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New era for Halliday Wine Companion

Written by Aksel Ritenis

New era for Halliday Wine Companion

Following the successful release of the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion, the much-loved guide is entering a new era. After more than 30 years of producing the annual guides to Australian wine, James Halliday is stepping back from his management role on the publication, with esteemed reviewer, writer, judge, presenter and author Tyson Stelzer set to take on the newly created role of chief editor.

With almost 20 years of industry experience behind him, Tyson is a natural fit for the role and looking forward to embarking on a new era for Wine Companion. His appointment to the position comes with the full support of James and the Companion’s publisher Hardie Grant.

“This is a decision that reflects a move I made a number of years ago to share the load with a tasting team,” James says, now with five panellists behind the 2021 Companion. “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.”

James 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 Tyson and the team to pinpoint the deserving winners. In addition, James 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,” James says.

Tyson Stelzer pictured reviewing the latest release of the  iconic Penfold’s Wines Collection s…by-tyson-stelzer/ ‎

For Tyson, this opportunity is 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 Tyson’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.

James is reflective, but also excited about the changes.:

“It’s been a long road with many, many wonderful moments. Always stimulating, always challenging, but it’s time that I step back,” he says. “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.”

The Halliday Wine Companion is recognised as the industry benchmark, and the annual book is the bestselling, definitive guide to Australian wine. Each year, the Halliday tasting panel reviews more than 9000 wines, releasing comprehensive wine ratings, tasting notes and winery reviews throughout the year, plus articles, news and insights across the magazine and website.

For more information, visit or @winecompanion on social media

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher and Custodian of the Sydney Times

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