PADTHAWAY Grape Growers Association celebrated 50 years of viticulture with a special event last week.
The annual Vignerons Vintage Dinner was held at Keppoch Hall on Thursday evening with more than 60 people attending.
Padthaway was recognised as a suitable wine region in 1944 by the CSIRO.
This was due to its rich soil, underground water supply and Mediterranean climate with coastal influences.
Vineyards were first established by Seppelt in 1964 before Lindemans, Hardys (1968) and Wynns quickly followed suit.
Some of the first wines produced featured Keppoch on the label so it was fitting for the milestone celebration to be held in the Keppoch Hall.
Kerry DeGaris welcomed guest Bill Hardy, a fifth generation winemaker, who spoke of the early days at Padthaway, reminiscing about shovelling grapes off the trailer by hand and into the crusher.
Mr Hardy was born in 1950 - the second oldest of four boys - and went to school in Adelaide where he completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science.
He studied winemaking at the University of Bordeaux in France and then returned to Australia once he graduated to start work at Tintara in McLaren Vale.
After three years there he moved to Western Australia and saw the emergence of that state's wine industry, including the famous "White Burgundy" and the discovery of Riesling.
In 1982 he returned to SA and started making wines from the Padthaway district as well as others from the Cyrilton Cellars.
He continued to do his until 1990 when he decided to move back to France and oversee the Hardy's "La Baume" venture.
This included being a grower liaison officer as well as harvest coordinator.
Four years later he was back in Australia at a time when the Hardy's empire went from being a family run business to a publicly listed company.
Nowadays his main role is to provide technical communications and activities involved with trade, media, clients and staff in both Australia and overseas.
Guests were fortunate to have the opportunity to try some museum wines that Mr Hardy brought with him on the night.
One was the Hardys 1987 Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon which has been the only wine from the Padthaway Wine Region to date to have won the famous Jimmy Watson Trophy.
A couple of bottles from the Sir Hardy Collection 1985 Padthaway Rhine Riesling Beerenauslese was also shared, which Mr Hardy mentioned was one of his personal favourites to come out of the local area.
Both of these wines were still drinking beautifully.
The Wood Duck Award was again on the agenda and provided much entertainment for the evening.
Nominations came from all directions throughout Padthaway but the prestigious trophy went to a new home this year with the proud recipient shocked by the auspicious award bestowed upon him.