Australian Wine Advocate and Icon Don McWilliam AM Passes Away

Australian Wine Advocate and Icon Don McWilliam AM Passes Away

by McWilliam's Wines, 06 November 2017

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 AM has passed away at the age of 83, on 27 October 2017.

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.

Today we remember Don and celebrate his life at his funeral service in Salamander Bay, details here.


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Since 1877, when founder Samuel McWilliam first planted vines on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales, the McWilliam family have produced six consecutive generations of exceptional winemakers.

As custodians of the New South Wales wine industry, McWilliam’s has carefully selected a rich portfolio of premium vineyards located in the cool climate regions of Hilltops, Tumbarumba, Canberra and the expansive plains of the Riverina. Our wines showcase regional specific characters, premium quality, impressive depth and full flavour expression.