Club at Barossa Valley To Meet Forgotten Taste-Maker

Club at Barossa Valley
To Meet Forgotten Taste-Maker

Don Hewitson’s triumphs in the field of fine living are fabled in every country except his own. New Zealander Mr Hewitson in London in the 1970s introduced the wine bar as the keystone in the imperial capital of haute cuisine. Until the arrival of Levin-born Mr Hewitson British bars and restaurants peddled cheap burgundies or wine bottled by the chain breweries.

His career in wines began at Wellington Coachman restaurant, mine host, Des Britten. It was one of a trio of pace-setting restaurants there at the cusp of the 1960s/70s that included Le Normandie and the Lotus.

The Wellington sommelier in London now became closely associated with ground-breaking wine bars as Shampers, Cork and Bottle, and the Hanover Square Wine Bar. He retains an interest in these last two. He is credited with if not inventing the phrase popularising Life is too short to drink bad wine.

National Press Club operations manager Rex Benson, pictured with the larger-than-life Hewitson, was there at the style maker’s 70 birthday celebration in Australia.

Why is this prophet of the profitable London wine bar celebrated everywhere save his own land? And at a time when entrepreneurs especially those in international cuisine are shouldering out rugger players in the national Pantheon?

With homes in several of the world’s most sought after destinations the former music reviewer on Victoria University’s student publication Salient remains one of New Zealand’s unclaimed assets.

Might not the Horowhenua lad’s next birthday be celebrated not in the Barossa Valley, but perhaps in Marlborough or Martinborough?