ABOUT BURCH FAMILY
Burch Family Wines produce Howard Park, MadFish, and Marchand and Burch wines in addition to importing the French Champagne House – Franck Bonville.
30 YEARS OF HOWARD PARK WINES
Howard Park has been a pioneering West Australian winery since 1986, as one of the earliest adopters of multi-regional fruit sourcing; a champion of the cool-climate Great Southern wine region and the world-renowned Margaret River. The result is the work of heritage and family -more than three decades handcrafting wines of provenance and elegance.
The Howard Park story was borne out of the ambition to craft wine with generational cellaring potential. The first two wines were produced by its founder, John Wade, who left his prestigious posting in the Coonawarra after seeing enormous potential in the budding Great Southern wine region. Here, he crafted a riesling and cabernet sauvignon to stand the test of time. His friend and fellow wine lover Jeff Burch joined in partnership seven years later, purchasing cornerstone land parcels, constructing a winery and cellar door and entwining his family with Howard Park’s future.
30 Year Search for Fruit Perfection
Howard Park had humble beginnings, with a visionary winemaker, a shed and two powerful, elegant wines that still form the backbone of the range today. However, like many burgeoning ventures, the fruit was sourced from those who owned the vineyards.
The next 30 years were meticulously spent, discovering quality fruit producers from both Margaret River and the Great Southern. This allowed the Burch family and their winemaking and viticultural teams to build an intellectual database of regions, vineyards, blocks and clones in the hunt for optimal fruit quality.
After these years of experience, Howard Park is the proud owner of 4 distinct vineyards, each identified for allowing their specific fruit varieties to flourish to their full potential.
Growing pristine fruit in two regions is the strongest belief and passion of the Burch family, and will be forever woven into Howard Park history. Margaret River and the Great Southern are quite simply West Australia’s premier grape-growing regions, and the epitome of quality from this part of the country. This duality distinguishes Howard Park from all other Australian wineries, with exceeding excellence displayed on the world stage. Howard Park’s winemakers create true wine expressions by using only the best parcels of fruit. No other winery has committed the last 30 years to developing their vital fruit source in the same way.
Gourmet Traveller Wine 2018 Winemaker of Year
Janice McDonald grew up in West Wyalong, sheep country in rural New South Wales.
A keen interest in science drew her to university studies in Sydney, and it was during this period that her fascination with wine unfurled. Under the influence of her sister & brother-in-law, she began exploring the flourishing independent wine bottle shop scene of the city.
Every bottle of wine is a story. There’s an enormous amount behind it. The place where it comes from, who makes it. Aside from this is how you make it. I found it quite intriguing. Janice McDonald
What started as an interest soon gave direction to her scientific pursuits, and Janice began wine studies at the Riverina College in Wagga. Her first vintages cemented this passion and exposed her to the different regions and wine styles of Australia, including Margaret River.
Margaret River Cabernet was one of those wines in style & flavour that really appealed to me, and there was nothing else like it in the country…I basically got in my car and drove across the Nullarbor. Janice McDonald
After a stint as assistant winemaker at Vasse Felix in 1985, her acquaintance & contemporary, Phil Sexton, convinced her to take up a brewing position at Matilda Bay Brewing Co.
…the Americas cup came along & Matilda Brewing Company had the Sail & Anchor & the Norfolk (pubs) and we were just brewing all this beer for it, it was crazy…There’d be all sorts of people & nationalities. You’d do anything you could to hang out in Fremantle and watch it all. Janice McDonald
Five intense years later, after the sale of Matilda Bay, Phil Sexton founded Devil’s Lair winery and Janice jumped at the chance to immerse herself again in wine and make roots back in Margaret River. She worked as the Senior Winemaker there from 1992 – 2000.
In 2001, with her partner Stuart Pym, Janice founded Stella Bella, with its prestigious Serie Luminosa range.
The idea that you can grow the grapes, determine what you want to grow, make the wines you want, design the label, sell it all in market – one of the attractions of this industry is vertical integration. Creative aspects: hands on, science background. All of those things were very appealing to me. Janice McDonald
During this period she was named Red Winemaker of the year for 2010-2011 by Campbell Mattinson & Gary Walsh in The Big Red Wine Book.
In 2011 Janice made what she calls the “easy” decision to join Howard Park as Chief Winemaker.
