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Stephen Ferencz (1926–2004)

by Attila Urmenyhazi

Stephen Ferencz, n.d.

Stephen Ferencz, n.d.

photo supplied by family

Stephen (István) Ferencz was born in 1926 in the village of Gerse in county Vas, Western Hungary. Soon after the end of World War II he crossed the border to become a refugee in Austria under the International Refugee Organisation’s care. Termed officially a Displaced Person, he arrived in Australia as a migrant in 1949 and spent his first two years in obligatory assignment as a postal employee. At the age of 25 he became an apprentice plumber. Qualifying as a tradesman plumber, in due course he became a partner with his employer, a plumbing contractor. In 1962 he settled in Hobart. After a major work accident he left the plumbing trade altogether and began producing yoghurt on an industrial scale, learning the trade from a specialist dairy in Melbourne. Yoghurt was then a novel food product and was not available in Tasmania. He later sold his ongoing business enterprise but remained its production manager until 1971.

Ferencz then ventured ambitiously into the love of his life: producing and selling quality wine. It was a craft that he knew a lot about from his childhood. Studying suitable micro-climate environments in southern Tasmania, he bought potentially productive acres of land in Cradock. He cultivated and developed a winery from pastureland and then managed his estate, continually perfecting his cultivation skill and deepening his product knowledge. He gradually became a very successful winemaker, with his lounge walls covered with exhibition certificates of awards attesting to the excellence of his much sought after chardonnay and pinot noir wines. In 1984 he won the coveted gold medal Chardonnay-of-the-Year National Award. In the early 1990s Qantas Airlines bought his entire annual chardonnay release for their first class passengers. During that time he travelled to Europe eight times to study wineries in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Transylvanian Romania to deepen his knowledge of viticulture-grape growing and to familiarise himself with the latest production technology. His fame was national, yet he was a humble man.

Ferencz sold his entire winery estate in Cradock, but not before passing on his invaluable skill and knowledge, over a three-year period, to the new owners. With the nationally renowned 'Panorama Wines' label in safe hands, he retired in 1996. The gentleman "vigneron par excellence" passed away in 2004 in Hobart, missed by his family, his associates and the small Hungarian community that he supported and served well for decades.

Citation details

Attila Urmenyhazi, 'Ferencz, Stephen (1926–2004)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Stephen Ferencz, n.d.

Stephen Ferencz, n.d.

photo supplied by family

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Ferencz, István

Gerse, Vas, Hungary


2004 (aged ~ 78)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.