Toasting success… and philanthropy

Mr John Penglis_Honorary Fellow_Institute for Glycomics
Mr John Penglis will be made an Honorary Fellow of Griffith Universtiy's Institute for Glycomics

John Penglis has enjoyed an enviable life. The former television executive and stud cattle breeder is now a wine producer, conservationist and tireless philanthropist.

Throughout his 79 colourful years, John has been guided by a principle impressed upon him by his Greek dad.

“Always give back to life a little of what you take.” And in that, John Penglis is also a resounding success.

He’s been giving back to the community for many years by raising funds for Care Flight, Palliative Care and Community Care as well as Queensland Ambulance, Rural Fire Services and SES through several Opera events in the Vineyard.

Prior to that, as a member of Rotary he organised a fund raising dinner for the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

In October, John will be made an Honorary Fellow of Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics in recognition of his ten years support for the research being conducted there.

Director of the Institute, Professor Mark von Itzstein, said support such as this from the community is vital to enable ongoing research into cures and treatments for a range of diseases.

“John Penglis and Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery have been tremendous supporters of the Institute for Glycomics and we are delighted to award John an Honorary Fellowship as a token of our deep gratitude,” Professor Mark von Itzstein said.

John started his TV career at Channel 9 in 1959 and worked for 33 years in the television industry eventually retiring as Managing Director of Queensland Regional Television in 1992. And he was already diversifying his interests.

“I couldn’t see any regional television in Brisbane so I bought a 320 acre property just west of Toowoomba where I established a Poll Hereford cattle stud.

” For the next six years he commuted two hours each way to his office in Spring Hill. Then in 1999, when apparently retired, John established The Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery at Mt Tamborine.

“Some friends of mine suggested that if I built a winery they would come and help me run it. That was 14 years ago and I’m still waiting for them to turn up,” John said.

Opening the door of opportunity

While a man obviously delighted with his life, John is modest about the success he has achieved.

“Nobody is self-made; someone always opens a door of opportunity for you. In the end the only choice you get to make is whether you will step through that door or stay where you are.”

Now John is opening the door of opportunity for the research, and he wishes more would join him.

“I’d like to see more people participating in fundraising. I really would.”

The former marketing king of Queensland Regional Television is never short of a good idea.

He already donates part of the proceeds from the sale of his “Starboard Not Port” port to the Institute, but now he’s gone one better.

In July he launched a new chocolate port. Net profits from all 7,500 bottles will go to the Institute for Glycomics, amounting to a $30,000 donation when they are all sold.

The label on the port bottle label is of a painting by renowned outback painter Arthur Hamblin.

Every person who buys a bottle of the special fundraiser chocolate port will go into a draw to win the painting which has been valued at $7,500 donated by Arthur.

So, is John planning to slow up any time soon?

“Well, Premier Campbell Newman has just reappointed me to the Commemorative Events Board for a further 2 years. I have already been serving on the Board for 13 years.

“In two months time I’ll be getting my OBE though; I’ll be Over Bloody Eighty. So I reckon I might give it away in a year or two.”

Then he’ll have to think up something new to become involved in.

It’s not likely he will be short on good ideas.

Anyone wanting to sample John’s creative fundraising venture can contact him at The Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard & Winery: (07) 5545 1666 or

Join us at Griffith University for Glycomics Week 2013 – October 8 to 10

Griffith University is launching a suite of initiatives under its three-year ‘New Griffith 2013-2016’ program, signifying an intensive period of change and innovation.”