Who is Rob Bowen?
One of the West's most experienced and awarded winemakers, Rob Bowen
is the only wine maker to have been awarded the trifecta of all 3 major awards in Western Australia
(1) The Jack Mann Medal for Outstanding Services to the WA Wine Industry 2017
(2) The Dianna Cullen Award for Service to the Western Australian Wine Industry
(3) The Ian Tyrer Award for services to the Great Southern Wine Region
Other notable awards include:
- Ray Jordan Winemaker of the Year 2014
"Robert Bowen, was awarded Winemaker of the Year for his range of wonderful wines that appear under the Pemberley and Robert Bowen labels.
Mr Bowen also won gongs for best rose, chardonnay and white wine and was named Best Small Producer against stiff competition." Ray Jordan 2014
- Gourmet Traveller Australian Winemaker of the Year 2008
Rob is the most successful wine show winemakers in WA having the exhibited and won more awards than any other wine maker in Western Australia.
Rob supervised the Houghton team in the most decorated period of its history. Before that he was chief winemaker at Willow Bridge Estate in Geographe, at Capel Vale Wines based in Geographe, but also with vineyards in the Great Southern and Pemberton. Earlier in his career he was at Plantagenet Wines for nine vintages, making contract wines for most of the new vineyards in the Great Southern region.
One of the best-known winemakers in WA is Rob Bowen, with over 45 years' experience with several of WA's leading wineries, most recently Houghton. In 2009 he joined forces with a team of viticulturists (led by David Radomilijac) who collectively furnish the project with an extensive range of knowledge and expertise. The theme is to produce premium wines with a strong sense of place, all grapes hand-picked from the best available vineyards in the Margaret River and Pemberton regions. Two ranges of wines are produced: Robert Bowen (from Margaret River and Pemberton) and Pemberley (from the Pemberley Farms Vineyard owned by David). Exports to the UK, Singapore and China.
Rob Bowen on Wine making Philosophy.
Rob on nature
My winemaking philosophy has always been to be a custodian of nature. As a custodian, a winemaker must respect the intrinsic value of each patch of vines and protect the fruit flavours of the grapes. A winemaker’s duty is to make the best of what is in the raw material, after all, wine is the fermented product of the grape. A winemaker must understand the vineyard where the fruit grows, if they are not the viticulturist they must be his shadow.
Rob on world class wines
It has always been my mission to make the very best wine that the vineyard is capable of producing, world class wines. Though the wonderful red wines of Bordeaux are the ultimate expression of the fruit from that region, they are no greater than the best wines from Margaret River or Frankland, rather the expression of the fruit flavour from that region that has been captured by a skilled and sympathetic winemaker.
Rob on finesse
When making wines with oak, either red or white, the oak must be there to support flavour and never to dominate. As Maynard Amerine said in a book written some 50 years ago; “Once oak becomes a dominant factor it is considered spoilage”. Consequently, there is no wine that is 'over oaked' they are either miss-oaked or spoiled. If you want to drink a glass of oak drink Bourbon!
The same goes for all other winemaking techniques such as Malo-lactic fermentation in whites or extended skin maceration in reds. When these techniques cover the fruit flavours these wines are spoiled.
Rob on enjoying wines
Perhaps the other part of my philosophy of winemaking is to produce wines that people enjoy. One can make the best wine in the world but if nobody wants to drink it one need not begin the process!
A person who influenced me greatly was Max Schubert, the ultimate winemaker's winemaker, a man who lived for his wines. One of the worrying thoughts of a winemaker is that they might actually make a wine that they think is great. In this case, one of two things has happened, firstly a miracle has occurred or the winemaker has lost the plot and has failed to see faults that are always there. I expressed this to Max once and he said that if I was to hold onto that thought I should be OK. I have always said the day I make a wine I really like is the day I go make beer.
I believe there are still plenty of fine wines in me as I strive for the best I can do each vintage.
"Winemaking is not what I do, it is who I am."