The man whom many refer to as the godfather of the Australian wine industry died August 17, 2006 in Sydney of an apparent heart attack. Although Evans wasn’t old enough to fit that description literally (he was 75 years old, while the industry dates back to the 1800s), he was Australia’s foremost ambassador of wine, a man whose involvement in the trade went back to 1960, when he became assistant beverage manager of the Sydney Chevron Hilton Hotel.
Of Welsh descent, Evans came to Australia in 1955, becoming that country’s first regular wine columnist in 1962, and founding the Australian Wine Bureau in 1965. He was one of the first commentators to recognize that Australia’s future lay in dry table wines, not the fortified wines so prevalent in that era. In 1968, Evans founded The Rothbury Estate in the Hunter Valley and served as its chairman until 1996. In recent years, he was chairman of Evans Wine Company, which produces the Bulletin Place and Nine Stones brands.
His list of vinous accomplishments is long. Evans judged every major wine show in Australia and served as chairman for many of them; he developed the Wine Options game of blind tasting now popular in Australia and New Zealand. But he is perhaps best known for his globe-trotting promotion of Australian wines and for living life to its fullest. He was known for demanding his hosts serve him their best wines, then reciprocating by sending his favorites to them. The man “who has done more to advance the cause of wine in Australia,” according to Jancis Robinson, will be sorely missed.