Growers hungry to succeed

SILVERWARE ON OFFER: Tomato growers will vye for the William Wilson Perpetual Trophy in the 2020/21 Coonawarra and District Tomato Growing Competition.

By Brett Kennedy

SILVERWARE is ripe for the picking in the 2020/21 Coonawarra and District Tomato Growing Competition with just one week remaining until entries close.

It is expected more than 20 entrants will contest for the coveted William Wilson Perpetual Trophy, which a three-judge panel will award to the best tomato grower with flavour a key factor in scoring.

What started as a friendly competition between Coonawarra families has grown into a major community event, which will culminate with a public celebration and judging evening at Coonawarra Memorial Soldiers Hall on March 12.

Entries must be submitted by March 5 to be considered for the competition’s seventh installment, with categories for the largest and prettiest tomatoes also on offer.

The experienced judging panel of

Melissa Innes, Paul Stone and Susie Kidman will analyse taste, texture, skin thickness and aroma to score each tomato, with organisers hoping to match last year’s entrant tally of 20-plus, which included multiple tomatoes from each contestant.

Among those in the running will be two-time winner and reigning champion Ulrich Grey-Smith, who said the event was a highlight on the Coonawarra township’s social calendar and provided “serious competition”.

“It is a great community event and one to be involved in,” Mr Grey-Smith said.

“There is real community aspect.”

Mr Grey-Smith has held onto his competition-winning seeds and hopes to retain his crown this year.

While weather and soil conditions play a key role in the recipe for success, Mr Grey-Smith said the timing of ripening was also important.

“Some come on earlier rather than later and there’s always debate about whether we are judging on the right weekend – I think the timing is right,” he said.

“I’ve kept my champion seeds and I hope the judges will recognise that same quality.”

The perpetual trophy is named in honour of William Wilson, a Penola district pioneer and horticulturist who is credited with influencing John Riddoch’s fruit colony development, helping forge the region’s wine reputation.

Entry costs $20 with money injected back into the community.

Forms are available from Penola True Value Hardware, Meek’s Butcher, the Coonawarra Store and the Coonawarra Community Club.

Judging will be held March 12 from 5.30pm at the Coonawarra Memorial Soldiers Hall with nibbles and margaritas available on the night.