The RASV first conducted the Royal Melbourne Wine Show in 1884 when Melbourne was in its boom years. There were only thirteen entries in the first year and since then the number of entries has grown steadily with some 3,500 entries received for the 2013 Awards from vineyards from all over Australia competing for Gold, Silver and Bronze awards.
Over the course of its history, the RASV has successfully leveraged the Royal Melbourne Wine Show to develop, support and promote excellence in Australian wines both domestically, and more recently to overseas markets – as reflected in the depth, breadth and quality of its entries.
Many vineyards have a long history of exhibition in the Royal Melbourne Wine Shows. Chateau Tahbilk and Bernard Gehrig of Barnawartha were wine exhibitors in the 1890s. The owners of the Yeringberg Winery, Yarra Valley also appear as an exhibitor in wine records of the 1890s.
The Royal Melbourne Wine Awards boasts the country’s best known individual wine award in the J.C. Watson Memorial Trophy for the best one or two year old red wine. The ‘Jimmy’ is named after the much loved Carlton wine merchant and wine bar owner.
Other awards reflect the contribution of legendary judges and figures in the wine industry throughout Australia.
The Francois de Castella Trophy for best young white wine commemorates the life and work of the Victorian Government Viticulturist Francois de Castella (1867-1953). Born into one of the great Swiss winemaking families of the Yarra Valley, de Castella was French trained and the leading vine expert of his day.
The Douglas Seabrook Single Vineyard Trophy honours three generations of Seabrooks who were wine merchants and chairmen of wine judges at the RASV. William John Seabrook (1847-1914) was the founder of the firm W.J. Seabrook & Son. His son Thomas Claudius Seabrook (1886-1987) and, in turn, his son Douglas Seabrook (died 1984) were all leading wine judges of their time.
Other leading judges of the Royal Melbourne Wine Show over the years include the legendary William Wright Senior – “he never made a mistake” – Rutherglen wine legend Bill Chambers, and Chris Pfeiffer, Yarra Valley winemakers Steve Webber and David Bicknell. The RMWA now welcomes Tom Carson into the role as the RMWA Chair of Judges.
Tastes in wine have changed over 137 years but the wine judges of the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards have upheld standards of wine quality all this time. The Royal Melbourne Wine Show is recognized both within the industry and by the general public as one of Australia's most prestigious wine shows. It brings together the very best Australian wine makers and producers and is renowned as a benchmark of excellence in wine production.