2020 Winemaker Awards The 14th Annual Young Gun of Wine Awards

Since 2007, we’ve scoured the country for the best emerging talent, always looking for new ideas, for creative mavericks, and for those unwilling to compromise.

About our Winemaker Awards

The thing about emerging wine producers is they’re a source of innovation, inspiration and new ideas. They’re not shackled by conventions. They’re free. Wide-eyed; adventurous; eager to travel; to experiment; to remix, they question everything. They create energy. They excite. And this is how they lead.

Our definition of a young gun is not about a date of birth. It’s about this spirit and being young at heart. We’ve had a number of past finalists over 40 – because, really, it takes a lot to make impressive wine.

Whether they’re employed by an established company or running their own show; whether they’re refining traditional styles or getting radical, we want to provide a platform for these people and their ideas.

They come in all forms. Our definition of a winemaker isn’t limited to the person who presses the fruit and racks the wine. Steve Jobs didn’t assemble the circuitry in Apple products, but he’s the one, isn’t he.

These awards are about gathering the 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.


The YGOW Awards is open to young wine labels, as well as winemakers on the rise employed in established wineries.

We don’t focus on date of birth, but the winemakers are under 45 years of age.

A winemaker submits two commercially available wines.

The two wines submitted by the winemaker are tasted side-by-side. They are not tasted blind. A general assessment of the quality of the wines is first made, before deeper discussion on the appeal and interest of the wine in the glass, and then the bigger picture of the winemaker: their creativity and leadership; the execution of their product in a wholistic sense; and the context of the individual and their work in the wine landscape today.


  • Registrations open for 14th annual YGOW: June 2019
  • National event tour: September-November, 2019
  • Late registrations close: December 31, 2019
  • Submissions for the tasting panel: January, 2020
  • Top 50 announced: March, 2020
  • Top 50  events: ~May, 2020
  • Trophy presentation: June, 2020


2020 Panellists

  • Rory Kent

    Founder of Young Gun of Wine, and editor-in-chief of ygowstaging.wpengine.com.

  • Nick Stock

    Chief panellist of the Young Gun of Wine. Author, International Wine Communicator and Awarded Best Drinks Journalist at the 2007 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards.

  • Pip Anderson

    Formerly 2IC at Merivale in Sydney, Pip Anderson now heads up the wine at Mona in Hobart where she is also applying her hands to winegrowing.

  • Penny Grant

    Penny Grant is the Group Sommelier for the Ghanem Group in Brisbane, whose venues include the iconic Blackbird, as well as the new Dona Chang.

  • Jane Lopes

    Author of ‘Vignette’, Attica’s wine director, Good Food magazine “I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the emerging talent in winemaking in Australia. I’m continually impressed by the perspective and integrity of new wineries in Australia, and excited to be able to taste many in a concentrated setting.” Jane Lopes graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Renaissance Literature and a love for food, wine, and spirits. While taking a year off, Jane found a job in wine retail. She worked at the nationally- acclaimed cocktail bar, The Violet Hour, and in 2011, moved to Nashville to be the opening Beverage Director at The Catbird Seat. After moving to New York in 2013, Jane began working as a sommelier at Eleven Madison Park, helping to lift the restaurant to #1 in the world on the World’s 50 Best List. In 2017, Jane was recruited to run the beverage program at Attica. Her first book, Vignette, was published in 2019 by Hardie Grant. Jane also has a column in Fairfax’s monthly Good Food Magazine.

  • David Moyle

    Chef and food editor, The Saturday Paper David’s been involved in top Wineslinger venues, such as Franklin and The Summertown Aristologist, and a number of other recognised dining rooms around Australia – places where food and wine are naturally hand in hand. “I’m really excited to taste and talk with young talent in the wine industry. A lot can be picked up by what is in the glass, but it’s the purpose behind and the work leading up to that is important. Decisions need to be made and each one impacts the end result so greatly.” We’re excited about the unique perspective and experience that David will bring to our panel in 2020.

