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Four Hunter Living Legends honoured


Four eminent businessmen, who have helped shape the region for generations to come, were honoured at the 16th annual Hunter Legends Awards.

With more than 380 professionals and guests in attendance at Rydges Resort Hunter Valley this week, John Davis, Graham Doran, Dr Harry Tulloch and John Stevens walked away with well-deserved accolades for their service to the wine and tourism industries respectively.

Over many decades, the quartet has demonstrated a willingness to innovate and push boundaries, earning the respect of their peers in the process.

Mr Davis, Mr Doran and Dr Tulloch were inducted as 2023 Wine Industry Living Legends for their pioneering approach to viticulture in the region and beyond.

As well, Mr Stevens secured 2023 Tourism Living Legend status for his work in championing sustainable vineyard and planning.

Wine Industry Living Legend John Davis. Photo: Elfes Images

As the owner and managing director of Pepper Tree Wines, Briar Ridge Vineyard, Tallavera Grove and Carillion Wines, Mr Davis has forged a reputation as an astute viticulturist with a skill in matching soil types with the most suited grape varieties.

As the first to plant emerging varieties in the Hunter Valley, including Fiano, Vermentino, Albarino, Sagrantino, Tempranillo and Petit Verdot, he backed innovation in his vineyards.

His tireless advocacy for women, diversity and equality in the section was recognised through his award in 2019 as Champion of Diversity & Equality at the Women in Wine Awards.

Mr Doran, throughout his 50-plus-year career in viticulture, has liaised with some of the Hunter’s most iconic vineyards. 

His work for Mount Dangar Vineyards and Mount Pleasant led to outstanding outcomes with countless trophies and medals.

He led numerous viticultural trials unique to the region and documented his knowledge in the Beginner’s Guide to Viticulture in the Hunter Valley (2022).

Wine Industry Living Legend Dr Harry Tulloch. Photo: Elfes Images

Dr Tulloch has been a true pioneer through his immense innovative viticultural research, which led to the selection of premium-quality Semillon and Shiraz clones.

Shiraz (1654) is still in circulation today and become one of the most widely planted in Australia.

Throughout his journey, he championed new styles of wines and was the first in the Hunter to incorporate Verdelho into blends of Semillon.

His legacy continues to this day with his work monitoring vineyard trails and clonal selection plantings at Keith Tulloch Wines.

Wine Industry Living Legend John Stevens. Photo: Elfes Images

Mr Stevens boasts an impressive 35-year commitment to tourism expansion in the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter.

The Vintage Development is one of the region’s most significant and ambitious integrated tourism projects, which has delivered significant infrastructure improvements for the Pokolbin area.

Meanwhile, De Iuliis Wines’ sales and marketing manager Jenna Vaughan was named Riedel 2023 Young Achiever of the Year, while Andrew Thomas picked up First Creek Winemaking Services 2023 Winemaker of the Year.

Jurds 2023 Viticulturist of the Year went to Nicolas Looby from Margan Wines & Restaurant.

Winmark Wines was crowned Wine Selectors, 2023 Cellar Door of the Year.

Spicers Guesthouse netted Accommodation Operator of the Year, with Stay n’Sip proclaimed Tourism Operator of the Year.

The 2023 Outstanding Contribution of an Individual was awarded to Liz Riley.

2023 Hunter Valley Legends Awards

  • Riedel Young Achiever of the Year: Jenna Vaughan (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: Spicers Guesthouse
  • Jurds Viticulturist of the Year: Nicolas Looby (Margan Wines & Restaurant)
  • Wine Selectors Cellar Door of the Year: Winmark Wines
  • First Creek Winemaking Services Winemaker of the Year: Andrew Thomas (Thomas Wines)
  • Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Outstanding Contribution of an Individual: Liz Riley (Vitibit)
  • Hunter Valley Tourism Legend: John Stevens (The Stevens Group)
  • Hunter Valley Wine Legends: John Davis, Graham Doran, Dr Harry Tulloch

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