Winemaker of the Year
JULIAN LANGWORTHY, Deep Woods Estate, Margaret River, Western Australia
Born in WA’s Margaret River, Julian Langworthy has always had a roundabout connection to wine. His dad worked for the Department of Agriculture studying grapevines, so he spent time in vineyards growing up, but he still didn’t march into his career with absolute conviction. “I had a bit of a dalliance with marine biology, which I didn’t do very well in,” he says.
“It sort of seemed fairer on the fishes if I jumped ship, so I moved to South Australia and studied winemaking instead.” Popular among his peers and with a trophy cabinet overflowing with awards, Julian clearly made the right choice, having now been crowned Winemaker of the Year.
“The most influential period for me was when I moved to Coonawarra at about 22 – it wasn’t really the place to live as a young, single bloke, but I got to work at Jamiesons Run under Andrew Hales and at Wynns with Sue Hodder. They’re both immensely awesome winemakers and they taught me a lot,” he says.
Julian credits his time in Coonawarra with expanding his skill-set and intensifying his interest in cabernet, but his fondness for the variety was cemented long before. “My dad loves wine and bought a lot of it when I was growing up, so I knew that Penfolds Grange was one of the best wines in Australia, but I’d always assumed it was a cabernet… I remember finding out when I was nine or 10 that it was a shiraz and thinking they must’ve gotten it wrong. Even then, I had an affinity with the variety!” Another favourite wine style for Julian is rosé. “It’s my Achilles heel,” he says. “We spend an inordinate amount of time on it at Deep Woods, but the Harmony Rosé is now our best-selling wine, which is amazing considering six or seven years ago we made hardly any. We’re lucky to be at the forefront of Australia waking up to how good these dry styles of rosé can be.”
While Deep Woods, in Margaret River’s Yallingup subregion, is Julian’s main focus, he also works across the Fogarty Wine Group’s portfolio, consulting to a team of 12 winemakers. “My hope is that I can add more perspective into our winemaking team, helping them to make nuanced wines they can stand behind and be proud of,” he says.
And even with a busy schedule, Julian still finds inspiration all around, particularly judging at wine shows. He also points to Margaret River as a muse, calling it an “unspoilt winemaking nirvana”. “Margaret River cabernet and chardonnay are as good as from anywhere else in the world and I think if we keep working hard, they’ll be recognised in the way they deserve.”