John Winneke completed his law studies at the University of Melbourne in 1960, and served as a barrister from 1962 until 1995. From 1995 until 2005, he was President of the Court of Appeal in Victoria.
Apart from a distinguished career in the law, he was also a successful sportsman, playing football with University Blacks in A Grade, and in 1960, 61 and 62 with AFL Club Hawthorn, where he played in the 1961 Premiership team.
He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1999 for service to the judiciary in Victoria, to the Defence Force and to the community, particularly sport as an advocate and arbitrator. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004 for leadership in the law, to the administration of justice as President of the Victorian Court of Appeal, and to the community.