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2021 Winemaker Awards The 15th Annual Young Gun of Wine Awards

From 2021, joining the trophies – Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice and Danger Zone – is a new award which celebrates makers that also lovingly tend to the land and the vines that they make wine from.

Young at Heart

The ‘young’ in the Young Gun of Wine Awards mostly refers to young wine labels. We don’t focus on date of birth, but the winemakers are under 45 years of age (born after 01/07/1975 for the 15th annual YGOW Awards)… You typically have to have some significant experience before you can successfully launch a meaningful new wine project.

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.

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.

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.

Criteria and Process

The Young Gun of Wine Awards are open to young wine labels as well as winemakers on the rise within established wineries.

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.

Established in 2007, the Young Gun of Wine Award is our top trophy. It goes to an emerging producer that is not only making outstanding wine, but also demonstrating vision and leadership, and nailing the entire pitch, packaging and presentation of their product.

Each year we announce a group of finalists – Top winemakers –  in the running, and we present those finalists through events and/or online activities, with the intent of having all wine lovers express their thoughts through the People’s Choice Award.

The Winemaker’s Choice trophy is our peer award, chosen by that year’s finalists. This trophy was introduced from 2013.

The Best New Act goes to a first-time finalist in our winemaker awards that is making a profound impression. This trophy was introduced from 2013.

The Danger Zone is the only trophy in our winemaker awards that goes to a wine product. It recognises a wine that successfully pushes the boundaries. This trophy was introduced from 2017.

In 2021 we are introducing a new award which celebrates makers that also lovingly tend to the land and the vines that they make wine from.

15th YGOW Awards Calendar

  • Registrations for 15th annual YGOW: June–December 2020
  • Submissions for the tasting panel: January, 2021
  • Finalists announced: March, 2021
  • Top 50 events *TBC: ~May, 2021
  • Trophy presentation: by June, 2021

2021 Panellists

  • Belinda Thomson

    Belinda Thomson is the Chief Winemaker and Viticulturist at her family winery, Crawford River Wines, in Henty. After completing postgraduate studies in oenology and viticulture in 2002, Thomson worked in New Zealand, Italy and Germany before returning home for the 2004 vintage. She helped establish a winery in Rueda, Spain, in 2008 and worked the seasons both in south-west Victoria and Spain for a decade. She took over the running of Crawford River in 2014. Thomson is also a respected wine show judge.

  • Chris Dilworth & Loïque Allain

    Dilworth & Allain is the budding label of Loique Allain and Chris Dilworth, launched in 2017. Based in the Macedon Ranges, they currently make a riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir from three vineyards, one of which they help farm organically. The wines reflect a desire to work as naturally as possible, while they convey site and variety with bell-clear vitality. Dilworth & Allain were named the 2020 Young Gun of Wine. The pair also took out the Best New Act at the same awards, making Young Gun history.

  • Jeremy Shiell

    Jeremy Shiell is the Victorian regional representative for Andrew Guard Wine Imports. He works for Jen and Owen Latta at Winespeake (the recently relocated and rebooted Wine & The Country), in Daylesford, and drags hoses around in the winery for Joshua Cooper. Shiell is also one of Australia’s most respected sommeliers, with a lengthy stint curating the mammoth wine list at The Royal Mail Hotel, in Dunkeld. His tenure was during the peak of Dan Hunter’s reign when it was acclaimed as one of the country’s finest restaurants.

  • Leanne Altmann

    Leanne Altmann is beverage director of Andrew McConnell’s restaurants. She is a WSET Certified Educator, and holds the WSET Diploma, where she was the top Australian graduate. Altmann is a Len Evans scholar, and has the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Certificate, dux. She is a recipient of the Negociants Australia Working with Wine Fellowship, won the inaugural Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, and was the 2018 Vin de Champagne Award winner. Altman is a regular contributor to The Saturday Paper and an occasional wine judge.

  • Nick Stock

    Nick Stock, Executive Editor of JamesSuckling.com and Drinks Curator for Tasting Australia, is one of Australia's most respected and prolific wine critics. His wealth of knowledge extends to all corners of the wine world and this, combined with his frank and fearless style, has made him one of the most popular and widely read Australian wine writers. Stock has been a panellist of the Young Gun of Wine since inception in 2007. He is also an author, and was awarded Best Drinks Journalist at the 2007 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards.

  • Olivia Evans

    Olivia Evans is a certified sommelier, currently responsible for curating the wine list at Brunswick Heads institution Fleet Restaurant. Her time there has strengthened the restaurant’s strong service offering after winning Appetite For Excellence Young Waiter Award (2019). As well as a budding storyteller, she finds importance in those making meaningful contributions to the environment through wine, farming, food and community.

  • Sebastian Crowther

    Sebastian Crowther is one of only five Master Sommeliers in Australia, having passed the notoriously difficult test in 2013. He currently runs his wine import and wholesale business, Real Wines. He has previously won Sydney Morning Herald Sommelier of the Year and also the Judy Hirst award for the best wine list in the country. Prior to devoting himself to his own business, Crowther was the Beverage Director for the Rockpool Dining Group.

Top 50 Finalists

    • Aaron Fenwick
    • Château Comme Ci, Comme Ça
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Aaron Fenwick’s Château Comme Ci, Comme Ça label is all about fun approachability, lo-fi wines made to be light on their feet, textural and engagingly drinkable. Working with semillon, chardonnay, pinot gris and merlot, he sources grapes from the Adelaide Hills – where he also co-owns The Summertown Aristologist. Working with growers who farm organically (though not all certified), he picks early to retain crunchy freshness, includes plenty of skin contact on the whites, building texture and flavour, and takes the reds off skins somewhat quickly to make zippy and poised expressions.

    • Andrew Scott
    • La Petite Mort
    • Granite Belt

    • 2019, 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist

    A love of wine was fostered early in Andrew Scott’s career, although it took some years to take stubborn control of him. While racking up a formidable resume in restaurants in Adelaide, including a stint at The Chesser Cellar with Primo Caon and another with James Erskine (Jauma) at Augè – old-school and new-school legends right there – then in Noosa, Scott dipped in and out of education, with hospitality and, more significantly, wine eventually winning the tussle.

    • Andrew Wardlaw
    • Edenflo
    • Eden Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Edenflo is the culmination of Andrew Wardlaw’s extensive experience here and overseas, a label centered around celebrating the Eden Valley with wines that continue his fascination with native yeasts and minimal intervention that he’s been championing for two decades. His process has always been lo-fi, with basket pressing, no chilling or fining, and gravity employed over pumps, and he never does numbers in the lab. He was a pioneer, if you will, and his wines are very much still at the cutting edge, with unlikely assemblies of grapes, some skinsy, some not, as well as elegantly pitched takes on Eden Valley reds.

    • Anita Goode
    • Wangolina
    • Mount Benson

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Mount Benson’s Wangolina is increasingly becoming a canvas for Anita Goode’s fascination with alternative varieties, though the classic French grapes of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, semillon and sauvignon blanc still get plenty of airtime. Aside from grüner veltliner, which is a cherished grape for Goode, the varieties and future plantings are Italian and Spanish, with some red grapes sourced from Mundulla, with the warmer inland climate favouring lagrein, montepulciano, mencia and tempranillo. Goode’s wines champion the less-known varieties with pure expressions, while imprinting the unfamiliar region of Mount Benson on those grapes more familiar.

    • Ben Caldwell & Mauricio Ruiz Cantú
    • Somos
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Based in McLaren Vale, Somos is the label of Ben Caldwell and Mauricio Ruiz Cantú. The pair work primarily with less-known Italian and Spanish varieties, and they make them in entirely unconventional ways, with a lo-fi and sustainable ethos.

    • Ben Mullen
    • Mulline
    • Geelong

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Mulline is Ben Mullen’s solo venture, focusing on sites across the Geelong region. Fresh out of a stint as the winemaker at Clyde Park, Mullen was keen to continue his relationship with the grapes of the region, but on his own terms. Mulline was born in the 2019 vintage, with classically elegant single-site expressions of pinot noir, syrah and chardonnay and a barrel-aged sauvignon blanc leading the way.

    • Ben Ranken
    • Wilimee
    • Macedon Ranges

    • 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist
    2018 Top 50

    Ben Ranken has been tirelessly restoring his Wilimee vineyard, which is one of the Macedon Ranges oldest. Converting the vines to being dry grown, while implementing organic practices (not yet certified), his focus is on chardonnay and pinot noir planted to two distinct soil types – granite and Cambrian – with two varietal wines currently made that are reflective of site and farming, with winemaking taking a backseat. Ranken also matures bottled pinot noir underwater for five years – a shipwreck-inspired endeavour.

    • Chad Connolly
    • White Gate Wine Co.
    • Barossa Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    White Gate Wine Co. was founded by Chad and Georgia Connolly, who set out to frame the Barossa in a more elegant light, with earlier picking, plenty of whole bunch for reds and a minimal intervention approach. Working loosely with growers or leasing vineyards, the Connollys aim is to make wines they love to drink, elegant, balanced and light on their feet.

    • Charlie O’Brien
    • Silent Noise
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Charlie O’Brien’s Silent Noise label is over five years old now, with the first wine from 2015 made with the help of his father at the family winery, Kangarilla Road. The younger O’Brien wasn’t yet in his final year of school when those grapes were picked and crushed, but there was no holding him back. Today, with experience gained from near and far, he’s taken the winemaking reins firmly, making wines from McLaren Vale star varieties, as well as alternative Italian grapes grown in the Riverland, with ample experimentation in the winery never getting in the way of pure drinkability.

    • Charlotte Hardy
    • Charlotte Dalton Wines
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2017, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2017 Finalist

    Charlotte Hardy’s Charlotte Dalton wines were launched from the 2015 vintage, a semillon and a shiraz made in an unfussed lo-fi way. With a career making wine for some serious labels, these weren’t your classic new wave wines from Basket Range. They were a pivot from the norm, unbound but not wild, essentially personal expressions. Hardy’s wines are like that, made with technical understanding, but intuitively, a reflection of mood and moment.

    • Dan Graham
    • Sigurd
    • Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Dan Graham’s Sigurd has been helping to redefine the Barossa Valley since 2012, with fruit picked earlier to capture freshness, then made with a minimal-intervention approach and no additions bar sulphur at bottling. Now also working with grapes from the Riverland, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley, Graham makes varietal wines – chardonnay, riesling, chenin blanc, carignan and syrah – as well as complex white, rosé and red blends, with judicious amounts of whole bunch and skin contact employed to create complex, complete wines that are as focused on elegant flavour as they are on texture and structural detail.

    • Daniel Payne
    • Dirt Candy
    • Hunter Valley

    • 2019, 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2019 Danger Zone

    Although Daniel Payne dabbled in the wine industry in the early 2000s, while studying to be a primary school teacher in Newcastle, it took until 2017 for him to launch his own label. That initial experience was in the Hunter Valley, with Payne growing up just outside the region. A love for wine was well and truly enshrined then, but a career as a primary teacher stood in the way for several years, before the lure became too great, and Daniel enrolled at Charles Sturt University to study winemaking.

    • Dave Verheul
    • Saison Vermouth
    • Victoria

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Dave Verheul is a chef, and a celebrated one at that, but he’s also one of the leading lights in Australia’s burgeoning vermouth movement, producing micro-batches of his Saison vermouth that are based on pure, singular flavours and built with organically farmed local produce. Starting as an inhouse offering for his Melbourne restaurants – Embla and Lesa – the steel clamp of 2020’s lockdowns gave him enough breathing space to properly launch his range, with a second pair of vermouths – ‘Blackcurrant Leaf’ and the second edition of ‘Summer Flowers’ – following in 2021.

    • David Caporaletti
    • Architects of Wine
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    David Caporaletti started Architects of Wine when an obsessive winemaking hobby spiraled out of control, necessitating a commercial release. Since then, Caporaletti has not looked back, with a deep investigation primarily of Italian varieties from vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, though he also sources grapes from the Clare Valley. The wines are firmly in the minimal-intervention camp, with minute additions of sulphur at bottling only, and are bottled without fining or filtration.

    • Duncan Lloyd
    • Coriole
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Coriole has firmly etched itself into McLaren Vale consciousness, producing intense but serenely balanced wines from the region’s most prolific varieties – shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, grenache – but they have long been an innovator, too. Leading the charge with sangiovese in the 1980s, Coriole now make a raft of wines from heat-tolerant Mediterranean varieties – fiano, montepulciano, nero d’avola, piquepoul, for example – leaning on mid-weight styles that score high for drinkability and food friendliness. Today, joining his brother, Peter, and father, Mark, in the business, Duncan Lloyd has taken the winemaking reins, with “creative control” over the range.

    • Etienne Mangier
    • North Wine
    • Macedon Ranges

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    After having travelled the world making wine, Etienne Mangier settled in the Macedon Ranges, a place that he likens to the Jura region of France, where he grew up. Now with two small vineyards under his management, and without recourse to any chemical treatments, he makes both still and sparkling wines under his North label. The wines, working with chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz, are made without any additions – including no sulphur.

    • Gabe O’Brien
    • Cavedon Wines
    • King Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Cavedon Wines is the third-generation manifestation of a pioneering King Valley vineyard, with Gabe O’Brien making micro-batches of wine to celebrate the hard work of his father-in-law over 40 plus years, who helped pioneer, and then revolutionise grape-growing in the region. O’Brien is starting to do the same for winemaking, introducing styles less common in the district, including skin contact on white grapes, sparkling gewürztraminer, nouveau reds and bottle fermenting prosecco to make both col fondo and zero dosage wines.

    • Glen Hayley
    • Kooyong / Port Phillip Estate
    • Mornington Peninsula

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate are two of the Mornington Peninsula’s enduring stars. Glen Hayley took the Baton from Sandro Mosele as Chief Winemaker of both estates in 2015, and he has been subtly refining the classic Mornington offering of pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir and a little shiraz, with a specialisation in single-site bottlings.

    • Greer Carland
    • Quiet Mutiny
    • Tasmania

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Carland’s choice of the name Quiet Mutiny for her own label is a metaphor of sorts. Having spent much of her career making wines for numerous clients – she was a Senior Winemaker with Winemaking Tasmania (the largest contract winemaker in Tasmania) for 12 years – Carland slipped away from her role in 2016 to pursue wine her way, to show what she sees in Tassie fruit through her unique lens. A classic riesling gains complexity from skin contact and wild fermentation, while pinot noir from the Derwent Valley sees a quarter of the fruit left as whole bunches. Carland also makes wines under the Laurel Bank label, which is her family’s vineyard in Granton that they planted in 1986.

    • Hadyn Black
    • Black & Ginger
    • Great Western

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Hadyn Black and Darcy ‘Ginger’ Naunton are Black & Ginger, a Grampians-based producer working out of local vineyards, including the fabled Malakoff Vineyard in the nearby Pyrenees. Black makes the wines and Naunton looks after the numbers, with the two living quite distinctly different lives. The label has focused on shiraz, the regional specialty, typically employing plenty of whole bunch and neutral oak, but in 2019 they added an orange muscat and riesling blend to the roster, as well as a nouveau-style grenache.

    • Jack Weedon
    • Rollick Wines
    • Barossa Valley, Riverland

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Jack and Tash Weedon’s Rollick label is built around the bright, drink-now styles of wine they love to drink themselves. Working with grenache, shiraz and viognier from the Barossa, riesling from the Eden Valley and fiano from the Riverland, the fruit is picked earlier to retain freshness, while less time in oak or tank has much the same impact. The Rollick wines are instantly recognisable wines of variety and place, but with the vibrancy and freshness dials wound to maximum.

    • Jacob Carter
    • Sholto Wines
    • Canberra District

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Jacob Carter’s Sholto wines are made to reflect the familiar in an unfamiliar light, taking classic varieties from the Canberra District and making them in decidedly non-classic ways to reveal surprising new dimensions. Whether employing skin contact with sauvignon blanc or carbonic maceration with cabernet sauvignon, Carter is constantly redefining the wines of his region, never making the same variety the same way twice.

    • James & Jessica Audas
    • A.R.C. Wines
    • Gippsland

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    James and Jessica Audas launched A.R.C. Wines in 2017, celebrating various Gippsland sites through the lens of organic farming and minimal intervention winemaking. Now with their own vines planted, and a 3-hectare plot under their stewardship, the pair employ biodynamic farming methods (not yet certified) and make wines with no additives – bar minimal sulphur at bottling – and they neither fine nor filter.

    • James Scarcebrook
    • Vino Intrepido
    • Heathcote, Mornington Peninsula

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Vino Intrepido is a natural continuation for James Scarcebrook’s long-term connection with Italian wine, from fine-wine retail and extensive wine-focused travel to wholesaling some of Italy’s best wines. His range, which was launched in 2016 with two wines, has grown to include a suite of Italian varieties, including sangiovese, nebbiolo, fiano and nero d’avola. The grapes are all sourced from Victorian vineyards, then made in a way that takes inspiration from traditional Italian methods but is carefully tuned to be sympathetic to the natural expression of individual sites and seasons.

    • Jayden Ong
    • Maison de Ong, One Block & Moonlit Forest
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2017, 2019, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2017 Top 50

    Jayden Ong now has four lines in his stable of wines: One Block, Maison de Ong, Moonlit Forest and the eponymous Jayden Ong range. Launched in 2016, it is with his Moonlit Forest series that Ong gets to deeply explore experimental styles. While all of Ong’s wines employ minimal-intervention processes, the Moonlit Forest wines see extended skin contact, across both reds and whites, with the range also including a light red made for chilling and a vermouth.

    • Jean-Paul Trijsburg
    • Wines by Jean-Paul – The Happy Winemaker
    • Heathcote

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Jean-Paul Trijsburg farms a small pinot noir vineyard in the Ballarat region for his Jean-Paul label, while also sourcing fruit from across central Victorian vineyards, making diverse styles, from vermouth, to red pét-nats, to a carménère and a more classic offering of pinot noir and cool climate syrah, amongst others.

    • Koen Janssens
    • Bink Wines
    • Barossa Valley, Clare Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    The Bink label is part homage to Koen Janssens’ heritage, with the prominent “B” an echo of the bumper stickers of the late 20th century, denoting Belgium, but it’s also a flag for the type of wine you’re about to drink. Designed by Janssens, the hand-drawn labels steer the drinker down a path suggesting minimal intervention and unconventional styles. Janssens focus is on varieties that excite him, from established stars like riesling and grenache to those less familiar, like alicante bouschet and zinfandel, coaxing out vibrant and fun expressions that speak of place.

    • Lauren Hansen
    • Penley Estate
    • Coonawarra

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Penley Estate is one of Coonawarra’s most celebrated producers, with a firm underpinning in cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. It is a pillar of the region, and it’s a classic region at that – conservative, some would say. But, with a rethink of the operation in 2016, the Penley ship was turned in a different direction, embracing change and experimentation, while still remaining respectful of its roots. Lauren Hansen works alongside head winemaker Kate Goodman to refine Penley classics, as well as to dramatically reframe possibilities with their project wines.

    • Louis Schofield
    • Worlds Apart Wines
    • Eden Valley, McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    With wines that are light to medium in weight, and sensitive making that sticks to minimal sulphur doses as the only additive, Louis Schofield launched Worlds Apart Wines in 2017. He works with syrah, riesling, grenache, nero d’avola, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, sourced from McLaren Vale, the Eden Valley, and his home in the Adelaide Hills. And while his wines trace a natural arc, Schofield has no interest in dogma, with drinkability and deliciousness taking centre stage.

    • Luke Growden
    • Year Wines
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2017 Top 50
    2015 Finalist
    2015 Best New Act

    Year wine was founded by Luke Growden and Caleigh Hunt to celebrate McLaren Vale through their lens, with minimal-intervention techniques and a focus on bright approachability, purity and a vibrant reflection of the year that shaped the wines – hence the name. A key player in the grenache revival in the Vale, Year Wine also specialises in climate-apt varieties like fiano and cinsault.

    • Luke Monks
    • Made by Monks
    • Tasmania

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Made by Monks is “a creative outlet” for Luke Monks, where he crafts an eclectic ensemble of wines from his Hobart base, with the emphasis taken off seriousness and placed on playfully challenging norms. With no set range, Monks has worked with chardonnay, pinot gris, gewürztraminer, riesling, syrah, pinot noir and semillon, often coupling them in non-traditional blends, and always making them in a lo-fi way. They’re statements of possibility in the Tasmanian wine landscape that is so dominated by classic styles from classic varieties.

    • Marco Lubiana
    • Marco Lubiana
    • Tasmania

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Marco Lubiana launched his eponymous label from the 2018 vintage, making a chardonnay and pinot noir, which will remain his focus, with a gentle hand in the winery and tireless year-round work amongst the vines key to his approach. Those wines were made from the Lucille Vineyard, which had been recently purchased by his family and converted to biodynamic farming.

    • Matt Purbrick
    • Minimum Wines
    • Central Victoria

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Built around a core principle of sustainability and respect for the land, Minimum Wines is the brainchild of Matt and Lentil Purbrick. Taking over the management of a Purbrick family vineyard in the Goulburn Valley in 2016, they have restored the site with regenerative and organic (certified in 2020) practices to produce three key wines: a chardonnay, sangiovese and syrah rosé, and a red blend that uses the same varieties with a dash of cabernet. As of 2020, the Short Runs range delves deeper into Matt Purbrick’s experimental side, with no fining or filtration, plenty of skin contact on whites and minimal sulphur.

    • Max Marriott
    • Anim
    • Tasmania

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Max Marriott’s Anim is the realisation of his dream to make wine in Tasmania from grapes he farms. While those vines are owned by others, that commitment to making wine from the ground up was never going to be compromised. He works mainly with chardonnay and pinot noir, though a field blend of red and white varieties and a pinot blanc and sauvignon blanc blend that spends over two months on skins also feature. Working organically (not certified) is the cornerstone for Marriott, with the work in the vineyards the biggest quality driver, and winemaking a thing he will talk about somewhat reluctantly.

    • Nathan Brown
    • Linear Wines
    • Canberra District

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Nathan Brown’s Linear Wines is nearly as old as his winemaking career, making his first wines the vintage after he began working at Canberra’s Collector Wines in 2017. With an aim to reflect the great diversity of sites in and around the Canberra District, Brown is able to source both classic and alternative varieties through his day job tending to five of the Collector sites. That work amongst the vines and connection to place is a great driver for Brown, with winemaking very much in a classic mould, teasing out pure varietal expressions through the lens of site.

    • Nick & Rebecca Dugmore
    • The Stoke
    • Kangaroo Island

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    The Stoke is a tribute to the largely untapped potential of Kangaroo Island as a premium wine-growing region. Husband and wife team Nick and Bec Dugmore make wines that are expressive of the relatively cool, wind-swept vineyards of KI, with a focus on lighter to mid-weight styles with food and conviviality in mind.

    • Raquel Jones
    • Weathercraft
    • Beechworth

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Weathercraft is the realisation of Raquel Jones’ long-held dream to make wine from her own fruit. A project where the growing takes precedence, and the making simply follows. Eventually landing in Beechworth on an established vineyard, she makes elegant takes on local stars – chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet – but has replanted to map a future that is occupied substantially by Spanish varieties, principally tempranillo and albariño.

    • Renata Morello & Oliver Rapson
    • Lyons Will Estate
    • Macedon Ranges

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Lyons Will is a small estate in the Macedon Ranges owned and run by husband-and-wife team Renata Morello and Oliver Rapson. Planted to chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir and gamay, the wines are as much expressions of variety as they are of the elevated, cold vineyard site and the traditional, manual winemaking.

    • Riley Harrison
    • Harrison
    • Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Riley Harrison’s own wine project started very small and stayed very small for quite some time, allowing him to focus on the detail. That patience has paid off, with the Harrison fruit now coming from some of the finest vineyards in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Harrison makes a syrah and a grenache, both of which are 100 per cent whole bunch, while his roussanne and grenache blanc blend sees a judicious amount of skin contact before being raised in neutral oak, building detail and mouthfeel. His wines are approachable, bright and textural, with endless layers of refined detail.

    • Ryan O’Meara
    • Express Winemakers
    • Great Southern

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Ryan O’Meara’s Express Winemakers will be a decade old in 2021, a somewhat mature business with a distinctly youthful vibe. Employing a minimal-intervention approach, and with no adds excepting enough sulphur at bottling to protect the wines, he crafts a range of Great Southern wines from organically farmed fruit that lean heavily on brightness, texture and sheer drinkability. And, with one of his original guiding principles firmly intact, they’re also democratically affordable.

    • Ryan Ponsford
    • Entropy Wines
    • Gippsland

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Ryan Ponsford’s Entropy label is the result of him being diverted from a successful artistic career to making syrah, pinot noir, semillon and sauvignon blanc in Gippsland’s Baw Baw Shire. With a focus on organic growing and minimal-intervention winemaking, learnt working alongside Bill Downie, Ponsford is also in the process of resurrecting a derelict vineyard, which will form the future core of the Entropy wines.

    • Sam Berketa
    • Alpha Box & Dice
    • Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Sam Berketa has been at the helm of McLaren Vale’s Alpha Box & Dice since 2015, making at flotilla of eccentric wines, from deep investigations into skin contact on white grapes, to unusual blends, alternative varieties – and lots of them – to a ‘reverse ripasso’ produced from a perpetual master blend that has seen every variety and every vintage added to it. Those wines are part of the Alphabet of Wine, an ongoing exploration of the possibilities that South Australian vineyards can offer, and Berketa is constantly pushing those possibilities to the extreme.

    • Sam Dunlevy
    • Berg Herring
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Sam Dunlevy’s Berg Herring is a McLaren Vale label focused on the future, with a deep investigation into heat-tolerant Mediterranean varieties that are thriving in the warming climate, and a style built around earlier picking and minimal intervention to fashion fruit-forward wines that are pitched for wine drinkers – Dunlevy included – who are increasingly embracing bright styles made for earlier consumption.

    • Stuart Dudine
    • Alkimi Wines
    • Heathcote, Yarra Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Stuart Dudine’s Alkimi Wines is built around his passion for both the Yarra Valley and Rhône varieties, with an exploration of marsanne and syrah at the core of his range, but the Yarra stars of chardonnay and pinot noir get plenty of airtime, too. Dudine’s wines are always pitched to the elegant end of the spectrum, and he employs natural yeast and no additions except sulphur, with no fining and only occasional filtration, while in his No Additions range, not even sulphur gets a guernsey.

    • Sven Joschke
    • Sven Joschke Wine
    • Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Sven Joschke’s wines are lo-fi, and with no adds except a particularly small dose of sulphur when they go to bottle, but that’s not to say they aren’t purposeful, as he says, “minimal intervention, made with intent.” With only a few years of winemaking under his belt – after fleeing a corporate career as an accountant – Joschke has hit the ground running, making wines from the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and the Barossa, as well as the Jura, France.

    • Tash Arthur
    • Arthur Wines
    • Margaret River

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Arthur Wines is unusual, and potentially unique, in the Australian wine scene. Started by Tash Arthur in 2011, Arthur Wines is based in Rosa Glen, Margaret River, but there’s no cabernet or chardonnay there, rather she focuses on making fortified wines, some as modern reframings of styles that dominated the market way back in the mists of the early 20th century, and some as wines pitched to a new demographic. Today, Arthur Wines produce aperitif-style fortifieds, with white, red and rosé styles, which are made to serve over ice or be mixed, along with more classic wines, such as a barrel-aged muscat and a solera tawny.

    • Tillie Johnston
    • Tillie J Wines
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Tillie Johnston’s path to making wine started in the Yarra Valley, then widened into a busy global arc, but was always tracking back to where she started. With experience at some of the finest wineries across Australia and overseas – focused on regions that echoed the Yarra’s climate – Johnston now tends her own block of pinot noir vines at the Yarraloch Vineyard, currently making a lone pinot noir, crafted from the ground up to be bright, fruit forward and handled lightly in the winery.

    • Tom Daniel
    • Chouette
    • Swan Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Tom Daniel’s Chouette is a tribute to the Swan Valley – past, present and future. Working primarily with grenache and chenin blanc – the local heroes – he is seeking to preserve the heritage and the precious resource of old vines, while making styles that are distinctly modern. Bright and light to mid-weight, and with no additions, excepting a little sulphur, Daniel is busily sketching out a new future for the Swan with wines that are more suited to drinking in the hot local climate, and which are being eagerly taken up by Perth wine bars and restaurants that have historically shunned the region’s wines.

    • Turon White
    • Turon Wines
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist

    Turon White has not strayed far from his beloved Adelaide Hills, excepting experience-gathering vintages interstate and abroad, with the rich diversity of the region and the pristine fruit quality ideal for the elegant yet intense wines he makes under his Turon Wines label. With chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz to the fore, White takes a minimal-intervention approach, but his wines are in a classic mould, expressing variety, site and season with bell-clear clarity.

    • Will Gilbert
    • Gilbert
    • Orange

    • 2020, 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2020 People's Choice
    2020 Finalist

    Will Gilbert is a sixth-generation winemaker, with his great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Gilbert responsible for planting some of the first vines in the Eden Valley in 1842. That legacy is honoured under the Gilbert label today, with a range of Eden Valley rieslings, but the core of the Gilbert operation is in Mudgee and the frosty climes of Orange, New South Wales, with a focus on riesling, pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz with several bottlings of each, and made in a way that highlights purity and elegance.