Moss Wood was planted in the Margaret River sub-region of Wilyabrup in 1969 by Bill Pannel and is important as one of the founding wineries in an area that at the time was unknown for wine. Initially Cabernet Sauvignon was planted and the first vintage of just 250 cases was made in 1973. At this time the first Semillon and Pinot Noir were planted, with Chardonnay following shortly after.
Keith Mugford, a 21 year old Roseworthy graduate who had grown up in McLaren Vale, was employed as winemaker in 1979 and went on, with his wife Clare, to buy the property from Bill in 1985. Recognised early on as one of the finest wines in the continent, the Cabernet Sauvignon held the top ‘outstanding’ rating in the first Langton’s classification of Australian wine made in 1991 and remains one of only 5 Cabernets to be rated ‘’Exceptional’ in the latest classification, alongside other Margaret River great Cullen’s Diana Madeline, Mount Mary, Penfolds 707 and Wynn’s John Riddoch.
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The estate vineyard is just under 12 hectares in size with sandy and gravelly loam soils, whilst the 6.34 hectare Ribbon Vale vineyard, purchased in 2000 and located a few hundred metres to the South, has pure gravel loam soils over clay. Beyond the ﬂagship Cabernet, there is an equally impressive range, encompassing five wines from the Ribbon Vale vineyard, alongside a powerful Semillon, a rich and elegant Chardonnay and a (rare for Margaret River) Pinot Noir, made from vines planted in the 1970s.
Winemaking is traditional, with hand harvesting, relatively long macerations and ageing of most of the wines in French oak. The Chardonnay is fermented in barrel, whilst the Pinot Noir is made in small open top fermenters with hand plunging of the cap. After experimenting in the 1980’s with barrel fermenting the Semillon, for over 20 years now Keith has made this wine in Stainless Steel.
Recent developments from the Ribbon Vale vineyard include small quantities of a Barrel fermented Sauvignon made in the style of a fine Pessac-Léognan and named Elsa after Clare’s mother and from the 2021 vintage, a tiny quantity of Chardonnay made with similar techniques to the main estate wine, but with a character derived from the different terroir. Just 13 cases of this inaugural vintage will come to the UK.
Keith has just completed his 44th vintage at Moss Wood and with Clare, they were awarded the prestigious Jack Mann Memorial Medal in 2020 for their contribution to the Western Australian wine industry. Over the past few years, Hugh and Tristan Mugford, both Adelaide University trained winemakers, have joined their parents at the estate, absorbing the years of expertise and ensuring its family continuity. Moss Wood is truly one of the world’s greatest estates and all serious wine lovers should explore its stunning range.