As you peruse Vintage Stories, a 150 year history of Tahbilk, you see little text dedicated to the third generation John Stevens Purbrick. Surprising, as he was an influential character of Tahbilk winery.

Born in London, he returned to manage the farming operation at Tahbilk in 1955 before moving to Sydney in 1979 to run a very successful distribution of Tahbilk wines in NSW, setting the agenda for future marketing. You may know him more recently as our Chairman (recently retired) or the maker of the Purbrick and Crawford relishes, jams and recipes.

During his time involved with Tahbilk John was an important contributor of to a crucial moment of Tasmania’s wine history. This excerpt is from Tony Walker, wine club member at Tahbilk winery:

“In 1976, as part of the new Licensing Act, the Government included a provision that Tasmanian producers could blend in 50% of mainland wine, but still sell the wine as Tasmanian. The Bill got through the Lower House, but the local industry (tiny, at that time) rallied to stop it in the Legislative Council.

Claudio Alcorso arranged a wine tasting for Legislative Councillors and Bill Casimaty rang John, who had helped him establish his small trial vineyard at Strathayr, and asked him to come down. John flew down in his private aircraft and I have no doubt that his presence was important in persuading Legislative Councillors to reject the 50% content provision.

In retrospect it was a real turning point for the Tasmanian industry, and look at it now!”

Maintaining the integrity of the Tasmanian Wine Industry has put this region in great stead now in the 21st century. The pioneering work of John and local vignerons has ensured Tasmania is now home to over 200 vineyards.

It is now well-established as a notable cool climate wine producing area, integral to the state’s tourism.

Can you imagine all wines from Tasmania having 50% of their blended product from the mainland? We certainly can’t and happy to know the Purbrick family had some part to play in ensuring a viable industry into the future.


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