Some little known facts about WA’s best kept secret
Situated approximately a 35 minutes’ drive east of Perth and nestled in the Darling Ranges, the magical Bickley Valley forms part of the Perth Hills. It includes the area in the vicinity of Carmel, Bickley and Pickering Brook. This picturesque region is known for its wineries and vineyards, ciders and orchards and the surrounding forests. It offers a good amount of cellar doors and gourmet delights, which are charming and often run by passionate locals and families. Here’s a few things you may not have known about Western Australia’s best-kept secret.
It used to be called ‘Heidelberg’
From the 1890’s, Bickley was known as ‘Heidelberg’. With the onset of WWI, the Railway Department was asked to change the name to something not of German origin. The Under Secretary for Lands proposed the name “Bickley” after a pioneer in the area and a member of the first Legislative Assembly – Wallace Bickley. Thus, from 1915, the suburb became known as Bickley.
The Bickley Wine Region includes 12 Wineries and 2 Cider Houses
Being one of Australia’s smallest wine regions, the Bickley Valley currently comprises of twelve wineries and two cider houses (and we love them all!).
Wineries include Myattsfield Vineyard, Plume Estate, Fairbrossen, Brookside Vineyard, Hainault Vineyard, Tonon Vineyard, La Fattoria, Carldenn Homestead Wines, Aldersyde Estate, Ashley Estate, The Packing Shed at Lawnbrook and Cosham Wines.
Cider Houses include Core Cider House and Carmel Cider Co. Although not in the Bickley region, the Perth Hills is also home to a third Cidery located in Karragullen called Naked Apple Cider (we just couldn’t not mention these guys!).
So what wine is it best known for?
A range of varietals are grown in the laterite soils of the Bickley Valley. Prominent red grapes include Shiraz, Mourvedre, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Durif, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Zindandel. It’s most distinctive whites include Viognier, Chardonnay, Verdelho and Semillon.
Each of the wineries ‘hero grape’ is best grown on the hills of their vineyard. Elevated, northern facing slopes produce significantly warmer sites better suited to dry red varieties. Southern facing, lower sites produce cooler variations capable of producing better whites and lighter reds while elevated western facing sites are ideal for fortified production.
The unique climate plays a huge role in the grapes that are grown. For such a small region there is a great diversity of wine styles and this is largely because of the area’s topography, resulting in distinct micro-climates which impact those prominent wine varietals. Leading me to my next point… what is the climate like?
Micro-climate diversity for the win – best of both worlds!
The climate is typically Mediterranean, with cool to cold wet winters, cold nights and warm dry summers. The regions greatest influence on the climate is The Scarp, rising roughly 400m above the coastal plains east of Perth, resulting in being considerably cooler than it’s neighbouring Swan Valley region. The Scarp helps to moderate daylight hours, shield vineyards from maritime influences, increase Winter rainfall and provides many topographical aspects to the region.
Warm to hot evenings and dry summer heat encourage ripening of the grapes, while chilly winter nights ensure ideal fruit setting. This teamed with the location of each vineyard results in a perfect combination for those wine varietals I mentioned earlier.
All Bickley Valley grapes are hand-picked!
Due to the hilly topography of the region and the sizing of the vineyards, the area is ideal for hand-picking and tended viticulture. There is huge attention to detail from the winemakers, picking only the best fruit to ensure the highest quality of hand crafted wine.
A few more interesting facts about what the Bickley Valley holds…
- An annual festival in May is held each year at the end of Harvest. They call it the Bickley Harvest Festival which is a vibrant communal celebration showcasing the unique tastes, sights, and sounds of the Perth Hills. Spread across two days, the event includes award-winning wines, cider, delicious food and farm fresh fruit and vegetables. It will be the 23rd celebration of this beautiful region of WA. Due to Covid-19, this year it will be held in October 2020.
- Hainault Vineyard is the highest vineyard in Western Australia nestled in the Jarrah forest on the Darling Scarp, at an elevation of 400m. It is also one of the coldest parts of the State!
- Tonon Vineyard and Winery is the only grower and producer of Prosecco in the Perth Hills! Daniel Tonon grows more alternative grape varieties including Vermentino, Fiano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and Tempranillo – all hand crafted and estate grown.
- The Bickley Valley is also home to Western Australia’s oldest Observatory which has served WA for over 120 years! It remains actively involved in the service of public education through day tours for schools and night sky tours for the public.
We have a fantastic daily tour of the Bickley Valley that showcases what this special wine region has to offer. The wineries are boutique and personable and you often get to pick the brain of the winemaker themselves whilst tasting their beautiful hand-crafted creations. We also stop off at the famous Core Cider House to sample their delicious ciders overlooking a breathtaking landscape of endless orchards. CONTACT US for more details on our public tour, or to find out how we can customise a private Perth Wine Tour in the Bickley Valley – We’d love to show off one of WA’s best kept secrets!
Taryn – d’Vine Tours Operations Manager