Iain Riggs (ILR)
Managing Director & Chief Winemaker
Iain Riggs, Managing Director, Chief Winemaker and part owner of Brokenwood Wines, has taken Brokenwood from a small 'hobby' winery to the national and international arena. Iain’s skills in white winemaking revolutionized Brokenwood, which, when he joined, only produced red wines. Brokenwood Wines is in its 35th vintage with Iain at the helm.
Born in Burra, South Australia, Iain’s first insight into the wine industry was through relatives who lived in the Riverland region. These were very much ‘brandy and dry’ times, but the allure of table wine drew the young Iain. The experience that set him on the path that was to become his life was a bottle of 1970 Leo Buring DW110 Riesling – he has been tied to the power of the vine ever since.
Iain studied at Roseworthy College between 1972 and 1975, graduating with Honors. At this time, the industry was undergoing a major change, namely the emergence of white wine. He first worked at Bleasedale and Hazelmere in McLaren Vale. At Hazelmere, he sparked his interest in varietal blending and was one of the pioneers of the now famous combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. At Hazelmere, Iain, as Chief Winemaker, focused on white wines, and was crowned McLaren Vale Bushing King in 1982 with his multi trophy winning Chardonnay.
Iain is past Chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine Show, having taken over from Len Evans in 2002 and has been honored with the naming of the Iain Riggs Wine of Provence Trophy. Iain has also stepped down as Chairman of Judges at the Sydney Royal Wine Show after six years in the role having started as an Associate Judge in 1990. The Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales awarded Iain their 2014 Contributors Award for Services to the RAS.
The Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Awards was an initiative of Wine Hunter Marketing chaired by Iain until WHM merged with Hunter Valley Vineyard Association. Iain continued as Chair of the awards until he stepped down in 2016.
Iain’s strong interest in ‘improving the breed’ of Australian wine sees him as Chairman of Trustees of the Len Evans Foundation that conducts the week long Len Evans Tutorial. On the wine industry political side, Iain was an inaugural Board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia serving from 1989 to 1995, its Vice President and President of the Australian Winemakers Forum as well as Chair of the Technical Sub-committee for many years. Iain continued on as Deputy Chair of the Domestic Wine Promotion of Wine Australia until the early 2000s.
Iain is currently Chairman of the Shanghai International Wine Challenge and Chairman of the Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia. At the 2013 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year Awards, Iain was honored with the Len Evans Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Wine Industry. In 2003, Iain was awarded the Graham Gregory trophy for outstanding service to the NSW wine industry.
The most recent award for Bokenwood and Iain Riggs in late 2016, is the Australian Women in Wine award for Workplace Champion of Change, in recognition of Brokenwood’s history of promoting women within the workplace.
Iain is the driving force behind Brokenwood’s flagship wine, the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz and its promotion as a unique Single Vineyard Shiraz. Rated as Exceptional in the Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, it is still the only Hunter Valley Shiraz to feature. A number of other premium Brokenwood Shiraz feature in the portfolio including the Mistress Block Vineyard Shiraz, Verona Vineyard Shiraz, Wade Block 2 Vineyard Shiraz and the Indigo Vineyard Shiraz. Iain is also a great promoter of Hunter Valley Semillon with the highly acclaimed ILR (Iain Leslie Riggs) Reserve Semillon as the Brokenwood flagship white.