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Wine community mourns Hazel Murphy

Wine community mourns Hazel Murphy

Wine Australia has expressed its deep and profound sadness at the news Hazel Murphy AM passed away in the UK on January 1, 2020.

For more than 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).

The UK marketer first facilitated the flow of Australian wine onto British supermarket shelves. 

Wine Australia said in a statement: "Hazel was a great friend to the Australian grape and wine sector as a whole and a very dear friend to many. She will be very deeply missed.

"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.

"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 noted: "In less than a decade [Hazel] 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 added: "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."

High praise for Murphy's work

Rosamund Barton of wine PR agency, R&R Teamwork, told The Buyer that the work Murphy did to take leading UK wine figures to Australia as the best campaign she has seen during her career in wine.

"She wanted to make the UK wine trade understand Australia, but realised that it was hard to do in a cold and wet UK. So, to create ambassadors for Australian wines, and to let the UK wine trade understand the breadth of the wine offer from its many regions, Hazel convinced the wineries, the importers and the press to create ‘Wine Flight of a Life Time’. 

"She bravely took 110 diverse members of the UK press and trade on a two-week working holiday to visit many wine growing areas in Australia including the Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula.

"Before ‘Wine Flight of a Lifetime’, trade and media had been kept apart; and the animal togetherness which the trip fostered had never happened. This trip changed that forever."