TRIBUTE has been paid to a Herefordshire author and wine expert, who has died aged 84.

Jon Hurley, a local writer known for his popular wine-tasting sessions, died on January 31.

Mr Hurley was born in Rathfarnham, County Dublin in 1939 and moved alone to England as a teenager, his son Lawrence Hurley said.

He eventually found his way into the wine trade when he was hired to work in the wine department of the Bentalls department store in Kingston-upon-Thames in the early 1960s.

Mr Hurley and his wife Heather moved to Herefordshire in 1973 to set up a bed-and-breakfast with a twist; guests could pay extra for a two-day wine tasting mini-break in which Mr Hurley would colourfully introduce various wines while Mrs Hurley would cook hearty roast dinners and lead walks during the day.


The ‘Wine weekends’ venture was a success and the business lasted for decades.

Within a few years, the Hurley's moved from their small home in Bridstow to Upper Orchard, a larger property in Hoarwithy, which became not just the business headquarters but also the cherished family home.

Mr Hurley had held a long desire to be a writer and, although he dreamed of being a novelist, he found his niche by publishing books on wine and bare-knuckle boxing, another fascination of his.

One of his greatest achievements was the publication of ‘A Matter of Taste’, his book on the history of wine drinking in Britain published in 2005.

Mr Hurley’s books on boxing legends Tom Cribb and Herefordshire’s own Tom Spring were likewise well-received.

He also co-wrote several walking books with Heather and, like her, delved into local history, including a book on John Kyrle.

A man of many interests, Mr Hurley was an avid golfer for many years with his home base at Ross-on-Wye Golf Club. At various points he was also a member of the Rotary Club, Probus Club and Ross-on-Wye Civic Society.

Mr Hurley was a founder member and past president of the Herefordshire Fine Wine Society, a group that was formed in the 1980s in large part because of a wine-tasting course he presented.

Over the years he made regular television and radio appearances. In the 1980s, a BBC journalist participated in a wine weekend, resulting in a lengthy dispatch broadcast on Radio 4. His book on Tom Spring also attracted media attention, including another appearance on Radio 4 with his friend, Herefordshire-based sports journalist Frank Keating.

Mr Hurley is survived by his wife Heather, children Russell, Lawrence and Alice, and grandson Nicholas.

A celebration of his life will be held in April.