The outcome of a Chinese winemaking contest, two-years in the making, has brought huge honour to Kalleske Wines at Greenock and to the Australian wine industry.
On Saturday, manager Tony Kalleske picked up top honours at the Ningxia Winemakers’ Challenge in China at a grand ceremony in Beijing involving 48 winemakers from across 18 nations.
Mr Kalleske was the only Australian winery among five to take home gold with other recipients from the USA, the UK, Bulgaria and South Africa. There were also ten silver medals awarded.
Elated with his win, unfortunately the timing of the award meant missing his mother Lorraine’s 70th birthday celebrations and accepting an award for Kalleske’s Durif at the Marananga Wine Show – all on the same day.
Mr Kalleske explained how the contest began in 2015 where winemakers were chosen from 140 worldwide applicants by a panel which included renowned Master of Wine Andrew Callaird.
It involved winemakers being paired with Ningxia wineries and making wine in the premium wine region, referred to as ‘China’s Bordeaux’.
During the competition each candidate received a three-hectare parcel of grapes in a collective 18-year-old vineyard to make Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
Mr Kalleske’s successful application saw him hosted by Legacy Peak Winery.
The winemakers, including Mr Kalleske, then made regular visits to their vineyards over the past two years before their wine efforts were judged in August this year.
Mr Callaird and Ma Huiqin, a China agricultural university professor, were judges in determining the winning wines.
“My team at Legacy Peak Winery were a pleasure to work with and I thank them for their efforts, generosity and for making me feel so welcome,” he said.
“This contest has been brilliant to highlight China’s premier wine region as well as create an atmosphere of fellowship and cooperation between international winemakers which saw friendly rivalry as well as generous comradery.”
“Ningxia is a stunningly scenic region and the wines from here are world class,” Mr Kalleske added.
The region has 187 registered wineries with 40,000 hectares of wine grapes, which in comparison is a third of the area cultivated in Bordeaux and triple that of the Barossa.