LEADING southern Margaret River winemaker Luke Jolliffe has been named as a finalist in this year's Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year awards.
Mr Jolliffe has long been a champion of southern Margaret River fruit and with the wealth of trophies that have followed he has shown that wines from the southern climes of Margaret River have a "finesse and class to equal the best in the region."
Australian wine writer and critic Huon Hooke said Jolliffe's skill set him apart from many others.
"Luke's Luminosa and Suckfizzle wines are at the pointy end of Margaret River's quality tree. He's an exciting winemaker who has a great deal more to show us," Hooke said.
Mr Jolliffe grew up in the Clare Valley wine region and completed his Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Viticulture major) at Adelaide University.
After graduating in 1999, he joined Hardy's Tintara operation in McLaren Vale as viticultural technical officer, where he stayed until 2003.
While working at Tintara he also completed his post graduate degree in Oenology.
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Mr Jolliffe later jumped at the opportunity to work in WA with Forest Hill as their viticulturist and was eventually appointed operations manager.
In 2005 travels took him to the Rhone Valley, where he worked over the vintage season at Raymond Troillas, based in St Joseph.
In 2007 an opportunity arose with Stella Bella to work as a vintage assistant, which he embraced, quickly being promoted to Assistant Winemaker in June 2008.
By November of the following year he had been promoted to Winemaker, and finally chief winemaker in July 2013.
"When I received a phone call from Peter Forrestal saying I was being nominated for Winemaker of the year, I was absolutely pumped," Jolliffe said of the accolade.
"It was an incredible surprise and I still feel extremely humbled to be considered.
"My primary focus has always been to make distinctively Southern Margaret River wines, each with an individual personality.
"So this kind of recognition, while amazing has never been a primary focus but it certainly is the best possible re-assurance that my team and I are farming and creating unique wines of the highest quality with a distinct Southern Margaret River character.
"Especially when considering, in my opinion, the standard of Australian Wine at the moment is incredibly high."