Two Rivers Wines manager Brett Keeping wins Laffort Australia Hunter Valley 2019 Viticulturist of the Year award

WINNERS: Back , Brett Keeping, Angus Vinden, Adrian Sparks, Candice Crawford; and, seated, Brian McGuigan AM, Bill Roche AM, Imelda Roche AO and Greg Silkman.
WINNERS: Back , Brett Keeping, Angus Vinden, Adrian Sparks, Candice Crawford; and, seated, Brian McGuigan AM, Bill Roche AM, Imelda Roche AO and Greg Silkman.

IT appears as though Two Rivers Wines can do no wrong at the moment.

After being a finalist for the Royal Agricultural Society's prestigious President's Medal last month, the Denman winery's manager Brett Keeping collected another accolade at the 13th annual Hunter Valley Legends & Wine Industry Awards on Thursday night.

He took home the Laffort Australia Hunter Valley 2019 Viticulturist of the Year honour.

"I'm very proud to accept the award on behalf of the team," Mr Keeping said.

More than 300 people gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley to pay homage to the industry stalwarts who have contributed significantly to the region's wine and tourism industries.

Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association vice-president Brian McGuigan congratulated all the winners.

"The Hunter Valley is the oldest and most visited wine region in Australia by overseas tourists and its incredible wines have found their way into the homes of many others," he said.

"That's due to the hard work and vision of all our winners."

As always, the evening's highest tribute was presented to those luminaries who have reached 'Living Legend' status through more than 30 years' continuous involvement in the industry.

In 2019, the Wine Legend award was presented to Greg Silkman, owner of First Creek Winemaking Services.

He arrived in the Hunter Valley in 1985 to establish Tamburlaine Wines.

And, in the years since, he's worked his magic at various iconic wineries in the region, making his mark as a winemaker and businessman of renown.

Today he is at the helm of our largest contract winemaking businesses First Creek Winemaking services and state-of-the-art bottling facility.

Mr Silkman's commitment and contribution to the Hunter Valley wine tourism industry is highly-regarded by his peers.

The winners of the Tourism Legend Award were Bill Roche (AM) and Imelda Roche (AO), who were honoured for their establishment of the much-loved Hunter Valley Gardens, the result of the couple's long-held ambition to build a garden that would be enjoyed by generations to come.

The construction of Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin, began in 1999, on what was, originally, horse paddocks and vineyards.

Over a period of five years, under the direct personal management and guidance of Mr Roche and a team of up to 50 landscape gardeners, architects and engineers, the premises came to life.

Since its opening in October 2003, it has welcomed more than four million guests and is the home of iconic events such as the Christmas Lights Spectacular and Snow Time.

Mr Silkman and the Roches' new status as Hunter Valley Living Legends puts them in the company of well-known names such as Greg Walls, Robert and Sally Molines, Jay Tulloch, Brian McGuigan (AM), Ian Scarborough, Fay McGuigan, Max Drayton and Ian Tinkler.

Award winners:

RSN Australia Hunter Valley 2019 Rising Star of the Year

Angus Vinden - Vinden Estate Wines

Laffort Australia Hunter Valley 2019 Viticulturist of the Year

Brett Keeping - Two Rivers Wines

Australian Wine Selectors Hunter Valley 2019 Cellar Door of the Year

Brokenwood Wines

First Creek Winemaking Services Hunter Valley 2019 Winemaker of the Year

Adrian Sparks - Mount Pleasant Wines

Hunter Valley Wine Industry 2019 Heritage Award

Pokolbin Memorial Gates

Hunter Valley 2019 Award for Excellence

Brian McGuigan (AM)