It’s best to have a glass in hand when you enjoy the Whicher Ridge Wine Sensory Garden in south-western WA. 

Story Jill Griffiths 

Shiraz might be described as ‘having plum or berry notes’, and chardonnay as having ‘a fruity bouquet with peach and lemon tones’. But what do those descriptions really mean? How do you get your head and tastebuds around descriptions on wine labels? A visit to the Whicher Ridge Wine Sensory Garden in south-western WA could well explain it all.

The sensory garden is the brainchild of Whicher Ridge Wines owner-operators and keen gardeners Neil and Cathy Howard. Built around the symbol for infinity, the six sections of the garden each correspond to a wine variety – riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and viognier. In each section, the garden beds on the inside of the path are the ‘affinity’ beds and those on the outside are the ‘descriptor’ beds.

“The descriptors are a selection of different plants that have similarities to the flavours of that grape variety,” Cathy says. “For example, in the sauvignon blanc descriptor bed, we have white peach and pear trees, elderflower, and lemon-scented plants such as lemon verbena and lemongrass.

“Because wine and food go so well together, the affinity beds show the flavour pairings that go with that wine. The idea is that you use all of your senses. Memories get filed away when you incorporate all of your senses.”

Whicher Ridge Wines is in Chapman Hill, in the Geographe wine region of WA, which abuts its more famous cousin, Margaret River.

This story excerpt is from Issue #140

Outback Magazine: December/January 2022