Tom Ward Gears Up For The Inaugural First Planted Auction

Next month the NSW Wine Industry Association hosts the inaugral First Planted Auction. A gala event, it celebrates rare and old wines from New South Wales alike, as well as a rich selection of more recent drops from the state. First Planted also offers guests to mingle with wine industry legends, leaders and rising stars.

foodService spoke to Tom Ward, the President of the Association, about what guests can expect from the First Planted Auction.

What was the motivation behind hosting the inaugural First Planted Auction?
NSW is the oldest and most diverse wine producing state in the country, and we wanted to create an opportunity to tell the story of NSW wine and give the industry something to rally behind. Winemakers from across NSW have been winning awards and producing outstanding vintages for decades. We want to showcase our great capabilities and successes as a wine producing state.
        This event also gives the public an opportunity to get their hands on rare wine and experiences that are otherwise impossible to buy. We want to change people’s perceptions of NSW wines and make them aware of the quality and diversity that we have to offer.

Why come along?
We have been planning the First Planted Auction for a little over a year. There are similar events that happen in different wine regions around the world, but this have never been done for NSW wine before. So it really is a unique event for Sydney.

Who is the First Planted Auction for?
The First Planted Auction is obviously for people who enjoy a good glass of wine but it isn’t just for hardcore wine collectors. There will certainly be wine on offer that will please them, but there will also be a range of amazing experiences from private winery tours of usually off limits areas to helicopter wine tours and hosted dinners where you blend your own wine.

First Planted is auctioning off some of the oldest and rarest wine from NSW, what do they include?
We have the last double magnum of 2014 Lake’s Folly Cabernet, the only six litre bottle produced of Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz from the outstanding 2014 vintage and a pack of 1984, 1994, 2004 and 2014 (unreleased) vintages of De Bortoli’s infamous Noble One from the Riverina on offer that will have the punters clambering to secure before the cheese course is served. Also on offer is a twelve bottle vertical selection of Canberra District’s iconic Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier that includes the yet to be released 2015 vintage.

Do you have particular favourite amongst the bottles being auctioned off?
As President of the Association I have to remain impartial. But I will say I will have a very hard time keeping my wallet closed on the day as I have my eye on a few auction lots that offer a remarkable opportunity to own a unique taste of NSW wine.

What can auction-goers expect on the day?
We have an amazing day planned for those in attendance. Guests will be treated to a three-course lunch prepared by the award winning kitchen team at the Sydney Cricket Ground and accompanied by medal-winning wines from across NSW including Brokenwood, McGuigan, Swinging Bridge, De Iuliis, Lowe Wines, Calabria, De Bortoli and Toppers Mountain with more to be announced. Jean Kittson will be the Master of Ceremonies for the lunch, and will be joined by the talented Plonk team who will interview key personalities in the room such as Bruce and Chris Tyrrell, Neil McGuigan, Mike De Iuliis and David Lowe. We have a few surprises up our sleeve for those attending on the day and we’re really excited to be hosting the event at such a prestigious venue as the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Comedian Jean Kittson, Master of Wine Andrew Caillard, and Plonk's Chris Taylor and Nathan Earl will all be involved on auction day. What have they been like to work with?
It has been an absolute blast. They are all lovers of good wine and we love the work they do as they remind us in the wine industry not to take ourselves too seriously. After all wine is all about sharing enjoyable moments connecting with family and friends and sometimes we all need a little humour in our lives.

What impact do you hope the auction will have on the NSW wine industry?
Ultimately want to showcase our wine and give people the opportunity to engage with their local wine industry. As there is an increased focus on eating and drinking local produce we want people to be aware of the quality and diversity of NSW wine and ask for a local wine the next time they are in their bottle shop or restaurant.

First Planted
Sydney Cricket Ground
Friday September 2
Tickets: $250 per person

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