James Halliday

James Halliday steps back from Wine Companion

September 7, 2020
By Alana House

James Halliday has announced he is stepping back from his management role with the Halliday Wine Companion.

Esteemed reviewer, writer, judge, presenter and author Tyson Stelzer (below) is set to take on the newly created role of chief editor.

With almost 20 years of industry experience behind him, Halliday said Stelzer is a natural fit for the role.

“This is a decision that reflects a move I made a number of years ago to share the load with a tasting team,” Halliday said. “It’s been apparent to me there has to be someone who can commit a great deal of time and effort to it. This is more than just being a panellist – it’s been obvious that someone has to step into the role of editor, and I’ve said from the outset that Tyson almost self-selects.”

Halliday will continue to taste wine and produce articles for the Halliday website, magazine and guide, which remains a joint venture between James and Hardie Grant. He will also play a role in the annual Halliday Wine Companion Awards, working with Stelzer and the team to pinpoint the deserving winners.

In addition, Halliday will continue to write for The Weekend Australian, including the annual Top 100.

“I am excited for this new chapter in my career and look forward to leading new initiatives to support the local wine industry while continuing to share my love of fine wine,” Halliday said.

Stelzer said his new role was a “tremendous privilege and enormous responsibility”, which also brings him full circle because it was the Companion that drew him to wine in a big way as a university student.

“It is my mandate and aspiration to maintain every bit of the format, scope, integrity and spirit that James has infused in the Companion, and at the same time to take it forward in new and dynamic ways,” Tyson says.

With Stelzer’s appointment comes further evolution for the Halliday tasting team, which gains two new members – Western Australian wine judge, writer and consultant Erin Larkin, and long-time South Australian journalist and wine writer Tony Love. They join Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Steven Creber and Ned Goodwin MW.

The traditional tasting process is also reimagined for the new year of reviews, with each panellist focusing on specific wine regions, offering even more continuity, connection and specialist expertise.

“It’s been a long road with many, many wonderful moments,” Halliday said. “Always stimulating, always challenging, but it’s time that I step back. I welcome Tyson to the chair, and I know he’s going to do a wonderful job. All of these exciting developments have my unqualified support.”

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