When it comes to innovation there are many Hunter Valley businesses that come to mind, and the 2021 Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards gala on 20 May was an opportunity to honour those in the region excelling in the industry.
Recognising the unprecedented challenges faced by many over recent times, this year saw the creation of a new Award for Innovation.
The 2021 Hunter Valley Award for Innovation honours and celebrates the achievements of forward-thinking companies and/or individuals that have exceeded in innovative product or service development by taking their business to the next level in the current climate.
Judged by Siobhan Curran from the University of Newcastle, this inaugural award for Innovation went to Scarborough Wine Co for their incredible commitment to always challenging the average.
Their agility and intrinsic ability to stay ahead of the competition was recognised and judges recognised the introduction of clever and market leading winery experiences created because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Not one to rest on their laurels, Scarborough Wine Co also took out the title of Wine Selectors 2021 Hunter Valley Cellar Door of the Year
At the helm of Scarborough Wine Co is Merralea Scarborough who was also recognised last night for her hard work behind the family business and was named 2021 Hunter Valley Tourism Industry Living Legend for her more than 30 years-service to the local industry.
Their very own Viticulturist Liz Riley was jointly awarded the 2021 Hunter Valley Award for Excellence alongside Scott Bartlett from Tyrrell’s.
Sharing the love around the rest of the region, it was a night to remember for the team at Margan Wines & Restaurant when Andrew Margan was named First Creek Winemaking Services 2021 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year.
“What I like to think I bring to the table in this ultra-competitive wine world is the important connection between growing our own grapes and making our own wine,” Andrew said.
“With over more than 40 vintages, I have developed my own unique style of winemaking. I make wines of structure, balance, elegance, and texture. Wines that speak of their variety and the soil in which they are grown. And importantly, wines with their own sense of place.”
Margan, a well-known haven for harvesting talent joined the rest of the industry in celebrating their winemaker Nicole Wilson, named Riedel 2021 Hunter Valley Rising Star of the Year.
“A Rising Star recognises any person associated with the wine or tourism industry as well as young achievers consistently working for the benefit of the Hunter Valley as a destination,” Siobhan said.
“Nicole is a hugely worthy recipient of this accolade with her commitment to becoming the finest winemaker she can be while inspiring others to strive to do the same is admirable.”
The Jurds 2021 Viticulturist of the Year was awarded to Steve Ferguson of Mount Pleasant Wines. Steve has displayed a commitment to restoring vines that were planted as early as 1880 which earned him this recognition.
The 2021 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Heritage Award was awarded to Hunter Valley Heritage Cairn Trail. A Trail that acknowledges the landmarks or items of historical importance which have influenced the course of, or made a significant contribution to, the Hunter Valley Wine industry. The Heritage Cairn Trail was launched at the event and guests were provided with a copy of the new brochure.
The region’s legendary celebration, which is now in its 14th year is aptly named Hunter Valley Legends, so it must not go unnoticed that the biggest gong of the evening, the 2021 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Living Legend was awarded to one of the region’s most well-known personalities.
“The Living Legend Award is bestowed to honour a Hunter Valley grape grower or winemaker who has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years and is recognition of their significant contribution to the Hunter Valley Wine Industry,” Siobhan said.
Recently retiring after more than 30 years as the helm of Brokenwood, where he was Managing Director and Winemaker and worked since 1982, Iain Riggs AM was the worthy recipient of this recognition.
“A huge congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the 2021 Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards,” Siobhan concluded.
IMAGE | 2021 Hunter Valley Legends & Wines Industry Awards Winners.