Amy Burch, general manager and marketing director of Burch Family Wines was born in Singapore and studied here before moving over to Perth, Western Australia at the age of 12.
Together with her husband, the couple run Burch Family Wines, whose brands Howard Park, MadFish, and Marchand & Burch, use fruits from vineyards across the grape-growing regions of Margaret River and the Great Southern.
Which part about running a winery and producing wines do you like the most?
Meeting the people who drink our wines. Often, our best customers will come along to the various events we organise and share a bottle of wine from their cellar that they have purchased from us years ago! We also love walking around the beautiful vineyards. Our Abercrombie Vineyard in Mount Barker was planted in 1975, so it’s also a real pleasure to create for the future.
What differentiates your three brands—Howard Park, Mad Fish and Marchand & Burch?
Howard Park, MadFish and Marchand & Burch have all evolved over the years. Each has its own identity and target consumer.We started with the Howard Park brand in the Great Southern wine region of Western Australia, with Cabernet Sauvignon, (now called the Abercrombie) and Riesling. These two wines established our name in the Australian wine landscape. Over the years the Howard Park range has extended to Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling.
With MadFish, we responded to the growing café market of the early 1990s, when cafes and restaurants were wanting something well-made and at the right price point for casual drinking. MadFish fits this bill so well, and we have had great success with MadFish all around the world. Our philosophy with MadFish is that even thought it’s a casual drink, it should over-deliver on quality. We continue to expand the MadFish range with varietals and blends like Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (a classic Margaret River blend), Malbec, Moscato, Pinot Gris and Merlot.
Marchand & Burch is a different story. We love going to Burgundy and love drinking Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We have known Pascal Marchand (ex-winemaker of Domaine de la Vougeraie) for a long time, so it was easy to partner with him to bring the Burgundian expertise to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards in Western Australia. Under the Marchand & Burch label, we make about six Burgundies and a Cremant. We also specialise in Chardonnay and Pinot made in a Burgundian style. This has been such an amazing experience of learning on both sides.
What are some of the more surprising food pairings you’ve come across with your wines?
I’m not prescriptive on this having to go with that. Again, it’s what my palate requires to satisfy at the time. That is why we need to taste a variety of wines, to learn what works individually for us.
Tell us about Howard Park winery and cellar door.
At our winery, we have a vast range of wines to try and our cellar door is the perfect venue to hone in on what your palate likes. Experiment for yourself. At Howard Park, we do not charge for tastings (except for the Abercrombie and the Allingham as they are very expensive), so guests can try and work out which varieties work for their palate. It is a personal journey for each person. Plus, palates change and develop. A beginner on the wine journey will like some varieties and after years, gravitate to other wines. So I encourage all visitors to try and not worry about what others think. Be your own judge.
Two years ago, we built a special purpose private tasting room to enable groups to experience our wines accompanied with foods from the region. We often have visitors from all over the world come in to participate in private tastings with one of our experienced staff. It’s a special experience in comfort and luxury.
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s January 2017 issue, ‘All in the Family’