Rowbottom family from St Helen's wins wool's top prize, the Vellus Aureum Trophy

APRIL 24 2019 - 4:00PM
Kyra Gillespie


David and Susan Rowbottom, pictured with Paolo Zegna, have won the Vellus Aureum trophy for the fifth time in six years. Son Aaron and daughter-in-law Rebecca Rowbottom, of Orford, placed second.

WHEN it comes to fine wool, the Rowbottoms are the family who have three bags full. They again took out the Vellus Aureum trophy for the best sheep wool in the world, the golden fleece.

David and Susan Rowbottom, of St Helen's, came out on top with a 10.2 micron Rowensville Merino fleece, while their son Aaron and daughter-in-law Rebecca Rowbottom, of Orford, placed second.

The accolade marks the fifth time the Rowbottoms have won the Vellus Aureum trophy in six years, which is part of the prestigious Ermenegildo Zegna Wool trophy. They have also had four seconds and one third placing in the past eight years.

David Rowbottom said the 10.2 micron fleece scored 91 points out of 100.

"It's fantastic in a lot of ways, there's a lot of work involved and a lot of background work for years getting to the top of the industry," he said.

"It's a tremendous night and makes it all worthwhile. It really puts the icing on the cake. I don't think you could go to a night that's any better.

"There's about 300 fleeces entered in the competition, they're the finest that people produce. So to get into the top three is pretty good."

The Rowbottoms' finest fleece ever was a winning unbeaten world record 9.9 micron entry in 2016.

"We do things differently to basically everyone when it comes to the selection of the sheep and the genetics behind it," the sheep breeder and wool producer said.

"It's great to win but I try not to let it get to my head, I always believe there's someone out there who is better. I want to keep improving my sheep to keep ahead and up with whoever is doing it better." 

The woolgrowers were awarded by Paolo Zegna during a dinner held at Luminaire in Melbourne. 

"We've been honouring the best quality wool for over 50 years now and especially this year, the results of the Ermenegildo Zegna Wool trophies are excellent," Mr Zegna, president of the famous Italian fashion house, Ermenegildo Zegna Group, said.

"Not only in terms of number of farms participating in the competitions, but also in terms of the high quality achieved despite having very difficult weather conditions with persistent and tough drought, which harmed some areas of Australia.

"For this reason, on behalf of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, I would like to congratulate not only the winners but all the farms involved in the competition."

All fleeces and wool lots entered in the two competitions are purchased by the Zegna Group. A further selection of the best of them is transformed into the top line fabrics and finished products of the Zegna collections.