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2022 Winemaker Awards The 16th Annual Young Gun of Wine Awards – People’s Choice voting is now open

The Young Gun of Wine Awards are a celebration of wine culture for a new era of wine lovers. Each year since 2007, through the awards process, we assemble a collection of the most exciting new projects and winemakers on the rise. In addition to presenting the achievements of an annual group of Top Winemakers, we also present trophies: the Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice, The Vigneron and Danger Zone.

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 01/07/1976 for the 16th 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.

The Vigneron – an award which celebrates makers that also lovingly tend to the land and the vines that they make wine from.

16th YGOW Awards Calendar

  • Registrations for 16th annual YGOW: October–December 2021
  • Submissions for the tasting panel: January, 2022
  • Finalists announced: April 7, 2022
  • People’s Choice voting: April 7–June 6, 2022
  • Trade events: Sydney (May 23), Brisbane (May 30), Melbourne (June 6), 2022
  • Trophy presentation: June 6, 2022

Winners

2021 Panellists

  • Kate McIntyre

    Kate McIntyre MW is the Marketing and Business Development Manager of Moorooduc Estate, her family’s winery on the Mornington Peninsula. After an early foray into studying languages and the theatre, McIntyre was drawn into the world of wine, joining the parent’s estate in 2004 while studying for wine’s most gruelling qualification, becoming a Master of Wine in 2010. McIntyre also works broadly as an educator, writer, communicator and wine judge.

  • Rani Parish

    Rani Parish is the group sommelier for some of the hottest venues in Brisbane: Agnes, Honto, Bianca and Same Same. Armed with a microbiology degree, Rani got sidetracked working in restaurants the world over for the last 20 years. Her passion has led her to work harvests in far-flung parts of the globe, from the Barossa to Soave, Italy.

  • 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.

  • Bryan Martin

    Bryan Martin of Ravensworth was one of our top winegrowers in last year’s inaugural Vineyard of the Year Awards. For over 15 years Bryan was also Tim Kirk’s right-hand man at the towering icon of the Canberra District that is Clonakilla. Since 2019, he has focused exclusively on Ravensworth, which now twinkles just as brightly in the Canberra District’s firmament of stars. Bryan makes a suite of wines from estate-grown and regionally sourced fruit that spans a fascinating gamut of classic and esoteric styles, not to mention a recent beer collaboration and ‘The Long Way Around’ label that both rose from the ashes of the 2021 vintage bushfires.

  • 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.

  • Penny Vine

    Penny Vine is a long-term hospitality worker, with a love of wine cohering at Newtown’s Bloodwood in 2010. She spent three years at Marion on the wine team, completing WSET 3 internally with group Sommelier/Buyer Leanne Altmann. In 2018, Vine stepped through the connecting door to join the wine team as Assistant Sommelier to Liam O’Brien at Cutler & Co, before taking on the overarching role as Head Wine Buyer for Cutler & Co and Marion in 2021.

  • Charlotte Hardy

    Charlotte Hardy of Charlotte Dalton Wines was the 2021 Young Gun of Wine Award winner. She 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 multiple times, 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 style they make.”

2022 Partners

2022 Finalists

    • Alex Beckett
    • Briar Ridge
    • Hunter Valley

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Alex Beckett started in the wine industry fresh from school as a means of putting himself through university. But falling for the industry and its people led him to shift his studies to winemaking, along with a head-first immersion into the wines of the world, with a lengthy stint in fine-wine shops giving him a global perspective. A swift rise to becoming the winemaker at Pokolbin star Briar Ridge in 2018 now seems him overseeing the making of classic, regional wines alongside emerging varieties, with both the traditional and the experimental treated with the same curiosity to make even more pure, subtle, layered and textured expressions.

    • Alex Sherrah
    • Sherrah
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Alex Sherrah’s career path was not always headed down the wine path, but his organic chemistry degree was useful as a building block to complete a winemaking diploma. That was after a vintage in McLaren Vale in the early 2000s that saw him fall for the work and the people. A practical apprenticeship for the next decade and a half followed, with his SHERRAH label lunched in 2017. Today, his focus is firmly Vale-centric, with both familiar varieties and those emerging getting equal airtime, while expressions range from elegant takes on the classics to a skinsy white, pét-nat and zero-sulphur red.

