Harry Ronald (known as Ron) Haselgrove was born at Unley, South Australia on 23rd April 1900. He was educated at Unley High School and Roseworthy Agricultural College, from where he graduated in 1919. Ron went on to do a wool-classing course and spent six months working on the wool floor at Bagot, Shakes and Lewis at Port Adelaide. He returned to Roseworthy in 1920 as temporary Acting Analytical Chemist. The following year he did his first vintage at Renmark Growers Distillery, Renmark under the direction of Leo Buring.
From 1922 to 1924 Ron studied at L’Ecole Nationale d’Agriculture at Montpellier. On his return to Australia he joined Angoves Ltd, winemakers and distillers at Renmark and Tea Tree Gully. Ron worked for the Angove family until 1938. In 1934, while still at Angoves, Ron became technical advisor for Mildara Wines at Merbein, Victoria, and four years later left Angoves to become Managing Director of Mildara wines. Over the ensuing decade, Ron effectively turned around the fortunes of the struggling winemaker.
In the early 1950’s. Ron turned his attention to the production of ‘claret’ style wines and for this purchased grapes from the (then) little known Coonawarra district of South Australia. In 1955 Mildara purchased land at Coonawarra and developed 370 hectares of vineyards.
From his overseas travels throughout the noted wine regions of France, particularly Bordeaux, Ron was strongly influenced by the use of different forms of oak in the maturation of wines and spent the following years in collaboration with a number of cooperages introducing various oak vessels and styles to his wines. One of the most influential of these being the production of the 1963 Mildara Cabernet, better known as “Peppermint Pattie” which was matured in new oak hogsheads instead of the 5000 gallon vats typical of the time.
Ron served as President of the Australian Wine and Brandy Association (1954-1957), and as member of the Australian Wine Board (1936-1969), President of the Victorian Wine and Brandy Producers’ Association (1954-1957). He played an important role in the establishment of the Australian Wine Research Institute and served on its council for 18 years (1955-1973).
His vision and winemaking skill made Ron one of Coonawarra’s modern pioneers of winemaking and he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1964 in recognition of his contribution to the Australian wine industry. He retired from Mildara Wines in July 1971.