BEST WINE: Some of the best wines Robert Drinan has tried comes straight from his old backyard in the Hunter Valley.
BEST WINE: Some of the best wines Robert Drinan has tried comes straight from his old backyard in the Hunter Valley. Nicole Zurcas

Warwick connoisseur brought wine to beer-drinking town

THE best bottle of wine is one shared with friends said Warwick's wine connoisseur Robert Drinan.

Developing a taste for the drink in the 60s, Mr Drinan said a bottle was only brought out during social occasions.

"There was only a small group of us who would drink wine, the town was very much beer soaked," he said.

"So we'd only bring out the bottle during dinner parties and special events."

Little did the cattle farmer know, he would play a part in putting fine wine at the forefront of people's minds.

Raised in the Hunter Valley, Mr Drinan helped establish Hunter Valley Wine Show.

Decades later, the show is highly recognised across the world.

A book that detailes the first 10 years of the show was recently launched for its 45th anniversary.

Mr Drinan, who moved to Warwick in 1984, said it was a pleasure to recap the stories.

"This book is a testament to how extraordinary the show has become over the years," he said.

The first show in 1973 only featured 70 entries, now it sees close to 1000 wine makers sending their best.

"It was really tough to get the local wineries involved for the first couple of years," Mr Drinan said.

"It was a big ask to put their reputations on the line."

As a chairman in the early years, Mr Drinan was the competitions wine steward, preparing the glasses for judging and cataloguing the results.

A big part of his time went to finding the right judges to come to the show.

"Speaking with the judges and understanding their taste palate was an amazing experience to be a part of each year," Mr Drinan said.

"Once we started bringing in international judges more wineries became involved in the show."

The shows presentation night and dinner parties were the highlight of the festivities with everyone bringing their finest bottle.

Slowing down on his sampling due to health reasons, Mr Drinan said nothing beats enjoying a good port in front of the fire in the winter time.

From Tendrils To Trophies depicts how Mr Drinan and a small group of local wine lovers changed the culture of drinking and wineries in Australia.

A copy of the book, written by John Flannery is available to borrow from the Warwick Library.



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