Burch Family Wines Blog

What's In A Name? Howard Park Riesling and the Great Southern Region

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The history of Howard Park Wines began with Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling.  It was from these grapes that our first winemaker John Wade produced the first two Howard Park wines in vintage 1986.  Riesling was chosen as it fitted John’s philosophy of producing wines of both high quality and longevity, as he was impressed by the intensity of fruit flavour from the still maturing vines planted around Mount Barker and Denmark after moving to the region from South Australia.  We have produced Howard Park Riesling in every subsequent vintage to make an unbroken string of 29 vintages, and the wine is now recognised as one of the pre-eminent expressions of Australian dry Riesling.

The Great Southern wine growing region covers a vast area of South-Western Australia, and Riesling grapes that are grown in its various defined sub-regions have distinctive differences in the flavour and acid profiles they can contribute to the finished wines.  The philosophy of Howard Park wines to seek out the best available fruit for our wines has meant that at one time or another exceptional grapes from all five of the defined sub-regions:  Albany, Denmark, Frankland, Mount Barker and Porongurup have found their way into the final blend.

Our longstanding relationships with local growers and the ongoing development of our own vineyards has over time helped our winemakers to refine the belief that the fruit most suited to the style of Howard Park Riesling comes from the Mount Barker and Porongurup sub-regions, where vineyards sit at higher altitudes and the soil is extremely ancient, deep karri loam over weathered granite.   The now permanent annual release since 2010 of the Howard Park Porongurup Riesling gave expression to the desire to showcase the unique flavour profile of grapes grown on two special vineyards on either side of the imposing Gibraltar Rock.

The Burch family-owned Mount Barrow vineyard in Mount Barker, the highest altitude vineyard in WA, and the company-managed Gibraltar Rock vineyard in Porongurup are now the exemplars of this sub-regional approach, and provide the majority of fruit for the two Howard Park rieslings.  The 2014 vintage release marks another  important milestone as the fruit for the Howard Park Riesling which has been traditionally sub titled “Great Southern” now comes entirely from Mount Barker, and the sub-region is represented on the label, giving us two annual vintage releases with their own distinctive sub-regional expression.

Sub-Regional climate statistics

Mount Barker

Map Coordinates 34° 36'S
Altitude 180-250 m (590-820 feet)
Heat degree days, Oct-Apr 1488 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, Oct-Apr 287 mm (11.3 inches)
Mean January temperature 19ºC (66ºF)
Relative humidity, Oct-Apr, 3 pm Average 55%
Harvest Early Mar - mid April

Porongurup

Map Coordinates 34° 10'S
Altitude 250-300 m (820-984 feet)
Heat degree days, Oct-Apr 1441 (cut off at 19°C (66.2ºF) but not otherwise adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, Oct-Apr 310 mm (12.2 inches)
Mean January temperature 19ºC (66ºF)
Relative humidity, Oct-Apr 54%
Harvest Mid Mar -early May

Category: Blog