The door opens & most people who walk into this place go ‘wow, it’s bigger than I thought it was”. Anyone I show around the place from a winemaking point of view go ‘wow’. It’s big and it’s complicated & there’s lots of wines, lots of layers. Janice McDonald
The thing which & has always been quite fun and it’s something not a lot of winemakers in this region get to experience is to be involved in making wine from the Great Southern and Margaret River, and it’s something I’d never really done before. Janice McDonald
When it all unfolded in front of me, that as a very exciting challenge. The Great Southern is still a frontier in a way because it is so less populated than Margaret River from a wine industry point of view. It doesn’t have the industry that we have, all the support systems. You have to go down there and forage for yourself. I have great respect for those who have have forged a winemaking path in that region. Janice McDonald
Going to the Great Southern is like when I first came to WA. It was very pioneering, in a way. People were independent, self-sufficient. It’s the same as Western Australia. It had to forge its own way because it’s a million miles from everywhere else. It makes people different. There’s a great self-sufficiency here that still exists. Janice McDonald
Aside from consistently outstanding accolades and scores for her wines, Janice always finds the intake of certain special parcels of fruit during vintage to be of great excitement & satisfaction.
In 2017 she took out ‘Best Australian Sparkling’ & ‘Best in Class – Australian NV Brut Blend’ at Tom Stevenson’s highly respected Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, for the Howard Park NV Jeté Brut Blanc.
She credits Howard Park for allowing her to focus her love of wine.
The resources are here, and the support and the passion for wine. There’s the appreciation and recognition that this is what you are doing. Janice McDonald
“To handcraft elegant wines of expression – embracing of tradition and heritage – yet adventurous and reflective of provenance”
It starts with the fruit. Howard Park has patiently developed its Margaret River and Great Southern vineyards over the last 25 years, with each site specifically chosen to maximise the quality grape variety and unique clones.
The vineyards are sustainably managed, using in-house, meticulously-blended compost as the primary source of nutrition.
The winemaking process works to create age-worthy wines that clearly show the sites, soils and climate in which the grapes are grown, and the regions they come from.
The resulting wines are sophisticated and balanced, highlighting the best attributes of that particular grape variety. When used, the oak is French, but subtly integrated into the wine.
Howard Park makes textured and complex wines of class. They have an elegance with subdued power, long length and persistent flavours. The nose is layered – yet focussed – with cleanly delineated boundaries that will age beautifully and gracefully.
The philosophy is to craft wines that distinctly convey the provenance of the grapes. The winemaking methods are sophisticated, but do not overpower the fruit flavours, which are of paramount importance. The winemaking and oak handling are only support acts to the primary fruit characters in the wine.
With over three decades of experience, Howard Park is an expert in West Australia’s premier grape-growing regions: Margaret River and the Great Southern. Across 30 years, the viticultural team accumulated an intimate, encyclopaedic knowledge of vineyards, leading to the careful acquisition and development of four properties: Leston and Allingham in Margaret River, and Mount Barrow and Abercrombie in Mount Barker, Great Southern.
The Howard Park philosophy is one of continual improvement, excellence & innovation. This is evident in the culture of our vineyard practice, helmed by Chief Viticulturist David Botting & Vineyard Operations Manager Nic Taylor. The team is given freedom to focus on projects of their interest, & to control processes in-house; from establishing a rootling nursey, to building custom vineyard machinery, or importing specific vine clones.
As one of Western Australia’s leading family-owned wineries, Howard Park is a specialist in the foremost grape-growing regions of the state – Margaret River & Great Southern. Over time the viticultural team has built up knowledge of vineyards across the regions, leading to the carefully selected acquisition & development of four vineyards.
The Margaret River vineyards, Leston & Allingham, are named after Jeff’s father & grandmother, & make up the cornerstone of Howard Park’s Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon production. In the wild & isolated Great Southern the vast Mount Barrow vineyard was designed from virgin soil with plantings of a diverse selection of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir clones from Burgundy & our own nursery. The Abercrombie vineyard is one of the very oldest in the Great Southern, planted with Houghton clone Cabernet in 1974. Each vineyard is diligently managed & viewed as individual sites & blocks, with a heavy organic & biodynamic focus, but without the conformity of certification.