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Warren, John Roger Hogarth (1905–1960)

by David Dunstan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

John Roger Hogarth Warren (1905-1960), winemaker, was born on 18 March 1905 at Busselton, Western Australia, third child of South Australian-born parents Thomas Hogarth Warren, farmer, and his wife Fanny Maud, née Woolfitt. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Kadina, South Australia. Roger attended the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, and Roseworthy Agricultural College (R.D.A., 1924), where he obtained honours in chemistry and surveying. He became a woolclasser, but in 1929 a former fellow student Colin Haselgrove, a winemaker and manager with Thomas Hardy & Sons, persuaded him to join the firm. Devoting two hours a night three times a week to instructing him about the business, Haselgrove trained Warren as a winemaker and arranged for him to become his 'understudy' at Hardy's.

On 14 September 1935 at St Peter's College chapel Warren married with Anglican rites Helen Josephine Verco, a great-niece of Sir Joseph Verco. At Hardy's he was promoted senior technical officer in 1938. Based at the Mile End Cellars in Adelaide, in 1953 Warren joined the Hardy's board and succeeded Haselgrove as technical director, becoming in effect chief winemaker.

Warren's skill, and the relative lack of interest in table wines on the part of the industry and the public generally, gave him opportunities to specialize. Well known for his excellent palate and memory for wines—and his appropriately large nose—he developed outstanding Hardy styles. Some were elite wines made in small amounts. He was noted, however, for his table wine blends such as Cabinet Claret, St Thomas Burgundy and Old Castle Riesling, which he produced in large quantities. These wines helped to change Australian drinking habits in the 1950s. With privileged access to different suppliers of grapes, he travelled regularly to the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, northern Victoria and the wine-growing districts of South Australia, to purchase wine for these blends. Also an expert spirit maker, he nurtured Hardy's best brandies.

With Maurice O'Shea and Colin Preece, Roger Warren is generally placed among the outstanding Australian winemakers of his generation. John Fornachon was another friend and associate. Photographs taken of Warren at industry functions show a tall and bespectacled man, enjoying himself in company. Normally reserved, unassuming and easy to get along with, he could be candid and outgoing to a degree which was disconcerting to some. According to his fellow workers he had no sense of time and was always late for meetings. He was an active member of two wine and food societies—the Bacchus Club of Adelaide and the Lockleys Beefsteak and Burgundy Club. In 1949 he joined the Kooyonga Golf Club. Survived by his wife and their three sons, he died of myocardial infarction on 17 March 1960 at Norwood and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Lake, Classic Wines of Australia (Brisb, 1966)
  • R. Burden, A Family Tradition in Fine Winemaking (Adel, 1978)
  • G. C. Bishop, Australian Winemaking, the Roseworthy Influence (Adel, 1980)
  • Wine and Spirit News and Australian Vigneron, Apr 1960
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 18 Mar 1960
  • private information.

Citation details

David Dunstan, 'Warren, John Roger Hogarth (1905–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/warren-john-roger-hogarth-11970/text21457, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 23 April 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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