Vasse Felix was founded by Dr. Thomas Brendan Cullity in 1967 in the Margaret River region of Western Australia; this was Margaret River's founding commercial winery. Cullity was a cardiologist who worked in London's National Heart Hospital in the 1950's. In England he discovered the great wines of Europe which sent him on a mission to produce fine wines in Western Australia. He took guidance from the famous viticulturist Professor Harold Olmo, who in 1955 had recommended the planting of wine grapes in Margaret River, and the agronomist Dr. John Gladstone who had scientifically identified the area as ideal for grape-growing in 1965. And so Tom acquired a 20 acre bush block by the Wilyabrup Brook. At this time the Margaret River region was a closed community and the locals were not so sure about grape-growing. Rumours circulated that “the mad doctor from Perth” was setting up a nudist colony or wife-swapping cult! But what Tom was actually doing was planting grape vines, 8 hectares of Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The site was perfect - just 4 kilometres from the ocean with its moderating effects on the climate, and ancient red gravel soils with clay about 18 inched below the surface. Tom set up a rudimentary winemaking facility from recycled medical contraptions, and his tenacious persistence led to success. The name of the winery has curios origins. “Naturaliste” was the name of one of the maiden ships in the French Baudin Expedition undertaken to map the coast of Australia from 1800 to 1803. In 1801 the ship's Assistant Helmsman, one Thomas Timothèe Vasse, was swept overboard and disappeared beneath the waves. His story became one of the most fascinating tales in French and Australian nautical history. Did he drown? Did he wash ashore and live with the indigenous community? Was he picked up by an American ship and taken to England where he was imprisoned? What really happened to the unlucky and unfortunate Vasse? Cullity, an avid historian, was hopeful that his winery would enjoy a better fate than the sailor he named his winery after - Vasse Felix, meaning “Lucky/Happy” Vasse. Their logo is the Peregrine Falcon depicted on all their bottles since the winery's first vintage in 1971. But this inaugural vintage was disheartening as a lot of the grapes had been eaten by native birds. A falcon was introduced to deter the birds and immediately flew away but has remained on the labels ever since! Vasse Felix has been owned by the Holmes á Court family since 1987, led today by Paul Holmes á Court. Now of course Margaret River is acknowledged as one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world and Vasse Felix's flagship red wine, the gorgeous “Tom Cullity” Bordeaux blend, is a tribute to their pioneering founder. Vasse Felix farm sustainably using organic principles. They have four distinct vineyard sites, each with its own unique terroir and mesoclimate, and each matched to the best possible grape varieties and clones.
The Boodjidup Vineyard first planted in 1997, has 112 hectares under vine with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz on gravel and sandy loam soils. This fruit produces their Icon, and Premier wines and their Alternative Collection wines.
The 30h Karridale Vineyard was first planted in 1995. Here the soils are sandy loam with deep topsoil over calcium clay, where Chardonnay is cultivated for their Blanc de Blanc Idée Felix sparkling wine on this cool site.
Adams Road Vineyard was first planted in 1998. This warmer site has 147h under vine on deep red, sandy loam soils with gravel and clay in areas, and the grapes produce the Vasse Felix's Regional “Filius”, and Classic Collection wines.
The Home Vineyard is the jewel in their crown; first planted by Dr. Tom Cullity in 1967, it now has 52 hectares under vine on gravel loam over clay soils with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon for their Icon and Premier wines. This is Western Australia's oldest vineyard and contains the Houghton clone Cabernet Sauvignon, introduced to Western Australia between 1836 and 1895.
Meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards and in the cellar result in Vasse Felix's signature style of elegant and complex wines with fabulous concentration of fruit. Dr. Tom Cullity's original aim was to “make the best possible wine” and at Vasse Felix this legacy is carried on through every one of their exceptional wines.