Chardonnay is the heart and soul of our craft at Voyager Estate.
As we wrap-up the harvest of this year’s chardonnay grapes, we are excited to unveil two new Certified Organic releases – the Voyager Estate Chardonnay and Broadvale Block 6. Nurtured from the ground up, these wines reflect our aim to shine a light on Margaret River and mark a special moment in our organics journey.
We have been farming sustainably for decades and with every passing year, our team learns more about the unique qualities of each vineyard site. Since beginning the journey to organic certification in 2017, we have shifted our operations in various ways, including using beneficial bugs to combat pests, making our own compost, and evolving our irrigation system to conserve water.
Through this sustainable ethos, our vines have begun to regulate themselves and show increased resilience, as we put more life back into the soil. With reduced yields, the vines are encouraged to work harder and delve deeper, and we are seeing a marked concentration of flavour, minerality and vineyard character in each release. This is complemented by a ‘less is more’ approach in the winery, allowing the nuances of site, soil, and season to really shine.
The 2020 vintage was truly exceptional, with a near perfect growing season followed by a very warm December. Milder conditions through January ripened the grapes beautifully and saw the team starting harvest in early February. The chardonnay was picked first, with pristine freshness and bright varietal expression – the result is two exceptional wines that tell a unique story of time and place.
The Voyager Estate Chardonnay is our legacy in a glass, crafted from six of our best chardonnay blocks. An initial burst of citrus is complemented by fine, toasty oak and a clean mineral edge – the perfect balance of power and elegance.
Broadvale Block 6 continues to be, hands down, the most exciting parcel of chardonnay on the Estate. Perched atop a gravelly hill that gently slopes to the east, it is planted only with the Dijon 95 clone. This wine has reinforced the need for our team to stand back and let the site do the talking.
“Making Broadvale Block 6 Chardonnay is always exciting. As a juice, it ferments naturally each year due to the lower sugar levels at harvest. It has a flavour profile that builds nicely during ripening and is quite distinctive when ready. Elements of it remind me of Corton wines from Burgundy. This year’s release again shows character and drive in abundance” – Travis Lemm, Winemaker.
These two newly Certified Organic releases are now available via our online shop.
On International Women’s Day, we are celebrating all the women we’re fortunate enough to call colleagues, customers, and friends.
A special salute to the exceptional women at Voyager Estate, who are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind wine experiences for our guests each and every day – including our award-winning Sommelier, Claire Tonon.
Tell us about your wine journey – when did you know you wanted to become a sommelier and how did you get there?
Like many of the best things in life, I “fell into” the world of wine. I returned to Australia from Italy as a young university graduate and didn’t really have a precise career direction, so I applied for a job as a secretary. Within a few short months I was hosting wine tastings for Wise Wines! A few years later I returned to Italy, where historic producer, Bisol, sent me off to complete the Italian Sommelier course. As they say, the rest is history…
You’ve spent plenty of time in Italy – how would you describe the differences in our cultures’ approach to wine?
There are always exceptions, but I find the Italian consumer predominantly knows and drinks wine from regions closer to home. I find Australia’s wine culture to be more inclusive and explorative – people love the opportunity to taste different varieties and wines from a broader array of regions, both from around Australia and the world.
What are you most proud of in your wine career?
Receiving WA Good Food Guide Regional Sommelier of the Year in 2021 confirmed that there’s a growing understanding of the role of the Sommelier being so much more than creating a long list of wines. It recognises the importance of a sensitive approach to wine and food pairing, of impeccable service, and of sharing knowledge without pretention. That’s bigger than just being about me, and would have to be one of my proudest moments.
Are there any women whom you admire, or have influenced you in your wine career?
Jancis Robinson MW OBE is my wine idol…the first woman to become an MW from outside the wine trade in 1986. I doubt there’s a single topic even remotely related to wine she couldn’t explain in exacting detail!
Our Technical Officer, Alex Miller, advises the Production Team on all manner of issue; yields, pest and disease management, sustainability, our organic conversion and so much more, yet she always manages to have an encouraging word for all. Truly inspiring!
What challenges, if any, do you see for women in the wine business?
While I think the days of the wine industry as a “boys club” are numbered, I do feel that women in this industry still need to work harder and longer to be recognised in their field compared to their male counterparts. The limited number of women in top management positions throughout the wine business is testament to this challenge.
How are you supporting and empowering the team at Voyager Estate?
A big part of my job is staff training. I hope, by providing every person – no matter how they identify – with respect and equal access to education opportunities, I am supporting each individual in our team to find their own strengths and way of expressing themselves within the wine business.
What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in wine?
To succeed in the wine business, you will need passion, tenacity, and drive. Study hard, work hard and enjoy the ride (and a glass or two)!
