Obituary: Dr Arthur Ray Beckwith OAM

7th November, 2012 by Andy Young

Celebrated wine scientist Dr Ray Beckwith OAM has died, aged 100.

Dr Ray BeckwithBorn in Cowell, South Australia, in 1912, Dr Ray Beckwith was pioneer of the modern Australian wine industry, with a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years. Beckwith’s scientific research and discoveries laid the future course of modern winemaking in Australia, and around the world.

After graduating from South Australia’s Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1932 with an honours diploma in agriculture (and oenology), Beckwith was invited back to take part in a yeast research project. A year later he joined Hardys at Mile End as a junior winemaker. However, in 1934 Leslie Penfold Hyland, a director of Penfolds Wines, read Beckwith’s published findings on fortified yeast strains and quickly offered him a job.

Beckwith joined Penfolds in Nuriootpa, Barossa Valley in January 1935. While working as a scientist at Penfolds in 1936, Beckwith famously observed that, “pH may be a useful tool in the control of bacterial growth.” Just one of Beckwith’s many discoveries, he had found a method of stabilising wine by adjusting its acid balance. This breakthrough and other innovations paved the way for the fledgling Australian wine industry.

Over several decades Beckwith developed winemaking techniques that are now standard practice throughout the world. Working closely with Penfolds chief winemaker, Max Schubert, many of Beckwith’s discoveries and inventions were veiled in secrecy at the time to boost the winery’s competitive advantage.

Beckwith retired from Penfolds in 1973, but remained closely linked to the wine industry, particularly in his home region of the Barossa Valley.

Beckwith was awarded the Australian Government’s Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2008.

2 Responses to “Obituary: Dr Arthur Ray Beckwith OAM”

  1. Ian Anson says:

    What a hero for South Australia. Almost totally unrecognized outside a handful of his peers.
    But truly a giant who created modern wine-making techniques that others exploited and enjoyed their almost referred success. Why not a state funeral?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Administrative Assistant

Swig Wines Ltd
Chiswick, London, UK

HR Manager

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Beer Development Specialist

Matthew Clark
London, UK

Senior Sales Manager

Haynes Hanson & Clark
Gloucestershire, GB

Customer Services Administrator

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Group
London, UK

Inventory Analyst

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

Events Executive - Atom Supplies

ATOM Supplies Limited
London, UK

Off-Trade Sales Account Executive

Domaine Direct
Nationwide, working from a combination of home & London office.

Sales Executive/Brand Ambassador

Glenfarclas
Ballindalloch, Speyside, UK

Client Manager

Noble Rot
Wandsworth, London, GB

Spirits Investment Director

Stilnovisti
London, UK

Junior Brand Manager

Enotria Winecellars
Park Royal, London, UK

Content & Digital Assistant

ABVGlobal
London, UK

Sales Manager

Cellar Trends
London, UK

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 7th July 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th July 2017

The Global Syrah Masters 2017

Deadline : 18th July 2017

Click to view more

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Fortified Masters 2016

Now in its third year, The Fortified Masters will reward the best fortified wines on offer.

Click to view more