, Chris moved into winemaking in 2006 and has had considerable show success for the consistently outstanding wines. Exports to the UK, the US and Italy. -JAMES HALLIDAY
The story so far…
We are Chris, Jo and Lucas Davies, a young Western Australian family, grape growers and artisan wine producers. We strive to create wines of uncompromising quality and with a true sense of place, and we take great pride in traditionally processing our wines by hand all the way from the grape to the bottle. This is our story so far…
It was in 1999 that Chris started what was later to become Windows Estate. Given the chance to expand on a tiny three year old vineyard with only a hectare each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc under vine, and located just north of Metricup in the heart of Margaret River’s celebrated wine region, he established a total of nine varieties, thereby increasing the total size of the vineyard to just a little over six hectares.
From the onset the ultimate goal was to produce truly unique wines of outstanding quality. We are firm believers in growing good wine, rather than making it in the winery. A formally trained viticulturist, the vineyard has always been Chris’ true passion. Not willing to compromise the health of the vineyard, the state of his treasured vines and ultimately the quality of the fruit they give us, he decided at a very young age never to cut corners in the vineyard. Consequently, Chris has worked the vineyard completely on his own from day one, which is the only way to meet the high standards he sets for himself. Our little vineyard is where he spends the vast majority of his time; he knows it like the back of his own hand. No stranger to hard physical labour he hand-prunes every single one of the vines himself, year after year. Apart from the very day the grapes are harvested no one else is ever allowed to touch his vines.
In the winery, by contrast, we prefer to keep it rather simple. This does not mean that we are trying to make it easier on ourselves once the fruit has been carefully handpicked and has made its way back to the humble shed we call our winery. On the contrary, handling the fruit as gently as possible is our number one priority, and we ensure this by using very little machinery and traditionally processing the wines by hand almost every step along the way. After making sure the fruit is picked at ideal flavour and acid levels, when it is perfectly ripe and bursting with vibrant aromatics and highly concentrated flavours, there is no need for highly technical or invasive winemaking. Instead, we take a minimal intervention approach, where we simply try to showcase the quality of our fruit without making adjustments or additions to the wine while making it. Whenever possible we do not even inoculate the ferments and just let the indigenous yeasts go to work, which adds uniqueness and character to the wine. All the red wine ferments are manually plunged, not pumped over, and the remaining juice is pressed off by hand using a simple traditional basket press, one of our most prized possessions. Only the highest quality French oak is used to mature the wines, and to add texture and complexity in the process. Before bottling only minimal filtering and fining with eggwhites occurs, and sulphite additions are kept to a bare minimum, resulting in sulphite levels well below those that are permitted for certified organic wines. Essentially, our ultimate goal is to accurately translate what we get from the vineyard into the bottle. And we strongly feel the simple approach outlined above is the only way that really does our wines justice.
What we do at Windows Estate is not in any form or sense inventive. Our philosophy is simply borrowed from some of the world’s top producers, many of whom have themselves merely reverted back to the age-old tradition of truthfully showcasing all that their fruit has to offer, of letting the terroir and the grapes speak for themselves. In fact, many of the world’s greatest wines, and certainly the vast majority of those wines that really inspire us, are not great feats of modern winemaking in a technical sense. Their greatness is typically the result of a winemaker’s willingness to allow the wine to truly express where it comes from and what happened in the vineyard, not just during a particular vintage’s growing season, but over a period of years or even decades leading up to each new harvest. These extraordinary wines are therefore much more the culmination of many years of meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard and the uniqueness of its location, rather than the outcome of an accomplished winemaker’s wizardry in the winery. Of course, each one of them would have been treated with great diligence throughout the entire winemaking process, but ultimately it is their sense of place and the exceptional quality of the fruit that went into making them that makes them both inimitable and unsurpassed in their balance, their complexity and their finesse.
Acknowledging this simple truth, we feel strongly that Chris’ classic vigneron approach, fully taking control of every part of the production process from the grape to the bottle, is the definitive pathway to creating the kind of wines we are proud to call our own. So this is exactly what we will continue to do, refining and perfecting our practises both in the vineyard and winery as we go along.
We feel very privileged to be on the land we are on, and we see ourselves as custodians of this special piece of Earth. We constantly work on evolving our holistic approach to managing our vineyard, one that has a strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy ecosystem on the entire property, and thereby ensuring the long-term sustainability of what we do. Our vines are not irrigated and we practise organic farming where possible, not so we can market our wine to a particular clientele or put a special label it, but because we firmly believe that it is the only way to get our vines to live up to their full potential and produce the best quality fruit they can possibly offer us. Moreover, long term sustainability is no less important to us than the quality of every single crop of fruit, not least because we are determined to leave Lucas one of the finest vineyards in the region when one day the time is right for him to step up and take over our little estate.
We hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of our work, and we look forward to sharing our story with you as it continues…
Chris, Jo & Lucas Davies