By Deb Jackson, Editor National Liquor News
A great icon of the Australian wine industry, Don McWilliam, has passed away at the age of 83.
Don played a pivotal role in the development of McWilliam’s as a company. He joined the family business in 1951, starting on the factory floor where his job was inserting corks and fitting capsules by hand.
He completed his first vintage at Mount Pleasant with the legenedary Maurice O’Shea in 1954. Not long after, Don was appointed Director of McWilliam’s and over the next five decades played a significant role in the development of McWilliam’s, the Hunter Valley region and the Australian wine industry as a whole.
McWilliam’s Wines Group issued the following statement on Don’s passing:
“It is with much sadness we announce a great icon of the Australian wine industry and a driving force behind the McWilliam’s Wines Group, Don McWilliam has passed away at the age of 83.
“Don was a passionate advocate of Australian wine and for over five decades he dedicated his life to the development of the Australian Wine industry both domestically and internationally, the development of the Hunter Valley wine region and his passion and namesake, McWilliam’s Wines Group.
“Don was instrumental in the establishment of McWilliam’s Wines shifting to a premium offering and building a national portfolio of brands in key wine regions to showcase the diversity and quality of Australian wine. Through his tireless dedication and vision he was able to elevate the company to be considered by many as one of Australia’s leading family wine producers.
“A highly respected and beloved individual within the industry, Don was instrumental in establishing the McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Awards in 1990. This award celebrates an individual, brand, institute, activity or entity that has brought the same passion and drive for the wine industry that he was so well known for. Some of the most noted recipients of this award include the Len Evan’s Tutorial, the Australian Screwcap Initiative, Dr Wolf Blass AM, James Halliday AM and the late Max Schubert AM.
“He was active within a number of key associations within the industry including Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, Australian Wine & Brandy Producers’ Association, the Australian Wine Board and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.
“He was recognised for his considerable contributions to the wine industry when he made a Patron of the Wine Industry in 1994 from the Winemakers Federation of Australia and in 1995 when he was given the NSW Wine Industry’s most illustrious accolade – the Graham Gregory Award for his outstanding contribution to NSW wine. In 2003 Don was once again recognised for all of his efforts and dedication to Australian wine by being awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
“Don is survived by his sons Stephen and Chris and daughter Debra.”
For those wishing to pay their respects the funeral details are:
Monday 6th November 2017 at 2.30pm
Salamander Bay Uniting Church
174 Salamander Way
Salamander Bay NSW 2317