  • James Hird

    Wine director, The Icebergs Group Award-winning sommelier, James Hird is wine director at several of Sydney’s top venues, including Icebergs, The Dolphin Hotel, CicciaBella, The Bucket List and Hotel Harry. “I am very fortunate to work across venues that offer dynamic wine programs. For me, whether it’s a formal dining room or a sand on feet beachside bar, it’s exciting to offer wine that suits the menu and the place. It is truly exciting to see, in both restaurants and pubs, more guests looking for real wines that offer a sense of place and the people who made them. Wine for me should be fun and accessible. “I’m really looking to being a part of the YGOW Awards panel in 2020 – it’s an amazing opportunity to get a snapshot of what’s going on with emerging producers around the country and catch up with some of the country’s great wine folks. It’s fantastic to see this program go from strength.” We love the breadth of offering, and indeed the surprise and joy created, amongst James’ wine programs. We’re looking forward to this diverse approach with the curation of our Top 50 list and trophy winners in the 2020 YGOW Awards.

  • Charlotte Hardy

    Winemaker, Charlotte Dalton Wines Charlotte knows what the winemakers are going through. “I am really excited to join the panel for the upcoming Young Gun of Wine Awards. Having been a finalist in 2017 I know the doors it can open, relationships it can build and confidence it can install in a young brand. To be on the other side is just such a huge honour knowing how game changing it can be for the finalists. I am really looking forward to seeing winemakers’ expressions of themselves in the glass. Wine is such a deeply personal thing and is a true reflection of a winemaker, the passion they put into every bottle becomes so evident no matter the stylethey make.”

  • Max Veenhuyzen

    Broadsheet Perth editor, Gourmet Traveller “I’m hoping to get a good look at Australia’s next generation of it-winemakers: the blue-sky thinkers and doers who are going to drive the winemaking discussion in future. I’m also excited about being part of an Australian award system that looks at wine through a different lens to the traditional show system. This isn’t a criticism of the old ways—there’s no denying that show system has helped shape Australia’s wine identity—but in an era where drinkers are chasing wines with personality, sustainability, good design and powerful stories, it seems fitting to rethink the way wines are—quote-unquote — ‘judged’.” Perth-based food, drink and travel writer, Max is WA’s editor-at-large for Broadsheet and regularly contributes to Australian Gourmet Traveller (WA state editor), and Good Food. He has been contributing to key national and international titles for more than a decade.

  • Katie Spain

    The Advertiser (News Ltd), Gourmet Traveller & WBM “As a writer, I trawl the world in search of great stories (and bottles). Joining the Young Gun of Wine Awards panel for 2020, I look forward to discovering the tales behind the stellar group of entrants. What led them to wine? How do they make what they do and why? What drives them? That is the magic of wine.” Katie Spain is a journalist, wine writer and author. She is a wine scribe for News Corp’s The Advertiser newspaper, a feature writer for SA Weekend Magazine, Australian Wine Business Magazine, and is a food and wine writer for The Advertiser, Sunday Mail, and The Advertiser Food Guide. She was the 2017 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show fellow and is the author of The Producers: A Taste of South Australia and co-author of Adelaide Central Market — Stories, People & Recipes. When the former farm kid is not cumulating keyboard strokes she can usually be found scouring the country for stories (and cellar doors) in a tiny vintage caravan called Charlie.

  • Damon Koerner

    Winemaker, Koerner Damon Koerner first submitted wines to the Young Gun of Wine Awards panel in 2015, and took out the top title in 2019. As with all past top-title winners, he joins the panel for our next edition of the awards. “Hoping to see both a blend of clever winemaking and creative thinking, wines that reflect a place and are delicious drinking!”

  • Jess Ho

    Food and drink editor, Time Out Beyond being a commentator, Jess has had a small taste of the winemaking thing (you may recall our “Baptism of Fire” project where first-timers were thrown into the cut n thrust of releasing a wine, from harvest through to sales), and has experienced the highs and lows of opening her own wine bar. If you’ve seen her work in writing or on TV as a judge on a commercial network food show, you’ll know she pulls no punches with her words. “In joining the YGOW Awards panel, I am looking forward to the new stories, philosophies and approaches that the pool of talent will offer, and how it will translate in the bottle. Australia is in a very exciting stage of winemaking where its identity today is its own, lead by a new wave of vignerons and winemakers who are marching to the beat of their own drum and pushing boundaries that challenge the status quo.”

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