Finding the perfect site
Searching for the perfect vineyard site, Cathy and Neil Howard settled on the perfect spot in Geographe, Western Australia, on a high point between Busselton and Augusta. Cathy and Neil planted their vineyard, Whicher Ridge, in 2004-5. This is where Big Jetty Bay wines are created exclusively for Cellarmasters using sustainable grape growing practices.
Expression of terroir
Every bottle of Big Jetty Bay wine is a reflection of the place in which it grows. Cathy doesn’t set out to make wines that imitate other regions, because soil and climate is always different. “I like highlighting the character of the fruit so you see the vineyard in the wine you’re drinking,” says Cathy.
Longest Jetty in the Southern Hemisphere
The Big Jetty Bay label shows the Busselton Jetty, which juts out 1.8 km into the stunning Geographe Bay. Cathy has worked as a tour guide at the underwater viewing platform at the end of the jetty. She’s thrilled to see the jetty represented on the label of Big Jetty wines.
Top value from a premium region
The Big Jetty Bay range showcases the varietals that thrive in the maritime climate of Geographe, Western Australia. Bracinlgy fresh, fruit-driven Sauvignon Blanc is like a seabreeze through a herb garden; luscious Shiraz delivers a mouthful of dark, crushed berries with a generous pinch of black pepper; elegant Cabernet Sauvignon weaves leather and licorice characters through a palate with vibrant blackcurrant notes.
Perfect with fine food and great value for anytime enjoyment, Big Jetty Bay is a taste of handmade West Australian quality that deserves a place in every wine collection.
Meet Cathy Howard, Winemaker Big Jetty Bay
I discovered winemaking through horses actually, and it was a tour at Roseworthy Agricultural College in the mid ’80s when considering studying horse management, that led me on a tour of the Roseworthy vineyard and winery – and I was hooked! I studied oenology at Roseworthy, graduating in 1990. Following vintage cellarhand/winemaking roles at Plantagenet and Pipers Brook, and a stint working for Cascade brewery as a cidermaker and brewer, I moved back to SA in 1995, joining Orlando Wyndham. This is where I first fell in love with Riesling and Coonawarra Cabernet.
I honed my winemaking palate and absorbed the skills necessary for maintaining wine quality throughout the winemaking process. A winemaking position with St Hallett soon beckoned and I was able to continue my pursuit of making Rieslings, while also having the wonderful opportunity of working with a number of older vineyards of high-quality Shiraz, making Old Block Shiraz from 1997 through to 2001.
The winemaking ideas and trial work that we did at St Hallett during that period has shaped many of my winemaking practices that I still use today with our own wines, in particular ferment management and barrel maturation of Shiraz and Cabernet.
Moving to Western Australia in 2002 was the start of a roller coaster ride into the joys and challenges of owning our own vineyard and winery and creating our own wine brand. It’s been an amazing journey, and with Whicher Ridge Wines recently acquiring a 5-star rating along with being nominated as a dark horse winery in the 2014 James Halliday Wine Companion I know that we’re on track with what we are doing here.
Cathy’s favourite wine moment
Harvesting our first Sauvignon Blanc grapes off our vineyard, and making our first wine under our new Whicher ridge brand in 2008.
Cathy’s winemaking Philosophy
1. The hard work and long hours that go into making a wine are all worth it when you see someone enjoying and savouring one of your wines.
2. Make wines that are balanced, that have distinctive varietal aromas and flavours, and that have the structure, length, and flavour intensity to match with food, and to age if required.
3. The best wines are made from grapes grown in a combination of soil, aspect and micro-climate that best suits that variety.
“I like highlighting the character of the fruit so you see the vineyard in the wine you're drinking.”