Sally Ayhan: The 'dude-ification' of Down South

There are few places in the world where Commodores, badminton and boardies marry with the most prestigious Australian wineries.

In Margaret River, gone are the days of tweed jackets, toodling Mercedes and highbrow contemplation.  It’s the age of dudes for wine - we’re talking the genderless dude, the free-wheeling cashed up dude and the hipster dude.

The unrivalled surf coast, complete with its ominous, threatening storm clouds and bountiful swells, has always made for a certain surfie-dude X-factor.

A sun-kissed, sand-dusted wine attendant goes part in parcel with a "Margy" cellar door.

But it’s the recent influx of young working people visiting the region that is bringing a whole other layer to the 'dude-ification' of Down South - a bandwagon tour group Wine for Dudes have jumped on.

The spending habits of Gen-X and Y doctors, nurses and FIFO workers partly make up the customer base of this casual tour company.

But the dudettes account for the majority. 63 per cent are young women hot on the tail of a cheeky girls' weekend away. It seems the "dude" branding is having the reverse effect, young women are bringing their boyfriends or are hopeful of meeting a few equally eager young lads.

The wineries take it all in their stride, for these are tomorrow’s customers.

They’re not fooled by the shaggy hair and fraying jeans, nor by their loose swagger as they walk through the door.

Even the short slang that’s used in reference to their premium wines, a slurred request for a "savvy B", "zini" or "champas" does little to dull a potential sale. In fact they pander to it.

Small wine producer Windows Estate has built a giant outdoor chessboard and Hay Shed Hill are sporting a gallery displaying works from pop and street artist Scott Armstrong. It's hipster and it works.

Whether you dig it or you don’t, it’s a toning-down of the wine wank.  It’s relaxed, unpretentious and a little loose.

And no doubt most wine makers know that all it takes is a little chardonnay and a swirl of merlot for the trending youth of WA to part ways with next week's rent money.

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The story Sally Ayhan: The 'dude-ification' of Down South first appeared on WA Today.

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