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To qualify for this award, each winery has to have received a five-star rating for the first time, and have a history of lesser ratings. Arlewood Estate is Dark Horse of the Year, and accordingly heads the list; the remaining wineries are in alphabetical order.
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Arlewood Estate dates back to 1988 and is located in the south of Margaret River, not the centre. It went through several ownership changes and is now owned and run by Garry Gosatti, who spent 2008–12 living on what was a very run-down vineyard. It was a hands-on, near full-time (one day per week in Perth) job. Now the vineyard is as he wanted it to be; he lives in Perth but spends every weekend on the vineyard.
The Wilson family’s vineyard is by far the closest to the town of Cessnock, and was chosen by district veteran viticulturist Harry Tulloch for Seppelt Wines in the early 1970s. I passed by it virtually every weekend, and daily during vintage in the formative years of Brokenwood. Seppelt lost interest in it, and in 1999 the Wilson family purchased the upper (superior) half of 9ha. They have methodically built the portfolio, and the appointment of Mark Woods as winemaker has lifted the quality of the 2014 shirazs to unprecedented levels.
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