Cape Mentelle winemaker John Durham is leaving after 21 years in a bid to get ‘back to the coalface’ of winemaking.

The veteran winemaker is joining Margaret River’s boutique Moss Wood winery in mid-June.

‘I wanted to get back to the coal face and get my hands dirty and Moss Wood offered that chance,’ he told decanter.com.

With owner David Hohnen and vineyard manager Brenton Air, Durham was part of the team that put Cape Mentelle – now part of the French group LVMH – on the map.

He has latterly been responsible for the company’s range of premium wines and has been influential in developing their style, particularly the restrained Chardonnay and popular Semillon Sauvignon.

Moss Wood, one of only seven wineries classified as ‘exceptional’ in the influential Langton’s Australian Fine Wine Guide, is a boutique winery producing wines with a European-style restraint.

‘It’s a marvellous opportunity to become more closely involved in the production of great wine which I know Moss Wood is capable of achieving,’ says Durham.

Written by James Lawther