Vintage Cellars

Local Loves: Mark Bailey, MadFish

Nestled in the south-west corner of Western Australia, the Margaret River is a storied wine region for a reason. With its Mediterranean climate and ancient soils, it’s prime real estate for grape-growing, while the unspoilt coastline and blissful white-sand beaches are an extra drawcard for travellers to the area. It’s also the site of the stunning MadFish winery – perched on a hilltop and known for its contemporary, fuss-free Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz and Chardonnay. Senior winemaker Mark Bailey invites us behind the scenes and shares his must-try drops.

Describe your winemaking philosophy in three words…

Science; detailed; fun.

What’s the one MadFish product everyone needs to try?

Picking one wine is like picking a favourite child! The brand started with two wines – Premium Red and Premium White, which have evolved into an approachable Chardonnay and smooth Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. These are both classic wines typical of the region and great additions to a barbecue or picnic. Then there is MadFish Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, which is summer in a glass. It’s light, it’s fresh and it’s a total crowd-pleaser.

What’s the history of MadFish?

MadFish was started by the Burch Family in the early 1990s. Jeff Burch was initially drawn to the south-west of Australia for the incredible surf and coastline, and it was the accompanying laidback lifestyle that inspired the family when they first launched MadFish. The vision was, and remains, to make a wine that reflects the exceptional fruit of Margaret River and the Great Southern, while focusing on enjoyment and drinkability.

Describe your ideal Saturday morning in Margaret River…

A coffee and a brekky roll from the famous Margaret River Bakery. If that’s too busy you can always slip into Egberts down the road for an exceptional croissant and coffee. Then there’s the farmers market for a smorgasbord of fresh local produce, followed by a bike ride along some town trails or a swim at the beach.

What’s your favourite local watering hole in Margaret River?

Settlers Tavern is an institution with simple pub food and an epic wine list – in fact it’s award-winning! There’s also the Brewhouse on the outskirts of the town, where you can enjoy craft beers and premium food in a lush beer garden.

What’s one thing that surprises people about MadFish when they visit?

The cellar door building. It was designed using feng shui principles and won architecture awards when it was initially constructed. It’s a light-filled space with spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards and is magic to visit during the golden hour just before sunset.

How do you give back to the local community?

We’ve been proud sponsors of events hosted by Margi Pride since its inception; it’s an LGBTQIA+ friendly community group for people of Margaret River and the wider community.

What’s the perfect snack or meal to pair with your Sauvignon Blanc Semillon?

Grilled haloumi salad or fresh nori rolls always go down well with this wine.

What’s the best place to swim in Margaret River?

Gnarabup or Redgate Beach are beautiful.

Sip on a shoestring: three great-value wines to stock up on this season

1. Premium White Chardonnay
Light, bright and uncomplicated – like all the best things in life.

2. Premium Dry Red
A Cab Sav Merlot that’s ready to drink now.

3. Coastline Cabernet Merlot
Notes of blackcurrant and plum meet subtle fruit cake flavours, perfect for Christmas.