Heydon Estate is a boutique, family owned and operated wine producer. Owners George and Mary Heydon have been actively involved since 1995, when they became part owners of the current vineyard. In 2002 George completed viticulture and winemaking studies at the University of Western Australia, leading to his current role as vigneron. In 2004, following the outright purchase of the vineyard, George and Mary moved to the property, together with sons Michael and Conor, and have lived and worked there to the present day.
George, also a practicing dentist in the Margaret River township, continues to oversee all vineyard and wine production. Nowadays he also relies on the expertise of viticulturalist Tim Quinlan and winemaker Mark Messenger, both extremely well regarded in their respective fields. Mary is hands-on when it comes to the sales and administration of Heydon Estate and she personally hosts guests at the Cellar Door – it must be said, with the enthusiasm of an Irish-born owner!
The Margaret River wine region, and in particular the locality of Wilyabrup, was first identified as having ideal growing conditions for wine grapes by the seminal study of Dr John Gladstones in the 1960s. Margaret River sits at the very southwest corner of Western Australia, surrounded by the Indian and Southern Oceans. Its climate has been favourably compared with that of the great French appellation of Bordeaux. It is characterised by high winter rainfall and long dry summers, moderated by afternoon sea breezes and cool nighttime temperatures as a result of its coastal location.
Heydon Estate enjoys prime location within the Margaret River wine region; just a few special square kilometres known as the Wilyabrup Valley (now a proposed sub-region). Immediate and near neighbours include the iconic, pioneering vineyards of Vasse Felix, Moss Wood and Cullen. The Heydon Estate property is stunning; 40 ha of undulating land with two major creek lines and substantial areas of native bush. The vineyard aspect, well-drained gravelly soils and ideal mesoclimate all combine to create a very special terroir.
The vineyard, established in 1988, now comprises Chardonnay (3.5 ha), Shiraz (2.8 ha), Semillon (1.3 ha), Cabernet Sauvignon (1.2 ha), Sauvignon Blanc (0.8 ha) and Petit Verdot (0.4 ha). These old vines are now in perfect balance, so with very minimal intervention they produce just the right amount of fruit (with yields <5t/ha) and vine vigour, allowing sunlight to penetrate the canopy for balanced ripening and hence flavour development. This level of sunlight, in combination with vine age, also assists greatly to minimise disease pressure.
A combination of biodynamic, organic and traditional practices are used within the vineyard (non-certified). Because no pesticides are used, the soils are vibrant and alive with microbes, naturally increasing fertility and ensuring sustainability. Insect pressure is mitigated by the use of barrier methods such as Dacron on vine trunks. The use of cover crops provides natural mulches to further build soil structure and retain moisture. The vines are hand tended and no irrigation is used on the Cabernet block, with very little employed elsewhere. Bird netting is routinely used around harvest to ensure fruit ripens in pristine condition.
The production philosophy of Heydon Estate starts with attention to detail in the vineyard and extends through all aspects of winemaking, resulting in wines of quality that express their unique terroir. Production is limited to 2000 dozen bottles and the estate’s focus is on those varieties for which the Margaret River region is most renowned.
All fruit is hand-picked and winemaking intervention is limited, with an emphasis on expressing the single estate origin. The Chardonnay is taken a step further down this path through the use of wild fermentation; a ‘hands off’ approach that also results in wines of improved texture, savoury character and overall complexity. Wines are later matured in the finest French oak and bottle aged for an extended period, to ensure optimum enjoyment on release.
Heydon Estate Winemaker, Mark Messenger, completed his degree in winemaking at Roseworthy in 1987 and worked vintages in the Hunter Valley and Victoria, before being drawn to Margaret River. He took up the position of Assistant Winemaker at Cape Mentelle in 1990 where he remained for nine years, also taking time out to work vintages in New Zealand and California, conduct research in California and take up consulting roles in India (on behalf of Veuve Cliquot).
In 1998 Mark was appointed Chief Winemaker at Juniper Estate. In the twenty years that followed Mark has achieved a considerable number of trophies, medals and accolades for both Juniper Estate and the contract wines he makes, and is well respected by both his peers and wine writers around the globe. Notably, both Juniper Estate and Heydon Estate have been awarded the Wine of Provenance Trophy at the Margaret River Wine Show (2016 and 2017 respectively) for Cabernet Sauvignon wines crafted by Mark.
Mark has been making Heydon Estate wines for more than a decade now, in consultation with George Heydon.
The Heydon family’s other passion, cricket, takes pride of place on the wine labels with names such as “Chin Music”, “Hallowed Turf”, “The Willow”, “The Sledge”, “The Doc”, “W.G. Grace”, “The Declaration” and “The Urn” attributed to the various wines.
Visitors to cellar door can also browse the family’s impressive collection of limited edition and original signed cricket memorabilia, whilst sipping on Heydon Estate’s awarded single-estate wines.