The success of Melbourne Royal® for more than 170 years is due to the great people who have been involved in the organisation in the past and those who are today, like John and Ann Ellis from Hanging Rock Winery and Speckle Park Stud.
A veteran of the wine show circuit, John judged at wine shows across Australia for over 25 years, is a past Vice President of the Winemakers Federation of Australia and has been presented with several service and achievement awards for his contribution to the wine industry.
Earlier this year, John and Ann kindly met with Melbourne Royal Directors at their property and in recent weeks, they warmly welcomed the Melbourne Royal management team for an onsite photoshoot.
Hanging Rock Winery and Speckle Park Stud is located near the Victorian town of Newham and surrounded by Victoria’s picturesque Macedon Ranges with owners, John and Ann Ellis regular Melbourne Royal Show and Melbourne Royal Wine Awards exhibitors.
John and Ann established the now well renowned cool climate winery in 1983 and almost 30 years later in 2011, John and Ann diversified their business into cattle, founding the Hanging Rock Speckle Park stud that operates at the same property.
Whilst wine remains the focus of the business with son Rob Ellis now the Chief Winemaker and daughter Ruth Ellis is the Sales & Marketing Manager, John has enjoyed a semi-retirement from the winemaking and has instead focused his attention to an ever-growing Speckle Park cattle stud.
In the just ten short years since, the Hanging Rock Speckle Park stud has grown from the humble beginnings of a single bull named Jim, to ten years later being one of Victoria’s largest Speckle Park studs with much success at the Melbourne Royal Show and Shows throughout Australia.
The stud became a reality shortly after John and Ann Ellis attended the Melbourne Royal Show and saw the striking Speckle Park cattle as they were being paraded in the Livestock Pavilion judging ring. Taking the time to meet with some of the exhibitors, John and Ann made the decision to create their own stud and now ten years later, Hanging Rock Speckle Park has gone onto have several highly successful sales and to win the Grand Champion classes at the Melbourne Royal Show and Royal Shows throughout Australia.
In 2017, the Speckle Park breed was selected to be the feature breed for the Melbourne Royal Beef Cattle Competition where John took on the role of breed captain and chair of a Speckle Park Feature Show Committee.
John’s unwavering leadership and drive helped the breed achieve what was at the time the biggest ever showing of Speckle Park cattle in Australia with around 90 stud animals from multiple States representing the breed.
As part of the 2017 Speckle Park Feature Show, Melbourne Royal visited the Hanging Rock Speckle Park Stud to document their Journey to the Show and chatted with John about his experiences and ethos.
At the most recent Melbourne Royal Show in 2019, Hanging Rock had what was one of their most successful Shows to date with their Cow Hanging Rock Heather beating their bull Hanging Rock Hi Jack for Supreme Speckle Park Exhibit.
Whilst they have been unable to show cattle for the past two years, the Hanging Rock team were successful in the recent 2021 Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, winning the Best White Blend trophy for their 2021 ‘The Jim Jim Three', Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer Riesling.
A clear philosophy displayed by John, Ann and the team at Hanging Rock Winery and Speckle Park Stud is the desire to provide opportunities for the next generation of young people that are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture.
The team are now planning for the big return to the 2022 Melbourne Royal Show and have already commenced work selecting cattle that will be on show in the Livestock Pavilion next September.
Melbourne Royal thanks John and Ann for their ongoing support of the organisation and for their advocacy and participation in the Melbourne Royal Beef Cattle Competition and the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards.
If you would like to learn more about the people that have shaped Melbourne Royal, visit the Virtual Museum and browse the oral history collection or contact or heritage team at firstname.lastname@example.org.