Big night for winemakers

Vanya cullen 2 awards
Vanya Cullen, Halliday Winemaker of the Year

By Fergal Gleeson

Margaret River Wineries won an extraordinary seven awards at the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards held on the 7th of August 2019 at the National Gallery of Victoria.

One of Margaret River’s best known winemakers and spokespeople Vanya Cullen won the ‘Winemaker of the Year’ Award. “I feel very grateful and on top of the world,” she said.

“My feet haven’t touched the ground yet. It has been a love story about the earth, nature, great wine, family, friends and colleagues. With 2019 marking my 30 years as Chief Winemaker milestone, to now receive this acknowledgment is simply wonderful, and exciting all at the same time!”

Another major award, for ‘Best Value Winery’, went to Domaine Naturaliste founded by Bruce Dukes. Bruce has had a 25 year winemaking career including a 4 year stint with Francis Ford Coppola’s world class winery in Napa Valley.

He has a contract winemaking business which makes wines for many small and medium sized wineries around the region but this award is a wonderful recognition for the value offered by his own winery Domaine Naturaliste started in 2012.

Apart from two major awards Margaret River wineries also won 5 of the 12 Best Varietal awards. This an outstanding result when you consider that Margaret River produces just 3% of Australia’s wine grape production.

The region is most famous for Cabernet and blends, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and blends. Interestingly Margaret River wineries won in all of those categories.

Halliday Winners
Halliday Winners

Cullen Wines picked up a second award on the night, for Diana Madeline (their famous Cabernet dominant blend). Julian Langworthy collected the award for ‘Best Cabernet’ for Deep Woods, their second time winning for their Cabernet in 3 years. Deep Woods (along with Xanadu) have been the region’s must successful exhibitor at wine shows in recent years.

And onto the whites… Moss Wood, one of the region’s founding wineries were thrilled with 99 points awarded for their Chardonnay, a powerful and complex wine of great provenance.

Stella Bella collected the ‘Best Semillon Sauvignon blend’ for the Suckfizzle SBS for a second year running. The Suckfizzle vineyard is Margaret River’s southernmost vineyard.

Boutique winemaker Flowstone Wines won ‘Best Sauvignon Blanc’. Stuart Pym is passionate about the varietal, inspired by the great wines of the Loire. His carefully crafted Sauvignon Blanc also comes from the cooler Karridale region.

Every year, James Halliday and his tasting panel award the best Australian wines, winemakers and wineries. 8,775 wines were tasted and over 1,200 Australian wineries profiled for the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion.

The following is the list of Margaret River winners:
Cullen Wines – (2020 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year 2019)

Domaine Naturaliste (Best Value Winery of the Year)

Sauvignon Blanc:

2017 Flowstone Queen of the Earth Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River WA, 96pts


2017 Moss Wood Wilyabrup Chardonnay, Margaret River WA, 99pts

Semillon Sauvignon blends:

2016 Stella Bella Suckfizzle SBS, Margaret River WA, 97pts

Cabernet Sauvignon:

2016 Deep Woods Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River WA, 99pts

Cabernet Sauvignon (and family):

2017 Cullen Wines Diana Madeline, Margaret River WA, 98pts

From Your Margaret River Region Magazine. Image Credit: Halliday Wine Awards


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