We recently welcomed Australian musician and master of all things vinous, Tom Kline, to the Voyager Team as our new Market Development Manager.
Growing up in the King Valley wine region in northeast Victoria with a wine educator father and a well-stocked cellar, Tom caught the wine bug early. In addition to being our east coast Brand Ambassador, Tom is a WSET educator, offers self-written wine courses, and is a contributor to Gourmet Traveller WINE. He is also a passionate musician and talented singer songwriter.
Has there been a particularly memorable moment in your wine journey to date?
Collections of moments while spending time in regions like Piemonte in Italy, and Burgundy in France are hard to go past. Otherwise, getting to have a glass of wine and a chat with Jancis Robinson at the winery a couple of years back was pretty surreal!
What do you see as the biggest wine trend in Australia right now?
Chilled reds have a huge vibe at the moment. This is more readily an option with the increased array of more delicately structured and fruit driven wines in the market. Outside of that I think it’s simply a move to more finessed and brighter wine styles both from a producer and consumer standpoint. Wines that are more about intensity than weight.
Is there a particular ‘genesis’ wine that led you down the path to a career in wine?
I grew up around wine, so I think it was more of an osmosis situation. I’d love to regale you with a romantic story of that “one bottle” that forged the path, but it was my father and his love of wine and wine culture that led me to the industry.
What is your favourite wine in the Voyager Estate portfolio and why?
I’m a big fan of the Estate Chardonnay. It consistently shows such site transparency and balances power and elegance beautifully year on year.
As a passionate musician drawn to wine, do you see any synergies between the two?
Yes, there’s creativity and sensory experience around both, but I think it’s about being put in the moment. As a songwriter, there’s no greater feeling for me than when an inspired idea takes hold. Hours pass like minutes, and I think the appeal is the escapism from everyday life. I get that same reward from wine – when I’m smelling, tasting, or drinking wine I’m completely in that moment and freed from thinking of any of life’s stresses. I love that.
What are you listening to when you’re out on the road?
I love listening to podcasts when I’m on the road. You’d think I’d be devouring music given I’m a musician, but I enjoy learning while I drive around (usually about wine!).
A magnificent sunrise casts a warm glow over the vineyard, as the crew limber up before the first hand-pick of Vintage 2022.
There is a feeling of anticipation in the air, as everyone gathers in Broadvale Block 11 – the first white grapes to be plucked in the cool of the morning. Harvest has officially begun.
It’s always tricky to know what the season will bring (if only we had a crystal ball!) but here are a few early thoughts from our Winemaker, Travis Lemm…
“The warmth is continuing during the day, with cool nights helping to hold on to that bright acidity. The birds are busy feeding on the Marri blossom and have disappeared, leaving our vines in peace…for now!
Shortly we will finish harvesting the chardonnay. All the fruit is looking amazingly pristine. We are especially excited about the intense grapefruit and lemon zest flavours coming off those core Voyager Estate blocks.
The early tempranillo flavours for this year’s rosé are also looking fantastic. We’re also monitoring a small section of semillon for a potential new project, as the quality and yield is too good to ignore...watch this space.”
The summer harvest season is upon us, bringing with it a wonderful energy, colour, and transformation in the vineyard.
Head Chef Santi Fernandez and Sommelier Claire Tonon have weaved their magic to create a culinary journey that pays homage to this exciting time at the Estate.
Cape gooseberries, Western rock lobster, figs, zucchinis, and Society Garlic from the garden are just a few of the pristine local ingredients featured alongside a selection of Voyager Estate’s current releases.
“The height of summer is our busiest and most exciting time of the year – our organically farmed grapes swell, increase in sugar and develop their distinct character. The anticipation is high, as is the sun, with cooling afternoon sea breezes a reminder of our coastal influence. And then, it’s time for the magic – Harvest, as the team gears up to transform beautifully ripe grapes in the winery into wine. Using fresh fruits, summer berries, and pristine produce from across our region, our BACCA Menu pays homage to this vibrant time across the Estate. Our sustainable food philosophy is front of mind, heroing food of place and the wines that inspired these dishes” – Santi Fernandez.
We’re excited to share the next step in our sustainability journey – we have joined International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA), confirming our commitment to taking immediate and long-term action to reduce greenhouse emissions. Through this collaboration, we join leading producers in decarbonising the global wine industry.
IWCA was founded in 2019 by Familia Torres (Spain) and Jackson Family Wines (USA) – two leading wine families deeply committed to environmental stewardship and to preserving the world’s great wine heritage in the face of climate change. In addition to our Net Zero by 2050 commitment, as an ‘Applicant Member’ we have met the minimum renewable energy targets and are on the pathway to having our greenhouse gas emissions audited annually.
