Wine, and champagne in particular, have played a huge role in George Paul Truby's life.
The wine professional now calls Whanganui home after a career that has taken him around the world.
Truby's specialty is champagne but he judges all 13 wine categories. His love affair with champagne began when he was a young man and was seduced by the drink - and a woman.
Wine was always a part of Truby's life.
He grew up as the youngest of five children in a poor Dalmatian family in Auckland.
"I was trained to be self-sufficient in many ways," he said.
"At 14 I was delivering groceries after school, then the Auckland Star. On Saturdays I mowed lawns and collected subs for the newspaper. You worked - no-one was going to give you anything.
"I've always been a doer, I enjoy it. That upbringing stood me in good stead."
Truby's parents owned a fish shop in Royal Oak and at weekends the family would visit family and friends in Henderson and swap fish for wine and fruit.
"To us, wine is a food. It was on the table at every meal. It was never abused. You wouldn't eat more potatoes than you need so why would you drink more wine than you need.
"No-one has any respect for wine. It's abused. They have no idea what a great pleasure it is. People say wine is a drug. No, it's a food."
Every evening Truby drinks a glass of champagne as an aperitif then has a glass of white wine and a glass of red wine with dinner "and that's it".
"If you treat it with respect, it treats you with respect. It's as simple as that. I have an aperitif in winter at 5.30pm - the other three seasons it is 6pm. I never drink before that. I'm a disciplined being in every way."
Truby's CV in the wine world is extensive. He is a Diplomate (Dux) of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, London; Laureate of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne Award, France; and an honorary judge to Union Internationale des Oenologues, Italy.
He has had winemaking experiences in Champagne, Franciacorta, Carneros, Uruguay and Chile.
In 1976 he was appointed Maitre d'Hotel at Chevron Hilton, Sydney, where he was responsible for Silver Spade Cabaret, a 500-seat facility with a service staff of 55.
In 1978 Truby travelled to Champagne, France, as a guest of the Champagne industry. He worked three vintages at Champagne Deutz, studying vineyard and winemaking practices, blending techniques and Champagne cuisine. He became the 410th member since 1666 of L'ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, the official fraternity of the major Champagne brands.
Truby was appointed wine adviser for Pan American Airways' first class cabin wine service in 1981. After the demise of Pan Am in 1983, Truby established The Wine Workshop, a wine services and educational facility in New York City, which taught 8803 students over 15 years. The Wine Workshop opened facilities in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1991 and in Las Vegas in 1997.
Truby also helped international wine entities place their brands in the lucrative American market. Clients included New Zealand's Morton Estate and Cloudy Bay, Australia's Cape Mentelle, Leeuwin Estate, Orlando and Redbank, and French producers Champagne Philipponnat, Delas Freres and Wm Fevre.
Truby returned to New Zealand in 2012, settling first in Gisborne then Taupō before moving to Whanganui in 2018. Now he lives in a "beautiful property" at Okoia with his retired racehorse Mali Juraj and Welsh pony paddock mate Dinky.
"I liked the feel of the town when I came down here," Truby said.
"It's intimate and people can talk about more than the weather and the All Blacks."
Truby has written a book, "Champagne Undressed: An Expert Bares All". It includes information about champagne and photos of Truby's life in the wine industry, as well as recipes cooked with champagne, reflecting another of his passions.
"I only eat what I cook myself and I cook three times a day. The kitchen is my domain. That's where I prefer to be - creating."
Truby, who left school without any qualifications, says his success has been the result of hard work.
"Anyone can have an amazing life - they have to make it for themself."