The awards were presented at a big dinner at the South Yarra Capitol Grand.
Peter thanked Barbara Banke and the Jackson Family, Californian owners of Yangarra, for their support and long-term vision, and then singled out his close staff for their dedication.
He also thanked the late Big Bob McLean for giving him his first winemaking break at St Hallett in 1995, which is when I first met him, fresh out of wine school. "He's one to watch," Bobby sagely advised. Indeed he was. Is. I reckon we ain't seen nuthin' yet.
It's not his babay, it's Shelley's babay rippin' into him ... That's Yangarra vineyard and farm manager, Michael Lane, below ... then winemaker Shelley Torressan hard at it ... and further on cellar sales and tasting manager Genevieve Molloy, McLaren Vale Cellar Door Person of the year these last two years running. When she's not wrangling tortoises.
Peter dedicated his award to our friend Jeremy Pringle, the Wine Will Eat Itself blogger who died unexpectedly last year. Jeremy was a great supporter of Yangarra, and was one of the first wine critics to 'get it' ... that's him below with Pete in The Victory. He loved to visit.
"Pete is a great local success story and a brilliant industry leader. His dedication to the highest quality soil preparation, grape growing and wine-making have seen him garner international respect.
"His long - term persistence with following a bio-dynamic path has made others in the Australian wine industry look at what Pete is doing. He has always been keen to work with others and collaborate where possible.
“Yangarra is owned by the US based Jackson Family and I have heard first-hand just how much they appreciate and respect Pete’s work. They see him as a key asset in their international operation,” Mr Bignell said.
“Yangarra has consistently won awards in every part of its business, from best cellar - door in the McLaren Vale region to international critical acclaim for their wines.
“Congratulations to Pete Fraser and the entire Yangarra team on this wonderful accolade and acknowledgment of your hard work and dedication.
“It speaks precisely to our government’s economic priority of producing premium food and wine from our clean environment and exporting it to the world”.
"I am very humbled that from this country's array of formidable winemakers I have been chosen to receive this award.
"I am sure there are many equally deserving.
"Yangarra Estate Vineyard is my home, my passion and my dream ... it's pretty easy to make good wine from a place so special.
"Yangarra is owned by the Jackson Family. I first met the late Jess Jackson and Barbara Banke in 2001 ... they backed me … and since Jess's passing Barbara continues to allow me to pursue my long-term wine making dreams without compromise. Thank you Barbara.
"This award singles me out … but it is such a team effort for the wines that we create.
"I want to especially thank Michael Lane, our vineyard manager who's here tonight. Michael has an amazing understanding of our special piece of land ... we’ve worked together for 17 years on the Estate - it's been a long journey.
"And I've worked with Shelley Torresan for ten years ... Shelley's here ... She dots all the I’s and crosses the T’s in the winery.
"They both bring all my wild ideas together!
"Most recently Charlie Seppelt has brought his unyielding passion to our team.
"There' a whole group of silent achievers in the vineyard and the winery, in cellar door and sales who are all so passionate about our common goal!
"I would also like to thank a very special mentor, my friend and neighbour, Philip White who is a constant library of knowledge and sounding board for my ideas.
"And I owe great thanks to Stuart Blackwell and Bob McLean -- may he rest in peace -- for giving me my break at St Hallett back in '95.
"Lastly thank you to Qantas Epicure, Capitol Grand South Yarra, thank you to the Hardie Grant team that put this amazing event together, and to James Halliday for your dedication to tasting and discovering new and emerging wineries and winemakers.
"We will wear this award with pride ... thankyou all!
"This one's for you, Jeremy!"