By Adrian Thomas

The finalists have been announced for the annual Hunter Valley Legends Awards ceremony that will be held at Brokenwood Wines in the Hunter Valley on May 28.

The Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association event is a celebration of "the outstanding achievements of those in the region who have made major contributions and excelled within the Hunter Valley wine & tourism industries". 

The four categories up for awards are: Winemaker of the Year, Rising Star of the Year, Viticulturist of the Year and Cellar Door of the Year. 

Sponsored by First Creek Winemaking Services, the criteria for Winemaker of the Year is "based on experience, qualifications, winemaking techniques, experimentation or individual style resulting in unique wine styles produced".

The finalists are: Gwyn Olsen from Briar Ridge Vineyard, Liz Jackson of First Creek Wines, Matt Burton of Gundog Estate, Michael De Iuliis from De Iuliis Wines and Rodney Kempe of Lakes Folly. 

Rising Star of the Year is a category awarded to an emerging individual's effort in the Hunter Valley. The Rising Star can be "involved in winemaking, vineyard management, marketing or sales and have made an outstanding contribution over the preceding 12 months, showing results and achievement."

The finalists are: Gwyn Olsen from Briar Ridge Vineyard, Rauri Donkin of Bimbadgen, Stuart Hordern of Brokenwood Wines and Troy & Megan from Muse Restaurant & Muse Kitchen.

The Viticulturist of the Year, sponsored by Laffort Australia is an award given to the finest viticulturist involved in a Hunter Valley vineyard. The criteria "includes demonstration of vineyards that have achieved single vineyard status and any research and development undertaken to improve quality".

This year's finalists are: Andrew Margan from Margan Family Wines, Belinda Kelly of Tallavera Grove Vineyard and Davis Premium Vineyards and Paul Harvey, McWilliams Mt. Pleasant.

The final accolade is Cellar Door of the Year, sponsored by CBA Local Business Banking. Awarded to the cellar door which can portray the greatest image of the Hunter Valley wine industry to the public. 

Finalists are: Bimbadgen, De Iuliis Wines,  McGuigan Wines, McLeish Estate, Pepper Tree Wines and Tyrrell's Wines.

All categories will be judged by a panel of past winners, industry leaders and guest media judge, Mike Bennie.

In addition, a local legend will be inducted into the Hunter Valley Hall of Fame "acknowledging the recipient's lifetime of service to the Hunter Valley".

Tickets are still available by contacting Melissa Romeyn at the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association's office at

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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