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From "beer-drinking surfie" to wine expert

Published on Nov 13, 2012 1:25 PM
Denis Horgan, founder of Maragaret River's top wineries, Leuwinn Estate. -- ST PHOTO : MARK CHEONG FOR THE STRAITS TIME

Chairman of Leeuwin Estate, one of the most well-known wineries in Australia's Margaret River region, Mr Denis Horgan, confesses that he knew nothing about wines when he first started out in 1973.

The 72-year-old tells Life! that he used to be a "beer-drinking surfie".

The retired chartered accountant, who was involved in mergers and acquisitions at the time, had bought the 670-hectare property - about the size of 825 football fields - in 1969. Back then, the sleepy Margaret River was known mostly as a great surfing destination, and grape-growing had only just begun.

Things started to take shape for Leeuwin Estate when the late Robert Mondavi - the influential American winery owner who almost single-handedly put Napa Valley wines on the world map - took interest in purchasing the property in 1972.

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