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Vale Tony Keys

Australian wine industry commentator and long-time contributor to the Wine & Viticulture Journal Tony Keys has died, aged 64.

Keys died from illness just after 1.00am on New Year's Day at his residence in Bangalow, New South Wales, surrounded by family, friends, carers and a steady stream of visitors.

Keys was the proprietor and senior journalist for The Key Report, a weekly e-newsletter he and Jenny Stonier established in 2002 in which he critically examined events and trends in the global wine industry.


Tony Keys

He began writing for the Wine & Viticulture Journal, then known as the Australian & New Zealand Wine Industry Journal, in 2004, first on an occasional basis, then on a more regular basis from 2006 in a column named The Key Files.

Born in 1953, England, Tony Keys entered the wine industry in 1973, working for a group of upmarket London wine bars. He subsequently joined wine retailer Oddbins, eventually becoming senior manager for the company’s largest London store.

Keys then established Ostler’s wine merchants in Clerkenwell, which specialised in Australian wines. During this period he picked up several accolades including Decanter magazine’s ‘Wine Merchant of the Year’ and was appointed to the Académie du Champagne in 1989. He subsequently worked on a freelance basis with the Australian Wine Bureau looking after education throughout the United Kingdom and occasionally in Europe. He was appointed facilitator for small wineries seeking entry into the UK market and worked with the Government of Victoria on various wine-based projects. Keys moved to Australia in 1998.

Former publisher of the Wine Industry Journal Paul Clancy said the wine industry would be “poorer” without Keys.

“I gave Tony some space in the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal to express his views and opinions and I never regretted doing so. Tony Keys very quickly became respected for his professionalism in industry writing. He wrote without fear or favour and whether you agreed with him or not he always had his facts right, he never held back from shining light into places where some preferred it not to be shone and his research was thorough,” Clancy said.

“I believe Tony Keys stood head and shoulders above Australian wine industry writers and commentators through his integrity which he never compromised. The industry has plenty of sycophants and few fearless writers with the intelligence to analyse and comment in a constructive way. Tony provided what the wine industry needed — open, unbiased and balanced assessments of the facts. Sadly he was never compensated anywhere near enough for the efforts he made for the industry he truly loved.

“The exhaustive analysis of market data and accompanying commentary which Tony provided the industry was an invaluable service perhaps not appreciated as highly as it should have been. Without the sage commentary of Tony Keys the Australian wine industry will be poorer.

“A kind, generous man who could be prickly pear or passionfruit, Tony Keys will be missed more than he will ever know,” Clancy said.

Wine writer James Halliday echoed Clancy’s comments.

“I first met Tony in London during the annual London Wine Trade Fairs I attended between the late-1980s and mid-1990s, and saw more of him when he moved to Australia.

“He was idiosyncratic, irascible and stubborn, and it took a few years for peace to break out between us.  Before and after that time, I greatly admired his tenacity, his clarity of thought, and his tilting at windmills.

“There has never been a man with greater courage in his sector of the wine community, and we will all be poorer for his passing,” Halliday said.

Tony Keys is survived by his sons Josh and James.

AB Mauri



WID 2017