Burch family celebrates 30-plus years of Howard Park

West Australian company Burch Family Wines is celebrating the 30-year anniversary of its involvement with the Howard Park brand.

Howard Park was founded by winemaker John Wade in 1985. The Burch family became involved with the business in 1993, ultimately taking full control in 1998.

General manager Natalie Burch and chief winemaker Nic Bowen this week presented a museum tasting of wines made throughout the company’s 38-year history, starting with a 1989 cabernet and a 1992 riesling produced by Wade.


“Going back through each of the periods of the winemakers that we’ve worked with has been quite fascinating,” she told Drinks Adventures.

“John Wade was just an absolute artist in his approach. The wines from back then are very beautiful, they’re very delicate. We were more accepting of a leafiness, a greenness, elegance and lower alcohol.

“In Michael Kerrigan’s time [1998-2007], the wines were a little bit bolder. There was a big move towards oak. At this point they were more riper in their style, the alcohol was slightly heavier but there was a lot of intensity on the palate.

“Tony Davis [2007-2011] was a mixture of the two. He was very scientific, like Michael was, but he had a very delicate hand.

“And then Janice McDonald [2011-2021] was all about precision. If you look at her chardonnays, the sauvignon blancs and sparklings, she understood acid so incredibly well.”

Howard Park Wines chief winemaker, Nic Bowen

Current winemaker Nic Bowen then presented some of his creations, including a forthcoming 100 per cent pinot meunier sparkling wine under the Jete label; a Margaret River chenin blanc and a Swan Valley grenache.

Bowen said he is “standing on the shoulders of giants”, with a fantastic winemaking pedigree to build upon.

“We will certainly be looking at refining what we do in the vineyard a lot more,” he told Drinks Adventures.

“I think that’s going to be very important, because we have great resources in the winery to make fantastic wine already.”

Look out for an interview with Natalie and Nic on the Drinks Adventures podcast in the coming weeks.

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