When Jim, Gwen and son Nathan Bailey established Brown Hill Estate in 1995, they chose the name from a 19th century landmark in Kalgoorlie. Brown Hill was one of the claims that made the Golden Mile famous, this speck on the vast map of Western Australia luring fortune seekers from all corners of the globe.
Jim and Gwen were the fourth generation of the Bailey family to live in Kalgoorlie, where Jim remembers his father taking him to water their vegetable patch by diverting water from the Brown Hill mine site. It left him with an abiding urge to grow things, but the move to Margaret River via Perth (in 1965) took 30 years. In 1977 they bought a shoe retail business, and in 1980 purchased a small block of land in the Perth Hills to “grow things”. In 1987 they also acquired land in Margaret River, aiming to plant vines one day. That day arrived in 1995 when they moved to the region, establishing Brown Hill Estate with the initial planting of 2ha of sauvignon blanc.
Nathan’s career is a mirror image of his father’s, starting as a teenager growing and selling radishes to the local supermarket. In 1990 he graduated from UWA with an accounting and finance degree, and bought a milk distribution business. From 1995 to 2000 he worked alternate weekends in Margaret River: it was a hectic time, undertaking viticulture and winemaking courses at Curtin University, starting a family with wife Chiara and building and equipping the winery.
These strands of business acumen, time and place are woven into the DNA of Brown Hill Estate. Its income has increased by the fostering of new wines of significantly higher quality and prices, the long-established lines seeing price increases that barely cover inflation. Successes at wine shows point to fine vinification and the benefits of a meticulously managed vineyard.
2018 Brown Hill Estate Great Boulder Signature Range Margaret River Cabernet Shiraz Merlot Malbec
A complex 40/40/10/10% blend, matured for 18 months in French barriques. It’s medium-bodied, the length and harmony hinted at by the bouquet with its shiraz-derived nuances of spice and pepper in a broader field of blackcurrant, cherry and plum. Something special. 14% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2030, $50 Buy from the winery ($45)
2018 Brown Hill Estate Ivanhoe Reserve Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon
Hand-picked over 14 days in this tip-top vintage; matured in French barriques (35% new) for 18 months. A full-bodied wine in autocratic mode: intense blackcurrant, black olive and bay leaf trimmings. Long finish, of course, the oak already integrated. 14% alc, screwcap 95 points, drink to 2038, $45 Buy from the winery
2020 Brown Hill Estate Jubilee Margaret River Semillon
Part whole-bunch pressed and wild-fermented in French barriques, the other part tank-fermented with cultured yeast. A masterclass in Margaret River semillon’s palette of aromas and flavours: snow peas, crushed citrus leaves, lemon and white/pink grapefruit. 12.5% alc, screwcap 94 points, drink to 2023, $29 Buy from the winery
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