Grange and Me

“I’m the same age as Grange itself. That thought occurred to me as I was taking down my exhibition photographs at Jetty Food Store on the South Australian south coast. It was after the South Australian Living Artists Festival, called SALA, in 2011. One of the shots was of Max Schubert, from 1983. So I say to myself, I’ve just turned 60, like Grange and, apart from my dog, family and friends, my only other real passions are wine and photography. Why don’t I combine these passions and do a serious photo essay on Australia’s most famous wine? My side of 60, freelance commissioned work can get a bit scarce – I knew I would have plenty of time. And Grange is such a great story. It has always said a lot to me about the Australian wine business. I had never seen a really good photo essay on a single wine. Grange would make a significant exhibition, perhaps for SALA 2013. I’ve known Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago for years. I rang him that afternoon to discuss my thoughts. ‘Great idea, Milt, love to talk,’ Peter said, ‘but right now I’m in San Francisco. You’ll have to get in touch with Penfolds corporate affairs.’ It turned out Sandy Mayo, Penfolds global brand director, also liked the idea. Three months later we had the okay and I was off on an incredible journey. I like to say my job gives me the best seat in the house. This time I had the whole front row! I listened to the wisdom of Ray Beckwith, 100 years old. I tasted most of the vintages in the New York Grange vertical. I went backstage in Columbus, Ohio, with Maynard James Keenan, Grange collector, winemaker and lead singer for heavy metal band Tool. In the Barossa, I met the Penfolds growers, such as Frank Gallasch and Neil Neldner. I had to make out I was Greg Norman for a night at the Wine Spectator Grand Tasting in Los Angeles. Each of these was a great experience brought about by Grange. It’s been a pleasure working with my old friends John Nowland and Philip White. Penfolds have been fantastic too, starting with Peter and his team. Nothing would have been possible without them. This entire venture is, like Grange, a product of South Australia.

I hope you enjoy what first was meant to be an old-fashioned photo essay exhibition in my home state, but became a book about a great wine for the whole world to see.”

Milton Wordley