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Announcing Canberra’s New Official Winemaker

Ashleigh Went

“If Canberra was a wine, what would it be called?”

Local Liquor and Nick O’Leary Wines asked the question, and Bernie Yates answered.

‘Walt ‘n’ Marion’ was Bernie’s winning entry to the Official Canberra Day Wine competition.


Bernie looked to Marion and Walter Burley Griffin, the architects of our city, for inspiration.

“Being a wine to celebrate Canberra Day, I thought that a name that reminded us of the contribution that Walter and Marion Griffin made to this wonderful place we live in would be right,” says Bernie.

Originally hailing from Broken Hill but growing up in Sydney, Bernie’s voyage to Canberra was intended to be temporary.

“Like many others, I came here for a few years expecting to return home, but fell in love with the place. That ‘few’ has become 41 years with no prospect of leaving,” he says.

Like any other true love, Bernie’s fondness for Canberra is more than just skin deep.

“[I love] that it’s surrounded by and embedded in the landscape: the hills, the lakes, the garden city environment, great community facilities, the progressive nature of the city’s governance,” he says.

Not to mention Canberra’s fantastic selection of local wines, which Bernie says he increasingly drinks at home and at Canberra restaurants.

“The Canberra region’s reputation for making quality wines that offer great value for money has escalated remarkably over the past decade,” Bernie says.

“It’s great to have such a range of boutique and larger wineries on our doorstep that are so welcoming to people to come and experience their wines.”

One such winery is Nick O’Leary Wines, where Bernie recently enjoyed a food and wine tasting session.

“Nick O’Leary is one of the Canberra region’s young guns, with a reputation that’s been growing from strength to strength,” he says.

“We’re lucky to have his experienced hands and judgement in crafting wine.

“It was certainly special to be able to taste the different barrels and contribute suggestions for their blending in making the final wine.”

In addition to his food and wine tasting session, Bernie will see his winning name printed on over 6,000 bottles to be sold at all Local Liquor stores in the ACT and NSW. The label will be designed by advertising agency Coordinate in conjunction with Bernie. Not to mention, Bernie will take home a year’s supply – 52 bottles – of his own “Walt ‘n’ Marion” Shiraz.

Keep an eye out at your Local Liquor and snap up a bottle for yourself – or as the perfect Canberra Day gift for a deserving wine lover.


Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author

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