Worldwide recognition for wines of quality, innovation and depth
The husband and wife team of Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam established the winery in 1988 after visiting Bordeaux’s famed vineyards. They also worked two vintages at Château Senejac, a respected winery in the Haut-Medoc that is owned by the proprietors of Château Talbot, the fourth-growth estate in St. Julien.
The property has been certified ‘A’ grade organic since 2009 and is audited on a yearly basis. No pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, fungicides nor growth hormones are utilized. Instead, Frankland Estate relies on mid-row cultivation, recycled winery waste, animal manures and composting and mulching techniques that increase soil fertility and encourage biodiversity within the vineyards. Great pride is taken in the fruit from Frankland Estate’s Isolation Ridge Vineyard; a 74-acre planting that provides all of Frankland Estate’s red wine production.
The operation is definitely a family affair with daughter Elizabeth and son Hunter Smith working full time in various aspects of the winery. The younger Smiths have taken over the day-to-day aspects of Frankland Estate but founders Barrie and Judi remain active in winery affairs.
The Flag of Australia
The Australian flag features a blue background with the Union Jack in the upper left corner. A large white seven-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star is just beneath it and to the right is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, made up of five white stars.
The Union Jack acknowledges the history of British settlement. The Commonwealth Star represents the unity of the six states and the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Southern Cross constellation was chosen because it can only be seen from the southern hemisphere and is a reminder of Australia's geography. The ag was adopted on September 3, 1901, the date proclaimed as Australian National Flag Day.
Elizabeth Smith & Brian Kent - Winemakers
Elizabeth Smith is another veteran winemaker that graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honors) in Agricultural Science from the University of Western Australia in 1998. She also completed further studies in viticulture from highly-respected Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Victoria. She is the sister of Hunter Smith, currently listed as owner of Frankland Estate.
Brian Kent has been winemaker at Frankland Estate since 2010. He holds a Postgraduate Degree in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand and also served as assistant winemaker at Ferngrove Winery for the five years prior to his association with Frankland Estate. Brian also has extensive experience in California (Russian River Valley) and in Spain (Baixas Region in northwest Spain). He is considered an expert in making wine from the Riesling grape.
Frankland River Region
The Frankland River is millions of years old and has cut through the region’s ancient surface rocks to create gravel-loam soils that are moderately fertile and almost perfect for locating and growing vineyards. The area is Australia’s coolest and most isolated, and is located in far Western Australia. The river valley is itself crucial to the region’s climate, sucking cold air (winter and spring) down to the Southern Ocean (some 20 miles away).
It reverses itself in the summer by funneling cool and humid air north from the ocean that moderates afternoon heat and provides a long and slow-ripening growing period (similar to Bordeaux, France). Soils are chiefly derived from granite or gneiss outcrops and are typically rich, red in color and uniform. Only 4,000 acres of land are under vine and are tendered by some 15 wine entities.
Australia's Wine History
Less than four decades ago, the Australian wine industry was mired in a bleak economic set of circumstances. Much of the country’s wines were sold in a plastic bag inside a box, with the resultant identity of basic class wine. A 20% wholesale wine tax didn’t help matters. Then in 1986, several factors contributed to the rise in both quantity and quality of Australian wines. The Australian dollar hit historic lows due to the sharp fall in prices of Australia’s coal, grain and other primary export products.
The resultant wholesale value to wine sales doubled on two occasions and both the domestic consumer price and the export consumer price grew by over 50% over the next decade. Growers benefited and the quality level of Australian wines rose dramatically. Small and large plantings occurred throughout most of Australia’s wine growing regions and international demand for Australian wines increased significantly. Other countries, notably Chile and Argentina saw Australia’s progress and initiated expansion programs of their own. Global demand for these products increased with Australia leading the way. The country suddenly became the world’s fifth largest producer of wines.
Importantly, high quality wine from Australia was accepted by international competitions and proved to be an added factor in the country’s rise to wine prominence. If anything, there are more exceedingly high quality Australian wines available today than any other period in history.
Regionally, areas that formerly held little or no vineyards suddenly came into their own. Areas such as Western Australia and Southeastern Australia attracted new investors and resulted in new wineries and ultra modern facilities. The established regions such as New South Wales and Barossa Valley suddenly had top competitors such as the wineries featured in this International Series.
The fact that Australia has a multitude of micro-climates as well as a great diversity of soils and growing surfaces makes the country a wonderful environment for continued growth. Only the lack of a solid water supply hinders the country’s wine industry. A severe drought in 2008 brutally impacted growers and producers in a number of growing regions.
Internationally, Australia suddenly became a major source for well-made, relatively inexpensive wines. This price value relationship was a real boon to startup wineries seeking additional sources of distribution outside Australia. Numerous small production wines suddenly found themselves on foreign wine lists and on the shelves of quality wine merchants throughout the world.
This impressive wine boom has tended to level out at present, but the influx (particularly in Great Britain and the United States) of ultra-premium wines has continued unabated. Internet exposure has also benefited these small Australian producers where their stories are but a few clicks away. Today, Australia exports some 60% of its entire production, making it the fourth largest exporter of wine at around 200 million gallons a year.
While the fact that the country has more than sixty designated wine regions makes familiarity with some of these areas quite difficult, the overall wine quality that Australia offers more than makes up for so many designations.
Australia’s major grape variety, the great Shiraz (Syrah), continues to dominate Australian reds. In combination with Cabernet Sauvignon and other varietals, the Shiraz produces a smooth and elegant wine that has become a favorite with connoisseurs and restaurateurs alike.
It is our pleasure to introduce these fascinating Australian creations to you. Enjoy!