Like many other life-altering decisions, Dorothy Barlow’s return to Australia was a long time in foment but perfectly swift in execution.

Like many life-altering decisions, Dorothy Barlow’s return to Australia was a long time in foment but swift in execution.

Dorothy Barlow was living the dream in Italy, working for fashion designer and style guru Rossana Orlandi, travelling all over Europe and enjoying the intellectually and socially stimulating milieu.

She says she wasn’t looking for change, or love for that matter, when she was lured back to Australia by Nigel Gallop, the IT consultant turned vigneron and driving force behind the prestigious Margaret River label, Fraser Gallop Estate. These days she’s exchanged her shoebox apartment in Milan for a sprawling château in the middle of the vines and her workaday concerns are more likely to be about the impact of the weather on the harvest than the latest trends for the winter and summer collections.

Fraser Gallop Estate was established in 1999 when 55 acres of a 165-acre property at Wilyabrup were planted to vines, primarily the grapes of the Bordeaux region of France — Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Unlike Bordeaux, however, the Margaret River region is not restricted in the use of varietals permitted in the wines, so the team is also committed to making world-class Chardonnay.

All the vines are unirrigated, cane-pruned and the fruit is hand-picked. Meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard allows the team to create high-quality wines that express the terroir of the vineyard and the region. Tanzanian-born winemaker Clive Otto has been with the label since its inception and supervised the construction of the state-of-the-art winery, which was completed in time for the 2008 vintage and has the capacity to process 300 tonnes of grapes.

The rewards for all this commitment to quality have come in a string of awards, which include Decanter magazine’s world wine awards international trophy for the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon for the 2007 vintage and nine gold medals for subsequent years; being awarded 97 points and a trophy at the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge for the 2011 Parterre Chardonnay, and the Critics’ Choice New World Chardonnay — Australia, for the 2013 Parterre Chardonnay at the Sommelier Wine Awards in the UK.

The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 20.1. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

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Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass & Nigel Gallop