Visitor’s Centre, winery honoured with tourism awards

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TOURISM: Yass Valley Visitor Information Centre and Murrumbateman winery Four Winds Vineyard have taken out top honours at this year’s Canberra Region Tourism Awards.

Yass Valley Council was awarded the Visitor Information Centre award and Four Winds took out the best Visitor Experience award during a gala presentation dinner in Canberra on Thursday night.

It’s the third win in as many years for the vineyard.

“We’re really excited about it,” business manager Sarah Collingwood told Scoop.

Four Winds Vineyard business manager Sarah Collingwood. PHOTO: Lauren Campbell

Four Winds Vineyard business manager Sarah Collingwood. PHOTO: Lauren Campbell

“People feel more confident they can come here and have a good experience, that the staff will be friendly and they will really enjoy their experience with us,” she said.

“And it’s nice to have third parties endorsing our business… “

The award is based on visitors logging online and rating the business, and the award goes to the business with the most votes.

“We’re lucky because our cellar door sits right in our vineyard so the ambience is pretty nice sitting amongst the vines.”

Feedback about their wood-fired pizzas was also positive.

Mrs Collingwood said her parents Suzanne and Graeme Lunney planted the vineyard 17 years ago.

“My husband John manages the vineyard, my sister Jaime Crowe and her husband Bill Crowe make the wine and I do the business management, so it’s a real family affair.”

The current crop was looking good so far, “we’re in the growing season at the moment, so the berries are like hard little peppercorns, but we will harvest in February / March next year.

“We’re hoping for a reasonably dry summer to make sure the vines don’t get any disease.”

Economic Development and Tourism manager Sean Haylan accepted the Visitor Information Services award at a gala dinner on Thursday. PHOTO: Developing Agents Photography

Economic Development and Tourism manager Sean Haylan accepted the Visitor Information Services award at a gala dinner on Thursday. PHOTO: Developing Agents Photography

Yass Valley Council Economic Development and Tourism manager Sean Haylan said our area was well represented at the awards, with Wee Jasper comedian Emo Parsonson one of the Master of Ceremonies on the night too.

“We had local talent, local tourism and local wine there, so it was good,” he said.

“We’ve been an award winner two years in a row [in different categories] and this win now presents us with the opportunity to represent this region on a nation level.

“There’s no direct entry, you must win at a state or territory level to be eligible. So by winning the Canberra Region Tourism Awards, we now go up against the best in the country for the visitor information services category.”

It was “refreshing” to get recognition and support from VisitCanberra too, which directs more than four million visitors our way each year.

He was pleased to acknowledge the work of the local team too.

Emo Parsonson was a Master of Ceremonies at the gala event. PHOTO: Developing Agents Photography

Emo Parsonson was a Master of Ceremonies at the gala event. PHOTO: Developing Agents Photography

“This award acknowledges the excellence of my team at the Yass Valley Information Centre and the face-to-face service they provide in addition to ensuring our online portals are up-to-date, meaning that in excess of 80,000 visitors and locals alike receive the latest and most accurate information about Yass Valley.

“Over 435,000 people now visit Yass Valley annually and tourism is worth over $78 million to the local economy and is a key driver of small business and local employment.”

Council had worked with industry, surrounding local government areas, Destination NSW and Visit Canberra to market and promote the region’s tourism products and experiences, he said.

The awards are funded by the ACT Government’s VisitCanberra initiative and administered through the National Capital Attractions Association.

Award winners will now represent the Canberra Region at the Australian Tourism Awards in Melbourne in February.

Four Winds Vineyard has been awarded the Canberra Region Tourism Award 2015 for Visitor Experience. PHOTO: Supplied

Four Winds Vineyard has been awarded the Canberra Region Tourism Award 2015 for Visitor Experience. PHOTO: Supplied

Katharyn Brine

Editor / Publisher

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