It’s not often a winery celebrates a 185th anniversary. Houghton’s first vintage was in 1859, under the hand of Dr John Ferguson; there have only been 14 senior winemakers at the helm of this iconic WA winery since. In 2020, Courtney Treacher took on the role and led another stellar vintage capturing the true essence of Western Australia’s diverse terroirs.
“I feel a real sense of custodianship to be in this position,” says Treacher. “It’s a privilege for me to be in this role and work for a business like this with 185 years of history.”
Winemaking wasn’t a profession in the Treacher family when Courtney was growing up.
“When I was looking at what jobs could be available to me, the idea of winemaking, with that real art and science balance, was something that spoke to me,” she says.
Her journey began in the vineyard, which she enjoyed, and it prompted the realisation that being in the winery was her true calling. Following vintages in the Hunter Valley and Margaret River, she joined Houghton as a cellar hand in 2004 before being appointed Assistant Winemaker, then Senior Winemaker in 2020.
“Our winemaking philosophy at Houghton is to do most of the work in the vineyard,” explains Treacher. “If we don’t get great grapes into the winery, we’re not going to be able to make great wines with them.
“A lot of our effort goes into the vineyard; in the winery it’s about nurturing the flavour you’ve developed, retaining as much freshness as you can and emphasising the varietal characteristics.”
Coinciding with the 185th Anniversary celebrations, Treacher and the team will be releasing the 2019 vintage of their prized Icon Wines: Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon; Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon; and C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Malbec. These wines celebrate the work of iconic Houghton figures whom Treacher says are a source of inspiration and respect.
“It’s great to have that history and heritage in the business, and to be able to have those kind of – not mentors – but people to look to who worked so hard to make the very best wines that they possibly could,” she says.
The 2019 Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon is the brand’s finest example of cabernet and pays tribute to legendary Houghton winemaker Jack Mann, who oversaw 51 consecutive vintages.
“Mann was the original creator of the Houghton White Burgundy, which we now call the White Classic,” says Treacher.
“He played a really big role in innovation in winemaking in Western Australia. He had a really big outreach for lots of different wineries in the early stages of local viticulture and winemaking. I heard he was a perfectionist, too, always striving to do better.”
The 2019 Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon is named after famous viticulturist and Houghton Wines figure, Dr John Gladstones.
“The Gladstones wines are sourced from the unique Batley Vineyard in Wilyabrup,” says Treacher. “It has these large bunches and unique bunch architecture, and the wine always has great intensity and firm tannins, with the classic cassis and bay leaf we associate with Margaret River.”
The 2019 C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Malbec pays respect to Houghton winemaker Charles William Ferguson, who was instrumental in building the Houghton legacy.
“We often refer to C.W. Ferguson as ‘baby Jack Mann’, as it’s quite similar fruit resourcing,” says Treacher. “Both wines are sourced from the Justin Vineyard in the Frankland River, but the C.W. Ferguson is just a little more early drinking, a little bit more approachable.”
Treacher is excited for the new vintage releases, which she says are from a quality year.
“All the wines are from 2019, a really strong vintage across Western Australia, so it’s really lovely to be presenting such strong wines.”
The Houghton and Brookland Valley Cellar Door is a must-visit on your next trip to Margaret River. Situated in the idyllic Wilyabrup sub-region, the vibrant space offers the perfect environment to familiarise yourself with Houghton’s impressive portfolio, which celebrates the best of both Margaret River and their rich winemaking heritage in Western Australia. For now though, transport yourself through their terroir-driven Icon Wines, available for purchase via houghton-wines.com.au
To keep up to date with all the latest releases from Houghton, join their Brookland Valley and Houghton Wine Club at