Now and again in life, something comes along to remind you of something important. For me, being an Associate Judge at the 2013 Barossa Wine Show (I can’t say ‘judging’ because that esteemed role is at this point way beyond my ken) reminded me of two things; I’m not as good as I thought I was and there are some really great folks on the planet and a big chunk of them are located in Barossa.
But let’s go back to the beginning. I have a company based in Hong Kong that specialises in wine education. It is moderately successful and we were honoured to have been chosen to offer Barossa Wine School courses in Hong Kong. As part of the process, I had the privilege of going to Barossa on an immersion programme to learn as much as humanly possible in a few days. Not enough space in this piece to describe that trip so let’s just leave it with ‘Wow’!
Part of that trip involved a visit to the 2012 Barossa Wine Show where we were taken through the judging process by Ian Hongell to ensure that I realised that I’m not worthy, though done in a way to make me comfortable with that fact.
Skip forward a few days and it’s the Wine Show gala dinner and one of the auction prizes is a spot as an Associate Judge. Well, if you aint qualified to join ‘em, buy your way in! Even this occasion highlighted how kind folks are in Barossa as there was another bidder whose pockets were clearly far deeper than mine but realising I was from outside the area and that my needs were greater, he bowed out far earlier than his finances needed him to. Thanks mate!
Then a really slow year waiting for next year’s show to come around and finally I was back in the Barossa. I was made to feel very welcome with my first sense of being able to chill being that every day of judging, I never asked who was going to give me a lift to my hotel because every time every person with a car left the venue, they first asked ‘are you alright for getting back to your hotel?’. Please stop being so thoughtful, I bought my way in!
The actual judging itself was an educational experience beyond my capacity for words. Had I one percent of one of the panel chair’s, my dear friend Paul Henry’s, gift for words, I could convey ten percent of how good it; was but I don’t. The guys were great, the wines were great, I learned loads, I made many new friends and I have decided I don’t mind getting older because that brings me closer to the possibility of having enough cash to move to Barossa.
‘Come on mate, there must be a down side’ I hear you say as you write this off as some show sponsored puff piece. There is a down side. I had to keep my hand down during the bidding after this year’s show to allow someone else this priceless privilege. I don’t know that I will be able to keep my hand down forever though!