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John Vickery retires

John Vickery, considered to be Australia’s ‘father of Riesling’ and one of the country’s greatest winemakers, has retired.

Vickery, who is 76, finished duties on 10 July after a 54-year career at Leo Buring’s Chateau Leonay – now Richmond Grove – in the Barossa Valley and also at Rouge Homme at Coonawarra.

He had been a part-time, salaried consultant at Richmond Grove after relinquishing full-time duties in 1999.

Renowned for his attention to detail, he produced globally-lauded Rieslings, beginning in the 1960s. Hallmarks of his approach were cool fermentation and inert gas handling.

He also produced Rinegolde sparkling, one of the wines credited in the 1960s with switching Australian drinkers from beer and fortified wines to still table wines.

While manager at Rouge Homme he changed the style of Coonawarra reds to the ripe, berry style wines produced today.

The 1980 St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon won the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Melbourne Wine Show.

Vickery, who graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1955, was also a leader of Australia’s first attempt in the 1970s to introduce screw caps.

Stephen Couche, managing director of Orlando Wines, said that history would show Vickery to be ‘one of the greats’.

Jeffrey Grosset, once a junior winemaker to Vickery and now a world-renowned Riesling producer, said, ‘He’s in the same league as Max Schubert and other great winemakers, most of whom are known for their reds.’

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Written by Chris Snow

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