The 30th and last of the ‘big format’ Wine Options competitions conducted by Kingsley Wood of First Glass was held on Sunday 1 July at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Auckland. As could be expected, it was a grand affair and a nostalgic one, as 57 teams with over 200 people, many who have participated in the game over three decades got together to try to win the coveted National Wine Options title for the last time. It was a unique gathering of wine industry personalities and keen wine lovers that only occurs at the Wine Options event that Kingsley has run so expertly and precisely since 1983. The game has been the basis for innumerable people becoming more aware and interested in wine, and if for that reason only, then Kingsley Wood and the Wine Options game must be counted as significant influences in the New Zealand wine scene.
“We are privileged to pay tribute to Kingsley and to thank him for 30 years of Wine Options. Kay and I were there at the start in 1983, in Dunedin, then Christchurch to Auckland. From Wilson Neil to Liquorland to First Glass.
Sue Davies, Simon Nunns, Katrina Sutherland and I followed Kingsley around the country one year to play Wine Options, from Auckland to Queenstown to Christchurch and Wellington. Sam Kim and I have competed, won, and not won. We’ve worked for Kingsley, helping him run the Wine Options. Yes, we we’ve been on ‘The Dark Side’!
There has been no other event like this in New Zealand. Kingsley has brought the wine community together, Wine growers, winemakers, wine judges, wine writers, wine sellers, and wine drinkers; from Auckland North to Southland, and even Hamilton. Kingsley has tested minds and tested palates. He’s given people something to aim for. He’s given people something to commiserate over. But most importantly, he’s been responsible for people learning about wine and becoming passionate about wine. Many of the people who have played Wine Options have made their career in the wine industry.
Kingsley has done this for 30 years, with passion, energy, drive and vision. He has loved doing this. He just likes putting people on the spot. He likes putting people on edge. Our team was on edge for most of this game.
You should know that Kingsley has actually played Wine Options as a participant. Around 10 years ago, in Melbourne in the Australasian Wine Options Final. He joined Kay, Sue and I, with support from Brian Morganty. He got some answers right. He got some answers wrong. But we knew he wasn’t comfortable in the role participating. For the record, we came Australasian Equal Runners-Up. And we didn’t carry him.
We see Kingsley Wood as the consummate Wine Options Convenor. He’s the best at it by far. We are all here, because we’ve recognised it for 30 years.
I ask you to stand and raise your glass to toast and thank Kingsley Wood for 30 years of Wine Options. Three cheers…”