Michael Hill-Smith MW, Decanter World Wine Awards regional chair for Australia, has been named Member of the Order of Australia.

The owner the eponymous Shaw and Smith winery, 30km east of Adelaide, received the Order yesterday.

The Order of Australia is awarded to individuals to recognise their contribution to the country. Hill-Smith was nominated for his role in the Australian wine industry in the Queen’s birthday honours list. The order is ranked at a similar level to the Member and Order of the British Empire (MBE, OBE) awards in the UK.

In 1988, Hill-Smith was the first Australian to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exam. He has been regional chair for Australia since the Decanter World Wine Awards began in 2004 and is chairman of judges at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show.

He is also a wine consultant for Singapore Airlines and a trained cordon bleu chef.

The Order is awarded twice annually: on the Queen’s official birthday in June and on Australia day (26 January).

Hill-Smith was delighted at his appointment. ‘Obviously, she has made a terrible mistake,’ he joked.

  • There were two other major wine-related awards in the Birthday Honours: the former chief winemaker at Penfolds, Don Ditter, who took over from the legendary Grange creator Max Schubert in 1973, received the Medal of the Order of Australia, also for services to the wine industry.

    And former Southcorp Wines chairman Rick Allert has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), the country’s second highest civilian honour.

    Allert, who was appointed in 1997 a Member of the Order (AM), the third highest award, was chairman of Southcorp and its predecessor, the South Australian Brewing Company, from 1989 to 2002. He oversaw the 2001 takeover of Rosemount Wines by Foster’s, and is now chairman of insurance company AXA.

    Additional reporting by Chris Snow

    Written by Oliver Styles