“It is a joy to be a winemaker in Margaret River,” writes Bruce Dukes of Domaine Naturaliste. Take one look at the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion and it is easy to see why. It seems that supreme quality and extraordinary talent are part and parcel of this place.

Margaret River has once again taken home the coveted Sauvignon Blanc crown with Domaine Naturaliste winning the 2024 Sauvignon Blanc of the Year Award with the 2021 Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc.

The Sauvage was not the only Sav Blanc to secure some serious praise. In fact, 13 of the 29 wines in the Top Rated Sauvignon Blanc category were from the region! Also, it should be no surprise that Margaret River was well represented in both the Top Rated Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays.

A total of 38 local wineries received a 5-star rating, which classes them among the country’s very best. Then for the cherry on top, two of our much-loved local wineries made it into the Top Ten of the People’s Choice Awards.

The shortlist for this year’s awards was also stacked with local legends. Xanadu Wines made an appearance in the finalists for Best Value Winery, while Vasse Felix’s Bart Molony was up for Viticulturist of the Year and Mark Messenger of Juniper Estate fame was in the running for Winemaker of the Year.

Let’s delve into the details of this exciting sweep of victories.

Margaret River Chardonnay: Bruce Dukes, Domaine Naturaliste. Credit Taya Reid.
Burce Dukes at Domaine Naturaliste. Photo: Taya Reid

Domaine Naturaliste

2024 Sauvignon Blanc of the Year

Bruce Dukes from Domaine Naturaliste garnered the highest praise for his approachable and appealing 2021 Sauvage Sauvignon Blanc, winning the 2024 Sauvignon Blanc of the Year award, a title that is staying in the region for two years in a row. Last year, the award was taken out by Flowstone Wines.

In 2024, the Margaret River Region not only maintains the title of Best Sauvignon Blanc, but it is also the region with the most top-scoring wines in the category, with two of the top three wines from the area. Winemaker Bruce Dukes writes “Winning the Best Sauvignon Blanc award via the Halliday Wine Companion, is great for Margaret River. It is an affirmation that our soils and climate are well suited to the biology of the Sauvignon Blanc vines.”

Bruce continues, ‘The Sauvage is made using indigenous (wild) yeast, fermented and matured in large-format oak. These techniques seem well suited to our gapes, and the wines are simply delicious!’

Want to see for yourself? The Domaine Naturaliste Cellar Door is open for tastings daily or book a seated flight for the full experience.

Margaret River Chardonnay: Happs Wines. Credit Rachel Claire.
The tasting area is designed to be like a library at Happs Wines. Photo: Rachel Claire

Happs Wines

2024 Halliday People's Choice Award Top 10

It was not just the judges that were impressed by our breathtaking region. The people of Australia have spoken and the resounding response is that the Margaret River Region should be on every wino’s bucket list. Having not only one, but two wineries from the Margaret River Region make the Top Ten is an enormous achievement.

Coming in at 6th, Happs Wines is the beating heart of wine tourism in the north of our region. Established in 1978, it is all about innovation, creativity and challenging the status quo. With a portfolio of more than 39 different wines to explore, there is plenty to discover in this family-friendly Cellar Door/Pottery studio. As owner Erl Happ writes, ‘The tasting area is designed to be like a library, where you can browse and discover new things at your own pace, without any pressure.’ Whatever it is that they are doing, it is certainly working!

Happs Sales and Marketing Manager, Stacey Lewis writes, ‘Our whole team has contributed to this achievement, and it is so wonderful to see their dedication and hard work recognised.’

Fermoy Estate Vineyard
Glorious views over Fermoy Estate. Photo: Supplied

Fermoy Estate

2024 Halliday People's Choice Award Top 10

Coming in at 9th, Fermoy Estate is a shining star of the subregion of Wilyabrup. For years it has quietly been crafting exceptional wines, garnering notable accolades and gaining a growing following with wine lovers in the know.

Producing Margaret River classics like Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is the place to go to gain a true understanding and appreciation of the distinct style of the south west.

2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year: Glenn Goodall, Xanadu Wines
Glen Goodall, Senior Winemaker at Xanadu Wines. Photo: Supplied

Xanadu Wines

Best Value Winery: The Finalists

Xanadu has long been championed by the Halliday Wine Companion, with their Senior Winemaker, Glenn Goodall, winning 2023 Winemaker of the Year.

Still buzzing from this huge success, the winery makes another noteworthy appearance as a finalist in Best Value Winery in 2024. The Halliday team writes Xanadu ‘makes such an outstanding range of wines and styles, all with their fruit flavours presented bell-clear’ and the best part? They do it without the elevated price tag!

Vintage workers in the vines. Credit Driftwood Photography
Vintage workers at Vasse Felix. Photo: Driftwood Photography

Bart Molony, Vasse Felix

Viticulturist of the Year: The Finalists

To even be included in the shortlist for Viticulturist of the Year is to be acknowledged as head and shoulders above the rest, a privilege in and of itself.

This honour is easily bestowed upon, Bart Molony, who has been a vital member of the Vasse Felix team since 2004. His wealth of knowledge and passion for sustainability has proved essential in the winery’s ongoing success. As Halliday Tasting Team member Jane Faulkner writes, Bart Molony has ‘done (and is doing) it all.’

Mark Messenger, Juniper Estate, crafts wine with a light and thoughtful touch. Photo: Russell Ord

Mark Messenger, Juniper Estate

Winemaker of the Year: The Finalists

The Halliday Tasting Team writes, Mark Messenger is ‘the kind of quiet achiever that we all should be making a fuss about.’ Mark is the man behind the myth, the legend at the helm of Juniper Estate’s impressive portfolio.

Mark is both the inaugural and current Chief Winemaker of the estate meaning that he has been crafting Juniper’s incredible array of wines since 1999. He crafts wine with a light and thoughtful touch, letting the nuance of vintage, variety and vineyard shine through. If you have not had a bottle of Juniper Estate, it is about time you pick up a glass and see for yourself, his expertise is astronomical.

Now after reading this if you, like the rest of Australia, are rushing to plan your next Margaret River wine vacation, just remember to book your tastings in advance. This will guarantee that you get the absolute best wine experience the region has to offer.

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