    • Alice Davidson
    • Aunt Alice
    • Robe

    • 2022, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Alice Davidson launched Aunt Alice from her home in Robe on the limestone coast in 2016. What was a means of creative expression outside her more rigid winemaking day jobs has become somewhat more significant, though it will always remain decidedly compact, coupled with a core mission of environmental sustainability and social consciousness. With a focus on pinot noir and chardonnay, Davidson’s wines don’t adhere to any trends, subtly bucking both classic and fashionable norms. A move to Tasmania in 2022 will see the brand take a new direction, though with very much the same ethos at play.

    • Andrew Kenny
    • Kenny Wine
    • Clare Valley

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Andrew Kenny launched his Kenny Wine label in 2021, focusing on Clare riesling and Adelaide Hills pinot. With the purchase of a vineyard in the Clare subregion of Auburn, the 2021 vintage saw a home-site shiraz join the portfolio, while an old vine grenache and a sangiovese were added in 2022. 2023 saw the introduction of a collaboration from the Pfalz region of Germany – a ‘Kenny X Gabel’ Riesling, with more riesling and a pinot noir to be released under this label. Kenny’s wines are classic in style, expressions of variety and sites he believes excel for specific grapes, and it is in the Clare Valley that the range of wines offers a particular exploration of sub-regionality.

    • Anita Goode
    • Wangolina
    • Mount Benson

    • 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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 through pure expressions, but an increasing interest in experimentation, with more egg-shaped fermenters in a recently completed winery are seeing the boundaries pushed in interesting ways.

    • Ashleigh Seymour
    • Paxton Wines
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    After more than a decade working in Italy, Ashleigh Seymour came to work at McLaren Vale biodynamic pioneer Paxton in 2021. Now with three vintages under her belt, her magnetic attraction to the Vale – with its complex geology, Mediterranean climate, rich community and industry-leading commitment to organics and biodynamics – has seen her make it her long-term home. Seymour is employing large-format oak and amphora, while limiting winery additions to sulphur, and then only what is needed to be protective across the range that includes Vale hero varieties – shiraz, grenache, cabernet sauvignon – as well as those emerging, such as tempranillo and graciano, with more in the pipeline.

    • Belinda Hughes
    • Rieslingfreak
    • Eden Valley

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Belinda Hughes only officially joined her husband, John Hughes, at the helm of Rieslingfreak from the 2021 vintage. In reality, she had been intimately involved in the operation for five years prior. The excellent 2021 vintage, though, was a good time to formalise her role making riesling in a dizzying array of styles – from dry to sweet to sparkling to fortified – across the Clare and Eden Valleys. Now with three vintages under her belt, and beautifully cool ones at that, Hughes and her husband are overseeing the building of a new cellar door in Tanunda, while the range of wines has expanded, including an overdue foray into the Clare subregion of Watervale.

    • Ben Mullen
    • Mulline
    • Geelong

    • 2020, 2021, 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2021 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Mulline is Ben Mullen’s solo venture, focusing on sites across the broader Geelong region. Fresh out of a stint as the winemaker at a regional headliner, 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. Today, that venture has grown, with the Mulline brand becoming a Geelong leading light.

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

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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 pair’s aim is to make wines they love to drink, elegant, balanced and light on their feet. They make a changing roster of wines, including varietal syrah, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, petit sirah (durif) and nero d’avola, plus a blend of semillon and riesling, a skinsy amphora semillon and a blend of grenache, mataro and cabernet – and there’s always plenty more in the pipeline.

    • Charles Osborne
    • Dazma Wine Company
    • King Valley

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Wedged between the Black Summer bushfires and the pandemic pushing into full bloom, Charles Osborne pitched in and launched Dazma Wine Company, with fruit sourced from Northern Victoria. That first release consisted of three wines, a vermentino, a shiraz and a field blend of some 13 varieties – including such exotica as kerner, muscat ottonel, ehrenfelser, scheurebe, siegerrebe and rotgipfler – that were picked and fermented together. His wines are all vineyard specific, and they are all very much in the lo-fi camp, with Osborne keen to make democratically affordable and enjoyable wines.

    • Dylan Arvidson
    • LS Merchants
    • Margaret River

    • 2020, 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    LS Merchants was started by Dylan Arvidson as more of a hobby than genuine side project, mainly to feed his creativity and give his mates something different to drink. Today, Arvidson is full throttle with LS Merchants, making around 20 wines across a range of styles from more-or-less classic varietal wines to skinsy whites and pét-nats, and all made with light-handed winemaking and a spirit fuelled by unconventional thinking.

