Medal awarded to Hans W.H. Irvine, owner of the Great Western Winery, Victoria, for brandy exhibited at the Bordeaux Exhibition, France, 1895.

Hans William Henry Irvine, born in Melbourne in 1856, was a successful vigneron and politician, and was known as the 'wine king of Australia'. His largest holding was the Great Western winery, which he owned from 1888-1918. In the early 1890s Irvine purchased two-thirds of the produce of local vignerons, much of which was distilled into his brandy. He also became known for his claret, hock, chablis, burgundy, hermitage, sparkling hock and sparking burgandy. He was an effective self-promoter, and in 1982 entertained the Victorian governor in lavish style. He also pioneered wine advertising. Irvine was particularly interested in the science of wine-making, and used the latest technologies in his cellars. These contributed to his success at a time when so many other Victorian wine-makers were struggling.

In 1892 he was commissioned by the Victorian minister of agriculture to write a report on the Australian wine trade. Two years later he suggested a conference of vignerons to discuss problems facing the industry, and supported the proposal for a college of viticulture and the introduction of phylloxera-resistant American root stocks. He encouraged industry self-regulation through an elected board, the establishment of regional wineries and cheaper finance for investors in the wine industry. He travelled to Europe several times to learn wine-making techniques and arrange sales.

"The Irvine Wine Collection was acquired by Museum Victoria in 1989. It represents the history of the Great Western Vineyard and the achievements of Hans William Henry Irvine, vigneron and politician, from 1888 until 1922. It comprises 130 items ranging from publications, marketing items, packaging materials, wine labels, award medals, ceramics, illuminated address, commemorative trowel, trophy plaques, wine makers tools, and silverware."

Physical Description

A bronze medal (61 mm diameter) awarded at the 13th Exhibition of the Society Philomathique at Bordeaux in 1895 won by Hans Irvine for Brandy. It features a bust of Bordeaux (given her Latin name Burdigala) wearing a wreath of grape vine and bearing a ship, powered by both steam and sail, on her head, and a scene of the exhibition behind a naked woman entering names in a record book.

Obverse Description

Female seated r. entering names in book; behind, view of buildings; below on plaque, AWARDED FOR / BRANDY; around, XIIIe EXPOSITION DE BORDEAVX 1895 SOCIETE PHILOMATHIQVE at left the artist's name, A. Rivet

Reverse Description

Bust of Bordeaux (given her Latin name Burdigala) wearing a wreath of grape vine and bearing a ship, powered by both steam and sail, on her head, at right, coat of arms above artist's name A Rivet; on left, BVRDIGALA

Edge Description


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