Wine is a gamble – whether you’re choosing a bottle to try for the first time or taking the big plunge into starting your own winery.

I can’t help but marvel at the daring of Jeff and Vicki Dewar, who as a young couple decided 20 years ago to start from scratch and set up a vineyard and winery in an area of Western Australia that was untested for producing grapes. Nowadays, after years of striving, their creation, Willow Bridge, has earned five red stars from James Halliday and their highly rated wines are winning legions of fans.

The Willow Bridge G1-10 Geographe Chardonnay 2022 is one of four stunning chardonnays on offer in The Australian Wine Club’s mixed dozen deal of the week.

Two of the chardonnays, the Mountadam High Eden Estate Chardonnay 2019 and the Corryton Burge Kin Patroness Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2021, will be among 130 wines showcased at our wine-tasting spectacular in Sydney on November 15. Tickets are available for only $55 each or two for $90. See details by scanning the QR code.

Mountadam winemaker Caitlin Brown will be pouring the 2019 High Eden, which respected wine critic Tyson Stelzer predicted would “set this vintage among the greats from this historic estate”.

Corryton Burge is an exciting new venture set up by the children of Barossa wine legend Grant Burge, Trent and Amelia Burge.

But back to Willow Bridge and the great wine gamble. Jeff, the youngest of three brothers, grew up on his parents’ farm but decided broadacre farming wasn’t for him. After about two years of casting around, Jeff and Vicki discovered a picturesque 180ha hillside property in Ferguson Valley, two hours’ drive south of Perth, on the way to Margaret River.

A friend of Jeff’s father had carted cattle in and out of the valley and reckoned there was potential for grape growing. After further research, Jeff and Vicki dived in, snapping up the property.

The following year, in 1997, they planted about 40ha of wine grapes and, as Jeff says, “held their breath”. Another 20ha were planted the following year, making Willow Bridge the biggest planting in what was then a largely unknown wine region of Geographe.

“It was a huge gamble,’’ Jeff says. “We came into the industry without knowing a lot and we were coming into an unknown region, but we were confident in ourselves and confident we would find the right people to help us.”

Winemaker Kim Horton, who has more than 25 years’ experience making wine in WA, is one of those people. He says the vineyard, which sits about 280m above sea level, is unique in the region.

“It benefits from cooling afternoon ocean breezes during summer and is generally about two degrees or more cooler than the coastal plain,’’ he says. “This means we have ripening times similar to the cool southern parts of Margaret River.’’

Jeff and Vicki’s big bet is paying off: Kim and his assistant winemaker Dougal Herd have won the trophy for excellence in winemaking at the Geographe Wine Show, while the Willow Bridge Coat of Arms Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2021 scored the trophy at the 2023 James Halliday Cabernet Challenge.

It is well worth taking the plunge yourself by checking out Willow Bridge wines.


Willow Bridge G1-10 Geographe Chardonnay 2022

Supremely balanced, striking a perfect note between fruit, acid and oak. Aromas of white peach, lemon curd, rhubarb, custard and almonds lead to a beautifully weighted palate, with clean seashell minerality and cinnamon and nutmeg oak-driven notes. Textural, classy and complex. 93 points and red star for exceptional value from Halliday Wine Companion’s Mike Bennie. 13.5 per cent alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $31.99 a bottle in any dozen; $27.99 in chardonnay dozen.


Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Margaret River Chardonnay 2018

Sweet toasty vanilla oak leaps from the glass, with aromas of stone fruit, cashews, sweet oatmeal, vanilla, beeswax candle and butter. Stone fruit and grapefruit flavours, and a creamy mouthfeel and a chalky texture. Halliday’s Erin Larkin awarded 95 points and said: “Perfectly Margaret River, in a perfect year.” 13 per cent alc; RRP $40 a bottle.

SPECIALS $36 a bottle in any dozen; $27.99 in chardonnay dozen.


Mountadam High Eden Estate Chardonnay 2019

Bright citrus, white peach, nectarine, vanilla coconut characters slide seamlessly together in a triumph of fruit purity, minerality and oak integration. Fermented in 60 per cent new French oak and seasoned barriques, with partial malolactic fermentation bringing a creaminess to the palate that stretches out to a long refreshing finish. Complex and charismatic. 14.3 per cent alc; RRP $40 a bottle.

SPECIALS $24.99 a bottle in any dozen; $27.99 in chardonnay dozen.


Corryton Burge Kin Patroness Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2021

From the son and daughter of Grant Burge comes this easygoing chardonnay, enticing with aromas of nectarine, white peach, honey and cashews. Honey and creamy Greek yoghurt on the palate give way to citrus pith, lemon curd and nougat. A mineral acid line maintains the freshness to a linger finish. Very pleasing. 12.5 per cent alc; RRP $45 a bottle.

SPECIALS $39.99 a bottle in any dozen; $27.99 in chardonnay dozen.

CHARDONNAY DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $27.99 a bottle. SAVE $144 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.