Celebrating Legends of the Industry
The recently held 15th Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards have seen a record number of Hunter Valley wine and tourism businesses recognised for excellence, commitment and quality.
The gala dinner, held at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort in front of more than 350 guests, also saw the introduction of four new awards, acknowledging the contribution of leading individuals and leading operators within the wine and tourism industries. Reflecting the importance of the overall visitor experience, the judging committee this year added two new awards to recognise excellence within the broader tourism industry.
The inaugural 2022 Hunter Valley Tourism Operator of the Year was awarded to Beyond Ballooning and the inaugural 2022 Hunter Valley Accommodation Operator of the Year to Spicers Guesthouse. De Iuliis Wines took out the title of Wine Selectors 2022 Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year – an award previously won by them in 2016. These three awards were judged by a mystery shopper and rated amongst their peers on the shopper’s experience across all areas of service, compliance, staff knowledge and visitor experience.
Inducting this year’s 28th and 29th Living Legends, Master of Ceremonies and 2021 Living Legend Iain Riggs AM thanked Neil McGuigan, 2022 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Living Legend and Philip Hele OAM, 2022 Hunter Valley Tourism Industry Living Legend for their significant contributions over a combined 60 years plus.
The McGuigan and Hele families are names synonymous with the Hunter Valley. Neil’s passion for delivering innovative, quality wine to the world is evident in the entire Australian Vintage portfolio and was paramount during his role as Chief Winemaker for the McGuigan brand.
For the past three decades, Philip, owner and General Manager of Hunter Valley Resort, has been at the forefront of shaping the Hunter wine and tourism industries and promoting them to an international audience.
Previously the Award for Excellence, this year’s 2022 Outstanding Contribution by an Individual was awarded to Christina Tulloch, CEO of Tulloch Wines. During her nine years as CEO of Tulloch Wines and two years as President of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association, Christina has shown an unwavering commitment to the Hunter Valley Wine Industry. Christina has guided her own business and the broader community through the complexities of the last two years. She has been a strong advocate for mentoring future talent within the region.
Briar Ridge Vineyard winemaker, Alex Beckett, took out the title of Riedel 2022 Hunter Valley Young Achiever of the Year. This award recognises the contribution of an individual (less than 35 years of age) working in the Hunter Valley to develop a vibrant and professional wine and tourism industry. In his 13 years in the industry, Alex has risen quickly, acting as a strong advocate for the Hunter Valley within the media, and was recently accepted into the Institute of Masters of Wine Study.
Of course, young talent in the Hunter Valley takes its inspiration from those who have succeeded before, and after close to 50 years of active service to the industry, Brian McGuigan AM was announced as Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Honorary Patron. Guests at the award ceremony acknowledged and celebrated Brian’s incredibly valuable contribution and long-term dedication to the Association and wider industry.
Winners are Grinners
Riedel Young Achiever of the Year Alex Beckett (Briar Ridge Vineyard)
HVWTA Tourism Operator of the Year Beyond Ballooning
HVWTA Accommodation Operator of the Year Spicers Guesthouse
Jurds Viticulturist of the Year Jerome Scarborough (Scarborough Wine Co.)
Wine Selectors Cellar Door of the Year De Iuliis Wines
First Creek Winemaking Services Winemaker of the Year Liz Silkman (First Creek Wines & Silkman Wines)
HVWTA Outstanding Contribution of an Individual Christina Tulloch (Tulloch Wines)
HVWTA Patron Brian McGuigan AM
Hunter Valley Tourism Legend Philip Hele OAM (Hunter Valley Resort & The Farm Hunter Valley)
Hunter Valley Wine Legend Neil McGuigan