When it comes to innovation there are many Hunter Valley businesses that come to mind, but one in particular stole the show at the 2021 Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards gala dinner held last Thursday evening at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort in front of more than 300 guests.
Recognising the unprecedented challenges faced by the industry 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 on Thursday 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 as a result 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, an award purely judged by a mystery shopper and rated amongst its peers on the shopper's experience across all areas of service, compliance, staff knowledge and visitor experience. Scarborough previously won Cellar Door of the Year in 2009.
At the helm of Scarborough Wine Co is self-proclaimed 'mother hen, chief cook, gardener, cellar door manager and so much more' Merralea Scarborough who was also recognised on Thursday evening for her hard work and ethic behind this great Hunter Valley family business and was named 2021 Hunter Valley Tourism Industry Living Legend for her more than 30 years service to the local industry.
It was a quadfecta for Scarborough Wine Co with their very own Viticulturist Liz Riley being 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 also a night to remember for the team at Margan Wines & Restaurant reigning from Broke Fordwich when Andrew Margan was named First Creek Winemaking Services 2021 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year.
No stranger to achievements such as this Andrew Margan who was previously named 2015 Viticulturalist of the Year has consistently produced outstanding wines year after year, and has been recognised as 5 Star winery by James Halliday every single year since 2009.
Planting their own small vineyard in 1991, Margan with a focus on environmental sustainability is now a business that operates a successful winery, cellar door, restaurant and events business in the Broke-Fordwich sub region of the Hunter Valley.
"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. 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." says Andrew Margan.
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.
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.
The prestigious 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 last Thursday evening and guests were provided with a copy of the new brochure.
After all, 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 - 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.
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.
In retirement Iain and his partner Sally Margan have become custodians of the famed Mistress Block that has produced many iconic Shiraz wines over the years. Iain, under his new guise Riggs Winemaking also continues to provide winemaking consulting services in the Hunter Valley.
Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the 2021 Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards.
- Story Supplied -
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