Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Meet the Characters: Simone Furlong, Leeuwin Estate

Simone Furlong grew up on the family vineyard, Leeuwin Estate, but left for university and then spent years working in marketing in London before she considered a career in the wine industry. Her parents planted Leeuwin’s first vines in 1973 in the beautiful Margaret River, 280 kilometres south of Perth, and produced their first commercial vintage in 1979.

“I had many fond memories of exploring the white sandy beaches and tall karri tree forests around the property,” says Simone, “but it wasn’t until I was much older that I considered promoting it as a career path.”

Now she is the joint Chief Executive of Leeuwin Estate, along with brother Justin Horgan, and the property has been transformed from a humble beach-holiday destination to one of Western Australia’s most highly regarded wineries.

“We’ve always been a low-volume, high- quality wine producer,” she says. “It’s quite a small parcel of exceptional land, so the wines are very site expressive.”

Describing the Margaret River as “one of the world’s most remote wine regions”, Simone believes it’s the area’s ancient gravelly soil, coupled with its cooling maritime conditions, that has allowed the vineyards to produce such rich, high-quality wines.

You’ll find Leeuwin’s most age-worthy wines released under the Art Series label, in which each wine is represented by an original painting, commissioned from a leading contemporary Australian artist. The painting is then featured on the bottle labels and exhibited at the winery’s art gallery, where visitors can now see more than 150 artworks.

The estate is also geographically blessed with a natural amphitheatre, where Leeuwin hosts alfresco concerts – previous acts include Sting, Ray Charles, Diana Ross and Carole King – where up to 6500 concertgoers picnic around the natural slopes. The estate also offers wine tastings and guided tours, as well as fine dining at the impressive Leeuwin Restaurant where the menu highlights seasonal West Australian produce.