Wine Industry Newsletter

Vale Dr John Gladstones AO

Dr John Gladstones AO
Dr John Gladstones AO

With the passing of Dr John Gladstones AO, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) pays tribute to the former researcher and his significant contribution to advancing Western Australia’s primary industries.

John started his career at the University of Western Australia and moved to the former Department of Agriculture in 1971, where he worked for more than 20 years.

Prior to his foray into the wine sector, the acclaimed scientist was regarded as the premier plant breeder of his time for developing subterranean clover and serradella pastures, before domesticating narrow leaf lupins for lighter soils – now grown around the world.

After a trip to Bordeaux, France, where Dr Gladstones noticed the similarities in the growing and ripening season to the Margaret River district, he focused his attention on mapping the soil and climatic conditions – opening up the region to wine production.

In 1966 Dr Gladstones presented his analysis to a group of farmers and interested parties to garner interest in developing pilot grapevine plots to test suitability for wine production in the Margaret River region – the rest is history.

The department’s viticulture team built on his work, selecting, evaluating and distributing wine grape varieties and clonal material, which saw the expansion of the South West wine industry across the Great Southern, Margaret River, Geographe, Blackwood Valley, Manjimup and Pemberton regions.

Ever curious and dedicated, Dr Gladstones continued his research and publishing books on viticulture well into his retirement.

Dr Gladstones was bestowed many accolades, including the first inductee into the Royal Agricultural Society Hall of Fame, the Farrer Medal for plant breeding in 1975, the Cullen Award for Excellence in 2017 and an Order of Australia in 2022.

In recognition of his contribution to industry, the department has sponsored the JS Gladstones Trophy at the Wine Show of Western Australia to the wine displaying the Best and Most Distinctive Regional Character.

WA  Agriculture Minister Jackie Jarvis described John as an inspirational scientist who changed the face of farming in WA.

‘From lupins to pasture to fine wine, WA farming systems are better because of him,’ the Minister said.

DPIRD Deputy Director General Cec McConnell said Dr Gladstones left an enduring legacy, which saw the birth of new industries and opportunities for WA.

“While I did not know John Gladstones, those who did say he was not only a brilliant scientist, with a great eye for detail, he was also a great visionary who could see the bigger picture and integrate science and systems with opportunity,” she said.

“A humble and articulate gentleman, I’m told he was a natural leader with an unmatched worth ethic, a champion of shared knowledge and generous mentor. John’s work with the department spanning pastures, lupins and viticulture has laid the foundations for ongoing research and development to this day, which has been carried on by his many devoted colleagues and the viticulture industry.”

Vale Dr John Gladstones.