Four new Hunter Valley legends

By Louise Johnson
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Leading young winemaker, Jim Chatto

Leading young winemaker, Jim Chatto


The Hunter Valley Wine Industry honoured the achievements of their own at the third annual Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Industry Awards held at Wyndham Estate, in late May. 

Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Industry Awards chairman Iain Riggs says the region is “very fortunate to have so many talented and passionate people who work hard to continue the high standard of winemaking in the region which was set by the Hunter Valley legends and pioneers.  The awards ensure we recognise and celebrate those that are at the forefront of the Industry and highlight their achievements.”

Four legends were inducted to the Legends honour roll with Jay Tulloch of Tulloch Wines, Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrells Vineyards, Phil Ryan of McWilliams Mt Pleasant and Fay McGuigan formally of McGuigan Wines, all receiving the prestigious honour of being named a Hunter Valley Living Legend. 

Fay McGuigan has continued family tradition with her husband Brian the 2008 inductee and Perc McGuigan an inaugural inductee in 2007.

This year’s inductees join a list of Legends who have for decades worked tirelessly and contributed enormously to the region.  They include, Brian Walsh,  Max Drayton, John Tulloch, Karl Stockhausen, Perc McGuigan, Brian McGuigan and the late Max Lake.

2009 sees the introduction of an exciting new award, ‘The Heritage Award’ which acknowledges landmarks or items of historical importance that have influenced the course of or made a significant contribution to the Hunter Valley Wine Industry. 

The inaugural winner of the Heritage Award is Uncle Dan’s slab hut at Tyrrell’s Vineyard.  The five generations of Tyrrell’s Winemakers can be traced back to Uncle Dan’s Slab Hut.  The hut was home to Edward Tyrrell who settled on the property in 1858.  If walls could talk they would detail the hard work, passion and great wine produced by the Tyrrell family.

Today the Hut stands in the car park of the winery and is admired by many who visit the historic family vineyard.

The 2009 award winners are:

2009 WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR: Jim Chatto - Pepper Tree Wines

Jim Chatto of Pepper Tree Wines has been described by noted wine reviewer Huon Hooke as an “Extremely talented Winemaker”. This award recognises and celebrated the outstanding unique wine styles produced by Jim.  

A Wine Science graduate from Charles Sturt University, Jim Chatto joined Pepper Tree wines in the role of Chief Winemaker in 2007.  Having gained a reputation as a leading young winemaker, Jim’s winemaking ability and experience is one of remarkable depth. Jim’s philosophies and techniques are reflective of a winemaker of the world having worked locally in the Hunter as well as vintages in the Yarra Valley, Tasmania, Hungary and France.

RISING STAR OF THE YEAR:  Sarah Crowe - Brokenwood Wines

A trip to France introduced Sarah to the wonder of wine and the nature of some of the world’s greatest vines. On her return she contacted Brokenwood Wines and made her way to the Hunter for what was initially only a few weeks, learning vine management where she then embarked on a university degree in Viticulture at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga studying part time while working in the field.

During harvest 2002 Sarah  spent six weeks working in the winery while the fruit was being harvested. She was hooked by the wonders of wine and winemaking and never returned to work in the vineyard. A few vintages later she became Brokenwood's Assistant Winemaker. Sarah has also furthered her knowledge with two northern hemisphere vintages in North America and France.

Sarah considers herself a Hunter girl through and through and loves the finesse of young Hunter Semillon and the complexity and evolving nature of aged Hunter Semillon.   She is firmly entrenched at Brokenwood and the Hunter Valley has become her home.

Ian Tinkler - Tinklers Vineyard

Ian comes from one of the pioneer grape growing families in the region. He has been actively involved in grape growing for 40 years. The first Tinkler arrived in the Hunter Valley in 1844 and now the 5th and 6th generation of Tinkler follow his farming practices. The family now farm approximately 1,000 hectares in the Hunter Valley at Pokolbin and Merriwa with wine grapes, table grapes, stone fruit and beef cattle. Ian grows grapes which are largely sold to other companies retaining a few small parcels for his own label – Tinkler Vineyards.

Ian has been heavily involved in the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association over the years being elected to the Committee for 17 years. He also started the local bush fire brigade and has been involved in many other community initiatives.

CELLAR DOOR OF THE YEAR: Scarborough Wine co.

Scarborough Wine co. are a true family winery with all members involved in the making and marketing of the brand.  The Scarboroughs offer an extremely personalised wine experience. Guests sit down and are hosted through their tasting while they take in the amazing views the property offers.

Sally Scarborough says, “We believe that our tasting experience is truly unique – and are constantly reminded of this by the feedback from our customers.  Our Cellar Door is a very important part of our brand – and we see this as the first chance to truly show wine lovers and novices what the Scarborough Family is all about.”



  • Lower Hunter (NSW)
  • Hunter including Newcastle (NSW)
  • Upper Hunter Valley (NSW)
  • Hunter Valley (NSW)

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June 17th, 2009
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