‘Boutique wines from the oldest cool climate vineyard in Western Australia’
Established in 1965…
Forest Hill is a proud family-owned winery creating exciting wines of the highest quality. Each is made to be a true reflection of the premium Western Australian grape-growing region of Mt Barker in the State’s Great Southern expressing unique regional and varietal characters combined with finesse, elegance and definition.
The history of Forest Hill Vineyard
The West Australian Government invited Professor Harold Olmo from the University of California, Davis Campus to identify the most ideal growing location in the State for the production of premium cool climate wines.
Bill Jamieson and Dorham Mann decided on a top of hill situation at “Springvale”, in the locality know as Forest Hill and owned by Tony and Betty Pearse. This became Forest Hill Vineyard – the first cool climate West Australian vineyard.
A ten year contract from 1965-1975 was signed with the Pearse family and 5 acres of experimental plantings were leased by the WA Department of Agriculture. 2.5 acres of Riesling which was dry grown on the best soils.
On the 26th April Stirling MLA Matt Stephens officially picked the first bunch of grapes from the cool climate regions of WA. The Cabernet was then produced at Houghton’s by Jack Mann and the Rhine Riesling was made by Jack’s son Dorham Mann at Sandalford.
In the final year of the “experimental contract” with the Pearse family the wine was made by Dorham Mann at Sandalford winery. Picked on the 8th April 1975 the Riesling went on to win 12 Gold medals, 9 Trophies and is the most awarded and recognised in WesternAustralian wine history. Block 5 was planted in the mid 1970′s.
Over time new varieties of Shiraz, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer, were added.
Betty Pearse took sole control of the Forest Hill wine business and Robert Bowen at Plantagenet wines in Mt Barker was contracted to make the wines winning a host of awards and Best Rhine Riesling at the Mt Barker show. Betty also started the first Government supported Australian Wine Association in the Great Southern with Tony Smith of Plantagenet wines.
Betty separated with Tony and her son Bruce Pearse decided to follow his own career and the business was sold for a record breaking sum of $1 million to the late Robert Holmes à Court at Vasse Felix who employed Bruce as the manager of Forest Hill.
Betty Pearse was awarded the honour of becoming the first female Wine Baron of Western Australia. At that time only men had been allowed into this club so Betty was asked to act accordingly and was requested to wear no perfume or lip stick. She agreed to their conditions and joined the Wine Barons of Western Australia, but refused to give up the lip stick!
The Lyons family acquired Forest Hill. With a passion for cool climate wines and the industry at large, Tim Lyons has ensured the oldest vineyard Blocks are extremely well nurtured and yielding the best fruit parcels possible.
The new Cellar door and Winery in Denmark was established as the winemaking home for Forest Hill 4kms outside of Denmark to fulfil the ambition and passion to make great cool climate wines.
Clémence Haselgrove closely followed by her husband Lee, joined Forest Hill to develop both the winemaking and then viticulture at Forest Hill having discovered the history of the brand and the huge potential to make award winning wines from the old dry grown vineyards and cool climate conditions.
Today Forest Hill is a 5* Halliday winery and continues to make wines of the highest calibre with Western Australia’s oldest Riesling vines used in the production of Block 1 Riesling.