Wine Australia makes changes to senior leadership

Dr Liz Waters, newly appointed Chief Operating Officer of Wine Australia. Image courtesy Wine Australia

Wine Australia has made changes to its senior leadership team, with three new appointments announced, including a new chief operating officer.

Shirley Fraser has been appointed as General Manager Customer Engagement, Ned Hewitson to General Manager Regulation and General Counsel, and Dr Liz Waters to Chief Operating Officer.

“With the significant challenges facing grape and wine businesses, it’s critical that we have depth of talent within our leadership and the right people in the right roles to provide value to our sector,” said Wine Australia CEO Dr Martin Cole.

“This is particularly important as we commence our new strategic cycle, with the One Grape & Wine Sector Plan actions to be delivered and the development of our Strategic Plan 2025–30.”

Shirley Fraser commenced at Wine Australia on 27 May 2024 and brings experience from across the grape and wine sector through senior and leadership positions including with the Wine Industry Suppliers Association, Sorby Adams Wines, Constellation, Byrne Vineyards, Terraview AI and Wine Collaborators.


Shirley Fraser. Image courtesy Wine Australia


A graduate of Roseworthy and Future Leaders, Fraser has lent her expertise on the Riverland Wine Management Committee and Wine Show and the Australian Women in Wine Board, and as a mentor to up-and-coming members of the sector.

Dr Cole said he was “delighted” to welcome Fraser to the senior leadership team.

“Shirley’s diverse expertise across the wine sector, her demonstrated ability to foster collaborative networks and determined leadership focus on continuing to add value for all parts of our sector will be instrumental in achieving positive outcomes for the sector,” said Dr Cole.

“Shirley joins Wine Australia at a time when we’re continuing to support grape and wine businesses to harness available opportunities and co-design pathways together with the sector. Shirley will be responsible for strategic leadership and management of all customer engagement, corporate affairs, public relations and communications and will be a central and valued member of our leadership team.”

Fraser expressed her love for working in the wine sector, acknowledging that the new position would allow her to “be of service to all producers”.

“As the connector of people, concepts and programs, my goal will be to assist producers to leverage their networks and opportunities, to expand understanding of what Wine Australia offers and to listen to the feedback of the sector,” said Fraser. “I am thrilled to be working with a fabulous team and look forward to the potential we have to make a difference.”

Ned Hewitson has been promoted to Wine Australia’s senior leadership team following his contribution acting in the role of General Manager, and prior to this as Legal Counsel.


Ned Hewitson. Image courtesy Wine Australia


Hewitson has a wine background that includes undertaking vintages throughout Australia, working in various domestic and foreign sales, distribution, retail and hospitality roles; show judging; and teaching undergraduate students. Prior to commencing at Wine Australia, he worked for several years as a wine sector-focused corporate and commercial solicitor.

Dr Cole said Hewitson’s promotion was well-timed to coincide with exporters’ need for “guidance and support” for enhanced market access.

“Ned has led our regulatory services team for the past five months and has fostered the team’s commitment to keeping exporters and grape and wine producers at the centre of our regulatory and market access functions. He has also been instrumental in representing the interests of the sector as delegate at meetings of the World Wine Trade Group and FIVS to keep our sector’s interests at the forefront of international discussions.”

Commenting on his new appointment, Hewitson said he was excited to be leading the regulatory team.

“Regulation and market access are each fundamental to the past, present and future success of the Australian wine sector,” he said.

Dr Liz Waters’ promotion to Chief Operating Officer follows her leadership of Wine Australia’s research and innovation portfolio over many years.

Dr Waters is internationally recognised as a leader in grape and wine research, with expertise in sector leadership and an understanding of the critical challenges and opportunities facing grape and wine producers. Prior to joining Wine Australia, Dr Waters held positions with the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Australian Wine Research Institute and the Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture.

“I’m excited to announce Liz’s promotion to Chief Operating Officer, which will help drive Wine Australia’s corporate governance and strategy to ensure that we are delivering value and being responsive to the immediate and future needs of our levy payers,” said Dr Cole.

“Liz has built and led a high performing team at Wine Australia and has actively guided successful, high-profile strategic projects in response to our grape and wine producer needs. For many years, Liz has supported the progression of Australian wine’s research landscape and played a critical role in keeping our sector at the forefront of responsive innovation. She brings a considerable skill set and I’m delighted that she will help lead our strategic response to the sector’s broader needs.”

Dr Waters also expressed her passion for the sector.

“I deeply care about the success of the Australian grape and wine sector and I am thrilled with this new opportunity to contribute further to this wonderful community,” she said.

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