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Colin Powell Haselgrove (1904–1982)

by Geoffrey C. Bishop

This article was published:

Colin Powell Haselgrove (1904-1982), winemaker, was born on 30 April 1904 at Unley, Adelaide, youngest of six sons of Charles Frederick Haselgrove, ironmonger, and his wife Emilie Martha, née Powell. He was educated at Kingswood and Adelaide High schools and at Roseworthy Agricultural College (RDA, 1924). In his final year, as dux of Roseworthy, he was awarded its gold medal. As part of his course he studied oenology and viticulture. He worked the 1924 wine vintage at Angove’s Pty Ltd’s cellars, Renmark, and then joined Thomas Hardy & Sons Ltd at McLaren Vale. In 1926 he studied wine-making at the Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture at Montpellier, France. Next year he studied distillation in the Cognac region and, at a winery at Tipasa, Algeria, learnt valuable lessons about making red wines in hot climates. Returning to work with Thomas Hardy, McLaren Vale, he transferred to the company’s head office in Adelaide as chief winemaker in 1929. On 25 November that year at St Bartholomew’s Church of England, Norwood, he married Joan Lashbrooke Austin.

After experimentation, Haselgrove (with Roger Warren) produced Hardy’s Cabinet Claret, released in 1936 and a top-selling wine for the next forty years. He took on an additional responsibility in 1930, as technical director at the London-based Emu Wine Co. Pty Ltd’s winery at Morphett Vale. In 1938 he was appointed technical director of Hardys and also managing director of Emu Wines; he oversaw Emu’s expansion in Western Australia. He was with Hardys for twenty-eight years; according to Rosemary Burden he had a `phenomenal palate’ and his contribution to the company was `incalculable’. Divorced in 1946, on 4 July that year at the office of the principal registrar, Adelaide, he married Sybil (`Peg’) McIntyre; they lived on the waterfront at Seacliff.

In May 1953 Haselgrove was appointed managing director and chief winemaker of Walter Reynell & Sons Ltd, Reynella. There he developed premium table wines, including Reynella’s Reserve cabernet sauvignon, and its popular Alicante sherry (dry flor). He retired in 1970. A founding council-member (1954-71) and chairman (1959-62, 1968-71) of the Australian Wine Research Institute, and member (1966-69) of the Australian Wine Board, he represented South Australia (1944-61, 1967-69) on the executive committee of the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia (from 1961 Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia). He was appointed OBE in 1971. In 1974 he helped to establish a new vineyard and winery, Heemskirk, at Pipers Brook, Tasmania. The wine writer John Stanford described him in 1983 as `trim, tanned, handsome and apparently ageless’. He was `a continuing senior authority, industry stirrer and consultant on technical matters’.

Well known as an ocean-racing yachtsman, Haselgrove won the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1950 with his yawl Nerida and came second in 1955 with his sloop Cooroyba. He was a vice-commodore (1937-52) of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron. Point Haselgrove, near Port Lincoln, was named for him. On 10 December 1982 he died at Brighton, Adelaide, and was cremated. He was survived by his wife and their three daughters, and by a son and one of two daughters of his first marriage.

His brother Harry Ronald (1900-1978), also a winemaker, was born on 23 April 1900 at Unley. Educated at Kingswood High School and Roseworthy Agricultural College (RDA, 1919), Ron completed a wool-classing course before returning to Roseworthy in 1920 as a temporary analytical chemist. Next year he did his first vintage, at Renmark Growers’ Distillery Ltd under the direction of Leo Buring. In 1922-24 he studied at L’Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture, Montpellier. Back in Australia, working at Angove’s Pty Ltd, Renmark and Tea Tree Gully, he helped to develop St Agnes brandy. In 1934 he became technical adviser for Mildura Winery Pty Ltd (from 1961 Mildara Wines Ltd) at Merbein, Victoria, as well. He left Angove’s after becoming a director of Mildara in 1935. By improving the quality of their wines and introducing Mildara Supreme sherry, he effectively turned around the fortunes of the struggling wine-maker; he was appointed managing director in 1949. Early in the 1950s he began to produce claret-style wines, purchasing grapes from the then little known Coonawarra district of South Australia. In 1955 Mildara bought land at Coonawarra, eventually developing 914 acres (370 ha) of vineyards. Haselgrove was chairman of the company in 1957-74.

Representing (1947-59) the Victorian Wine and Brandy Producers’ Association on the Federal Viticulture Council, Ron Haselgrove served as its president in 1954-57. He was a member of the Australian Wine Board (1949-67) and a founding council-member (1954-72) and chairman (1958-59) of the Australian Wine Research Institute. In 1964 he was appointed OBE. Retiring as managing director in 1971, he devoted more time to his other interests: Australian Rules football, shooting, fishing and sailing. On 23 November 1926 he had married Elsie Janet Wigan at St Augustine’s Church of England, Unley. Survived by his wife and their two sons and three daughters, he died on 2 April 1978 at his St Georges home and was cremated. His Recollections of a Lifetime in the Australian Wine Industry was published in 1985.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Burden, A Family Tradition in Fine Wine-Making (1978)
  • G. C. Bishop, Australian Wine-Making, the Roseworthy Influence (1980)
  • S. Wells (compiler), Fine Wines from the Desert (1980)
  • Australian, 22-23 Apr 1978, `Magazine’, p 11, 15-16 Jan 1983, `Mag’, p 15
  • private information.

Citation details

Geoffrey C. Bishop, 'Haselgrove, Colin Powell (1904–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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