Lecturer, recipient of the Order of Australia, author of than more than a dozen books, Dr Patrick Iland has gifted the Australian wine industry with unprecedented nous.
Some people in the wine industry come to attention by the noise they make. Others do so simply by quiet excellence. Dr Patrick Iland is one of these.
Iland’s professional career was driven by an inquiring mind. “Thinking critically and with imagination can take knowledge to new levels, to ‘discovery and growth’ of both the thinker and the discipline”, he told me.
The central thrust, however, has been a love of chemistry, which he studied at the Queensland Institute of Technology, gaining his BApSc. He then combined his interests in chemistry and education, working in the laboratory at Roseworthy Agricultural College where he soon became lecturer. Andrew Caillard MW told me of those times. “I was bloody hopeless at sciences, but Pat completely changed that as he made chemistry so interesting and easy to understand. I know others feel that way.”
‘Thinking critically and with imagination can take knowledge to new levels.’
After Roseworthy merged with the University of Adelaide, Iland joined the viticulture group as lecturer, crediting Dr Richard Smart for lighting his interest. Chemistry was still the main theme, however, with his research centred on the effects of vine management on grape chemistry and ultimately on wine style. This field later resulted in him gaining his PhD from the University in 2001.
During this time, he further developed analytical methods for measuring the colour of grape skins as a pre-harvest as an indication of quality.
There are several analyses that are routinely used for measuring various chemical parameters in wine, such as acidity, alcohol and preservatives. Iland’s 2000 book, with others, Techniques for Chemical Analysis and Quality Monitoring During Winemaking combined these in a single repository that has become the manual for the industry, here and internationally. So great is his respect in the arcane world of chemical analysis that the Interwinery Analysis Group decided to name their annual award for the most accurate winery laboratory in Australia and New Zealand the Patrick Iland Laboratory of the Year. This was “in recognition of his contributions through teaching, public speaking and writing of books on laboratory methods to the continued improvements and pursuits of excellence in the field of wine and grape analysis”.
Education has been a continuing theme in Iland’s professional life, so it was no surprise that he ventured into books for wine lovers. One of the earliest, in 1995, was Discovering Australian Wine: A Taster’s Guide, co-written with Peter Gago AC.
A later, more ambitious book, was A Taste of the World of Wine, which added Andrew Caillard MW and viticulturist Dr Peter Dry to the authors’ list. I asked Gago for his early impressions of Iland. “I started as a teacher myself,” he replied, “but he was a teacher’s teacher. He was an inspiration. He was hugely industrious. He looked at things tangentially, working on how to convey imagery clearly.”
Perhaps the greatest acclaim came for Iland’s book, written with Dr Peter Dry, Dr Tony Proffitt and Professor Steve Tyerman, The Grapevine: From the Science to the Practice of Growing Vines for Wine, which was awarded First Prize for books on viticulture by the Organisation International de la Vigne et du Vin. This was an extraordinary accolade from the world’s leading organisation for the science of vines and wine.
With all his books, which now number 15 and more on the way, he acknowledges his partner in Patrick Iland Wine Promotions, his wife, Judith Iland, who he calls an indefatigable promoter.
2007 was a notable year, as Iland received two outstanding awards, the Order of Australia (OAM) – “for outstanding services to the Australian Grape and Wine Industries”, and being inducted as a Fellow of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology for services to the industry and the society.
Awards kept coming, with, in 2014, the inaugural South Australian Legend of the Vine Award from Wine Communicators of Australia. Deputy Chair Angus Barnes said the association wanted to create “an award that acknowledges the passion, drive and leadership, particularly in communication”. “This industry has plenty to be inspired about and that includes the number of individuals who lead by example… our South Australian Legend of the Vine is an outstanding example of this.”
What is a leader? It could be a Mussolini, who inspires followers through impassioned oratory and bogus claims. Or it could be an educator who, through research, education or the printed page, inspires many. This latter is Patrick Iland.
Photography courtesy of Patrick Iland Wine Promotions