When a Hobart dentist planted his first few rows of grapes at Cranbrook in 1979, neighbours and passers-by shrugged their shoulders in disbelief.
With aspirations for his property Craigie Knowe, which means craggy knoll in Gaelic, being "Cabernet country", John Austwick pioneered wine on Tasmania's East Coast.
Ultimately, Mr Austwick realised it was Pinot Noir that would lure wine enthusiasts to the region in large numbers.
A lot of top-notch wine has been produced in this picturesque part of the world since Mr Austwick's first vintage yielded 12 bottles of Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon in 1983.
The current custodian of Craigie Knowe, Glen Travers, claims Mr Austwick's lasting impact on the Tasmanian wine industry continues after his passing at the May Shaw nursing home in Swansea on July 24.
Mr Travers said Mr Austwick's legacy was very significant.
"People call him a pioneer, which he was, but he was a quiet pioneer," he said.
"He didn't make a lot of noise. He would just quietly go along his way, making his Bordeaux-style Cabernet, which had a cult following.
"When we bought the vineyard, we still had people coming in for his Cabernet."
Mr Travers said Mr Austwick is remembered for his generosity and cooperative nature, helping many other East Coast properties set up vineyards.
"His neighbour, Jeff Bull, thought John was ridiculous when he put vines in, in 1979," he said.
"He told him to run sheep on the land instead.
"But not 12 months later, Jeff had seen John's success and planted his own grapes. The two often shared cuttings.
"He was instrumental in getting many vineyards working on the East Coast."
Mr Travers said Mr Austwick picked his crop by hand and taught himself to make wine.
"He bought the property in 1976 and began planting in 1979," he said.
"He would often make the trip up from Hobart with his wife and three daughters most weekends.
"But he was also an oral surgeon for the Royal Hobart Hospital.
"Often the family would get to Craigie Knowes to a phone ringing because there were no mobiles back then, and he was required back in Hobart because there'd been a car accident or the like, and he was needed to do oral surgery.
"His wife didn't drive, so she was stuck there."
Mr Travers remembers asking Mr Austwick why he had only planted 0.2 hectares of Riesling.
"He said to me, 'I don't make barbecue wine'," he said.
"That was the sort of guy he was, very straight up and down.
"Since his passing, we've heard many stories from past workers who were very loyal to him.
"He was a really good boss and a gentleman."
To celebrate John Austwick's life and contribution to the Tasmanian wine industry, Craigie Knowe will host an event on August 11 from 4pm to 6pm.
For more details, visit Craigie Knowes' Facebook page.
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