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Top Winemakers Those who have appeared as finalists in our annual winemaker awards since 2007.

Winemakers Directory

Awards Key

Young Gun of Wine

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.

People’s Choice

Taste is subjective. Every individual is the best judge of their own palate. Established in 2007, the People’s Choice is decided by the public, choosing from the list of finalists in our annual winemaker awards.

Winemaker’s Choice

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

Best New Act

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.

Danger Zone

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.

Filters

  • Wine label
  • Winemaker
  • Region
  • Award
  • Year
    • Aphelion Wine Co.
    • Rob Mack
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2017, 2018

    2018 Young Gun of Wine
    2018 Top 50
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Best New Act

    Rob Mack, inspired by a bottle of wine on an ocean cruise (true), sidestepped a promising business career to immerse himself in the far less reliably rewarding (financially, that is) world of wine. A shared obsession with food and wine with his wife Louise got the idea over the line, and their McLaren Vale brand,…

    • Dappled
    • Shaun Crinion
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2017, 2018, 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist
    2018 Top 50
    2017 Top 50

    Shaun Crinion didn’t exactly grow up surrounded by a strong wine culture. Although today the Sunshine Coast does have an expanding wine-growing industry, that wasn’t exactly the case when Crinion was growing up in the ’80s. Sand, sunshine and the like were the order of the day, with the only vinous connection being his uncle,…

    • Eperosa
    • Brett Grocke
    • Barossa Valley

    • 2015, 2017

    2017 Top 50
    2015 Finalist

    • Koerner Wines
    • Damon & Jono Koerner
    • Clare Valley

    • 2017, 2018, 2019

    2019 Young Gun of Wine
    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist
    2018 Top 50
    2018 Finalist
    2017 Top 50

    Damon and Jono Koerner are the second generation to run the family’s Clare Valley vineyard. And they have taken it from an exclusively contract operation to the primary fruit source of one of the most exciting young labels on the market: Koerner Wine. That fruit resource stretches back before Jono and Damon’s parents took possession…

    • Lark Hill
    • Chris Carpenter
    • Canberra District

    • 2017, 2018, 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2018 Top 50
    2018 Danger Zone
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Finalist

    Chris Carpenter grew up on the family vineyard, Lark Hill. And but for a science degree that got diverted to wine science, as well as vintages with Penfolds and Seppeltsfield, that’s more or less where he has remained. Working primarily with chardonnay, pinot noir, riesling and grüner veltliner from their cool site, as well as…

    • Maison de Ong, One Block & Moonlit Forest
    • Jayden Ong
    • 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.

    • Meadowbank
    • Peter Dredge
    • Tasmania

    • 2017, 2018

    2018 Top 50
    2017 Top 50
    2017 People's Choice

    After an injury sidelined a young Peter Dredge from his chosen sporting career, winemaking dropped a lifeline. A healthy tenure buried inside the Petaluma and then Bay of Fires machines provided a backbone for a career that became significantly more public when he launched his Dr Edge label and took on the winemaking duties at…

    • Murdoch Hill
    • Michael Downer
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

    2017 Young Gun of Wine
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Finalist
    2016 Winemaker's Choice
    2016 Finalist
    2015 Winemaker's Choice
    2015 Finalist
    2014 Finalist

    Before taking the reins at the family vineyard, Michael Downer learnt from some of the finest makers, both here and abroad. He now works from the Murdoch Hill home vineyards, near Oakbank, but also sources higher into the Adelaide Hills for cooler expressions, which inform his cutting edge Artisan Series wines. In a nod to…

    • Rieslingfreak
    • John Hughes
    • Clare Valley

    • 2017, 2018

    2018 Top 50
    2017 Winemaker's Choice
    2017 Top 50

    Perpetually afforded the tag of Australia’s nicest and most affable winemaker, John Hughes also has a very serious side, with a slavish obsession to his favourite grape, riesling. Hughes’ Rieslingfreak imprint has been steadily redefining that noble grape, bending it into all manner of shapes, and making perfect sense at the same time. His wines…

    • Seville Estate
    • Dylan McMahon
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2011, 2012, 2014, 2017

    2017 Top 50
    2014 Finalist
    2012 Finalist
    2011 Finalist

    Dylan McMahon now helms the estate planted by his grandfather in the 1970s. Seville Estate may not be family-owned anymore, but McMahon is the respectful custodian of that family history, with an unwavering eye to carrying the estate name forward to even greater heights. With a natural focus on the regional stars, chardonnay and pinot…

    • Story Wines
    • Rory Lane
    • Grampians

    • 2011, 2014, 2017

    2017 Top 50
    2014 Finalist
    2011 People's Choice
    2011 Finalist

    While Rory Lane may have a story for each wine he makes, he freely admits his wine background is far from storied itself, with the history side of his ledger somewhat blank. This has certainly not stood in his way, though, with a keen eye for uncovering remote and forgotten vineyard sites of exceptional pedigree…

    • Sutton Grange Winery
    • Melanie Chester
    • Bendigo

    • 2017, 2018

    2018 Top 50
    2018 People's Choice
    2017 Top 50

    Melanie Chester had squeezed an awful lot into her winemaking career when she took the helm at the highly regarded Sutton Grange Winery in 2015, with a wake of accolades and high-quality experience trailing behind her. She was only 26. Since then she has worked tirelessly to further enhance an already stellar reputation built by…

    • Switch Organic Wines
    • Vanessa Altmann
    • Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek

    • 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2018 Top 50
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Finalist
    2013 Finalist

    Not everyone would trade in their only form of transport for a tonne of pinot noir grapes. Thankfully, in 2010, Vanessa Altman waved goodbye to her Nissan Pulsar and welcomed the first fruit into what would become her own project, Switch. Having worked at the organic pioneer Temple Breuer (certified organic way back in 1995,…

    • tripe.Iscariot
    • Remi Guise
    • Margaret River

    • 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

    2020 Finalist
    2019 Winemaker's Choice
    2019 Top 50
    2018 Top 50
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Finalist

    Hailing from Cape Province, South Africa, Remi Guise came to Margaret River in 2007 to visit, and hasn’t, as yet, made it back. The following year, he took on an entry-level role with Naturaliste Vintners, and is now the Senior Winemaker under Margaret River legend Bruce Dukes. And as fine an operation as that is,…

    • Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown
    • Tessa Brown
    • Beechworth

    • 2016, 2017

    2017 Top 50
    2016 Finalist

    Tessa Brown’s career as a viticulturist and winemaker has taken her around the country and the world. But after an extended stint on the Mornington Peninsula, a greenfield site 11 kilometres outside of Beechworth saw her and her partner tip all in, launching Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown. Working with their fledgling vines and also sourcing…

    • Year Wines
    • Luke Growden
    • 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.