Small Herne Hill winery Bella Ridge Estate the toast of the State, along with a handful of other Swan Valley vignerons

Alon Arbel and Frank Pass from Bella Ridge Estate. Picture: David Baylis d463771
Alon Arbel and Frank Pass from Bella Ridge Estate. Picture: David Baylis d463771

A SMALL Herne Hill winery and a handful of fellow Swan Valley vignerons are the toast of the State.

Bella Ridge Estate’s 2011 Chenin blanc and 2012 Rose were rated WA’s best in critic Ray Jordan’s Wine Guide 2017.

Other Swan Valley wineries were judged top in sparkling wine (Sittella), Verdelho (Faber Vineyard), Tempranillo (Upper Reach) and fortified (John Kosovich).

Alon and Jodi Arbel established Bella Ridge in 2003 to combine modern winemaking techniques Alon learned at Curtin University with the charm and complexity of the ‘old world’ wines he liked to drink.

“It was quite a risk when we first started to make these non-commercial style wines that were quite different to the mainstream,” Jodi said.

“So it’s great to receive this recognition particularly given – like no doubt most Swan Valley wineries – we are very small and do everything including marketing ourselves.

“There is no large marketing budget at Bella Ridge – fortunately our wines talk for themselves, as they have done on this occasion to Jordan.”

Jodi said they had been producing a complex, textural Chenin blanc since their first vintage in 2004.

“We are very fortunate for it to be regarded nationally,” she said.

“And now the acknowledgement of the just released 2011 vintage Chenin shows we are still on track with this bench-mark wine first crafted from Alon’s interest in the mineral wines of France’s Loire Valley.”

Alon said their Rose was fun for him and assistant winemaker Patrick Ferry to make.

“As we’ve been producing this unique style of Rose for some time now it’s quite a surprise, but rather nice, for it to be recognised in WA,” Alon said.

Jodi’s parents Lois and Frank Pass came out of retirement to help with the Bella Ridge venture.

The estate’s wines can be found at select restaurants; and without a cellar door, can only be bought through Bella Ridge’s website.

Swan Valley home to great wines

LONGTIME wine critic Ray Jordan in his Wine Guide 2017 has found what many in the Swan Valley have always known. The Valley is home to many great wines!

Local winemakers are doing great things with Swan Valley grapes. They know of the sensational world class liqueur styles, but there are serious modern tablewines that are as good as anything else in WA.

Our winemakers are working with classic Swan Valley varieties such as Chenin blanc and Verdelho to make beautiful crisp flavoursome whites. They are also making vibrant modern dry Rosés, and new red varieties such as Tempranillo are creating great interest.

Our winemakers don’t limit themselves to our grapes either. Many are taking advantage of fruit from outside the valley to extend their range, including some superbly crafted sparkling wines from cooler region fruit.

–John Griffiths, Swan Valley & Regional Winemakers Association president