Tributes are flowing for Don Hewitson, the Kiwi who transformed Britain's wine industry, who has died aged 74.
Details of Hewitson's death on March 10 were widely reported in the UK today, with The Times bestowing the rare honour of a leader article on his contribution to the hospitality industry.
"This brash, profane, can-do Kiwi shook up and levelled up a previously stuffy, snobbish trade," it said. "He did as much as anyone to introduce the country to the delights and nuances of the fermented grape."
His daughter, Jessie, said: "My Dad was a giant of the wine industry who loved throwing parties at his house. When the police would tell him to turn the music down, he'd respond by offering them a tipple."
Originally from Levin, the former Horowhenua College student arrived in the UK in the early 1970s and quickly set about making good wine available to all.
In a 2001 interview quoted by the Daily Mail, he said that, on arrival, he was horrified by the UK wine industry.
"I'd heard that the situation in Britain was bad, but I was shocked," he said. "The British class system underpinned wine drinking, and that was a huge problem.
"The lower classes didn't drink wine at all; the upper classes would only drink Nuits-Saint-Georges [from Burgundy] or Champagne."
Hewitson was already knowledgable on the subject. In a 1970 article for Victoria University student newspaper Salient, he wrote: "One of the most noticeable sociological changes in recent years has been the transformation in New Zealanders' attitudes towards the finer arts of eating and drinking …
"The influence of professionals like Graham Kerr and John Buck has had its effect on many people who previously would never have thought of sloshing some wine into a casserole, let alone drinking wine with the resultant culinary effort.
"But let's not get too complacent, we still have a long way to go. After all, wine is one of the greatest pleasures of life, to become proficient in its appreciation one must keep learning."
There's conflicting information about the sequence of events after Hewitson arrived in London. The Times says that two weeks later he replied to an advert for a barman at the Cork & Bottle in Leicester Square.
The bar is still going, albeit closed by the UK's coronavirus lockdown, and its own website says the Leicester Square site was founded by Hewitson in 1971. However, an article he wrote that's published on the site says he arrived in the UK in 1972.
But there's little dispute that he succeeded in his mission to bring a huge range of wines to a wider audience, even going on to sell his own Champagne.
The Cork & Bottle website says: "Don's reputation allowed some of the best growers to invite him in and give him access to some of the world's most treasured wines – the type of wines that usually only find their way to a few lucky locals."
Hewitson also ran two further Cork & Bottle sites and other outlets across the capital, including Shampers, Bubbles, Methuselahs and, finally, Hanover Square Wine Bar & Grill.
The Times describes his "revolutionary idea" as selling "quality wine in an agreeable environment. As opposed to re-badged plonk flogged in places keen on excluding much of the population, principally women."
He continued his mission to educate the UK with columns and two books, Enjoying Wine and The Glory of Champagne.
The Champagne Academy, a UK body celebrating the French tipple, mourned the passing of a "dear friend and true inspiration to those in the industry".
Shortly before his death he shared some Champagne-related memories in a bio for the academy website.
"My first ever day in France was spent at a lunch with Madame Bollinger, seated on her left. All the stories about that wonderful lady are true; she was a great ambassador for Champagne in general and Bollinger in particular. It was a remarkable 10 days, with a collection of wines from the stellar 1966 vintage - a lifetime experience never to be forgotten and which influenced my future career in the food and wine industry."
Hewitson was latterly based in La Croix-Valmer on the Côte d'Azur in south-east France with wife of 26 years, Noelene.
Twitter users were quick to respond to today's media coverage and share their own tributes.
In a Facebook post, Tony Astle, owner and proprietor of Antoine's in Auckland's Parnell, wrote: "As a friend and colleague of your father's since 1966, I am so thrilled to see these great praises to a man so far ahead of his time. Controversial indeed but totally dedicated to the art of wine. He will be remembered and revered by his family, friends and all who were fortunate enough to know him."