Wine industry icon and former chairman of the McWilliam’s wine company Don McWilliam died on Thursday, age 83.
Mr McWilliam, who retired with his late wife Louise to Port Stephens in 1998, died at a Salamander Bay nursing home and his funeral will be held on Monday, November 6, at 2.30 pm at Salamander Bay Uniting Church.
At the age of 18, he began work inserting corks and fitting capsules by hand on the factory floor of the family firm and from this menial beginning later rose to serve as chief executive and chairman of the prestigious McWilliam’s Wines Group.
The company yesterday paid tribute to Mr McWilliam as “a great icon of the Australian wine industry and a driving force behind McWilliam’s”. He was instrumental in shifting McWilliam’s Wines to premium production and in building a national portfolio of brands in key wine regions – showcasing the diversity and quality of Australian wine.
“A highly respected and beloved individual”, he presided over the establishment of the McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Awards in 1990.
In 2011 was made a member of the Hunter Legends of Wine.
His contributions were recognised with the 1994 award of Patron of the Wine Industry from the Winemakers Federation of Australia and in 1995 when he was given the NSW Wine Industry’s premier accolade, the Graham Gregory Award. In 2003 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
He is survived by his sons Stephen and Chris and daughter Debra.