Looking for the latest news, stories, tips and local knowledge to help plan your trip? Discover what is happening on the Hunter Valley Grapevine.

Toast to Triumph: Hunter Valley’s wine and tourism industry celebrated at 17th Legends Awards

The annual awards held at Rydges Resort Hunter Valley united more than 360 industry professionals and guests from the Hunter Valley wine and tourism industry. The Legends Awards honours the region's rich and vibrant history, celebrating the lasting influence and legacy of those who contribute outstanding service to the industry. Colin Peterson and John Drayton were inducted as 2024 Hunter Valley Living Legends.

Acknowledging their significant contributions, Iain Riggs AM, Chair of the Living Legends said ‘Colin and John are names and personalities that are synonymous with the commercial success of the Hunter Valley over many years. The region is stronger for their leadership and contributions to the local community.’

Colin Peterson was inducted as the 2024 Wine Industry Living Legend. Petersons Wines now enjoys widespread recognition in the Hunter Valley and across the Australian wine industry, from its origins in 1964 with the purchase of Glenesk Mt View by Colin’s parents, Ian and Shirley. 15 years later, Petersons produced their inaugural Vintage, marking the start of a 40-year collaboration with Winemaker, Gary Reed.  Colin has led the family business since 2000, when he sold Wollundry (Calais Estate) and opened his Mt View winery and Savannah Estate cellar door. His wine business now grows over 30 grape varieties across its NSW vineyards and employs over 250 people. In 1992, Colin had a vision to produce traditional method sparkling wine and nearly two decades on, Peterson House is the hub of sparkling wine in the Hunter Valley. In 2017, Colin and Brian McGuigan purchased Ben Ean, the former Lindeman’s Estate returning the property to its 174-year historical roots of the Hunter. Taking the business overseas, Colin has expanded with Petersons Wines Singapore and China, capitalising on the demand for Hunter wine in these markets. Over his career, Colin has mentored and collaborated with winemakers and grape growers across the region, with perhaps the best yet to come by mentoring his daughter Savannah.

John Drayton was inducted as the 2024 Tourism Industry Living Legend. John’s career started in 1989 when he joined his father Max and brother Greg and late brother, Trevor, in the family business, Drayton’s Family Wines. The family legacy of winemaking now stands at over 170 years. John’s contribution to the Hunter Valley tourism industry has been significant. As a Board representative and Chairman of Cessnock City Tourism and Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism for 19 years, John’s leadership laid the foundations for the success of the region as a wine tourism destination. John was also recognised for his exceptional commitment to community service through his involvement with the Pokolbin Rural Fire Service, the Pokolbin Irrigation District and in strengthening connections between the wine industry and the local community with the establishment of a vineyard at Mount View High School; believed at the time to be the first school in NSW to be granted a Vigneron’s Licence.

Commenting on this year’s awards, Jennie Curran, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association said “The Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Legends Awards. Their achievements serve as a testament to our long history and bright future. The quality of the nominations across all award categories reflects the strength and enduring appeal of the Hunter Valley”.

The First Creek Winemaking Services 2024 Winemaker of the Year was awarded to Stuart Hordern. Stuart boasts a strong winemaking history, including 15 vintages at Brokenwood and 10 in charge, promoted recently to the role of Chief Winemaker, only the second person in the 54-year history of the company to hold this position. Notably, he led Brokenwood to an exceptional 2023 show circuit, winning 5 Trophies and 24 Gold medals, as well as the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards Best in Show for the 2017 Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon. Under his leadership, the Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz has maintained its position as the highest level of Langton's Classification of collectible Australian wines - 1st Classified and remains the only red wine in New South Wales to hold this position. Stuart’s influence extends beyond winemaking, with significant contributions to the Hunter Valley wine Industry, highlighted by his role as President of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association 2021 – 2023.

In a double for the Hordern winemaking family, the Jurds 2024 Viticulturist of the Year was presented to third generation Thomas Hordern of Glenesk Vineyard, a Sustainable Winegrowing Australia member. Thomas has a focus on innovative practices in the vineyard partnering with a specialised AI and satellite data company who provide insights for agricultural property management, including water levels and vine health, optimizing his practices through advanced data analysis.

Emily Glover, Winemaker at De Iuliis Wines, was awarded the Riedel 2024 Young Achiever of the Year. Emily began her career in the Hunter Valley wine industry aged 19 taking on the role of Winemaker at De Iuliis in 2023. Notably, she oversees the winemaking of the whites at De Iuliis Wines including the acclaimed 2023 Wilderness Road Semillon, which last year won the Best Current Vintage White Wine Trophy at the Royal Sydney Wine Show. Emily was also the successful recipient of last year’s Brokenwood Wines Advanced Wine Technology Scholarship, which was this year awarded to Hugh Spinaze, Assistant Winemaker at Agnew Wines.

Tourism Operator of the Year for 2024 was awarded, for the second consecutive year, to Stay n’ Sip. Stay n’ Sip are continuing to grow their online, bookable, fun and educational experiences, driven by a desire to make Hunter Valley wine experiences accessible to everyone, including families, corporate groups, parties and wine connoisseurs.

The 2024 Accommodation Operator of the Year was awarded to Hunter Valley Stays. Hunter Valley Stays is a curated collection of 65 private holiday accommodation homes, who welcome over 30,000 overnight visitors annually. Proudly owned and operated by Hunter locals John Vanson and Sasha Degen who bring their professional tourism, luxury hotel and marketing experience to their business and to the wider community of wine and tourism operators in the region.

Margan Wines and Restaurant took the title of Wine Selectors 2024 Cellar Door of the Year marking a hat-trick for them in this award category. Under Andrew and Lisa Margan’s leadership, the business, which launched in 1996, has grown into 100 hectares of vineyards, an award-winning cellar door and hatted restaurant which continues to receive national acclaim as a must-visit destination in Broke.

The 2024 Outstanding Contribution of an Individual was awarded to Brad Russ. Brad, General Manager at Tulloch Wines, has played a major role over many years in shaping the region's consumer event and brand awareness strategies, sharing his experience in his many mentoring roles across the industry. Under Brad's leadership, Tulloch has emerged as a premier tourist destination, at the forefront of innovative wine experiences. In 2024, Brad is celebrating thirty years working in the Hunter Valley wine industry.

The Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association extends congratulations to all the 2024 Hunter Valley Legends Awards recipients.

  • Riedel Young Achiever of the Year: Emily Glover, De Iuliis Wines
  • Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Tourism Operator of the Year: Stay n’ Sip
  • Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Accommodation Operator of the Year: Hunter Valley Stays
  • Jurds Viticulturist of the Year: Thomas Hordern, Glenesk Vineyard
  • Wine Selectors Cellar Door of the Year: Margan Wines & Restaurant
  • First Creek Winemaking Services Winemaker of the Year: Stuart Hordern, Brokenwood Wines
  • Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Outstanding Contribution of an Individual: Brad Russ, Tulloch Wines
  • Hunter Valley Wine Industry Living Legend: Colin Peterson
  • Hunter Valley Tourism Industry Living Legend: John Drayton

For further comment, images or interviews, please contact Julia Moore at Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association; or 0499 053 655.

For images (photo credit: Elfes Images), please click here.


#huntervalley #huntervalleywine #herestothegoodlife