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Trevor Drayton: obituary

Trevor Drayton, who died yesterday, would often say, ‘I can’t understand what all the fuss is about’ when discussing wine industry issues at the many committee meetings he attended.

He would be saying the same thing now about the masses of tributes being issued following his death, Phil Ryan, his close friend and fellow winemaker said.

‘He was an incredible behind the scenes worker,’ said Ryan, chief winemaker and manager at McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Estate.

He had been involved in almost every industry development in the Hunter Valley during the past 30 years.

But, said Ryan, Drayton never sought praise for his achievements

‘He always passed on the accolades to others. He was a humble, modest man.’

Drayton was one of many descendants of Joseph Drayton who emigrated from Lincolnshire to Sydney in 1852, settling at Pokolbin the following year.

Joseph Drayton, who married twice, had 13 children and descendants have carried on the wine business ever since.

The family company, W Drayton & Sons, was formed in 1947, to run ‘Bellevue Wines’ and bought in 1989 by Max Drayton and his sons, John, who is manager, Trevor, and viticulturalist, Greg. It was renamed Drayton’s Family Wines.

Trevor, educated at Cessnock High School, studied oenology at the renowned Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia, being dux in his final year in 1978.

He returned to the family wine company but is said to have had a ‘testing’ time with winemaking being under the direction of other family members.

The 1989 acquisition enabled him to demonstrate his winemaking skills. Red wine was his forte: the AUS$70 a bottle Joseph shiraz was a flagship wine.

Always passionate about the Hunter Valley wine region – and the need to preserve its heritage – he was president of the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association for four years and treasurer for ten years.

He was a member of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia’s small winemakers’ membership committee for five years, serving as a permanent alternate delegate on WFA’s board.

Drayton was also the Hunter Valley’s representative on the NSW Wine Industry Association for many years and a member of the New South Wales Wine Industry Consultative Committee, a government advisory body.

Trevor, who never married, is survived by his parents, Max and Caroline, and brothers John, Greg and Peter.

His funeral is expected to be held at the end of next week.

Written by Chris Snow

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