Australian winemaker Wolf Blass credits women for his success

Tue Sep 8, 2009 1:02am EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Winemaker Wolfgang Blass credits one of his life-long passions for his success in helping put Australia on the world wine map -- women.

Blass, who has released his biography to mark his 75th birthday this month, arrived in Australia from Germany in 1961 with 100 British pounds in his pocket and a knowledge of wine, having studied and worked in Europe's wine industry for 13 years.

After making sparkling wines for several years, he set up his own winery in South Australia's Barossa Valley in 1966, creating his own self-named label that has become one of Australia's best-known wines, selling 65 million bottles globally a year.

But Blass said when he arrived in Australia it was "like a hill-billy country," with the men drinking beer and the women at home, not drinking at all, and no real wine industry.

Australia is now the fourth largest wine exporter in the world, selling about 700 million liters of wine each year, with award-winning Blass credited for helping shape the nation's wine industry.

"It was my philosophy to get women to participate, and without this I don't think I would have made it because today women determine what will be on the table," said Blass.

"I admire that I was smart enough to realize that without the opposite sex, we were never going to get there. I just love women. I always have."

Blass traces the growth in Australia's wine industry back to the arrival in the 1960s of immigrants from Germany, Italy and Greece, who introduced table wines to Australia.   Continued...