One of the most well-known and respected figures in the region, Colin Campbell has been recognised for his long service to the winemaking industry.
The fourth generation winemaker at Campbells Wines has been awarded the medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours.
“I felt deeply humbled to be awarded this honour,” Mr Campbell told the Free Press.
Together with his brother Malcolm, the viticulturist, they continue a proud tradition of family winemaking specialising in wines reflecting the distinctive character of the Rutherglen region.
Malcolm was also bestowed with an OAM honour in 2001.
Mr Campbell was a tireless committee member and vice chairman of the Rutherglen Wine Festival Committee.
He said the Rutherglen Wine Festival, established as a result of the committee, put Rutherglen on the map and is widely credited with the birth of wine tourism.
From there Mr Campbell saw the importance of tourism and threw his energy into tourism for the North East of Victoria via the regional committee.
He was a long standing board member of North East Tourism.
Throughout the 1980s Mr Campbell was chairman of the North East Winemakers Committee.
This group was disbanded to allow focus on the individual wine regions.
In Rutherglen, the vital Winemakers of Rutherglen group was formed.
Mr Campbell’s lifelong passion has been to see Rutherglen Muscat recognised worldwide as the unique wine of Australia.
“By achieving this it will result in more people coming to the wine region,” he said.
“We really want to promote Rutherglen as the muscat centre of the world, which would be a really valuable drawcard.”
Mr Campbell led the formation of the ‘Muscat of Rutherglen Network’, a group of the Rutherglen Muscat producers, which in 1998 developed a classification system for these wines to ensure quality and reliability.
“It is most likely that this bold move has prevented these Australian treasures and unique wines of Rutherglen from becoming extinct,” he said.
Mr Campbell still chairs this group today which also encompasses Rutherglen Topaque (formally Tokay).
The classification system put in place by this tiny group has now been adopted in the Australian fortified wine code of practice.
Mr Campbell also led the revitalization of Rutherglen Durif.
He formed the ‘Durif of Rutherglen Network’ which is a small group of the durif producers in Rutherglen.
They have gained recognition for the uniqueness of the Durif variety to Rutherglen.
This move has aided the Rutherglen producers to lift the quality of its Durif to a premium status.
Mr Campbell was chairman of the Fortified Sustainability Project which involved the most comprehensive research ever to be undertaken on the Australian Fortified wine industry.
The project was responsible for developing new names for Sherry and Tokay as well as a relaunch strategy for Australian fortified wines.
Mr Campbell seized this as an opportunity to help revitalize this important sector of the Australian wine industry and at the same time demonstrate to the world the depth of commitment and history of the Australian wine industry.
For many years Mr Campbell has been a member of the Small Winemakers Committee and a board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia which is the peak body for the Australian wine industry.
He is working closely with winegrowers and government for the benefit of the wine industry.
“I have worked on behalf of the wine industry to reach a solution with the government for a fairer taxation regime,” Mr Campbell said.
Campbells is a founding member of Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 wineries combining 1200 years of family and intergenerational winemaking; whose mission is to show to the world the “heart and soul” of the Australian Wine Industry.
Mr Campbell is a founding member of the Rotary Club of Rutherglen, President in 2000 and in 2011 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary’s highest honour.
Among some other accolades include Mr Campbell and Malcom being honoured in 1995 with the Victorian Wine Industry Association Distinguished Services Award for services to viticulture and the wine industry.
In 2014, Mr Campbell was named the inaugural ‘Victorian Legend of the Vine’ by the Wine Communicators of Australia for his outstanding and lasting contribution to the wine industry and the industry at large.
Then in 2016 he was awarded life membership of the Australian Wine Industry by the Winemakers Federation of Australia, College of Patrons, which is the highest award in the wine industry.
This coveted Life Member Award recognises outstanding leadership and contribution to the nation’s wine industry over and above an individual’s career achievements.
Mr Campbell and his wife Prue have been a great team over the years and now, much to their delight, their three adult daughters Jane, Susie and Jules are all contributing their skills at Campbells.