Burch family Wines – the Black Sheep of the Margaret River

You know you’re doing something right when you are asked to contribute to the Margaret River Gourmet Great Escape.Burch-Family-Wines1

The Hidden Competition

From the 22nd to the 24th of November, this year a number of venues have again got together to create the Margaret River Gourmet Great Escape. As in previous there are an abundance of celebrity chefs, celebrity wines and – well – celebrities. It will be a dazzling combination of tastes and ideas, of aromas  and texture, of beauty and wealth.

It will be absolutely essential to plan ahead. This event gets sold out. You mightn’t think the wineries hosting the various events would cap the number of visitors they’d accept, but you’d be wrong.

There are several reasons why numbers are limited: Health issues, comfort issues, and exclusivity. On top of that, the number of venues is limited by the numbers of expected visitors. So the competition for inclusion is fierce.

But what I want to talk about today is a part of the Great Escape no one ever hears about: The competition.

The Black Sheep

Most people believe that the local wineries are admitted into the event by simple virtue of being there. Not true. This is an event of quality, not geography. The local wineries actually compete against each other to be a part of it. Of course they all boast beautiful venues, friendly staff and boundless enthusiasm; so it all comes down to the wines.

Burch FamilyAnd it’s at this point the story takes a nasty turn. As with any event there is an element of political wrangling. And in the past few years this wrangling has centered on excluding the Burch Family Wines Winery.

You see, Burch Family Wines were the first to sell their wines online (as Family Wines Direct). A win for consumers – definitely, but a loss for the local wineries, who had, until then, relied heavily on boozy tours, dirty weekends and day-trippers.

The Wrench

Burch Family wines stuck a wrench in that. The wines you buy at the cellar door are the wines you buy at the website checkout. A few connoisseurs make a foray, at the beginning of each season, notebook in hand, to taste the wines. They then have all the information they need to order wines at any time over the internet.

The other wineries haven’t yet forgiven Burch Family Wines for their temerity in embracing the internet. And this anger expresses itself when wineries nominate for inclusion into the Great Escape.

Fortunately, it’s not up to the wineries to decide who is admitted and who is not. margatet_river1_sml

As I wrote above, this is an event of quality. While all the visitors attend the event, a few daring souls will wander off to explore those wineries not included in the Great Escape. And more often than not those daring souls know what they are tasting. If there is a winery producing wine superior to those in the Great Escape it reflects badly on all concerned.

Which leads me back to my opening comment: You know you’re doing something right when you are asked to contribute to the Margaret River Gourmet Great Escape. Especially when you are Burch Family Wines – the black sheep of the Margaret River.

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