Climate, soil and topography each play a role in the agriculture of Western Australian wine regions. Here's an overview of Western Australia's regions and a few of their defining features.
Before the 1950s, the Great Southern region's main crop was apples -- wine moved to the forefront when the apple industry went into decline. The Great Southern region is cooler than any other Western Australian region, and some of its soil is particularly high-quality, making up for a lower amount of rainfall. The Great Southern is Western Australia's largest wine region.
Another well-known region is the Margaret River region. The vines in this part of Western Australia benefit from westerly and southwesterly air streams. The countryside is hilly, and the climate is Mediterranean. The region is famous for its wine's intense flavors.
Named for the Blackwood River, Blackwood Valley's wine production is boosted by cold winter temperatures. The region has rich, well-drained, gravelly loam soil that has been used to grow grape vines for the last 30 years [source: Blackwood Valley Wine Industry Association]. This is recent compared to Western Australia's oldest wine region, Swan District, where the first vines were planted in 1829 [source: Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation]. Swan District is a flat region with a hot Mediterranean climate.
The Manjimup and Pemberton regions are adjacent to one another, with Manjimup on Pemberton's northern border. Manjimup's soil is red and gravelly, and the region is a little higher in elevation than Pemberton. Pemberton's soil, on the other hand, is darker and has less gravel. On average, Pemberton gets about 2 1/2 inches (6.35 centimeters) more rain during the growing season than Manjimup [source: Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation].
Geographe lies along Western Australia's coastal plain. Its frost-free areas, hilly topography, sea breezes and moderate weather help grape vines grow in its gravelly lime soil. Sea breezes encourage the grapes in Perth Hills as well, where afternoon winds lead to warmer nights. The Peel region also starts on the sea but stretches inland, and its soil ranges from limestone sand near the coast to loam and gravel farther inland.
Now that we've explored the land, read on to learn about famous Western Australian wines.