By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News

Ross Brown, executive director of Brown Brothers, has been named the 2015 Victorian Legend of the Vine by Wine Communicators of Australia.

Brown received the award last week in front of 150 industry peers and guests at the WCA Royal Melbourne Wine Show awards lunch. The Legend of the Vine recognises an individual who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the Australian wine industry and has a passion for telling its story.

WCA chairman, Angus Barnes, said there are few people that fit the criteria better than Brown.

"He has always been a fantastic spokesman for Australian wine and for the important role it plays in so many regional communities.

"He was one of the first to understand and promote the importance of wine tourism and the natural synergy between food and wine, and the Brown Brothers cellar door at Millawa has for many years been considered one of the very best in the country."

Brown said he was delighted but shocked to receive the award.

"When something is your life and your passion you just go about things and getting involved. Awards are the last thing you expect, but it's a great honour when they come," Brown said.

He noted the increasingly co-operative nature of the wine industry.

"There's a word you hear used in regional tourism that I like and it's 'co-opetition' – the ability to compete with each other while also working collaboratively towards a common goal," he said.

"It's about creating a bigger pie so we can all have a bigger slice. There are so many areas in our industry where you can do a lot as an individual company, but you can do a lot more with a collective voice."

Brown is a member of Australia's First Families of Wine, a member of the board of Wine Victoria and the advisory board for Victorian Regional Tourism. Last year he was inducted into the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Legends Hall of Fame.

As Legend of the Vine, he joins a prestigious list that includes James Halliday, Rob Hirst, Patrick Iland, David Lowe and Bill Hardy. He also becomes a life member of WCA.

The Shout Team

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