Entries for the eleventh annual Young Gun of Wine are now open (until September 16), and the competition organisers, judges and sponsors are on the hunt for the best ‘young at heart’ winemakers around Australia.

Established in 2007, the Young Gun of Wine has become the most exciting wine trophy in Australia. Celebrating the finest and most innovative rising stars, it is the place to spot the best new talent and trends in wine.

Brian Walsh, Chairman of Wine Australia, describes the competition as “different from all others, bringing a unique energy and vitality to the sector.”

“In the decade of its existence, The Young Gun of Wine Awards has become an incubator for emerging talent in the Australian grape and wine community. A casual perusal of the nominees since 2007 reads like a who’s who of the contemporary wine scene in Australia.”

Now going into its eleventh year, organisers of the competition are turning up the volume and expanding the format.

In new developments, all winemakers entering the competition will show their wines at events around Australia from October-November (2016) with the support of Sommeliers Australia. Judging will be held in March (2017) to determine the “Top 50” – announced during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and in conjunction with Alquimie magazine, who are releasing a special free publication to profile each of the Top 50. The Top 12 finalists are then revealed in May ahead of “People’s Choice” events in June, and culminating with the trophy winners presentation.

Josh Elias of Alquimie says they’re looking forward to profiling the Top 50 producers. “Australian wine has never been better and we are thrilled to be able to tell its story. Perhaps most importantly, the way that our story is being communicated is changing. Finalists recognised by the Young Gun of Wine are reinterpreting our landscape, creating wines that excel in both their complexity and also, in their accessibility. The wines are exciting and the end consumer is being reengaged in a new fashion.”

David Lawler, President of Sommeliers Australia, further highlights the opportunity to connect and educate through the competition and events: “This beautifully untethered approach is yielding a greater understanding for all about the potentials for our lands, soils and wines.”

“All sommeliers should be fostering relationships with quality producers to better understand their stories, wines and motivations. An alliance with the Young Gun of Wine promises to add yet more valuable layers for the relationships between winemakers, sommeliers and consumers.”

The judges include Nick Stock (jamessuckling.com, Gourmet Traveller WINE, et al), Rory Kent (Executive Style), Philip Rich (Financial Review Magazine and The Lucas Group), Josh Elias (Alquimie), Mike Bennie (The Wine Front, Delicious, et al), Pip Anderson (MONA) and Josephine Perry (Dormilona, 2016 Young Gun of Wine).

Nick Stock, who has led the judging panel since its inception, encourages all emerging winemakers to enter. “These awards are about gathering like-minded and uniquely individual talents together, rallying eclectic and far flung tastes, making noise, getting them noticed and having a ripping time along the way. We’re on the hunt for the ‘young at heart’. Whether they’re employed by an established company or running their own show; whether they’re refining traditional styles or getting radical, we just want to celebrate the best talent.”

Mike Aylward of Ocean Eight recently described how the competition helped launch his own label: “The success of Ocean Eight and my reputation as a winemaker was dramatically elevated after winning the award in 2011. Young Gun of Wine is the best platform for emerging winemakers throughout Australia to show their wares. It has a great energy that normal wine shows and awards lack.”

Entries are open until September 16. To enter, go to trybooking.com. For more information about the competition, see The Awards and Entries pages.