Humble by nature, late Rutherglen winemaker Colin Campbell's giant contribution to the industry and life-long goal to put his beloved Muscat grape on the world stage are beyond measure, writes JODIE BRUTON
One generation to start the dream, one generation to grow it, one generation to save it, one to expand it, and the next generation to build for the future.
It is the mantra of iconic Rutherglen family business Campbells Wines.
Like those before him, fourth-generation winemaker Colin Campbell (OAM) more than upheld his end of the deal.
He helped put Rutherglen on the map as a wine destination, saved Muscat from becoming a curio wine and championed Rutherglen durif in a career spanning almost 50 years.
Working side-by-side his brother Malcolm in a finely-tuned, vineyard to winery, dream team, Colin massively expanded production and introduced technology that would set up Campbells Wines for decades.
In a masterstroke, the Roseworthy graduate launched the widely-acclaimed Bobby Burns Shiraz in 1970 within two years of returning to Rutherglen.
The shiraz winegrapes come from 50-year-old vines on the Bobbie Burns vineyard, which was the site of Scottish migrant John Campbell's first plantings in 1870.
Now a household name, Bobbie Burns Shiraz has come to epitomise the best of the Australian varietal.
Colin's daughter Susie Campbell says it really put Rutherglen on the map for red wine.
"It's a national icon that is loved and cherished the world over," she says.
Colin's life-long passion, however, was to see Rutherglen Muscat recognised worldwide as the unique wine of Australia.
He founded the Muscat of Rutherglen Network, which devised a classification system during 1998 now used throughout Australia.
He led the way in repackaging Muscat and Topaque in clear glass.
Colin's ultimate accolade came in 2010 when Campbells Rare Rutherglen Muscat became the first wine in Australia's history to gain a perfect score from the world's most authoritative wine journal, Wine Spectator magazine.
Wine columnist Harvey Steiman described the Merchant Prince (named after the sailing ship that brought John Campbell from St Andrews to Australia): "Dark amber in colour, this is complex and wonderful with exquisite balance, richness, depth and length, finishing on a note of amazing finesse and delicacy."
The Merchant Prince is drawn from ancient soleras laid down by Campbells generations past, something that was always uppermost in Colin's mind.
At the time Colin said: "It is really my grandfather and father who take the credit for this wine, as they are the generations that made the base wine. It's due to their foresight that I am fortunate enough to have these incredibly old and special stocks of Muscat to work with today."
In 2016 Colin was awarded life membership of the Australian Wine Industry by the Winemakers Federation of Australia, College of Patrons.
His outstanding achievements in the Australian wine industry were celebrated alongside winemakers Wolf Blass and John Angove.
At the time a humbled Colin told The Border Mail that the award had struck a chord with him as he had generally rated himself as an underdog.
"Sitting alongside John and Wolf really brought it back to earth for me," he said.
Australian Grape and Wine chairman Sandy Clark says the industry has lost a great friend and a true champion in Colin.
"Col's passionate commitment, his inquiring mind, and his ability to engage with everyone, including parliamentarians in Canberra, a task he enjoyed immensely, were invaluable qualities that made him so special," he says.
"Col was a very talented, warm-hearted man and his contribution to the Australian wine industry has been immense."
Colin was a founding member of the Rotary Club of Rutherglen, president in 2000, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary's highest honour, in 2011.
He understood the importance of tourism, serving on the board of the North East Tourism and the North East Winemakers Committee. He was instrumental in getting Winemakers of Rutherglen off the ground.
Winemakers of Rutherglen executive officer Natalie Ajay, who counted Colin as a mentor and friend, says he treated everyone with warmth and respect.
"He was an incredible advocate for Rutherglen, the wine industry, and our region's world famous Muscat and Topaque; the work he has put in to supporting our industry cannot be measured," she says.
"Colin was a very active part of Rutherglen's community, playing a large role in the local Rotary club, and supporting local community groups, charities and events as often as he possibly could.
"Colin was a humble man who never took his knowledge or experience for granted, although he rarely needed an introduction wherever he went."
Campbells is a founding member of Australia's First Families of Wine, a group of 12 wineries combining 1200 years of family and inter-generational winemaking; whose mission is to show to the world the "heart and soul" of the Australian wine industry.
Together with his wife Prue and their daughters, Jane, Susie and Julie, Colin has done that in spades.
A doting dad and grandfather, Colin was proud that his daughters chose to stay in the family business.
In his heart he must have known that the next generation would, as the mantra goes, build it for the future.
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