Douglas Murray, one of the founders of Chile's Viña Montes, has died aged 68 after a long struggle with cancer.
The Chilean wine journal Diario del Vino said this morning, ‘Chilean viticulture is in mourning’, summing up feelings about the loss of one of the best-loved figures in the country’s wine industry.
In 35 years in the wine industry Murray (pictured, on right, with Aurelio Montes this year) held many different posts, including the first chairman of Wines of Chile in London. His biography on the Montes website describes him as ‘the engineer of Chilean wine achievements in Asia and the groundbreaker for European markets.’
In charge of exports at Montes, Murray was named as one of the six most influential wine professionals in Japan by Vinotheque magazine, and he was an Emeritus member of the Chilean Wine Guild.
Murray founded Viña Montes in 1987, along with winemaker Aurelio Montes. It was quickly recognised as a force in Chile.
In the early 1990s journalists such as Robert Joseph and Joanna Simon were already calling the winery ‘potentially the best estate in the country’.
Its wines, from the Montes Alpha M Bordeaux blend and the Folly Syrah, to the Purple Angel Carmenere, the Cherub Rose, and the Alpha varietal range, are multiple award winners.
Ralph Steadman designed the label for the Folly and the Cherub and had a long-standing relationship with the winery, which he spoke of with great affection.
Diario del Vino called him a ‘born salesman…Wine buyers, restaurateurs and wine lovers all over the world remember his frequent visits, with a suitcase full of Montes wines. His constant activity in so many different countries earned him countless friends.’
Michael Cox, Wines of Chile’s UK director, said, ‘Douglas was a giant pillar who underpinned the successful foundations of the modern Chilean wine trade and, with his colleagues, was one of the architects of its innovation and dynamism. A charismatic and distinctive man, he will be missed by his many friends both in Chile and internationally.’
Murray leaves his wife Lucia López, his three children Douglas, Pamela and Dennis, and three grandchildren, Alexander, Samantha and Thomas.
Written by Adam Lechmere