    • Erin Frances Pooley
    • Little Frances
    • Victoria

    • 2022, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Erin Frances Pooley started making her own wine back in 2012, a semillon from California, no less. That wine was held back three years before release. Erin Frances Pooley began making her own wine in 2012, starting with a Semillon from California. This wine was held back for three years before being released. In 2020, after a decade in the US, Pooley returned home to craft wines from North East Victoria under her Little Frances label, complementing a catalogue of pre-Covid Californian wines. Today, the Little Frances wines are produced in Beechworth, with Pooley’s range focusing on bottlings of Beechworth fruit, alongside selections from further afield. All wines feature a lo-fi lean, yet they showcase a clear expression of variety, vintage, and site.

    • Gabe O’Brien
    • Cavedon Wines
    • King Valley

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2023 Danger Zone
    2022 Finalist
    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.

    • Jack Weedon
    • Rollick Wines
    • Barossa Valley, Riverland

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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, cabernet franc and viognier from the Barossa, riesling from the Eden Valley and fiano from both the Clare Valley and 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.

    • James & Kimberly Cooter
    • Cooter & Cooter / Hedonist Wines
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    James and Kimberly Cooter are both continuing their family traditions of winemaking under their Cooter & Cooter label, as well as for Kimberley’s family winery, The Hedonist. Both labels are built on McLaren Vale classic varieties, with grenache a particular favourite for the pair, while emerging varieties like fiano, tempranillo and sangiovese also appear on the roster. The wines for both labels lean to the midweight, with organic and biodynamic viticulture, earlier picking and a preference for large-format oak creating food-friendly wines to suit the Mediterranean climate.

    • James Ellis
    • Ada Wine Co.
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    James Ellis’s Ada Wine Co. is based in the Adelaide Hills, but he sources organically grown fruit from across prime South Australian regions where particular varieties excel: McLaren Vale for grenache, Eden Valley for riesling, and chardonnay and pinot noir from the Hills. His approach is built around a lo-fi approach, with no adds apart from minimal sulphur and no fining or filtration.

    • James Scarcebrook
    • Vino Intrepido
    • Heathcote, Mornington Peninsula

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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.

    • Jordan & Lauren Barham
    • Travail Wine Co.
    • Macedon Ranges

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Travail Wine Co. is the fledgling family wine business of Jordan and Lauren Barham. That label began in the 2021 vintage, with a piquette made from Macedon Ranges pinot noir pomace and a fiano from Heathcote. The following vintage will introduce new wines from a leased vineyard in Carlsruhe, which Lauren will be making with the aid of the local wine community after Jordan’s untimely death.

    • Keira O’Brien
    • Rivulet Wines
    • Tasmania

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Winemaker's Choice
    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Keira O’Brien started Rivulet Wines in part to attempt to save Tasmania’s oldest commercial riesling planting and in part to express her sense of creativity, which was being stifled in her contract-winemaking day job. Over the vintages released, the portfolio has ebbed and flowed, with availability of the right fruit a key driver in her range. In 2022, she became the winemaker at the iconic east coast vineyard Freycinet, juggling her brand and one of Tasmania’s most vaunted. The Rivulet range consists of cross-regional pinot noir and a pair of single site offerings, with a single site chardonnay, barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc and a sylvaner filling the roster of wines, though a riesling will come back into the range from the 2023 vintage.

    • Kim Tyrer
    • Galafrey Wines
    • Mount Barker

    • 2020, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    2020 Finalist

    Galafrey is a legendary name in Mount Barker, a ground-breaking winery that many thought would drift out of family hands after the untimely death of its founder, Ian Tyrer. But, at only 25, his daughter Kim took up the mantle and is now the CEO and winemaker, producing classic renditions of Mount Barker riesling, shiraz and cabernet, while also taking a particular interest in müller-thurgau and whole-bunch fermentation for shiraz and pinot noir.

    • Kirilly Gordon
    • Bowerbird Wines
    • Heathcote, Sunbury

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Kirilly Gordon’s career has taken her from her Macedon home to wineries around Victoria and to Italy and France. As of 2021, she has looped back home, working at the vineyard the inspired her in the first place, Bindi. That role works in concert with her own label, Bowerbird Wines, specialising in shiraz and viognier, while Patch Wines is her most recent venture, a partnership to make fun, accessible wines that sprang out of the wreckage of Covid.

