There is something supernatural about growing grapes and making wine that makes doctors, lawyers, and suits of all kinds invest in an ever-deepening financial black hole, and a circle of friends that can’t always be relied on to fill urgent tasks in the vineyard or winery. Fifty years ago local weather forecasting was notoriously unreliable, which could be turned to advantage by parents unable to coax young children into another boring extremely hot or freezing cold weekend. ‘But we were told the weather was dreadful’ was the excuse for a no-show, or maladies of all kinds.

Sydney-based hand surgeon Max Lake started it all in 1963, showing that it was possible to create and run a winery without a degree in viticulture and/or oenology. Those days the drive from Sydney to the Hunter Valley was four hours of single lane, bone-shattering dirt roads. The ceremonial opening of a bottle of champagne at the convict drinking trough hewn in the side of a large boulder was a celebration for making it through Mangrove Mountain, a notional halfway mark.

In 1997 Perth lawyer Gary Berson and wife Judith followed in Max Lake’s footsteps, updated to deal with a more sophisticated marketplace than that of 1963. Their site selection was meticulous, and they chose Juniper Estate’s Mark Messenger as contract winemaker. Another key decision had been to establish the 13.7ha vineyard without using irrigation, and to minimise the amount of inputs. Friends and children commuted for 20 years, Jude (Judith) moving 5 years ago, followed by Gary another 2.5 years later. Says Jude ‘He now works full time in the wine business unless he is fishing.’

In 1999 Victory Point Wines became a foundation member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, selling part of its cabernet sauvignon to Xanadu for its Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which has had an extraordinary 8 year  run of trophies for Best Cabernet Sauvignon in the National Wine Show. Xanadu’s newsletter of 23 May concluded with ‘a massive thanks to all of our growers, particularly the Bersons…’

2019 Victory Point Wines Margaret River Chardonnay

Whole bunch-pressed, fermented in French barriques (38% new) for 10 months. A special chardonnay with totally delicious almond and cashew aromas and flavours in the forefront, a lick of custard apple running with a light but persistent line of Meyer lemon. The mix of 57% Gingin and 43% Dijon clones and suppression of mlf works brilliantly.

96 points, drink to 2030, 13% alc, Screwcap, $55

2019 Victory Point Wines Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

Hand-picked, destemmed/crushed, 11 days on skins, pressed to French barriques (35% new) for 16 months, includes 2% malbec. Pristine, elegant, medium-bodied cabernet, silky tannins firming slightly on the long, well-balanced palate, cassis at its heart. Drink whenever.

95 points, drink to 2033, 14% alc, Screwcap, $55

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