Iain Riggs awarded AM in 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours

Iain Riggs (pictured) was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours. (Photo: Brokenwood Wines. Photographer: Chris Elfes)

Iain Riggs is one of the exceptional people of the Australian wine industry, whose many achievements and accolades have been crowned with an Order of Australia (AM) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

“After 47 vintages, including 36 with Brokenwood, Iain has had a wide and varied career in winemaking, judging, mentoring, educating, and as a thought pioneer in Australian wine.” – Brokenwood Wines

Riggs, the chief winemaker and managing director of Brokenwood Wines, was honoured in recognition of his significant service to oenology as a winemaker, to the development of the Australian wine industry, and to the promotion of the Hunter Valley region.

We don’t normally reproduce press releases in The Real Review, but in this case, it’s justified: it gives a comprehensive run-down of his achievements.

After 47 vintages, including 36 with Brokenwood, Iain has had a wide and varied career in winemaking, judging, mentoring, educating, and as a thought pioneer in Australian wine.

At a time of great development for the Brokenwood brand, with a highly anticipated new cellar door, tasting and dining complex due to open in December, it is full steam ahead for Iain and his team, with recognition like this as a surprising cherry on top.

“I’m incredibly honoured to receive such a recognition, although it feels somewhat odd for doing a job that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to each day. Mentoring and giving back to the industry gives me great enjoyment, I’m just glad to be part of it,” says Iain.

Born in Burra, South Australia, Iain took an early interest in winemaking. He studied at Roseworthy College between 1972 and 1975, followed by stints at Bleasdale in Langhorne Creek and Hazelmere in McLaren Vale. It was here that his interest was sparked in varietal blending, and he became a pioneer of the now-famous combination of sauvignon blanc and semillon. At Hazelmere, the ambitious winemaker focused on white wines, and was crowned McLaren Vale Bushing King in 1982 with his multi trophy-winning chardonnay.

Iain’s strong interest in ‘improving the breed’ of Australian wine has seen him in many judging and chairmanship roles. Some of his past highlights include chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine Show, having taken over from Len Evans in 2002. Iain was honoured with the naming of the Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance Trophy. In 1990, starting as an associate Judge with the Sydney Royal Wine Show, Iain quickly worked his way up to chairman of judges, a role that he held for six years. The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW awarded Iain with its 2014 Contributors Award for Services to the RAS.

Iain was an inaugural board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia, serving from 1989 to 1995, its vice president and president of the Australian Winemakers Forum as well as chair of the technical sub-committee for many years. Iain continued as deputy chair, domestic wine promotion, at Wine Australia until the early 2000s. The Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Awards was an initiative of Wine Hunter Marketing, which was chaired by Iain until WHM merged with Hunter Valley Vineyard Association. Iain continued as chair of the awards until he stepped down in 2016. Iain is also immediate past chairman of the Wine Show of Western Australia.

In 2003, Iain was awarded the Graham Gregory Award for outstanding service to the NSW wine industry, and the 2013 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year Awards honoured Iain with the Len Evans Award for leadership. In late 2016, the Australian Women in Wine Awards recognised Iain and Brokenwood Wines as the Workplace Champion of Change for a long history of promoting women within the workplace.

Today, Iain is Chairman of Trustees of the Len Evans Foundation that conducts the prestigious week-long Len Evans Tutorial, and current Chairman of the Shanghai International Wine Challenge.

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