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Newcastle Herald

Neil McGuigan joins Hunter wine legends

LEGEND: Neil McGuigan is officially the fourth Hunter Wine Legend from his family. Picture: Marina Neil

BEFORE a crowd of 350 gala dinner guests at Pokolbin on Thursday night, Neil McGuigan became the fourth member of his family invested as a Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Legend.

The awards, which are presented to individuals who have shown long-term vision and commitment to the betterment of the Hunter Valley wine and tourism industry, was won in in its inaugural year of 2007 by Mr McGuigan's father Perc, then to his brother Brian in 2008 and in 2009 to Brian's wife Fay.

Neil, 64, retired in 2019 after nine years as CEO-chief winemaker of Australian Vintage Ltd (AVL), producer of the McGuigan, Tempus Two and Nepenthe brands.

Neil has had a stellar national and international career, being crowned International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) winemaker of the year four times and winning the London International Wine Challenge white winemaker of the year award four times - a feat unprecedented for an Australian.

In 2015 he was appointed president of IWSC - a position previously occupied by such global wine notables as Robert Mondavi, Odette Pol Roger, Max Lake, Wolf Blass and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild.

Thursday night's black-tie dinner at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort also installed Phil Hele OAM as 2022 Hunter Valley Tourism Industry Living Legend.

Mr Hele has been owner and general manager of the Hunter Valley Resort for three decades.

The Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Awards held in conjunction with the Legends presentations included inaugural 2022 Hunter Valley Tourism Operator of the Year won by Beyond Ballooning and the Hunter Valley Accommodation Operator of the Year to Spicers Guesthouse. De Iuliis Wines won cellar door of the year, Liz Silkman of First Creek Winemaking Services was winemaker of the year, viticulturist of the year was Jerome Scarborough of Scarborough Wines, young achiever of the year was Briar Ridge vineyard winemaker Alex Beckett and the outstanding contribution by an individual award went to Tulloch Wines CEO Christina Tulloch, who served a two-year term as president of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association.