From humble beginnings in 1948, Paul Conti Wines has become one of WA’s most reputable and respected boutique, family-owned wineries.
Located only 30 minutes north of Perth, the Woodvale property, which now houses a modern winery and restaurant, was the original homestead of Carmelo (aka Charlie) and Rosa Conti who, in 1927, immigrated to Australia from a small town in their homeland of Sicily.
The Conti’s raised eight children in the beautiful stone house which has since been converted into a fine dining restaurant, however the property was once the hub of a rural self-sufficient lifestyle. Based on black, fertile swampy soils the conditions were ideal for growing vegetables, planting an orchard and of course nurturing vines. Cheese and milk, (thanks to the resident cow), pasta, sausages and of course wine were all produced at the property. Today, small historic reminders remain with the old fruit and olive trees still growing strong.
In 1948, Charlie began expanding the modest vineyard to cater to a growing domestic market. The original cellar located directly beneath the family home and which remains today, was dug out by two of the Conti brothers by horse (a stubborn creature, but fondly remembered as Mary) and scoop.
It was from this time onward that a then, young Paul learnt the traditional art of wine making and decades later, became an industry pioneer in his own right.
“It has always been our mission to produce full flavoured, elegant wines that reflect the unique qualities of the regions where our fruit is grown.” Paul Conti.
From 1968 Paul began upgrading the small winery and became the first vigneron to produce premium bottled wine from Tuart soils (a direct result of Tuart trees grown along the coastal strip where the vineyards are located). Early success was achieved with his award winning Mariginiup Hermitage [now called shiraz], an exclusive wine still made from the original vines planted on the Mariginiup vineyard in 1958.
Fruit today is exclusively hand-picked from four Conti vineyards located at, Woodvale (the homestead property – black sandy soils within Yellagonga National Park); Mariginiup (lighter Tuart soils/jarrah country), Carabooda (heavier Tuart soils/redgum country) and Margaret River (located within the esteemed Willyabrup sub-region). The local sites were chosen for their limestone-based soils and close proximity to the Indian Ocean providing cool coastal sea breezes in the dry summer months and near perfect maritime conditions. No vineyard site is any more that 6 kilometres inland from the coast.
Varieties grown between the four vineyards include, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, merlot, chardonnay, chenin blanc, muscat and nero d’avola, all of which excel in the region.
As mentioned previously, the Conti family’s recently acquired Margaret River property is located on Miamup Road in the celebrated Willyabrup district where sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, semillon, cabernet sauvignon and malbec complement a new chapter in the family’s respected wine stable.
“Our original Mariginiup vineyard has faithfully delivered us with beautiful fruit for over 50 years. A big part of its high quality comes from fruit being hand-tended by people who care and aim to make wine with both richness and refinement. Down south at our Miamup Road property, these very same principals are being applied.” Winemaker, Jason Conti.
The Medici Ridge label is an extension of Paul Conti’s premium range. Its discerning difference is that fruit is soured from external growers based in the cooler climate of the South West region (approx. 3.5 hours south of Perth).
The wines within the range include shiraz and merlot which exhibit regional influences unique to the area. Each of the low-yielding, non-irrigated vineyards have been carefully selected for this reason.
Pinot noir has also been sourced from reputable growers in the South West’s Pemberton region for many years, and the wine is forging a commendable reputation as a full-bodied, richer style among the pinot noir cognoscenti.
In 1991, third generation Jason Conti assumed all wine making responsibility and over the years has worked closely with his father by embracing a traditional wine making style combined with new technology learned from furthering his studies of viticulture and wine making abroad.
This unique combination of youth and contemporary methods tied with traditional wine making techniques, has greatly influenced the success of the wines today.
With Jason now firmly established in the family business, Paul spends much of his time managing the four family-owned vineyards and sourcing quality fruit from his Pemberton growers.
Paul’s wife Anne is his business partner and the driving force behind the logistics of the business. Daughter Berlinda, assists with marketing and public relations on a casual basis.
Today, Paul Conti Wines is a fully equipped, modern winery, producing approximately 7,000 cases per year and aside from a healthy domestic market, caters to a long-standing export market that includes the United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia and China.
“Special insight into the relationship between the vineyard and the final product results in wines of balance, structure and finesse that will complement any meal and possess a quality that will never waver.” Paul Conti.
Swan Coastal region
The Swan Coastal Region of WA is home to some of the State’s most stylistic wines. The area is contained within a narrow strip never more than 4kms wide, which stretches south of Yanchep, 40kms north of Perth, to the Ludlow Tuart Forest near Busselton, 230kms south of Perth.
What distinguishes the region from any other is the fertile sandy top soils over a limestone base and the majestic Tuart trees (Eucalyptus Gomphocephala) that thrive in the region. The major climatic factor influencing the region is its close proximity to the Indian Ocean. This provides a mild maritime climate, with dry warm summers, cool wet winters and no frosts during the growing season.
The consistent occurrence of the afternoon sea breeze during the summer months ensures cooler nights and helps the morphology of the vine. This allows excellent flavour and character build up.
As mentioned previously, Paul Conti was the first wine maker to produce premium bottled wine from Tuart soils in 1968 – he pioneered modern wine making in the region with his Mariginiup Hermitage [now called shiraz].
Since those early days, shiraz has grown in stature in the region. The quality of shiraz, and also cabernet sauvignon, is unquestionable.
The reds show great depth of colour, character, flavour and especially refinement on the finish which is a direct result of limestone present in the soil.
Chardonnay and chenin blanc also excel in the region, with the alkali soils again being a major influence. The resultant wines are full flavoured classic dry whites with abundant flavour.