James Halliday names Margaret River wine maker top award

It was a surreal experience for Deep Woods Estate chief winemaker and general manager Julian Langworthy to walk into his office and have a colleague say “you just missed a call from James Halliday”.

The question then followed “do you think it was THE James Halliday?”

Lucky for Mr Langworthy it was leading wine critic James Halliday calling to say he had the Winemaker of the Year at the Halliday Wine Companion Awards on August 1.

It is the first time Mr Langworthy has been recognised as an individual by the king wine critic but Deeps Woods Estate has been recognised many times for its reserve cabernet and rose blends.

The estate’s reserve cabernet has become ‘iconic’ within the industry, picking up multiple awards including the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2016.

“When you are at uni you talk about how cool it would be to win a Jimmy Watson Trophy one day,” Mr Langworthy said.

But, he did admit that he has a soft spot for the estate’s rose blend.

“It’s fun and delicious to drink,” he said.

Aside from saying Mr Halliday ‘has the best eyebrows in the industry’ Mr Langworthy said it was an honour receive the accolade.

Mr Langworthy described Mr Halliday as the first word everyone speaks when talking about wine. He also said through living a life of wine and his dedication to the industry, Halliday transcends across the country.

Mr Langworthy grew up in Margaret River and moved on to university with the dream of becoming a winemaker and coming back in the famous Margaret River Wine Region.

“It took longer than I thought to come back,” he said.

But after buying a house and getting married in South Australia, the opportunity finally arose in 2010 to come back home.

Mr Langworthy counts the amount of years he has spent in the industry by the amount of vintages he has done and last year was his 20th vintage.

What he loves about Deep Woods Estate is the people he works with and he said they were intrinsic to him winning Winemaker of the Year.

Mr Langworthy is also part of the Fogarty Wine Group which encompasses wineries from across WA, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The aim of the group is to create super premium wines and Mr Langworthy said it was a great group to be a part of.

The Halliday Wine Companion Awards are based on the results produced after months of tasting by James and his expert tasting panel – Campbell Mattinson, David Bicknell, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin and Steven Creber.

More than 9280 wines were tasted for this edition, with full tasting notes for 3864 wines, ratings, drink-to dates and prices for a further 2906 wines provided by 1216 wineries.

The state received further praise with Varietal winners in the Chardonnay and Cabarenet Sauvignon  categories, awarded to Singlefile Wines and Cullen Wines respectively.