Originally the Marysville Sparkling Wine Festival, the ASWS began as a seed that grew out of the ashes of a community shattered in the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires – the most devastating bushfires in Australian history.
Later that year as the town of Marysville and surrounds was working to rebuild, an idea was floated to hold a local Soiree on Melbourne Cup Day to help raise community morale and help attract visitors to the region. It was very much a spur of the moment throw-together, nonetheless marquees were arranged, outfits were generously donated and the community came together to see Shocking put in a staying performance to take the Melbourne Cup.
The Soiree was heralded such a success that, local vigneron Michael Gelbert and Soiree organiser Christine Adams agreed that the celebrations should continue, but next time in the form of a festival dedicated to Australian sparkling wine. Thus the seed was sown and the founding members of the Maryville Sparkling Wine Festival Committee formed.
Many were consulted about the event, and a collection of locals – many of whose lives had been severely impacted by the fires – agreed to come on board to help make it a success. Sponsors were sought, and we were set to run a show.
In its inaugural year in 2010 the Marysville Sparkling Wine Show Committee scheduled a series of events – a business breakfast, and a Gala dinner to present awards – all concluding with the Festival itself on Cup Day. A massive, yet worthwhile undertaking for a committee made up of people still trying to rebuild their lives and businesses.
69 entries across five classes were received in that first year with John Ellis as the inaugural Chair of Judges. Since then, the ASWS has continued to be held almost every year, and has more than doubled in size. In 2013, it became the Australian Sparkling Wine Show (ASWS), highlighting its national significance and alignment with the industry.
Today original committee members Michael Gelbert, Di Kennedy, Phil Challen are still key organisers, alongside newer committee members from across the Australian sparkling wine industry.