Home' Scoop : Scoop 54 Summer 2010 Contents WEST CAPE HOWE WINES
interested in coming to Western Australia and regions not known for pinot. Pascal’s explanation reveals
an adventurous streak. “In Burgundy, we have 500 years of history,” he says. “Everything has been done.
Here I am, a Frenchman, having the opportunity to work with [Jeff] in a brand-new area in a brand-new
vineyard setting, putting in our own clones and laying it all out ourselves. I’m a pioneer and an explorer. I
find that fantastic, exciting and invigorating – and I hope that we are successful at it.”
Pascal Marchand has been instrumental in introducing sustainable organic and biodynamic practices
to Howard Park’s vineyards in both Great Southern and Margaret River. Some of the initiatives taken by
Howard Park to improve sustainability in the vineyards and winery include reducing water consumption,
installing a waste-water recycling plant, composting all grape waste, reducing dependence on synthetic
fertilisers and pesticides, adopting biodynamic practices and organic methods throughout the vineyard
operations, introducing sheep to control weeds in the vineyards, and reducing the use of heavy machinery
through the vines to avoid compacting the soil.
In addition, Howard Park, like many other Australian wineries, is a signatory of the National
Packaging Covenant. It has made a commitment to minimise the impact on the environment from the
disposal of used packaging, to conser ve resources through improved design and production processes,
and to facilitate the re-use and recycling of used packaging materials.
Amid the success, Howard Park has had some serious setbacks, one of the most memorable for Jeff
and Amy being the 2006 vintage. It was a very cool summer, as Jeff recalls. “[We] waited and waited and
waited. The leaves started falling off, and of our top five reds, we only produced one. It was financially
disastrous. We thought it was all over for Howard Park.”
In 2007 Tony Davis joined Howard Park as chief winemaker when Michael Kerrigan left to launch
his own business career as a partner in a new venture at Hay Shed Hill, not far from the Leston vineyard.
Tony had previously completed vintages at other Australian wineries including Yalumba, Plantagenet,
Brown Brothers and Millbrook, as well as in France and the United States. Genevieve Mann, a viticulture
and oenology graduate of Curtin University in Western Australia, also joined Howard Park in 2007. She
was appointed Margaret River winemaker, having had winemaking experience in France, her native South
Africa, California and McLaren Vale in South Australia.
Today one-third of Howard Park’s grapes come from its own vineyards. The remainder are sourced
from a loyal band of growers, almost all from the Margaret River and Great Southern regions.
The Howard Park vineyards are manag ed by Jeff ’s younger brother, David P Burch. He is assisted by
David Botting, chief viticulturalist, known to some as the Grape Doctor. David came to Howard Park
with more than 30 years’ experience consulting to vineyards all over Australia. At first quite skeptical
about biodynamic practices, his visits to Burgundy to study Pascal Marchand’s approach to natural,
holistic viticultural management have convinced him of their benefits. Jeff ’s sister, Lesley Scogna, also
has a role in the company as brand ambassador, developing and maintaining relationships with retail
customers and restaurants, a role that suits her bubbly personality.
Jeff is chief executive officer, overseeing all aspects of production with his teams. Amy is marketing
director and oversees the cellar door. The Burches are both proud that their two older children are now
directly involved in the business with them. Their daughter, Natalie, formally joined Howard Park in 2005
after many years of helping out. She has the challenging task of managing operations at the Margaret
River site, including the office, cellar door, stock control and exports.
Their son, David, known as David W to distinguish him from Jeff ’s brother, has worked in multiple
areas of the business since the age of 14 — from the cellar door and the vineyard to winemaking and
running dispatch. He formally joined the business in 2006 as part of the sales and marketing team.
The youngest Burch, Richard, has recently finished studying marketing at university. He plans to gain
experience working elsewhere first, and the rest of the family is confident that he will have the skills to
make a significant contribution if he decides later to join Howard Park.
Natalie remembers doing all sorts of jobs at the winery when she and her brothers were growing up.
“Odd jobs in the cellar door, tastings at random shows, handing out leaflets, taking phone calls in the
office, chasing cows out of the vineyards and helping to put out the occasional fire.”
Amy, Natalie and David W all agree that Jeff is the driver of Howard Park. They describe him
as tenacious, single-minded, demanding and blustering – as Amy says with affection “rather like
a bulldozer”. Amy is the creative member of the family, “great with people, communication and
relationships, and has the energy to make things happen. She’s like a whirlwind”. Natalie is the “jack of
all trades” who resolves daily issues with “a wicked sense of humour”.
On reflection, Amy proudly describes the range of wines under the Howard Park, MadFish and
Marchand and Burch labels as unparalleled in south-western Australia. The range includes seven rieslings,
three sauvignon blancs, five chardonnays, six pinot noirs, five shirazes and six cabernets. Jeff is quick to
add, “They are all g ood. There are no dogs in our kennel.” S Cellar door open Monday-Sunday 10am-5pm,
Miamup Road, Cowaramup, (08) 9756 5200, howardparkwines.com.au . Extract has been edited for length.
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