THE finest wool in the world comes from Australia.
And the finest of the fine is grown on a farm at St Helens.
David and Susan Rowbottom were rewarded on Thursday evening for years of refining their production of ultrafine wool when they won the Ermenegildo Zegna Vellus Aureum Wool Trophy — the world’s most prestigious wool trophy.
A fleece from their Rowanville flock was measured at 10.8 microns and scored 88.91 points, earning them 750 grams of gold — worth about $40,000 — plus a replica of the Vellus Aureum golden prize sculpture.
As if first prize was not enough, the couple also claimed second place, ahead of Ed and Jill Hundy of Pyramul, NSW.
The Rowbottoms have been knocking on the door of ultimate success for some years. After placing second last year Mr Rowbottom said they knew what they had to do to win — and they put that knowledge to use in the lead up to this year’s competition.
“I knew we had a fleece that would have won against last year’s entries, but that doesn’t really mean anything because others could have improved as well,” Mr Rowbottom said after their win. “I had a gut feeling that we might win but I was keeping that to myself. We’re over the moon.”
The prize is sponsored by the Italian fine clothing manufacturer, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, to encourage production of ultrafine wool suitable for use in fine suits that retail for up to $20,000.
The wool is produced by sheep kept in a shed and fed an accurately controlled diet that encourages the growth of ultrafine wool fibres.
The Rowbottoms were flown to Melbourne and put up in the Hyatt Hotel for the awards dinner.
“We’ve been treated like royalty,” Mr Rowbottom said.