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Len Evans dies

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Max Allen
Len Evans - one of Australian wine's most important figures - died of a heart attack last week (17 August), just a few days short of his 76th birthday, and hours before the annual Hunter Valley Wine Show dinner - at which, no doubt, he would have made a typically ebullient speech.

1930 - born in Felixstowe, England, to Welsh parents

1953 - emigrates to New Zealand as a professional golfer

1955 - moves to Australia, works in a variety of jobs (including dingo fence, comedy scriptwriter) before finding his calling as hotel beverage manager in Sydney

1959 - marries Patricia (ne Hayton)

1962 - writes Australia's first wine column

1965 - when he joins Australian Wine Board as promotions executive, per capita consumption of table wine is one bottle; when he quits the AWB two years later it's six bottles

1968 - founds Rothbury Estate winery in the Hunter Valley

1969 - opens Bulletin Place restaurant in Sydney; breeding ground for new wine talent, including the writer James Halliday and the founders of Brokenwood Wines

1973 - publishes first Complete Book of Australian Wine

1978 - appointed chairman of judges, Sydney Wine Show.

Evans Wine Company buys vineyards in Clare, the Hunter, Bordeaux and the Napa Valley. Becomes the chairman of Petaluma in the Adelaide Hills (until 1992)

1981 - Evans's business partner, Peter Fox, dies in a car crash, scuttling the pair's grand international plans

1982 - awarded OBE for services to wine and the community

1989 - appointed president of the Australian Wine Foundation

1996 - loses Rothbury to Mildara Blass (later Fosters) in takeover

1997 - named Decanter magazine Man of the Year

1998 - founds Tower Estate winery, again in his beloved Hunter Valley

1999 - awarded Order of Australia (AO)

2000 - establishes Len Evans Tutorial, an annual intensive training course for aspiring wine show judges

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