Michael Ng was born in 1978 in a farming village in the Guangdong Province of China. He moved to Sri Lanka in 1986 when his father was offered a role as head chef, developing a Chinese Restaurant chain in Colombo. Michael believes that’s where he first found his passion for food.
In 1991 Michael’s family moved to Melbourne and opened a little restaurant where Michael worked after school.
Michael completed a Bachelor of Information Systems (Hons), but never lost his passion for food. During his years at university, sharing wine with friends over assignments, he also began to develop a love of wine.
In 2003 Michael decided to pursue this passion, enrolling in a Bachelor of Viticultural Science and Winemaking at La Trobe University in Melbourne, receiving a viticultural cadetship the year after with Southcorp.
2004 was also the year that Michael made his first wine, a Shiraz made in his garage, and from that point on his focus became winemaking. After graduating he worked vintages in Turkey, New Zealand and Western Australia. After the 2008 vintage his love of wine led him to move to St-Emillion, France. He returned not long after, however, when he received a request to become assistant winemaker at one of the oldest cool climate vineyards in Western Australia.
Michael has since grown exponentially as a winemaker, and is now proud to hold the title of Senior Winemaker at the award winning Willoughby Park Winery.
The winery was established in 2000. Bob and Marilyn Fowler purchased the Estate and winery in 2010 and created Willoughby Park.
The Willoughby Park wines have received great accolades from across the wine industry, including a five star rating from James Halliday.
The winery processes around 150 tonne, with an almost even split between reds and whites.
Vintage traditionally begins late February, with Reisling the first fruit making its way into the winery.
The Kalgan IronRock range utilises the best of the premium fruit from the Estate-owned vineyards, around 20%, and showcases the benefits of hand-picked fruit, natural yeast, open fermenters and first class French oak.
The balance of the premium Great Southern fruit is treated with care in the winery, utilising premium yeast strains for optimising fruit characteristics, stainless steel tanks for clean, fresh ferments and French oak barriques and puncheons for added complexities. These wines, both the Kalgan River and Willoughby Park ranges, are put together to express both varietal and regional characteristics and styles, while expressing the finesse and quality of wines from the Great Southern wine region of Western Australia.
The Fowler family of Willoughby Park has stated their intention to be serious and dedicated wine producers with a long term commitment to the Great Southern wine region of Western Australia.
In April 2011 Kalgan River vineyard became part of Willoughby Park. This tiny vineyard is a Great Southern gem hidden where you would never find it – a long way from anywhere! It is an extraordinary piece of country at the eastern end of the Porongurup Range National Park and has already achieved a 5 star rating from James Halliday who has described it as a “mighty mouse of a vineyard”. Since 2007 this “mighty mouse” has notched up several trophies and numerous gold and silver awards at national wine shows. The wines speak volumes of the elusive concept “terroir”, it’s all about the rock. The Kalgan River wines are dry grown, single vineyard wines and Willoughby Park winery is proud to be the custodians of this iconic vineyard.
At Willoughby Park we also work with professional wine growers in sub regions across the Great Southern (as well as our own Cliff and Corey who tend Willoughby Park estate grown fruit.) Our winemaking team has identified the best soil types to grow the varieties for our flagship Willoughby Park range, Kalgan River IronRock and Kalgan River. Age of vine is also important and whether from the Porongurups, Mount Barker or Frankland River many of the vines are old by Western Australian standards being planted over 30 years ago.
Willoughby Park own two vineyards, being Kalgan River & the small vineyard here at the winery known as the Brewery Vineyard.
Brewery Vineyard is about 2 Hectares (Ha), which was grafted over to Pinot Noir two years ago. Two clones, 115 & 777. First crop this year about 3.5 tonne. Kalgan River Vineyard was planted 2000-2002 and there is currently about 19 Ha under vine.
Approximate break up:
7 Ha Shiraz
4 Ha Cabernet Sauvignon
3 Ha Riesling
4 Ha Chardonnay. Two clones, Mendoza & 96.
0.5 Ha Pinot Noir. Two clones, 115 & 777. New plantings. First crop will be 2015.
0.5 Ha Nebbiolo. New plantings. First crop 2016.
Generally between 110-130 tonne is harvested from Kalgan River Vineyard each year, although in 2014, it was 140 tonne.
The Sauvignon Blanc comes from a vineyard in the Porogurups, the rest mostly from Mt Barker, with small parcels from Nannup and Boyup Brook.