"We have been carbon neutral in our operations for many years, and working our way through various energy efficiency measures, not to mention our organic farming practices,” says Michelle McManus, Head of Sustainability for Voyager. “We see this as a natural and critical step to work with other sustainability leaders in the industry to contribute to an even greater impact.”
For more information, visit the IWCA website.
A flock of 50 baby Muscovy Ducks have officially joined us as the newest members of our Vineyard Team...
For the last two weeks they have been acclimatising in their custom-built home, and recently made their very first foray into the great outdoors.
Vineyard Manager, Glen Ryan, explained the introduction of our feathered friends is a vital step forward in Voyager’s sustainability mission.
“Ever since the infamous ‘kicking the dirt’ conversation that started us on the path to organics, we’ve talked about the important role animals would play in this journey. I remember Alex Burt sent me an amazing picture of Indian Runner Ducks in Stellenbosch pouring into the vineyard, and this inspired us to think about how we could do something similar in Margaret River.”
Ducks bring biodiversity into the vineyard, which over time, helps to build vine resilience and naturally return life back into the soil.
“These beauties will also help with insect and snail control. We plan to let them into the vines to scout for bugs each morning, before returning home at dusk to be housed safely away from foxes” Glen continued.
The Vineyard Team have also assigned a Mother Duck to steward and care for the babies. With time, the hope is that they will breed, and the crew will have a new cohort of winged warriors to roam the Estate and ‘quack down’ on those bug hotspots!
As the summer sun soars and the Marri trees blossom, we set our sights on vintage 2022…
Our winemaking and vineyard teams are eagerly awaiting that magical moment when the first white grapes are ready to be hand-picked in the cool stillness of the early morning.
At this time of year, our special patch of land in Stevens Valley is a hive of activity. Our Vineyard Crew is passing through the cabernet, chopping the wings and shoulders off the bunches to assist with even ripening. Each day, the chardonnay grapes are lovingly draped with nets to protect them from our winged friends – the Silvereyes – who love to dart about the vineyard, feasting on the plump berries.
Yet, among the commotion, there is a quieter process taking place. The vine has turned its focus from growing leafy foliage, to gently ripening its berries. As the sugars accumulate and the acids reduce, the berries soften and slowly change from green to purple. This colour transformation is called veraison and gives our flourishing North Block Cabernet vines their stunning, dappled appearance.
Not long now until the North Block is hand-harvested, and the fruit destemmed, fermented, and laid to rest in barrel, destined for the next release of our Voyager Estate Cabernet…
Recently our Cellar Door became 'virtual aquarium' as we hosted an opening for talented local artist, Ian Daniell.
Precious, playful and gleaming, Ian's new pieces form part of his iconic collection, Life-size Ocean Art – a fascinating exploration of our unique Western Australian marine fauna.
Tickets included a glass of Voyager Estate wine on arrival and a selection of delicious canapés from Chef Santi and the team. It was a fantastic evening of stunning visual discovery, immersing guests in a vivid oceanic world bursting with colour and dynamism.
Life-size Ocean Art is the first in a series of exhibitions celebrating Western Australian creatives that we will be hosting at the Estate in 2022 – stay tuned...
Our Head of Sustainability, Michelle McManus, talks to the here and now of our future in sustainability.
“What I love about the aspiration, the practice and the promise of sustainability is that it weaves together stories of science and stories of place. Science helps us understand the issues as well as the solutions, and the case for hope. It grounds our work in both the 'here and now', stretches us forward to think of future generations.
The care and stewarding of the land and soil has long been at the heart of Voyager's vineyard practices – and that sensibility carries right through to making our beautiful wines for you to enjoy.
Just a few ways we are driving our commitment to the long-term sustainability of our special part of the world:
- We now generate around 25% of our operational electricity from solar
- For 10 years we've been active, certified members of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia
- We offset the remaining non-solar operational activities by purchasing verified carbon offsets
- The pathway towards organic certification across the vineyard continues to forge ahead – and now we're taking organic practices more and more into our gardens
- In 2021, our kitchen team started taking steps towards radically reducing single-use plastic
- We've planted over 60,000 indigenous trees and shrubs in the last 10 years and have more plans to keep restoring and linking up to precious local ecological areas
We're about to take a closer look at our carbon footprint and take the next steps towards contributing to climate change and emissions reductions. We're examining and working out everything from growing more of our food, the way the essential materials and ingredients for our business come in and the way our wines move about the place.
We know we'll need to work with others in our desire to create and leave a sustainable legacy – that means working with our suppliers, our customers and our community to create sustainable business ecosystems.
So, the next chapter of our sustainability story calls on more looking 'outward' to better understand things that matter to our customers, our community, and all of us. Like all living things, it's always in the process of unfolding."