For most 15-year-olds, running away from school isn't what you would call a brilliant career move. But for Wolfgang Franz Otto Blass, founder of Australia's Wolf Blass Wines, it would prove to be the start of his legacy
After German-born Blass (pictured above) quit school, his parents gave him an ultimatum: either start a winemaking apprenticeship or get back to class. He chose the former option, working in his grandfather's vineyard and going on to become the youngest person ever to graduate with a Masters in Oenology (the science of wine) from Veitschoechheim-Wuerzberg. After studying Champagne-making techniques in France and the art of blending in England, he moved to Australia's Barossa Valley in 1961. A mere five years later, Wolf Blass Wines was born.
In 1973, Wolf made the first Wolf Blass Black Label. Black Label went on to win the 1974 Jimmy Watson Trophy, an accolade that is still considered Australia's most prestigious and sought-after wine award (Wolf Blass would go on to win the award three more times). Wolf was labelled the "golden boy" during this era as he developed a new, highly drinkable red wine style through selected oak maturation. The winery continued to go from strength to strength under chief winemaker John Glaetzer, who became one of the most awarded winemakers in Australia.
Since 1966, Wolf Blass has grown from a humble tin-shed operation to one of the world’s most successful wine brands, receiving more than 8000 medals and trophies at national and international wine shows. Most recently, Wolf Blass has been awarded the prestigious title of "International Red Winemaker of the Year" for the third time at the 2016 International Wine Challenge (IWC). The IWC is recognised as the world’s finest, most meticulously judged and most influential wine competition in the world.
For the winemakers at Wolf Blass (pictured above), winning awards is not enough. A near-perfect score means room for improvement, and that's why they continuously strive to produce wines of the highest quality, character and consistency.