A New Yorker at the Edge of the World
A few weeks into my new life in Western Australia, I began to hear of a fellow New Yorker making wine in Margaret River, the state’s most famed wine region—and one of the world’s most isolated. Its vineyard lands, just inland from the Indian Ocean coast, sit 1,767 miles from the country’s next major grape-growing area (the Barossa Valley). This was the place that made Australia’s highest-end Cabernets and Chardonnays, wines that sold for hundreds of dollars and could age for decades. And, I was being told, a New Yorker had recently moved in and turned it on its head.
I found Will Berliner in a pint-sized vineyard at the edge of the Wilyabrup subregion, squatting in dusty, rust-colored dirt. In the towering eucalyptus trees, wild parrots screeched to state their claims to the branches. He was wearing a Yankees cap. Kangaroos snoozed in the opposite field.
“When I first arrived, I was met by a mixture of suspicion and bemusement,” Berliner told me in his staccato New York accent. “Sweeping the trophies at the Margaret River Wine Show was unexpected.”