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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
    • Adelaide Hills Distillery
    • Sacha La Forgia
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist

    Adelaide Hills Distillery founder, Sacha La Forgia started making alcoholic beverages somewhat on the early side, with a pre-legal career in fashioning garden-shed beer, cider, wine and spirits with his father. This was no illicit hooch operation, but rather an extension of his Italian heritage and a means to bond with his dad. When La…

    • Corymbia
    • Genevieve & Rob Mann
    • Swan Valley

    • 2019

    2019 Top 50

    The Mann name is somewhat of a significant one in Australian wine circles. In fact, it’s about as a storied a moniker as there is, up there with Schubert and O’Shea. Jack Mann’s most famous creation, the game-changing Houghton’s White Burgundy was an enduring classic, which he made for 51 consecutive vintages. And while that…

    • 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,…

    • Dirt Candy
    • Daniel Payne
    • 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.

    • 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…

    • La Petite Mort
    • Andrew Scott
    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Mewstone
    • Jonathan Hughes
    • Tasmania

    • 2018, 2019, 2020

    2020 Finalist
    2019 Top 50
    2018 Top 50
    2018 Best New Act

    It’s rare for a young winemaker to kick of their solo career with their own vineyard informing their wines, and it’s even rarer to have planted that vineyard themselves. Jonathan Hughes, with the help of his brother Matthew, did with the Mewstone vineyard and wine label. And this is no story of generational wealth at…

    • Simão & Co. Wines
    • Simon Killeen
    • Rutherglen

    • 2015, 2016, 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2019 Finalist
    2016 Finalist
    2015 Finalist

    With a range that covers significant territory, from the Alpine and King Valleys to Beechworth, Glenrowan and Rutherglen, Simon makes wine from all five of the North-East’s regions.

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

    • 2019

    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…

    • 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,…

    • Vallée du Venom
    • Rhys Parker & Paul Hoffman
    • Margaret River, Swan Valley

    • 2019

    2019 Top 50
    2019 Best New Act

    Rhys Parker and his best mate, Paul Hoffman, have had remarkably similar career paths. The pair grew up as neighbours, both filling in pocket money gaps with work at Paul’s parents’ winery in the Swan Valley, a wild and semi-abandoned affair that Paul’s dad, Peter, bought in 1986 and pulled back from the brink. Although…

    • Wilimee
    • Ben Ranken
    • 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.

    • 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.