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On Friday 17 October, Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA) announced the inaugural 2014 Victorian Legend of the Vine Award recipient as fourth generation winemaker Colin Campbell, from Campbells of Rutherglen.
Col received the award in front of an audience of wine industry peers at the WCA Melbourne Wine Awards Trophy Winners Lunch today.
The ‘WCA Legend of the Vine Award’ recognises a member of the wine industry who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the wine business and industry at large, as well as displaying a strong affinity for the objectives of WCA.
WCA Chair Angie Bradbury said WCA wanted to create an Award that acknowledges the passion, drive and leadership, particularly in communication, of a highly regarded individual in the Australian wine industry.
“WCA's maxim is 'Engage, Connect, Learn, Inspire'. This industry has plenty to be inspired about and that includes the number of individuals who lead by example and add their own skilled and distinctive voice to the Australian wine story – and our Victorian Legend of the Vine is an outstanding example of this,” Ms Bradbury said.
Announcing the award at the Melbourne lunch, Ms Bradbury described Col as being “a tireless leader, contributor and advocate for the Australian wine industry during his long and continuing career. I have had the absolute pleasure to get to know Col, Prue and the Campbell family over the last decade and if there is one thing that sums up Col Campbell it is his tenacity and commitment to a cause.
Col has an unwavering focus on getting the job done and an innate understanding that Campbells Wines is inextricably linked to the region of Rutherglen and the fortunes of the Australian Wine Sector as a whole.”
Col’s journey started after graduating from Roseworthy and returning to the family winery bringing with him new skills and ideas and in partnership with brother Malcolm, oversaw the rapid expansion of the fermentation cellars including the introduction of refrigeration to the winery and the Rutherglen region that pioneered a new age for white wines.
Colin’s lifelong passion has been to see Rutherglen Muscat recognised worldwide as the unique wine of Australia. He led the formation of the ‘Muscat of Rutherglen Network’ and still chairs this group today which also encompasses Rutherglen Topaque (formally Tokay). The classification system put in place by this tiny group has now been adopted Australia wide
Campbells also led the way with repackaging these wines into clear glass and with a pricing structure reflecting the quality according to the classification. It is most likely that this bold move has prevented these Australian treasures from becoming extinct.
Since then he has been instrumental in ensuring Australia’s place on the fortified world stage by leading the charge to secure funding for research, marketing and promotion of the Australian fortified wine industry.
Similarly, Col has championed Durif, forming the Durif of Rutherglen group and continuing to lead the quality and positioning of this distinct variety as a key differentiator for the Rutherglen region.
Campbells is a founding member of Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 wineries combining 1200 years of family and intergenerational winemaking; whose mission is to show to the world the “heart and soul” of the Australian Wine Industry.
Col is long-standing member of the Small Winemakers Committee and a board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia. With his characteristic strength and tenacity, Col has negotiated with governments on behalf of the entire wine industry, and in doing so also brought the perspective from the smaller ‘grass-roots’ winemaker. Colin and his brother Malcolm were also honoured in 1995 with the Victorian Wine Industry Association Distinguished Services Award for services to viticulture and the wine industry.
As a 2014 Legend of the Vine recipient, Colin Campbell received life-time membership to WCA,
joining a highly-respected list of names, which includes Patrick Iland, David Lowe, Phil Laffer, James Halliday, Chris Anstee and Lyndey Milan.