Fruits of labour vie for title

TOMATO JUDGES: Food and wine lovers Melissa Innes, Paul Stone and Susie Kidman have been announced as the Penola and Coonawarra Summer Tomato Growing Competition judges and will be analysing the texture, taste, skin thickness and aroma of entered produce, with highest points awarded the William Wilson Perpetual Trophy. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

By Molly Taylor

BACKYARD green thumbs across the region will challenge for bragging rights in the 2021 Penola and Coonawarra Summer Tomato Growing Competition.

Kilos of fresh, plump and juicy tomatoes are expected to accumulate for the seventh time at the highly-anticipated annual contest.

Food and wine lovers Susie Kidman, Melissa Innes and Paul Stone have been announced as event judges and will analyse the texture, taste, skin thickness and aroma of entered produce, with highest points awarded the William Wilson Perpetual Trophy.

Coonawarra resident and event coordinator Maria Weinberg said the competition was a fun way to involve the community and raise funds for the Coonawarra Community Club, while also recognising the significant legacy and impact Scottish gardener William Wilson had on the region.

Mr Wilson settled in Petticoat Lane in 1861 and developed a productive orchard and market garden, generously sharing his horticultural knowledge with other settlers including pastoralist John Riddoch.

Ms Weinberg said Mr Wilson had significant influence on Mr Riddoch’s decision in establishing a fruit-growing colony, which made Penola and Coonawarra what it is today.

“John Riddoch was a friend of his and looked over the fence at his produce and thought they were the best fruit and vegetables ever seen,” Ms Weinberg said.

“William Wilson, who is considerably unheard of, was probably the impetus for John Riddoch establishing a fruit colony.”

Ms Weinberg said many people in the region were backyard gardeners and the competition may be of interest to the community.

Entries cost $20 and close March 5, with forms available at Meek’s Butcher, the Coonawarra Store or the Coonawarra Community Club.

Judging will take place on March 12 from 5.30pm at the Coonawarra Community Hall with nibbles and margaritas available on the night.