    • Kyle Egel & Jonny Cook
    • Saltfleet
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2022, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Saltfleet is a collaboration of two McLaren Vale winemakers, Kyle Egel and Jonny Cook. Both have solid day jobs, working at Rycroft and Wirra Wirra respectively, with Saltfleet founded in 2021 as their creative outlet. They debuted with an old vine grenache and a touriga nacional made from the 2021 vintage, both in neutral, large-format oak and both with no additions bar a low dose of sulphur.

    • Lauren Langfield
    • Lauren Langfield Wines
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2022 Best New Act

    Lauren Langfield’s approach to wine has always been vineyard first. Indeed, so has been her career, with a deep focus on organic and biodynamic viticulture taking her from New Zealand to Gippsland, then the Adelaide Hills, and now to McLaren Vale, where she has been appointed winemaker for Orbis, an operation built on sustainability at all levels. Langfield’s eponymous label kicks off with 2021 vintage wines, a merlot and a sauvignon blanc from the Hills made in the natural spirit but with broad appeal.

    • Liv Maiorana & Mijan Patterson
    • South by South West
    • Margaret River

    • 2019, 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2019 People's Choice

    In the quest for knowledge beyond the familiar and that gleaned off the page, partners Liv Maiorana and Mijan Patterson embarked on an experience-gathering world wine trip in 2013, taking in vintages in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, as well as in the South of France and Tuscany and Sicily. That trip crystallised in them a desire to launch their own label based in Margaret River, and one that knit into both the approaches they had seen to viticulture and winemaking, as well as the cultural connection with wine-growing. The idea for South by South West then started to germinate…

    • Luke Growden
    • Year Wines
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022

    2022 Finalist
    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 Tocaciu
    • Patrick of Coonawarra
    • Coonawarra

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2022 Danger Zone

    Luke Tocaciu has terra rossa soil in his blood, growing up in Coonawarra. His career path was never in doubt, with his winemaking travels leading him back to the family vineyard, Patrick of Coonawarra, a little over a decade ago. Today, while “heritage” styles are still a large part of the business, he is pushing the boundaries with his Méthode range, which celebrates different sides of cabernet sauvignon – including one laced with eucalypt character and another made in a gulpable nouveau style – as well as giving riesling the skins treatment.

    • Marco Lubiana
    • Marco Lubiana
    • Tasmania

    • 2021, 2022, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2022 Vigneron
    2022 Finalist
    2021 Finalist
    2021 Best New Act

    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.

    • Max Marriott
    • Anim
    • Tasmania

    • 2021, 2022

    2022 Finalist
    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 pinot noir, with three reds and a rosé made, chardonnay and aromatic whites are also a feature, though a field blend of red and white varieties and a pét-nat made from grapes and Sturmer Pippin apples also cropped up in the 2021 vintage. 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 more reluctantly.

    • Nadja Wallington & Steve Mobbs
    • ChaLou
    • Orange

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Nadja Wallington and Steve Mobbs met while studying winemaking in 2008, but then they went their separate ways, touring the world making wine. Both landing in Orange somewhat later, the pair made wine for others, before launching their own brands, then finally settling on a vineyard in 2020 to start their own ground up venture. Specialising in chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir and shiraz, the pair are making classically styled wines that emphasise the cool refinement of the region.

    • Peta Baverstock
    • Cuvée-Co Wines
    • Limestone Coast

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Peta Baverstock’s is a sparkling wine specialist, with her Cuvée-Co Wines label an expression of classic styles, from traditional method vintage sparklings to col fondo prosecco and sparkling shiraz. Based on the Limestone Coast, she sources broadly from the zone, including Mount Gambier, Padthaway and Wrattonbully, working only with small parcels of fruit.

    • Peta Kotz
    • Sabi Wabi
    • Hunter Valley

    • 2022, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist
    2022 Winemaker's Choice
    2022 Finalist

    Peta Kotz’s Sabi Wabi is her homage to reworking the traditions of the Hunter, of searching for “beauty amongst imperfection”. Semillon is the foundation of the brand she launched in 2019 while working for biodynamic Hunter winery Krinklewood, and she steadfastly says it will remain that way, although her lo-fi making, with no subtractions and no adds, bar a fraction of sulphur, and employment of a raft of alternative vessels is also applied to other whites, red wine and rosé.

    • Phoebe Grant
    • Nature of the Beast
    • King Valley, Macedon Ranges

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Phoebe Grant launched Nature of the Beast barely out of here teens, unveiling a compact but serenely mature suite of wines from the 2020 vintage. Those wines were made from chardonnay and nebbiolo, a rosé, which are varieties that are the cornerstones of her family’s Beechworth vineyard, Traviarti, though grant sources fruit from the Macedon Ranges and North East Victoria. A barbera joined the ranks in 2021, with all wines made with texture and savoury interest as the mainstays.

    • Raquel Jones
    • Weathercraft
    • Beechworth

    • 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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.

    • Riley Harrison
    • Harrison
    • Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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, a grenache, a cabernet franc, a cabernet shiraz blend, a grenache mataro and a blend of grenache blanc and noir, while his lone white is a roussanne and grenache blanc blend that 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.

    • Rowly Milhinch
    • Scion
    • Rutherglen

    • 2022, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist
    2022 People's Choice
    2022 Finalist

    Some 20 years ago, Rowly Milhinch left a career in visual communication to set up a vineyard and a family life in Rutherglen. It’s territory that his family have lived in for generations, and he was intent on honouring the traditions of the region but recasting them through his own lens. Under his Scion label, he makes fortifieds, a staple of Rutherglen, but they are twists on the classics, including a ‘Muscat Nouveau’ and dry orange muscat, ‘Blonde’, as well as making dry red from syrah, grenache and durif, with the latter also getting the light red treatment, built to chill.

    • Ryan Ponsford
    • Entropy Wines
    • Gippsland

    • 2021, 2022

    2022 Young Gun of Wine
    2022 Finalist
    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, 2022, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    2021 People's Choice
    2021 Finalist

    Sam Berketa has been at the helm of McLaren Vale’s Alpha Box & Dice since 2015, making a 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 Hambour & Duncan Gibson
    • Site Wine
    • Mornington Peninsula

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    The old saying goes that “it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine”. Well, for Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson, they certainly have a consistent supply of the frothy stuff. Co-founders and owners of Hop Nation Brewing Co., Hambour and Gibson are winemakers by trade, and with the brewing side successful established, winemaking has come back into the frame. With five vintages under their belts, the pair make a range of wine from fresh glou-glou styles to more mediative selections both from their base on the Mornington Peninsula and across Victoria.

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

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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 with clear directions in mind, 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 hit the ground running, now making wines from the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and the Barossa, as well as in the Jura, France.

    • Tillie Johnston
    • Tillie J Wines
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 People's Choice
    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist
    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 in Gruyere, launching her eponymous label from the 2020 vintage with a lone pinot noir, crafted from the ground up to be bright, fruit forward and handled lightly in the winery. In 2021, a chardonnay entered the portfolio, which was unsurprising given it is arguably the region’s star variety. Vintage ’22 saw a rosé added, plus a Langhorne Creek Project grenache, while a 2023 Aligoté from King Valley is the newest addition to the lineup as Tillie J searches for more delicious sources of Burgundian varieties.

    • Tim Flynn, Darcy Muller, Alex Servinis & Ed Curnow
    • Pool Wines
    • Heathcote

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Pool Wines is a collaborative effort from a quartet of childhood friends who turned a fun hobby into a serious endeavour, making lo-fi, sulphur-free wine from their simple winery in Kyneton. Sourcing fruit locally, the emphasis is placed on the traditional varieties grown in Heathcote – shiraz and cabernet – and surrounds, but the fruit is picked earlier, and new oak is never used, while vermentino and moscato giallo from Chalmers gets the skins treatment.

    • Tom McCarthy
    • Quealy Winemakers / Kerri Greens
    • Mornington Peninsula

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist

    Tom McCarthy is a second-generation Mornington Peninsula winemaker. Indeed, he’s from almost Peninsula royalty, being the son of Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy, pioneers of pinot grigio, friulano and skin contact in the region, amongst other achievements. Making wine at the family business, Quealy Winemakers, McCarthy also has his label, Kerri Greens, with Quealy vineyard manager Lucas Blanck. From skinsy whites from Italian grapes to elegant and poised expressions of Peninsula star varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris – he oversees a vast collection of wines.

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