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Winemaker musical chairs in Margaret River

Musical chairs in key Margaret River winery positions. The winery manager and chief winemaker at Devil’s Lair (tastings), Oliver Crawford (pictured above), is going to Vasse Felix (tastings) as general manager in mid-October.

This won’t affect Vasse’s Winemaker of the Year award-winning chief winemaker Virginia Willcock, who will be freed of her managerial responsibilities and will be able to concentrate on winemaking. Crawford’s position is a new one, and has him overseeing all viticulture, winemaking and hospitality areas (restaurant, cellar door sales, etc).

Some weeks earlier, Cape Mentelle’s (tastings) chief winemaker/manager Rob Mann left Margaret River for California’s Napa Valley, where he’s taken on a new role with Mentelle’s sibling winery, Newton Vineyard. (Cape Mentelle is owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, which also has part ownership of Newton.) Mann’s assistants Paul Callaghan and Evan Thompson are perfectly capable of filling his shoes. Likewise, Devil’s Lair senior winemaker Ben Miller will move up to replace Crawford. Crawford had worked with Treasury Wine Estates for many years, and was a member of the Penfolds white winemaking team before moving to Margaret River in 2008.

Also in Margaret River, former Sandalford (tastings) chief winemaker Paul Boulden (pictured above) has joined Burch Family Wines as ‘brand winemaker/brand ambassador’. According to proprietor Amy Burch, this doesn’t affect Janice McDonald’s role as chief winemaker. Boulden will be involved in sales and promotion, especially for the Marchand & Burch (tastings) range. Says Amy Burch: “We feel Paul’s broad experience, knowledge, palate and commercial feel adds to what is already a stand-out team and offering from Burch Family Wines.” Their brands include Howard Park (tastings), Madfish, and Jete sparkling wines as well as Marchand & Burch, which is mainly Burgundy but also WA chardonnay and pinot noir. Boulden had spent 12 years as Sandalford chief winemaker. 

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