Tributes are flowing for much-loved champion of Australian wine, Hazel Murphy AM, who died on New Year’s Day.
Hazel, the former Australian Wine Bureau chief executive for Europe, is credited with introducing Australian wines to the UK.
She spear-headed the famous Wine Flights to Australia, which helped change the fortunes of Australian wine exports.
Hazel’s significant contribution to the Australian wine sector was recognised in 1996 when she was made a Member of the Order of Australia and received the Maurice O’Shea Award for outstanding contribution to the Australian wine industry.
Robert Joseph said, “The history of Australian wine would not have been the same without her contribution, but her influence went far further and deeper than that.”
Iain Riggs AM tweeted, “Very sad, a great champion of Aussie wine.”
Stephen Barrett tweeted, “Her contribution in opening up a sleeping giant assuring Aussie wines and legendary winemakers into world stardom was no mean feat.”
Wine Australia described Hazel as “a great friend to the Australian grape and wine sector as a whole and a very dear friend to many.”
For over 17 years, from 1985, Hazel was Chief Executive (Europe) of the Australian Wine Bureau, part of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (now Wine Australia).
With boundless energy and enthusiasm, Hazel’s ‘glass in the hand’ promotion contributed to Australian wine exports growing from $1.4 million in the 12 months to June 1985 to $897.1 million in calendar year 2002.
In A Life in Wine, James Halliday recalls Hazel thus, “In less than a decade she poured Australian wine for 250,000 people in venues ranging from food and wine exhibitions to sporting events… Pint-sized she may have been, but her energy and commitment were boundless…”
Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said, “Hazel Murphy was an icon.
“She was a passionate, tireless advocate for Australian wine and a trailblazer for Australia wine exports to the UK and Europe. Our wine exports would not be where they are today where it not for Hazel. We will miss her.”
Wine Australia’s UK-based Regional General Manager EMEA, Laura Jewell MW said, “I have known Hazel all my working life in wine and always admired her energy, verve and passion.
“I am very privileged to have followed in her footsteps and will always remember her as a friend and inspiration. She will be sorely missed both here in the UK and by all the wineries in Australia.
“She is an integral part of the history of Australian wine on the global stage.”
Former Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Chief Executive Sam Tolley said, “Hazel’s originality and tenacious energy brought the English wine trade together behind the fledgling Australian wine presence in the UK during the early eighties.
“Winemakers could not have asked for a stronger champion with her inimitable powers of persuasion. Hazel was a ‘force majeure’ and much loved by the very broad church of those who brought Australia to be the leading wine country in the UK. Hazel will be sadly missed.”
Anthony Madigan, editor of WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine, said he was shocked and saddened by the news.
“Hazel was such a dynamic woman,” he said.
“She was admired by everyone in the Australian wine community for her enormous contribution over many years.
“Hazel was also much loved.
“We are all going to miss her very much.”
When Yvonne May was appointed to the role of Wine Australia’s Regional Director for the UK, Ireland and Europe, David LeMire MW wrote in WBM, “I think we can expect a return to the PR zeal, the relentless belief in the potential of Australian wine, and the engagement with UK press and trade that marked the tenure of Hazel Murphy, with whom all incumbents of this role are inevitably, and usually unfairly, judged.”
Photograph: The Buyer.