Western Australia

James Halliday by James Halliday

2016 Vintage Snapshot: Western Australia

Margaret River

Good winter rains in Margaret River were followed by dry weather until 90mm fell in January, with rainfall continuing at above average levels through February and March. Rigorous control of disease (mildew, botrytis) in the vineyard was essential, and not all producers were up to the challenge.

Great Southern

For those that were, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon were the highlights, some rating them as superb, others very good. Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup in the Great Southern all experienced constant changes in rainfall patterns. This was coupled with a generally cool, cloudy and humid growing season, exacerbated by sudden, intense influxes of silvereyes. Yields were moderate, with some losses due to fruit sorting. Riesling fared well (as ever), as did shiraz; overall, complex and austere red wines will be slow to develop and show their true potential.

Manjimup and Pemberton

Manjimup and Pemberton’s winter and spring rainfall was below average, then 196mm fell in two hours, 120mm of that within one hour, on January 19. The temperatures, too, fluctuated wildly: Pemberton’s 2016 maximums varied from 18°C to 37°C. Overnight temperatures were cold, which helped acid retention. Riesling and shiraz were best, the overall quality good for whites, moderate for reds.


Geographe pointed to El Niño for its hot spring and high average temperatures, which continued until January 18, when the region received 74mm of rain, with temperatures remaining cool thereafter. Yields varied, as did the success stories, shiraz and tempranillo from one producer, verdelho and malbec from another.

Swan Valley

Winter and spring in the Swan Valley were warmer than average, the rainfall below average. This led to an early harvest, commencing on January 2. There were three significant heatwaves, and only those who picked before the February heatwave fared well. Yields were as much as 50% below average, shiraz the best performing variety.

Perth Hills 

Perth Hills had little winter rainfall, but spring brought some relief; thereafter the weather remained hot and dry, the yields moderate. Viognier, shiraz and merlot were the best varieties, the vignerons very pleased with the outcome.