Friday, January 8, 2010

German Winemakers in the World: Wolf Blass in Australia

Picture: Wolfgang Blass

Wolfgang Blass is a German wine maker, who became a household name in Australia during Australia’s wine boom in the last few decades. Indeed, he is one of the key figures behind Australia’s success story.

Wolfgang Blass was born in Germany and learned his trade there and in other parts of Europe, before he emigrated to Australia and settled in the Barossa Valley in 1961.

His first sojourn into the Australian wine culture was at Kaiser Stuhl as the Sparkling Wines manager, as well as acting as an advisor on technical procedures. In 1966 he registered the Bilyara name, an aboriginal name for ‘eagle hawk’, which represented the symbol of his homeland and which he still uses to this day. It was this year, too, that he produced his first 250 dozen wines. From 1969 to 1973 he worked as winemaker for Tolleys and while he was there, began to make a name for himself as a producer of fine reds. Finally, he began to produce wine under his own label.

Today, roughly 60million bottles bear Blass' name each year. Two things have reportedly made him: (i) Blass’ ability to fashion good, commercially appealing wines, and to market them; and (ii) using his success in wine shows, Blass’ ability to change the Australian wine scene, by pushing softer, oakier, fruitier, easier-drinking reds that were ready to drink on release. He sold his company in 1996. When Blass set it up in 973, after a decade working for other people, with an overdraft of A$2,000. He sold it to Foster's for A$560million.

Picture: Brisbane

Wolf Blass wines have won over 3000 awards over the years. Until today, he remains one of the most famous (and generally liked) faces in the wine industry, with his trade mark bow tie.

Australian is now the fourth-largest wine exporter in the world, exporting over 400 million litres per year. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australian consuming over 400 million litres of wine per year. This was very different a few decades ago. Wolfgang Blass is one of the architects of the Australian wine boom.

Wolfgang Blass celebrated his 75th birthday in September 2009.

This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:

Swiss-German Donald Hess, US, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia

Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, US

Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France,

Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA

Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, USA

Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria

Robert Stemmler, USA

Eduard Werle, 1800s, France

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