FOREST HILL | Great Southern
WINEMAKER: LIAM CARMODY & GUY LYONS
SIZE: 40 hectares
SOILS: Gravel Loams over Clay
GREEN: Dry-Farmed & Sustainable
VARIETIES IMPORTED: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
The original Forest Hill Vineyard was planted in 1965 making it Western Australia's oldest cool climate vineyard. The site for this two hectare planting was chosen after the initial declaration by Harold Olmo, Professor of Viticulture at the University of California, that Mount Barker showed great promise to produce premium wines and likened the gravelly soil conditions to Bordeaux, in France. Fast forward 50+ years, and Forest Hill continues to be family-owned and operated.
The Lyons family's vineyards consist of the original Forest Hill vineyards as well as younger plantings on the Forest Hill and Highbury Fields properties. Vines have only been planted on the very best soils on the property, generally being gravel loams characterized by the Jarrah and Marri (Redgum) tree which grow on them. The sites chosen differ depending on variety, however are all well-drained with an underlying clay base. The clay base and its depth are crucial when not using any irrigation, as Forest Hill implements dry farming. The vines are deep rooted and low yielding.
The growing season in Mount Barker is long and influenced by both the Southern and Indian Oceans. The warm days are cooled by afternoon breezes with cool nights, allowing for a slow extended growing and ripening season.
Forest Hill produces three lines of wine and specializes in cool climate Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz bottlings - with a small mix of other varietal offerings as well. The Block Series wines are produced from small, carefully selected parcels of the best old vine fruit from the Forest Hill property including the original 1965 vines. The Estate Range are made using original Forest Hill old blocks with contributions from select parcels of the best younger vineyards on the property. The Highbury Fields wines are made with fruit grown on one the original farm sites which has yielded apples, dairy, grains, lamb and wool, over the last century. Today the Highbury Fields property grows exceptional fruit in dry farmed vineyards occupying the best soils on this historic property.
The farming methods employed on all properties of Forest Hill are very simple. Cane pruning is used with attentive canopy management and shoot positioning. No herbicides are used in the vineyard with livestock roaming through the vines outside the growing season. Organic composts and teas are distributed to further improve soil health promoting microbial activity.