21/09/2018 - 14:07

WA wineries taste more success

21/09/2018 - 14:07

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Western Australian wineries have continued their recent run of success, with Howard Park’s Janice McDonald crowned the Gourmet Traveller winemaker of the year and Frankland Estate's Judi Cullam claiming the Len Evans award last night.

WA wineries taste more success
Janice McDonald has worked at Howard Park since 2011. Photo: Paris Hawkens Photography

Western Australian wineries have continued their recent run of success, with Howard Park’s Janice McDonald crowned the Gourmet Traveller winemaker of the year and Frankland Estate's Judi Cullam claiming the Len Evans award last night.

Ms McDonald, who has been chief winemaker at the Margaret River-based winery since 2011, beat seven other finalists from across Australia to take home the award.

Howard Park operates four vineyards across Margaret River and the Great Southern and is run by Burch Family Wines.

The gong adds to Ms McDonald’s trophy cabinet, which includes best Australian sparkling wine at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships last year.

She has also been nominated for GT’s winemaker of the year in 2013 and was crowned best winemaker in the 2010–2011 edition of The Big Red Wine Book by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh.

Heralding from NSW, Ms Mcdonald’s career in Western Australia has spanned 33 years, including positions as senior winemaker at Margaret River producer Devil’s Lair, head brewer at Matilda Bay Brewing Co and co-founder of South West winery Stella Bella.

Ms McDonald is the first person from WA to win the award since 2012 and the first local finalist since 2015.

“I am thrilled to win,” Ms McDonald said.

“This is the most wonderful recognition of what we’ve achieved at Howard Park.

“I feel I stand here as the representative of an enormous number of people who have such an important part to play – from the winemakers to the grape growers to the marketers to the people that sell the wine.”

Howard Park marketing director Amy Burch said the winery was honoured to have Ms McDonald as part of its team.

“It is a huge validation of the work she has done not only in her years as a winemaker, but specifically at Howard Park,” she said.

“From taking on two quite different wine regions, spearheading our sparkling wine program, running a team of staff around the clock during prolonged vintages – she is tireless.

“We could not be prouder, and look forward to what she has in store for us in the future.”

Meanwhile co-founder of Great Southern producer Frankland Estate, Judi Cullam, took home the Len Evans award, which recognises leadership in the wine industry.

Ms Cullam established the winery with her husband, Barrie Smith, in 1988.

She oversaw the Frankland Estate International Riesling Tasting, a biennial celebration of riesling (now Riesling Downunder) held since 2001.

Ms Cullam also took responsibility for the Olmo’s Reward Parts Tastings in the late 1990s, which primarily targeted sommeliers.

In 1999, the company launched the riesling scholarships, which took winners on a riesling-focused wine tour of Europe.

Other winners included Owen Latta from Victoria's Eastern Peake, who was named the young winemaker of the year, while Bream Creek's Fred Peacock won perpetual viticulturist of the year.

The news comes less than two months after Great Southern producer Duke's Vineyard and Deep Wood Estate’s Julian Langworthy topped the prestigious Halliday Wine Companion Awards in Melbourne.

Porongurup-based Duke’s received the wine of the year award for its 2017 Magpie Hill Riesling, while Mr Langworth was named winemaker of the year.

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