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Hazel Murphy remembered as champion of Australian wine

Published:  02 January, 2020

The trade awoke to a new year with the sad news that Hazel Murphy AM had passed away on 1 January.

Best known for her trail blazing work as European chief executive of the Australian Wine Bureau - a position she held for 17 years from 1985 - Hazel’s promotion of Australian wine in the UK was widely credited with putting the country on the global wine map in a market where it still holds prime position today.

Responsible for introducing and inspiring a generation of writers and buyers through immersion in quality Australian wines, her ‘glass in hand’ promotion and subsequent ‘wine flights’ to Australia spread her own verve and passion for the country, with remarkable results for the image and sales of the wines.

Between 1985 and 2002, her work contributed to a remarkable rise in annual Australian wine exports from AU$1.4m to $897.1m.

In recognition of her tireless and inspired work, Hazel was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1996, also receiving the Maurice O’Shea Award for outstanding contribution to the Australian wine industry.

For many, though, it will be Hazel’s infectious and generous enthusiasm and energy for which she will be best remembered, as a diminutive dynamo that had a huge and well-respected reputation in the trade.

Wine Australia’s UK-based regional general manager Laura Jewell MW, the current inheritor of her legacy, captured the mood of the industry in a statement this morning:

“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."

Harpers was privileged to join several independent merchants on a buyers' trip Hazel led to Australia in early 2019 (pictured above, Hazel second from right) – the last she organised, in an independent capacity - where she continued to inspire and win friends for both herself and the Australian wine industry.

Bin Two's Mike Boyne, who was on that trip, tweeted: "Honoured and saddened in equal measure to have been part of her final trade trip. She spoke frequently about that wine flight sharing many anecdotes & happy memories & put every bit as much energy into our small trade trip. What a woman - glad to have known her briefly." 

Hazel Murphy will be sadly missed.