Each year, the Hunter Valley’s wine greats gather for a ceremony that honours those who have made outstanding contributions to the local industry, and for the first time in 2018 they also paid tribute to personalities outside of wine.
The Living Legend award, with a prerequisite of more than 30 years of continuous service to the industry, this year doubled to include a Tourism Legend in addition to its Wine Legend.
The Wine Legend award went to Greg Walls, who as managing director of Wine Selectors delivers the Hunter Valley’s wines to a 200,000-strong membership base around Australia. He established the Hunter Valley Wine Society in 1975, and this evolved into Wine Selectors as it’s known today.
The Tourism Legend award was presented to Hunter Valley icons Robert and Sally Molines of Bistro Molines at Tallavera Grove. The couple have been working together in restaurants for 45-odd years. While accepting the award, they recount a tussle over a sign once gifted to them reading ‘Welcome to Robert’s Restaurant’, to which Robert cheekily added, ‘Sally is the boss, and Robert is the cook’.
These legends join the ranks beside Brian and Fay McGuigan (McGuigan Wines), Bruce Tyrrell (Tyrrell's Wines), Jay Tulloch (Tulloch), Ian Scarborough (Scarborough Wine Co), Pat Auld (ex-Oakvale), Ken Bray (various), Karl Stockhausen (Briar Ridge), Kevin Sobels (Kevin Sobels Wines), Phil Ryan (ex-Mount Pleasant), Ian Tinkler (Tinklers Vineyard) and Alain Le Prince (Terrace Vale).
Other top gongs included Stuart Hordern of Brokenwood (a winery James Halliday helped to found) being named Winemaker of the Year; Margan Family Wines, which has maintained its five-star status in the Halliday Wine Companion over a long period, receiving Cellar Door of the Year; Neil Stevens of Glen Oak (who also has a connection to Tyrrell's Wines) being recognised as Viticulturist of the Year; and Aaron Mercer of Tamburlaine Organic Wines pinpointed as the region’s Rising Star.
Planning a trip to the Hunter? Check out our touring itinerary here.