Friday, November 10, 2017

Wayne Stehbens.

Bolwell Club members are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of fellow member Wayne Stehbens on Sunday.
Our love goes out to Wayne's treasured wife Michelle and the rest of the family.

Just as shocked are the entire Australian wine industry. Wayne, as you know, has been Katnook's celebrated winemaker since its first vintage in 1979. Lots of tributes have been published from various wine organisations including this one from Katnook themselves.


Wayne Stehbens
Wayne Stehbens
Wayne Stehbens made Katnook's first vintage and headed the winemaking team until his sudden death in November 2017, making him one of Australia’s longest serving winemakers. 
In 1979 Wayne produced his first vintage and in 1980, he crafted Katnook’s first commercial quantities of wine. Wayne was then fresh from winemaking studies at Charles Sturt University when he was appointed winemaker at Katnook. He was already familiar with the property having worked alongside his father, Katnook General Manager Ray Stehbens, during his school holidays.
Foreshadowing the success that was to come, these first wines won 49 awards in their first year.   In 1988 Wayne travelled to Graves, near Bordeaux in France, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc are the leading varieties.  Here, he completed vintage and gained insights into these wine styles.  Wayne was one of the first Australian winemakers to make Sauvignon Blanc in commercial quantities.
Over the course of his career Wayne received numerous awards and accolades. He won two Jimmy Watson Trophies (1987 and 1998) and a double trophy at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2003 for the flagship Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. Further trophies included the 2000 vintage of Odyssey in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2005 & Decanter Wine Awards 2005 and most recently a trophy for the 2008 Odyssey in the 2013 International Wine & Spirits Competition.   In the Langton’s Classification V, Odyssey receives a rating of ‘Outstanding’, Prodigy a classification of ‘Excellent’ and the Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon a rating of ‘Distinguished’.  
Wayne was a talented winemaker with a sophisticated understanding of the unique terroir of Coonawarra. He was passionate about the wines in his charge and about Coonawarra as an significant wine producing region, having served for two years as President of the Coonawarra Vigneron’s Association.
Wayne governed Katnook’s winemaking during the most dynamic growth period of the Australian wine industry.  Wayne cited the loves of his life as: his family; wine; fast cars (he owned two Bolwells which he built from scratch); water skiing and tennis. 
In 2013 Wayne celebrated 35 years of winemaking at Katnook and reflected on his career -  read here an interview with Wayne at the time. 
No words can truly describe the extraordinary impact Wayne had at Katnook Estate, Coonawarra - he will be sadly missed by so many.
This is B8/19 that Wayne bought from Chris Clearihan in 1979, the same year as his first vintage.

It is a sad time, too, for his close friend, Scott and I will miss his trips to the Barossa to supervise his bottlings as well.


Barry Currie said...

So shocked. We have called in on numerous occasions when in SA. He was a top bloke and he and his wife allways treated us really well.

John L said...

Just having a sauvignon blanc in memory of Wayne.