As noted in the last issue of Glimpses the Club was not left with its wheels spinning but went from 1-100 in a very short space of time. George Fairbrother was with his charismatic resolve a prime mover in this early success. It has been brought to my attention, thanks to resting Past President, Paul Kershaw, that George is mentioned in our book “Celebrating 50 Years” [published 2004]. In 1970,
“… he was accorded an extraordinary distinction.
The Club had dies made, and struck one single gold medal recognising George Fairbrother as Master of the Cellars Ex Honoris Causa. It is unlikely that any other man in any facet of life has received such a heart warming recognition of his services.” [p4]
I have it on good authority that a die is still in existence and resting with Paul Kershaw. Further to this the current issue of SA LIFE has on pages 92-94 an illuminating article on George’s career and achievements. Therein it is noted that there is a plaque in his honour on the Tanunda Rotunda placed to celebrate him by no less an august body than the Barons of The Barossa. I commend both the magazine and the article to you. [the article, with permission, is on our web-site]
In the SA LIFE article it notes George’s association with the canny Wolf Blass, the intrepid Maurice O’Shea and that maverick, Max Schubert. It was Max’s moxie that placed him at the epicentre in those days of innovative experimentation. George Fairbrother was an enthusiastic supporter of Max and urged him to continue with his Grange Hermitage even when in 1957 Penfolds instructed him to desist. In 1962 George awarded the 1955 Grange the Chairman’s Gold Medal in the Open Claret Class in The Sydney Show. George was always a believer.*
The Adelaide B&B Club it is reported in July 1957 was privileged to see an experimental Penfolds Dry Red, vintage 1954, which was being carefully nurtured by Jeff Penfold-Hyland and Max Schubert. Most saw it as volatile and adversely commented not understanding the gem it would become.
Maurice O’Shea, another of George’s acquaintances, since his demise was destined to shine incandescently over the Australian wine world. It was Maurice who emancipated winemaking from European shackles and his stewardship is omnipresent to this day.
Max Schubert, by the way, was one of the foundation members of the Norwood Beefsteak and Burgundy Club along with J Penfold-Hyland and Peter Tolley, so it reads on their Humble Petition. Another Humble Petition of interest submitted for stamping by the Adelaide B&B Club was that of May 29th 1957. It was from the Perth Club. In it they appoint officers of the branch as being Burgomaster, Sheriff, Minister of the Interior, Winemaster, Keeper of the Purse, Bard and Minstrel. For this they paid 2 guineas. The Cygnet B&B Club, also of Perth, was constituted at the same AGM, August 1957.
In the President’s Report of 1957 it reveals that there were nine new clubs formed bringing the total to seventeen, not including Adelaide. Names mentioned are Sydney, Norwood, Glenelg, Port Adelaide, Whyalla, Port Lincoln and the two Western Australian charters. Hobart was waiting in the wings. Adelaide’s membership suffered five resignations, but all were refilled. At the ten lunches of that year, all at the Imperial hotel, 220 members [73%] and 114 guests attended! There were two dinners to which the ladies were invited, Christmas at the Lido and one at the Highway Inn. A barbecue with cellar inspection was held at Messrs. G. Gramp & Sons, Rowlands Flat, to which all clubs were invited.
In 1957 a Convention was held in the board room of B. Seppelt & Sons Ltd. Thirty-two delegates attended on Wednesday night July 24th. Interestingly Nagambie and Whyalla had delegates present. One other future event in the pipeline was a wine tasting at the Adelaide Railway Station Dining Room. The Club Tie was also foreshadowed at 17 shillings and sixpence [$1.75]
So began the 1957 – 58 B&B year. It was in February of ’58 that a revered Life Member put his name on the Charter for the Melbourne B&B Club. The Life Member is no other than Keith Gramp.
And so through the decades the wine continues to flow and as present Secretary, Chris Thomson, says, “Keep up five veg and two fruits a day, or seven fruits…Cabernet, Shiraz, Riesling, Grenache… .”
* SA LIFE November 2016 Issue