The spectacular valley, set against a gently undulating landscape, offers protection from the winds and warmth for the vines, a perfect viticultural microclimate. Vineyard management, built on principles of sustainability and incorporating agricultural craft that relies on a respect for the soil and the environment, rewards Brookland Valley with wines of quality and elegance.
But, there is more to Brookland Valley than its estate. It also controls 150ha of smaller vineyards that are dotted throughout the 120km length of the Margaret River wine region. These vines, also grown under the Brookland Valley principles of sustainability and respect, allow Brookland Valley winemakers to choose from a sheet of regional flavours to produce the symphony known as the Verse1 wines.
The Brookland Valley story begins in 1983 when the Jones family, seeking a return to life in the country, inspected a pioneering dairy property at Willyabrup. The family's plans to become cheese makers were quickly diverted into wine making after they witnessed the growth of the fledgling Margaret River wine region that was in those days starting to make its presence known on the world stage. In 1984 Malcolm engaged the services of two Eastern States vineyard consultants, Brian Crozer and Tony Jordan, to assist with the planning and planting of the vineyard.
Establishing the vines was a family affair, with Quentin very much involved in the establishment of the vineyard alongside Malcolm. In 1997 Australia's second biggest wine company BRL Hardy, was seeking a boutique Margaret River winery producing premium wines to add to its portfolio. It was agreed with the proviso that Malcolm and Dee continue to operate the business ensuring continuity of the commitment to quality and excellence that has always driven them.
Since Brookland Valley lead the way in the mid-1980s with a technology-driven approach to viticulture, things have changed dramatically. The winemakers dig holes to check water levels rather than relying on electronic moisture meters, walking hundreds of kilometres inspecting individual vines, shoot thinning, reducing foliage and tasting the ripening fruit. Vines and the soil in which they grow are regarded as the most treasured possession and are treated with respect.
The Brookland Valley Estate vineyard is close-planted and flows down the valley from the sun-denched north-facing slopes to the more gentle flats along the banks of the Willyabrup Brook. Spur pruning was adopted some time ago and in essence it is treating the vines like irrigation systems with the trunk being the main pipe that divides into two. From these two branches the annual pruning ensures that 26 shoots will develop into fruiting canes.
Malcolm Jones decided back in 1997 that to present a true Margaret River region range of wines he needed a broad palate from which to make his selection. He entered into long-term agreements with two groups and an individual who were planning to plant vineyards. The agreements give Brookland Valley control over management of the vines and in particular the tonnages required. In this way Brookland Valley is able to impose its Estate Vineyard principles of sustainability over the vineyards from where it sources its Verse 1 fruit.
The Margaret is some 120km from north to south and 40km from west to east. It dwarfs areas such as the Barossa and Coonawarra and because of its size there are interesting sub-regional characteristics that in recent years have been the subject of experimentation by some of the local wineries. Thanks to the foresight of Malcolm Jones back in 1997 Brookland Valley now stands alone in the Margaret River region, and come vintage it has a reliable and quantifiable source of quality fruit with a tantalising spread of flavours and characteristics