Burch Family Wines Blog

Senior Winemaker Janice McDonald - Finalist for Winemaker of the Year 2013



We are honoured and proud to announce the nomination of our Senior Winemaker Janice McDonald as a finalist in the Gourmet Traveller 2013 Winemaker of the Year Awards.

“Janice is a great winemaker for Burch Family Wines because she is never satisfied, always looking to try new things, varieties & regions and to push the boundary,” – Jeff Burch, CEO & Owner of Burch Family Wines.

Janice started at Burch Family Wines in January 2011, after a long & esteemed career including head brewing positions at Matilda Bay & Little Creatures, to winemaking roles at Vasse Felix, Brown Brothers & Devil’s Lair; and founding Stella Bella, working there as chief winemaker for 10 years; and being named Red Winemaker of the year in 2010/2011 by The Big Red Wine Book.

“Janice, having a background in brewing, is open to all new ideas in winemaking, which makes her an exciting person to be around, but you had better be committed!” Jeff Burch said.

“Howard Park had always, from a reputation point of view, produced high quality wines,” Janice said. “The breadth of wines, and a lot of different wines on different levels, is quite interesting.”

The move also signalled a number of career firsts - dealing with an expanded range of wines & brands, juggling vintages in two of WA’s premium grape growing regions that are four hours apart & focusing on Riesling.

“The things that were daunting were also the things I was keen on. You could consider them daunting or you could consider them a challenge.”

Janice said working in a family company and so closely with members of the Burch family from one generation to the next is a rewarding experience. It means decisions are made quickly, but minds are changed quickly too.

“If you can’t live in that level, that sort of dynamic way of making changes, you’re in the wrong industry really,” Janice said.

“I have worked with family wine companies before. Essentially they are more interesting than corporates. I grew up with companies like that. It was more the norm for me than not.”

Some projects Janice considers the most interesting to date have been making sparkling wines in the traditional method with fruit from our Mount Barrow vineyard in the Great Southern, and working on the Marchand & Burch Australian collection under the direction of Burgundian winemaker Pascal Marchand.

Going forward, Janice is enthusiastic to continue working alongside the up-and-coming winemakers at Burch Family Wines.

“The young winemakers that I work with, that I can start to see what I’ve been trying to instil in them in the last two to three years, it’s starting to appear in them,” she said. “I really appreciate that opportunity, aside from the winemaking & the fruit we get to work with.”

“From a working point of view the role I have here is a fantastic job,” she said. “I don’t consider it a job.”


Janice's Favourites Selection


 “This wine is an exposé of our winemaking skill applied to beautiful grapes from a perfect vintage. It is also symbolic of the Howard Park commitment to grape growing & winemaking in both the Great Southern & Margaret River, as it combines the best of our Chardonnay from both regions.”



“To me, it’s a style of wine the Margaret River is just perfect for, particularly because we manage to ripen Semillon. I love the freshness of the flavour – I love the combination.”



“My favourite MadFish wine is the Moscato,” Janice added, “because it has wonderfully opulent, in-your-face fruit flavour. It’s a delightfully scented & flavoured wine. Sweet wines when balanced are beautiful.”



Receive 2 bottles of each of the wines above in a limited edition mixed 6-pack.


Category: Blog