Geographers in the Swan Valley

As part of their ATAR Geography course, our Year 11 students study the nature of wine and how its spatial distribution across the world has changed over time, along with factors influencing these changes.

They must also complete an inquiry involving fieldwork. By visiting Upper Reach Winery, they get a first-hand account of key aspects of viniculture, led by winery owner Laura Pearse, who is able to relate what happens in the vineyard and the wine-making process.

In particular, students come to understand that while their wine is mainly distributed locally, there are many links still made with the ‘Old World’ of wine and how the differences between Old World wines and New World wines are becoming increasingly blurred.

As one student wrote, “It was really interesting to finally see the vineyards and to have a close-up look inside the production area and the large equipment used to produce the wines. Laura was very knowledgeable, and I learned a lot about her winery and the production of wines, particularly in the swan valley region. It was a great experience, and I can’t wait to go back in the future and try the wines.”

Following the winery visit, the girls went further into the field, comparing an old topographic map of part of the Swan Valley with the current landscape and considering possible reasons for these changes. They also took the opportunity to view similarities and differences between Upper Reach and two other enterprises, Sandalford Wines and Mandoon Estate in terms of agritourism.

Staff always find that this inquiry clarifies and enhances classroom learning and, very importantly. consolidates their understanding of what geographers do and where their study might lead! 

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