MORE than a billion bottles of Yellow Tail later, John Casella on Friday won the Graham Gregory Award at the NSW Wine Awards for his contribution to the industry.
NSW Department of Primary Industries deputy director general - agriculture, Kate Lorimer-Ward, congratulated Mr Casella and acknowledged his role in taking Australian wine to global markets.
"Mr Casella is well known for establishing the Yellow Tail brand and raising awareness of Australian wines on the international stage," Ms Lorimer-Ward said.
"He joined the family business in 1995 and by 1998 had recognised the need for a brand that was easy to drink and delivers consistent quality, taste and value.
"Yellow Tail was born and by 2001 the first shipment left for the United States.
"By 2013 the one billionth bottle of Yellow Tail had been produced and the brand now exports more than 12.5 million cases to 50 countries across the globe.
"The scale of the Casella family's success is shown by the fact they now employ more than 700 people, are growing grapes on more than 6000 hectares and have the world's fastest bottling plant, capable of producing 36,000 bottles per hour," Ms Lorimer-Ward said.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall congratulated Mr Casella on his achievement and said he was a worthy winner of the award.
"The Yellow Tail brand truly is one of the NSW wine industry's great success stories," Mr Marshall said.
"Thanks to pioneers like Mr Casella, the NSW wine industry continues to expand and is now a significant contributor to our $17.5 billion primary industries sector."
NSW DPI is a sponsor of the award, which is named after former NSW Agriculture deputy director general Graham Gregory, who was instrumental in the development of the NSW wine industry.