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  4.  | Wignalls Wines – Michael Perkins
Luke Jolliffe WA Winery



“We are forever tweaking things, looking for small improvements without altering the fundamental nature, the quintessence, of what we do.”

When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
In 1997, working on the bottling line at Goundrey Wines, a job better suited to an automaton. All the real action was going on in the winemaking department, where I secured a position for the following vintage: following vintages as winemaker’s assistant, assistant winemaker, winemaker…twenty-six vintages ago!

Please tell us about your career so far, including your education, work experience etc.
I gained a Bachelor of Applied Science, in industrial chemistry and water science. It wasn’t until I started in the wine industry that I knew what to apply the applied science to. I spent ten years at Goundrey Wines, from then joining Rob and Claire at Wignalls Wines in 2006.

What do you love most about being a winemaker?
I love the craft of it, the discovery, the getting to make something special. The fact that after twenty-six vintages, I look forward to the twenty-seventh. The fact that no vintage is the same as the last, and that there is always something new to discover.

What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
It would have to be the Wignalls Pinot Noir, cellared a few years. Because of the silky tannins and savoury fruit palate, it’s the type of wine that doesn’t overpower the food it accompanies: sea- food, eye-fillet steak, asparagus…

Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
I just follow my nose simply saying, but there is a lot of science that goes in the background. R&D is an essential tool at Wignalls and the program never stops. As an example of this, this year we made nine batches of pinot noir to make the host wine, numerous batches and styles mixed together in different ratios is exciting groundbreaking work.

Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
The pinot noir over the last few vintages has been going from strength to strength. I thought that the 2020 was maybe one of our best, then the 2021 came along, and then the 2022 which may just be better…except the 2023 in barrel looks really exciting.

How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Climate is extremely important, however microclimate of the specific blocks is even more critical, and how this gets managed by the team and individually managed makes the difference between okay and outstanding. Here at Wignalls we have gone away from observing blocks, we now treat individual rows as the king maker of wine, and all rows will be treated and managed as its own identity.

Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
Working at Goundrey’s I was part of the team making the country’s biggest selling unwooded chardonnay. I know it’s a style which has gone out of favour, but ours is a good example of what, done well, the style can offer. It’s a good everyday wine, like our sauvignon blanc, which pairs perfectly with Asian influenced food, and with seafood. The premium chardonnay and pinot noir sort of demand a special occasion…like Saturday nights!

Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
I’d like to think that I would still be at Wignalls. Stylistically, I don’t foresee any big changes. Sort of “if it ain’t broken…” Of course, we are forever tweaking things, looking for small improvements without altering the fundamental nature, the quintessence, of what we do.