Twenty-six years ago, Ed and Eleonore Green bought an 11.4 hectare property in a little-known and little-developed corner of Western Australia. During the week, they worked in Perth – Ed in meteorology and Eleanor in dentistry; on weekends the property offered them a haven from city life. The following year, 1980, they set about creating what was to become one of the Margaret River region’s leading boutique wineries, Green Valley, a business that today produces some 3000 cases of wine a year.

The chardonnay, riesling, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz wines produced at Green Valley have quietly won trophies at various wine shows under the watchful eye of winemaker Keith Mugford.

This year the Greens, both in their seventies, will retire, with their labour of love now on the market for sale. Here, Ed Green reflects on Green Valley, Margaret River and the changes he has seen over almost 30 years in the region.

“In 1979, Eleonore, my two daughters Stephanie and Elizabeth, and I engaged in a debate around the dining table over the merits of a holiday home. Eleonore and Stephanie were in favour of going north for the winter warmth; Liz and I were more inclined towards the splendour of the great forest in the south-west corner of Western Australia. Each night, one of us would have a turn at sitting at the head of the table and leading the debate.

“Eventually we agreed that the Margaret River region was the choice selection and we set about purchasing land, clearing it and preparing it for grapes. Our original intention was to grow a few grapes, build a tennis court and make some wine which we intended calling ‘After Tennis’.

“At that stage, we had a good knowledge of drinking wine but little knowledge of making it. To overcome this, I visited wineries which I thought were making good wines and also one or two I thought had not quite made the grade. I formed a friendship with David and Anne Gregg from Vasse Felix, the first commercial winery in Margaret River. I spent many weekends and much of my holidays helping out at Vasse Felix and learning from the Greggs.

“Back in 1979, Margaret River was a vastly different town to what it is today. The predominant land use was for grazing cattle to produce butter and cheese. The evolution of the wine industry brought about tremendous changes. Farming land became too expensive for cattle while tourism boomed, led by the wine industry, the marvellous surfing beaches, the caves and the wild flowers. Many city dwellers opted to enjoy the good life on offer at Margaret River. The town itself has grown with an ever increasing number and variety of shops, chalets, restaurants, cafés and wine bars.

“The early vignerons were highly motivated, dedicated, energetic, passionate and innovative. Over time, a wealth of experience and knowledge was built up and some outstanding achievements were made. Vasse Felix was the first winery in the region to be awarded an International Gold Medal and from there successes flowed: Margaret River became famous worldwide for the quality of its wines and wine tourists flocked to the area.

“Accountants and lawyers developed large vineyard projects – often with associated wineries, which were inspired by the benefits of tax breaks available at the time. But the pursuit of excellence often gave way to the unmitigated concern for the bottom line and the chase for the mighty dollar, and vineyards were planted, fertilised and irrigated to such an extent that crops were harvested within 18 months. Reports to shareholders were glowing.

“The upsurge in vine plantings in the ’90s has led to an oversupply of wines and a shortage of storage capacity. In some instances, wine has been packaged in casks and some wine has been made into vinegar. There is a consolidation phase going on and some established vineyards and wineries have been absorbed by larger national or international suppliers. Some younger vineyards are likely to feel the pressure of oversupply and there is a possibility that some of them will close.

“Eleonore and I love our little vineyard, nestled within the glorious Boranup Forest, and we take great pleasure and pride in growing our grapes and making our premium wine. Over the years we have met many wonderful people through our tasting room and through the hospitality industry. We believe that in every bottle of our wine there are some of our hopes and aspirations and, indeed, some of us.”


The Margaret River wine region stretches 120km from north to south, and 30km west to east and produces just 3% of Australia’s grapes, yet makes more than 20% of the country’s premium wines. The first vines were planted in 1967, making it one of the youngest wine regions in Australia. The region now has more than 2500 hectares of vines managed by more than 80 wineries.

The town

Margaret River has undergone incredible change in the past 30 years. From an unexceptional, sleepy town which existed to serve the dairy and timber industries grew one of Western Australia’s key tourist centres, attracting 1.5 million visitors a year. After the potential for wine tourism was identified, the local government adopted a tourism development policy which encouraged B&Bs, lodges and motels rather than mass market resorts. As a result, the town of 3000 still retains its community feel.



The waves of Margaret River are famous for their size, and have been a major drawcard for surfers for almost 40 years. More than 75 surf breaks are a scattered along 130km of coastline from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. The best surf can be found in winter and spring, but there are usually consistent Indian Ocean swells all year round. Margaret River’s Surfers Point is home to the International Salomon Masters competition each March/April.”