The winners of 2015’s Hunter Valley Legends were announced last night at a ceremony held at Brokenwood Wines, Pokolbin.
Designed to recognise the achievements of those that have made an exceptional contribution to the region's wine and tourism industry, the Legends series comprises the induction of the year’s Hunter Valley Legend along with winners in five other categories.
This year’s Legend title was awarded to Ken Bray, owner of Braemore vineyard, for his contribution to the Hunter Valley wine industry over the past 40 years.
“Ken Bray has been inducted as our newest Hunter Valley Legend for his enormous contribution to viticulture in the region spanning over 40 years,” said vice president of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association (HVWTA), Andrew Margan.
“It’s terrific to see someone who still actively contributes to the region through their own vineyard management business, as well as through our Viticultural Sub-Committee being recognised in such light, and joining the long list of names which we salute.
“What stands out to me as this year’s highlight is the extremely high calibre of new blood that have excelled and taken out this year’s top awards.”
The 2015 Award Winners are:
2015 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Living Legend:
The Living Legend award is bestowed to honour a Hunter Valley grape grower or winemaker who has been involved in the Hunter Valley Wine Industry in excess of 30 years and who has been in a position to influence the course of the Hunter Valley Wine Industry.
Widely regarded as the Hunter Valley’s leading viticulturist, Bray has been responsible for tending some of the region's most cherished vineyards for almost 40 years.
Beginning at Wyndham Estate in the mid 1960s, Bray has worked in all facets of the industry for his entire career spanning winemaking, viticulture, packaging, distribution, sales and marketing.
2015 Winemaker of the Year sponsored by First Creek Winemaking Services
Michael De Iuliis, De Iuliis Wines
This award is to recognise a Hunter Valley winemaker who has achieved success on the show circuit and has made major commitments to the promotion of not only their own wines but the Hunter Valley and its wines in general.
De Iuliis has been making wine using grapes grown on the De Iuliis family vineyard since 1999 and has gained a reputation for producing some of the best examples of truly expressive Hunter Valley wines.
Having been a Len Evans Tutorial Scholar; a Finalist for the Gourmet Traveller Wine Young Winemaker and Winemaker of the Year, as well as completing the Future Leaders Program, this award is recognition not only for Mike’s winemaking skills, but his tireless contribution to the Hunter Valley community.
2015 Rising Star of the Year sponsored by Riedel:
Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown of Muse Restaurant & Muse Kitchen and
Gwyn Olsen, Winemaker, Briar Ridge
This award recognises the outstanding contribution of an industry person over the preceding 12 months, whether they are a young person just starting out, someone just recently involved in the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Industries or whose star is ascending.
Troy and Megan Rhoades-Brown
In March 2009, Megan and Troy opened Muse Restaurant, with the aim of providing their ideal dining experience, focused on seasonal and regional food with exceptional service. 18 months after opening, the restaurant was awarded its first Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat. In the same year the Restaurant and Catering Association awarded Muse the best regional restaurant in NSW and Contemporary Australian Restaurant Regional NSW.
Two years later, after continued success the pair opened a second restaurant, Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Winery – which also picked up a Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Chef Hat in its first year. In 2014 Troy was awarded the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence 2014 Young Restaurateur of the Year.
Gwyn studied Oenology at Roseworthy University in Adelaide, graduating in 2005. Completing her first vintage in France, she then went on to do a further six in New Zealand, and three in the Hunter Valley.
In 2012 Gwyn was named DUX of the Australian Wine Research Institute, in the Advanced Wine Assessment Course. In doing so she has cemented her place as a rising star of the Australian wine industry.
Gwyn joined Briar Ridge as Chief Winemaker in 2013, and added General Manager to her title in July 2014. 2014 was an exceptional year for Gwyn – amongst other great achievements, she was awarded the prestigious Gourmet Traveller Wine's Young Winemaker of the Year title.
2015 Viticulturist of the Year, sponsored by Laffort
Andrew Margan, Margan Family Wines
This award is for an outstanding viticulturist involved in the management of Hunter Valley vineyards. The award recognises that any outstanding wine starts with good vineyard management resulting in quality grapes.
As well as two science degrees, Andrew had an hands-on apprenticeship with the late, great Murray Tyrrell during which he learnt the importance of the relationship between vineyard and the finished wine, which is exactly what Andrew has based his current grape growing philosophy on.
After 20 vintages at Tyrrell’s, and six years as a flying winemaker travelling between European and Australian vintages, in 1997 Andrew launched his own wine brand, Margan.
Andrew places immense importance on making wines in a style that suits the vineyards where the grapes are grown and making his own wines in his own winery, and placing his name on the bottle of unblended wine as a point of difference.
2015 Cellar Door of the Year, sponsored by CBA Local Business Banking:
This award is to recognise a cellar door with outstanding public relations, sales technique, presentation and attitude.
Catering to the budget of a wide range of Wine enthusiasts, Tyrrell’s Cellar Door offers a broad range in price from $13 per bottle to over $100 per bottle for the more discerning wine connoisseur.
With four separate Private Tasting Rooms, Tyrrell’s Cellar Door and Tasting Rooms are equipped to handle differing numbers of visitors – catering for both smaller specialist groups, and larger groups.
Local, friendly and knowledgeable staff are at the helm of the Cellar Door Tasting Room, with the core team possessing the combined industry experience of over 100 years in the Hunter Valley.
2015 Hunter Valley Award for Excellence
The Hunter Valley Award for Excellence is given to recognise a person who has made outstanding contribution to the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Industries.
Melissa Romeyn has been a tireless employee of the various Associations that have been representing the Hunter Valley’s wine and tourism industries for many years. More than an employee of these Associations however, Melissa has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure that all the members of the Associations have been treated without fear or favour and has served the Hunter Valley wine industry with a duty of care that is admirable. The last 18 months of amalgamation of the wine and tourism associations have been particularly testing on everyone and Melissa has been the steady hand on the wheel at all times.