Champagne moment for local winemaker
Australian wine-making legend Brian Croser, founder of Petaluma, has attracted the big guns of champagne to his latest wine venture, with the scion of France's famous Bollinger champagne house joining the board of his privately owned Tapanappa Wines.
Etienne Bizot, the great-nephew of Lily Bollinger and the sixth generation of the family to be involved in Champagne Bollinger, has joined Tapanappa Wines as a director.
Mr Bizot, who resides in Paris, is the managing director of Bollinger, lovingly known in Britain as "Bolly", one of the world's best-known champagne brands, with a pedigree going back to 1829.
The champagne house was awarded its first Royal Warrant of Appointment by Queen Victoria in 1884, making it the first official champagne of the British Empire.
But there is also a strong connection between Bollinger and Australia. Bollinger was an early investor in Petaluma before Mr Croser sold to Lion Nathan in 2001, and the champagne house later reunited with the winemaker in 2002 when he created Tapanappa.
Bollinger is a shareholder in Tapanappa, together with the Cazes family of the 150-year-old Chateau Lynch Bages. Current boss Jean-Charles Cazes is a director of Tapanappa.
It's not just business for Mr Croser, a 40-year wine industry veteran, but also family. Mr Crozer's daughter is married to Xavier Bizot, the general manager of Tapanappa and the son of a former Bollinger chairman, the late Christian Bizot.
Tapanappa, which is reportedly derived from the local Aboriginal language and may translate to "stick to the path", makes its wines from vineyards based around the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.
Mr Croser has been a vocal critic of the domination of the Australian liquor retail market by supermarket leaders Woolworths and Coles and has consistently stated he would resist selling wines from his Tapanappa label to the chains.
He is also a champion of Australia's wine industry, with a reputation for speaking his mind on government meddling, warning last year against a "carbon tax or mining tax on the wine industry".