Blue Poles Vineyard


Scale Plates of 'Le Gros Ventre' -  From the Monograph by Gerard Delacroix




The History



The where and why of it all…


Blue Poles Vineyard was an idea conceived on a mine site by the two owners, Mark Gifford and Tim Markwell.  Both are experienced geologists who had spent many years working in the mining industry of Western Australia, but felt there needed to be more to life than dependence on the rigor and regimentation of mine site life.


Mark and Gail Gifford (and their family of four daughters) had lived in Busselton on the northern edge of the Margaret River wine region for 12 years and had cultivated many relationships with wine industry owners and employees. Over this period, and through many discussions with their friends and independents it became apparent to Mark and Gail that if you were dedicated and passionate about making a fine wine then owning and running a vineyard was the only option to take. It certainly did not take much convincing for Tim and his wife Yuko to take part in the venture.  Discussions with viticulturists opened their eyes to the different levels of work required and fired intellectual appetites as the development of a vineyard required meticulous planning and an understanding of many factors that could influence the wine to be vinified.


Late one evening in early 2001, sitting in a mine site “donga”, it was agreed between Mark and Tim that they needed to act on this combined desire to develop a vineyard.  Plans were made, budgets were prepared, banks were sounded out, and then the search for the property that could meet all expectations began.  Many 1000’s of kilometers later a property was found, a 50 acre block overlooking the Margaret River on Bramley River Road in Osmington (15km east of the township of Margaret River).  It had everything they desired in a property; large sections of iron rich gravels overlying clay, slopes to the south and west, a cooler climate than the more coastal and northern vineyards of the region giving a longer ripening period and it was in a beautiful location.


Sheds were built, irrigation systems developed and installed, posts rammed, wires run, ground ripped and prepared, bike and spray equipment purchased …. all this within the first 6 months – the journey had begun.


Link to article in Scoop Magazine- Winter 2010


The naming of the vineyard…


It is always difficult to accommodate all that can be made and accomplished in a place through a simple name, but many vineyards have a sense of place and history represented by their title.  We felt that by having a name that could represent our aims and ambitions, it would make it easier for us to focus the vineyard's goals and set targets that were unique to our situation.


Blue Poles Vineyard is named after a wonderful painting completed by Jackson Pollock in 1952.  It is an abstract painting completed nearing the end of his turbulent career.  Pollock’s style of painting was one of grace and balance, using the viewer as the interpreter, and creating in all a sense of wonder and awe in how these matted lines and daubs can convey such depth. 


Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 was purchased for the princely sum of $1 million by the Australian National Gallery in the early 1970’s through the direction of a newly elected Government, bringing with it much consternation and outrage.  This purchase would be seen as a watershed in Australian history as it represented a move away from the colonial ties that bound Australia and brought it into the new world of independence and free thought.


As with the ingenious craft and balanced structure placed on canvas by Jackson Pollock during his life, and the brave and foresightedness of the Australian Government of the time in the purchase of the masterpiece known as Blue Poles – we hope to emulate some of these traits within our vineyard and its resultant wines.  Through dedication and hard work, with the goal to produce the best grapes we can so as to make unique, structured, and balanced wines that show the special nature of our vineyard site – we believe that Blue Poles is a name that can ensure we remember these ambitions.


Why the Lions?


Our label has its origin in the figurehead of the first French ship to map and land in Western Australia in 1772.  The decorative roaring lion was placed as a figurehead on almost all French merchant ships and naval transport vessels, and in our case, a Gabare* known as the “Le Gros Ventre”.  Under the command of Louis de Saint-Allouarn, “Le Gros Ventre” sights land at Cape Leeuwin at the southern edge of the Margaret River wine growing region on Tuesday March 17th 1772 at 2am observing ‘a coast made of cliffs, dunes, sand and burnt out ground’.  They would eventually make landfall at Shark Bay, before making an arduous return journey back to France.


The lions add an intriguing French and local connection to our label, as well as a fashioning a noble and striking image.

*a transport vessel used by the navy



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