John Purbrick in Tahbilk vineyard

John Purbrick ~ reaching a 90 year milestone in 2020

It is not often two extraordinary milestones are reached in the same year. This year we raise our glasses to celebrate two birthdays; Tahbilk turning 160 and John Purbrick (3rd generation) turning 90! While we have many stories to share on reaching 160 years, reaching 90 years old for any individual is a magnificent feat.

Fathers of Tahbilk...

Have you ever sat and wondered about walking in the footsteps of the people who came before you? As humans, we often sit and contemplate past generations on days of memorial, yet rarely do we sit and ask ourselves how we got here.

As John turns 90, a milestone by any account, we’ve been thinking about the lessons learnt from him. His contribution to Tahbilk is in our minds admirable and has shaped where we are today. Not everyone has had the opportunity to work side-by-side with John, but it has been the little pieces of advice over the years which have stuck.

Looking back into history, John, like all of the Purbrick family, found his way behind the cellar door, despite having other career plans. After finishing up his schooling, he followed his interest in agriculture and went jackarooing in Dunkeld and Deniliquin. He decided to return home to manage the farm-side of the winery in 1955 at the age of 25.

For 24 years he dedicated his life to furthering the fortunes of Tahbilk side-by-side with his father, Eric. Until at the age of 49 when he decided it was time to move on. He handed the future of the operations management to his son Alister, who was then 24 years old. Nowadays, it might seem odd to hand the business to a person under the age of 30, it was a family tradition to start young; Eric at the age of 28 also took the challenge of running Tahbilk.

John at Tahbilk Cellar Door

So what was the plan?

When speaking to John about why he chose to leave the Estate in 1979 to further Tahbilk’s distribution in Sydney, with Alister in charge, he simply said (and we paraphrase)

‘Alister had far more experience than me in business, wine and winemaking at the equivalent age. I could see he would be the one to take the winery forward with his knowledge, not me. You can’t have too many cooks in a kitchen’.

We have pondered this statement many times. Those who know the story of John’s hand over to Alister have their version of events, but for us, It was Johns trust of his son Alister that powered this bold decision, leaving Tahbilk in good hands, and setting a milestone. 

We are so thankful for John’s contribution to Tahbilk and the lessons he has taught us all. Through his choices, Tahbilk continues as the spiritual home and sanctuary for the Purbrick family and the community. We are where we are because of John and all other family and community members who have been before.

And no doubt we are sure he will continue to impart more nuggets of gold past his 90 years!

Cheers to John


1 Comment

  1. Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

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