Order of Australia award for pioneer

Therese ColmanAugusta Margaret River Times
Margaret River winemaker David Hohnen was made a member of the Order of Australia on Monday.
Camera IconMargaret River winemaker David Hohnen was made a member of the Order of Australia on Monday. Credit: Augusta-Margaret River Times, Gordon Becker

Margaret River wine pioneer David Hohnen received the country’s highest honour on Monday when he was made a member of the Order of Australia.

Mr Hohnen was awarded for his service to the Australian wine industry and as a promoter of the Margaret River region.

Mr Hohnen told the Times he had mixed emotions when he received the formal letter last week.

“I didn’t tell the family because I wanted them to enjoy the surprise,” he said.

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“It was mixed emotions but I was cool waiting ... at this age you can always wait for things. Impatience is for young people.”

The founder of Cape Mentelle winery, McHenry Hohnen estate and The Farm House butchery was humbled by the award and acknowledged his friends, family, and those who had worked with him.

“You’re reminded just how many people are involved in any single achievement, and behind an award are many people who have been part of it,” he said.

A third-generation farmer, Mr Hohnen studied viticulture in California in the 1960s and returned to the Margaret River region with his wife Sandy in the early 1970s where he established Cape Mentelle.

At the time, Margaret River was known for “dairy cows, forestry, some farming, but not wine,” he said.

In 1983, the winery won the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Award for the best one-year-old red wine, and cemented its position as a premium winery with a second win in 1984.

“Consecutive Jimmy Watsons did a hell of a lot for Margaret River,” he said.

“At that time, winning a Jimmy Watson trophy got national and even international acclaim,” he said.

“The consecutive trophies went a long way to add to the Margaret River recognition and reputation,” he said.

His advice for young people in the wine industry was to remember “success is hard work”.

“Be prepared to work, and when you see opportunities, take them.”

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