Vale Dr John Gladstones AM

Dr John Gladstones AM, circa 2011.

Dr John Gladstones AM, an agronomist and influential figure in the wine and viticultural community, has passed away at age 92.

Credited for recognising the viticultural potential of the Margaret River region, Dr Gladstones published research papers in 1965 and 1966 which the Margaret River Wine Association described as “seminal to the foundation” of the wine region.

“Vale Dr John Gladstones, the brilliant scientific mind and longtime industry supporter, whose research led to the founding of the Margaret River Wine Region,” said the group.

“We are saddened to say farewell to this extraordinary gentleman, whose academic contribution and legacy within the Margaret River wine industry is unsurpassed.”

Working as a crop and pasture legume breeder in Western Australia, Dr Gladstones bred the world’s first crop varieties of narrow-leaf lupins, which are now bred all over the world.

He was made a member of the Order of Australia and was the second recipient of the Cullen Awards for Excellence in 2017.

Praising Gladstones’ book Wine, Terroir and Climate Change, James Halliday AM wrote: “Dr John Gladstones’s painstaking research is the foundation for his equally carefully constructed conclusions that robustly challenge mainstream opinions.”

Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines, who was a close family friend of Dr Gladstones and is a fellow member of the Western Australian wine community, remembers Dr Gladstones as a humble, thoughtful man who was “sharp as a tack”.

“His papers in 1965 and ’66 were really what drove the creation of the Margaret River wine industry,” said Cullen. “I see him as being the founder in that respect, because without those papers it wouldn’t have ever happened.

“He came to Mum and Dad in 1965, when they were about to plant lupins on our property and said, ‘you’d be crazy to plant lupins you should plant winegrapes, I’m just about publish this paper’,” Cullen recalled.

“It was a very enduring, lovely friendship, which continued on. John helped us with the sub regional map that we did in 1999 in Margaret River.

“It’s the end of a new era of someone that had that amount of knowledge,” said Cullen.

“He didn’t own a computer or a mobile phone, it was all in his head.”

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