Wine glasses will be raised across the Granite Belt for CEO of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism John Neville as he prepares to step down after eight years in the top job.

Neville, who helped establish the college from the ground up, will retire to his Stanthorpe property at the end of this week, leaving former Cruise Whitsundays CEO Peter O’Reilly to take his place.

Neville said the college, much like a fine wine, had gotten better with age and he was happy to witness its growth.

“For seven days a week this college was my life; I lived and breathed it,” he said.

"It’s grown so much and is in a really good position but new challenges are always on the way and I think Mr O’Reilly will bring with him new experience and a different kind of leadership.

I don’t think the college could have matured into what it is today without the support of excellent staff and it was a pleasure to work with such knowledgeable people.”

John Neville

Neville left his position as principal of Stanthorpe State High School in 2006 to take up the role of QCWT project director, before being appointed CEO in 2007.

“I still remember the first vintage the college produced under the Banca Ridge Estate label, that was a real highlight for me,” he said.

“When we developed the college, we were donated 18,000 bottles of wine from five Queensland wineries which was the beginning of a fantastic relationship with the local wine industry.

“Those ties have only strengthened with time and I’m going to miss being so involved with the wine tourism industry.”

John Neville

USQ vice-chancellor professor Jan Thomas thanked Neville for his years of outstanding service as CEO.

“Mr Neville has overseen the college’s development and growth as a state-of-the-art education and training facility for the Queensland wine tourism industry and expanding our ties with local communities, industry and education providers,” Thomas said.

“I wish John all the very best for his future.”

Jan Thomas, USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor