One of the region’s leading winemakers has hung up his hat after a storied 25-year career. Citing burnout and the eventual need to take on a new challenge, Juniper Estate’s chief winemaker Mark Messenger confirmed he had resigned his position and expressed gratitude for his long tenure with the signature Margaret River wine region vineyard. “A big decision to make after 25 vintages at Juniper, but I’m feeling a bit burnt out and in need of a good break to reassess and revitalise,” Messenger told the Times. His wife Vikki is an author and he hopes their interim adventures, which will likely include a stint of travel overseas, might spur her on to another book. The vigneron also flagged consulting work as a future lifeline. “I still have plenty to offer the wine industry and have collected a bit of knowledge in my 35 years of winemaking, of which 33 have been in Margaret River, plus some stints in New Zealand, California and India,” he said. Of the many highlights in his long career, Messenger cited the 2016 Margaret River Wine Show win for the inaugural Wine of Provenance trophy as among the best. “This trophy is awarded for exceptional and consistent quality, judged from three vintages of the same wine over a 10-year period,” he said. “The 2004, 2008 and 2014 Juniper Estate cabernet sauvignons showcased this for me. “I take pride in this trophy as it takes in consideration of consistency of quality and not just how good one wine looks on the day.” That said, Messenger’s wines also won numerous accolades during the years, here and abroad. That included nominations for his work as a winemaker in various forums including Gourmet Traveller and this year’s James Halliday awards. “However, my biggest highlight is leaving the vineyard, its soil and vine health in a better state than when I started, and working alongside some wonderful and dedicated people,” Messenger told the Times. “I drove across the country in 1990 for a four-month harvest position for Amberley Estate’s first vintage, then started at Cape Mentelle in May 1990 as assistant winemaker, staying there until November 1998 when I took the role at Juniper Estate as their first employee. “So I’ve literally had a hand in every wine made at Juniper to date.” Juniper Estate chief executive Tom Hill paid tribute to the winemakers’ stellar career and said a replacement would be sought once Messenger finished up in August. “We owe Mark an enormous debt of gratitude,” Mr Hill said. “Since my parents started Juniper in 1998, Mark has made every single one of our wines and his contribution to this endeavour has been vast.” The company also rated the 2016 Wine of Provenance trophy among Messenger’s signature contributions.