20/02/2007 - 22:00

Davis off to a flying start

20/02/2007 - 22:00

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

Great wines are not the sole creation of the winemaker, according to Tony Davis. Rather, they are the result of good vineyard management, excellent grapes, and finally the winemaker who puts it all together.

Davis off to a flying start

Great wines are not the sole creation of the winemaker, according to Tony Davis. Rather, they are the result of good vineyard management, excellent grapes, and finally the winemaker who puts it all together.

While Mr Davis’s comments may kick the pedestal from underneath many a winemaker, they also shed a little light on why he is undaunted about taking over the reins of one of WA’s most well-known and highly regarded wineries, Howard Park.

Mr Davis has been the winery’s chief winemaker for about six weeks, following the departure of Michael Kerrigan, who left Howard Park after more than 10 years following his purchase of a share of Margaret River neighbour, Hay Shed Hill.

“It’s become a bit of a culture that the winemaker overtakes the quality of the vineyard itself,” Mr Davis says. “These days it is a combination of winemaking and the viticulture.”

He plans to make a few “tweaks” to Howard Park’s two vineyards and is keen to develop different styles of wine.

“I’m experimenting with chardonnay and a different style of resiling, and we are going to do some work on pinot,” Mr Davis says.

“We should be the number one product of all styles of wine in WA. The quality of the fruit is outstanding and the wines I’ve inherited have been outstanding.”

Howard Park crushes between 2,500 and 3,000 tonnes of grapes each year, compared with the 500t Mr Davis was crushing at his previous job at Millbrook Winery.

However, managing a big vineyard is not new territory to Mr Davis, who has worked for one of Australia’s biggest wineries, Yalumba.

“I looked after their Victorian and Tasmanian business, so the logistics are a lot easier here,” he says.

More recently, though, Mr Davis has been the driving force of Jarrahdale’s Millbrook Winery, a job he took on in 2000.

“The winery had only just started construction when I got there,” he says. “It was a job I couldn’t turn down because it is not every day you get to build a winery, kit it out how you want and put together the vineyard resources and look at the style of wines you want to make without any preconceptions.

“It was a tough decision to leave because I had put my heart and so much time into it.”

Mr Davis says he couldn’t have picked a better year to start a new winemaking job.

“This vintage we are seeing some high-quality parcels of cabernet,” he says.

“The bunches are more even because of the cool spring back in 2005, so you don’t have the variation of ripeness in the bunches. I’d like to think this vintage will be similar to 2001, and that was spectacular.

“I’m having a ball. It’s good to be able to kick it off with a great season, as opposed to going out and seeing fruit with disease pressure and cool weather lurking around the corner.”

Mr Davis manages Howard Park’s Denmark and Margaret River properties with fellow winemakers Matt Burton and Andy Browning who are, of course, helped by chief viticulturalist David Botting.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options