On Royal Command - Redman Wine is Summoned
The passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II has sparked our own regal memories from the fifties, a time when our wine was requested ‘on royal command’.
After tasting some of South Australia’s finest wines at a function at Government House in Adelaide, Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh clearly enjoyed sampling the Rouge Homme Coonawarra Claret that the Redman family was making at the time.
Prince Philip sent a request via the Governor in Adelaide for a box of these wines. The problem was that the 1952 vintage was made in small quantities and had since sold out – but the local community rallied around, raiding cellars and our personal family collection to ensure that the request could be satisfied.
It was cause for much excitement in Coonawarra at the time
We share with you a recent dialogue between the Redman and Rymill families as they try to piece together their recollections of events that took place at the time.
My parents (John & Eleanor Rymill) were invited to lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh by the Governor of South Australia Sir Robert George. It must have been during the 18-26 March 1954 Royal Tour of South Australia
The Duke of Edinburgh was so impressed with your wine (it must have been Rouge Homme, which I see was launched in 1952) that he asked the Governor to find him a case. The Governor asked my father to arrange it, but when he visited your winery, he was informed that it had sold out.
However, the Redman family rallied and rounded up 12 bottles from friends, pubs and wherever, which were duly despatched for Royal consumption, no doubt to Government House to be enjoyed before the Royals departed – or maybe to Buckingham Palace!
Please don’t rely on my memory too much (I was 14 at the time – away in my first year in boarding school), but I do recall my parents enjoying the excitement.
Bill and Owen Redman often talked of this story, also fondly remembering the scramble to find the wines, but the specific royal tour for which the wine was needed has become a bit vague.
HRH Prince Philip was present to ‘Open’ the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games and then went on a “well-documented trip” on the Royal Yacht Britannia that continued to Antarctica.
It could well have been during the 1956 Olympics when the wine was required for their enjoyment, or even consumed on that long boat trip home!
We do have notes in a book published by Les Hinton in 1971, regarding an old article from the Naracoorte Herald, telling of some ‘Rouge-Homme’ wines being delivered to the Royal Yacht Britannia.
“A consignment of the 1952 vintage was flown direct to Melbourne last year (1956) and was delivered to the Royal Yacht Britannia by special request.”
We still have a remittance letter from Government House, which could well have been the payment advice for the wines that were sent.
Also, while watching Netflix series The Crown recently, Britannia while sailing home was shown close to the part of Graham Land that my father discovered, and I recalled that Philip sent my father radio telegram at the time from there to say ‘Hi’ in commemoration.
So, as we know Philip enjoyed your wine in Adelaide in 1954, he could well have remembered it two years later in Melbourne (there weren’t so many good Australian wines then) and probably insisted on ordering more to be delivered to Britannia!
Better than a novel! As an aside, Philip’s off-sider on the voyage was an Australian, Commander Parker, who owned a house at Robe for quite a while.
Whatever the reason, we do hope that the wine made its way to the Royal couple and was enjoyed. It certainly makes for folk lore and a good yarn when told in Penola!