As a boy growing up in Brisbane I didn’t know any family named Crittenden other than the one I belonged to, and it was made up entirely of my mother and father brother and sister. To this day I am unaware of any connected relations bearing my family name.
In the early 1960’s I moved to Melbourne (alone) and by the mid 60’s in my early 20’s had developed a modest interest in wine. One day I attended a wine tasting [yes, they had them back then] at, of all places, Burney Horticultural College.
Imagine my surprise when another of the attendees on introducing himself to ask a question said “I’m Doug Crittenden, wine-merchant”. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. It was the first time I had encountered anyone claiming to share my name. Needless to say I soon introduced myself and so began my lifelong friendship with an icon of the retail wine business in Melbourne and for that matter the whole of Australia.
It’s a matter of record now that roughly 20 years after that chance encounter I planted five acres of grapes on the Mornington Peninsula and in so doing doubled the then total plantings; today there are in excess of 2500 acres under grape vines here. Needless to say I was then and still am constantly asked whether Doug was my father?, uncle?, cousin?, you name it. People react with surprise when I say I’m no relation. And I’ll warrant that many of you reading this would have been familiar with and shopped at Doug’s store and most likely known the gregarious man himself. Doug died in late 2014 aged 91 and its estimated that upwards of 300 people attended his memorial service at St Johns in Toorak.
Over the years Doug, at his various shops but particularly at his Hawksburn store, became a firm supporter of our family wines. In 1999 he and his wife Judy faxed me a lovely letter congratulating me on the sale of our families one millionth bottle of wine. As a matter of interest I reproduce it here. Of course, I was a regular visitor to the Hawksburn store and soon became familiar with the adjoining, and equally as famous, Peter Bouchier’s butcher shop.
BACK TO THE FUTURE and the Crittenden name returns to Hawksburn Village, Peter Bouchier has just become a stockist of a range of our wines, AND what’s more, the original letter from Doug and Judy sits framed there and proudly on display in memory of times past.
Go in and take a look!
GARRY CRITTENDEN, DROMANA, APRIL 2017.