Leading viticulturist Liz Riley was presented the Legend of the Vine Award at the 2023 Sydney Royal Wine Show Trophy Winners Lunch on Friday 18 August.

Celebrated for her contribution to the Australian wine industry, Riley said that she was “honoured and humbled” by the recognition. Best known for her viticultural consultant business Vitbit, Riley is also a member of several industry boards, including the AWRI, Freshcare and Landcare NSW, and an educator in pest and diseases, pruning and biosecurity through Tocal College in NSW.

Angus Barnes, WCA Executive Chair, commented on the announcement: “WCA is delighted to be able to honour Liz’s many contributions to the wine industry. Liz often works quietly behind the scenes, but her contribution is long and lasting.”

“During the terrible bushfires and smoke events of the 2020 vintage, Liz worked tirelessly to ensure that NSW producers and growers could get their grapes and wine tested for smoke damage. This led to businesses being able to make much better decisions about how to treat that particularly difficult season. For this work, she was given the 2021 Award for Excellence by the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association.”

Presented by Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA), the Legend of the Vine Award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry and embody the ethos of WCA.

First introduced to NSW in 2014, the concept has expanded to include Victoria and South Australia, with a nominee chosen by the WCA Board from each state and presented at the WCA Royal Wine Show lunches in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Based in the Hunter Valley, Riley is the eleventh person to be awarded the Legend of the Vine status in NSW, joining the likes of Andrew Caillard MW, Sandra Przibilla, Lydney Milan, Huon Hooke, Clive Hartley, Iain Riggs, Rob Hirst and David Lowe.

Riley has received a number of other prestigious awards, being the first female recipient of the NSW DPI Graham Gregory Award 2020, and being named Wine Magazine 2022’s viticulturist of the year.

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