Len Evans (wine)
Leonard Paul Evans AO OBE (31 August 1930 – 17 August 2006) was an English-born Australian promoter, maker, judge, taster, teacher and drinker of wine. The Oxford Companion to Wine writes that he did "... more to advance the cause of wine in Australia than any other individual." Others have referred to him as "the godfather of the Australian wine industry" and "Australia's leading ambassador of wine."
Evans was born in Felixstowe, England, of Welsh parents and was educated at Framlingham College. He migrated to New Zealand in 1953, then to Australia in 1955. After various experiences, he became the first regular wine columnist in Australia (1962), he was the founding director of the Australian Wine Bureau (1965), and he wrote the first major encyclopedia of Australian wine (1973). He was one of the first leaders to recognise that the future of Australian wine lay in table wines rather than in the sweet fortified wines in which the country then specialized.
In 1967, Evans co-authored a book with expert gourmet Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmets. The two got their nickname from a 35-day worldwide trek to the finest restaurants around the globe. The Galloping Gourmet persona, however, became more associated with Kerr, who would later host a globally syndicated cooking show, The Galloping Gourmet.
Evans was chairman of Rothbury Wines since its founding in 1969 until 1996, and Petaluma from 1978 until 1992. He was chairman of Evans Wine Company since 1996, Evans Family Wines from 1980 and Tower Estate since its founding in 1998. Tower Estate is now owned by the Evans' family close friends the Cowley family. Matthew Cowley is a director and CEO and Ken Cowley, formerly chief executive at News Ltd, is the chairman.
Len Evans transformed the blind tasting of wine into a competition sport through his creating and developing the options game in which competitors attempt to identify wines.
Because of his achievements, he received many awards, including the Epicurean Award for services to the Wine and Food Industry, the Charles Heidsieck Award for Wine Writing, Personalité de l'Année, (1986) Paris (Oenology section – Gastronomy), Chevalier de l'Ordre Merite Agricole (French government), first life member of the Society Of Wine Educators (1995), and elected member of the College of Patrons of the Australian Wine Industry, Restaurant Association Hall of Fame, Decanter' Magazine – International Award for "Man of the Year".
Writing on wine
Len Evans felt that it was important that wine be demystified, and that an appreciation and basic understanding of it be available to everyone, not just to an educated elite. To this end, he wrote a column for wine in The Australian Women's Weekly for years, discussing various wines, usually very reasonably priced, in an open, relatively jargon-free manner.
On Friday 12 September 2014 the Len Evans Memorial Lookout was unveiled by his widow Trish. The lookout, commemorating the immense contribution Len made to the Australian wine industry, is located in the heart of his beloved Hunter Valley at Constable Estate.
- Oliver, Jeremy. Evans on Earth. Melbourne,: Lothian Books, 1992.
- Robinson, Jancis (Ed.) The Oxford Companion to Wine. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, second edition, 1999.
- Len Evans at WinePros archive
- Len Evans: Writer and promoter who put Australian wine on the map Obituary in The Independent, 21 August 2006