Wine Guild Victoria was founded in 1959 as the Wine Service Guild of Australia (Victorian Branch Incorporated) at the Menzies Hotel, Melbourne by members of the Wine and Brandy Producers Association. In the same year branches of the Wine Service Guild were established in all other States of Australia.
The formation of the Guild was in response to the concern of wine and brandy producers, including winemakers, within the Wine and Brandy Producers Association that there was a very urgent need to educate people employed in restaurants and hotels, particularly wine waiters, to advance their knowledge of Australian wines and wine regions. The influx of European migrants in the 1950s and 1960s and their love of wine was a major factor in increasing the need for wine education in the liquor service industrry.
The first President of the Victorian Branch was Keith Gramp of Orlando Wines. Keith is a fourth generation of the Gramp family, who founded Orlando Wines in 1847. The youngest son of his generation, Keith, as Orlando’s Sales Manager had moved from the winery at Rowland Flat in 1953 to Melbourne to learn about marketing. Under Keith’s leadership many wine courses were created at Wine Industry House in Fitzroy Street, St.Kilda and later at the William Angliss College in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. The Liquor Commission made it mandatory for new licence applications to complete a Wine Service Guild wine course before a licence was granted.
The Guild, Australia wide, had an innovative approach to training for the time and took students out of the colleges on vineyard visits by coach to see first hand the wineries at work. Winemakers were invited to the college restaurants to show their wines with food.
For many years the Victorian Branch of the Wine Service Guild of Australia continued to service the liquor industry with functions such as, winemakers dinners, specialized education nights, local and interstate wine tours and new vintage releases. Some of the Branches in other states ceased operation. Only the South Australian and Queensland Branches remained in existence and they now operate independently as the South Australian Wine Guild and Wine Guild of Australia QLD respectively.
The decline of the Wine Service Guild of Australia and some of its Branches began with the introduction of the BYO licence in 1976. The waiter as a professional became an anachronism, as restaurants could hire anyone over the age of 18 to serve their wine. At the same time, the Australian wine consuming public was hungering for knowledge about wine, how to store it, which grapes it was made from, what to eat with it and much more. The surviving Branches of the Guild adapted themselves by changing their role of training wine service industry personnel to educating wine consumers.
As Wine Guild Victoria, what began as the Wine Service Guild of Australia (Victorian Branch Incorporated) continues to educate wine consumers and remains committed to providing enjoyable learning and social experiences in the constantly changing environment of the Victorian and Australian wine industry.