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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.

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  • Year
    • Arthur Wines
    • Tash Arthur
    • 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.

    • Basket Range Wines
    • Sholto & Louis Broderick
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Basket Range Wines is a label in two distinct halves, a generational split, and a somewhat harmonious one at that. Sholto and Louis Broderick make vibrant expressions from their family vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, while their father continues to make wines his way, as he has since the 80s. The brothers’ low-intervention, no-add wines…

    • Bird in Hand
    • Dylan Lee
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Dylan Lee was at a self-confessed crossroads before he was offered a job at Bird in Hand, in the Adelaide Hills. Coming off seven or eight consecutive vintages, Lee found himself working outside the wine industry, and he was seriously considering deviating further as he struggled to find winemaking work after the 2010 harvest. That…

    • Black & Ginger
    • Hadyn Black
    • 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.

    • Bondar
    • Andre Bondar
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Bondar is Andre Bondar’s take on McLaren Vale seen through the eyes of someone who has a deep appreciation for the Northern Rhône, as well as long history of making wine in the cool climes of the Adelaide Hills. Working with classic Vale varieties, as well as some Italian interlopers, he makes wines that are…

    • Chalari
    • Alexi Christidis
    • Perth Hills, Swan Valley

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Alexi Christidis named his label Chalari, meaning ‘relaxed’ in Greek, as part homage to his father and part mission statement for making unforced wines unbound by convention. Working out of a makeshift winery in true garagiste style on his property in Roleystone, in the Perth Hills, Christidis sources fruit from the Swan Valley and Frankland…

    • Chalmers
    • Bart van Olphen
    • Heathcote

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Bart van Olphen got lodged in Australia after a one-off vintage gig in McLaren Vale turned into an eight-year stint, before dropping anchor in Murray Darling, specialising in growing and making Italian varieties at Chalmers. He works across the main Chalmers range – including vermentino, fiano, greco, aglianico and sagrantino – as well as the…

    • DCB
    • Chris Bendle
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Chris Bendle made his first wine under his DCB label while working at Hoddles Creek Estate, in the Yarra Valley, under the watchful eye and with the active encouragement of winemaker Franco D’Anna. That was in the 2013 vintage, and only a few years into his now decade-long tenure at Hoddles as D’Anna’s right hand….

    • Delinquente Wine Co.
    • Con-Greg Grigoriou
    • Riverland

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Delinquente Wine Co. was born out of a lightbulb moment where Con-Greg Grigoriou, who had wandered far from the family business growing grapes and making wine, saw a possibility in his region that he hadn’t imagined possible. What followed was a deep investigation into varieties and methods that suited the hot climate of the Riverland….

    • Dhiaga
    • Justin Purser
    • Victoria, Grampians, Henty, Pyrenees, Swan Hill

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist
    2020 Danger Zone

    Dhiaga is Justin Purser and Joyce Clery’s portal for expressing their love for Italian grapes, as expressed through Victorian vineyards and innovative winemaking techniques. The pair craft both recognisably classic expressions, as well as creative diversions, such as their dry, hop-infused Moscato that’s given gentle fizz through the pét-nat method. Justin Purser is perhaps best…

    • Dilworth & Allain
    • Loique Allain & Chris Dilworth
    • Macedon Ranges

    • 2020

    2020 Young Gun of Wine
    2020 Finalist
    2020 Best New Act

    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…

    • 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.

    • Empire of Dirt
    • Natasha Webster
    • Geelong

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    The name of Tash Webster’s Empire of Dirt label is part homage to the distinctive territory of the Geelong region and part reminder of tough times past. Webster makes a vintage sparkling, citrussy Bellarine chardonnay and a gamay and shiraz that are built to highlight the power and flesh the Moorabool Valley can bestow on…

    • Frederick Stevenson
    • Steve Crawford
    • Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley

    • 2015, 2018, 2020

    2020 Winemaker's Choice
    2020 Finalist
    2018 Top 50
    2015 Winemaker's Choice
    2015 Finalist

    Steve Crawford’s wine career began before he could vote, but it took him some time to pitch his own label, wary as he was of just injecting another range, much like the other ones, into a saturated market. Extensive forays into Italy and France gave shape to a sensibility that changed that, and his alias…

    • Galafrey Wines
    • Kim Tyrer
    • Mount Barker

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Galafrey is a legendary name in Mount Barker, a groundbreaking 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…

    • Gatch
    • Ansel Ashby
    • South Australia

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Ansel Ashby launched his Gatch label in 2016 with a shiraz viognier and an eccentric blend of riesling, sauvignon blanc and pinot gris, with all but the riesling (Clare Valley) coming from the Adelaide Hills. And while he was super pleased with those wines, you won’t find Ashby spending too much time talking about variety…

    • Gilbert
    • Will 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.

    • Golden Child
    • James Hamilton
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Even though James Hamilton’s family had planted grapevines in Kuitpo, in the Adelaide Hills, and he had worked extensively as a winemaker in McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, the trigger that led him to start his Golden Child label came in Portugal. A bottle of 2008 Niepoort ‘Charme’ in 2015, while holidaying in the…

    • Kooyong / Port Phillip Estate
    • Glen Hayley
    • 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.

    • 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.

    • LS Merchants
    • Dylan Arvidson
    • Margaret River

    • 2020

    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 20-odd wines across five ranges (plus a couple of beer and wine hybrid co-labs), and all made…

    • Lyons Will Estate
    • Renata Morello & Oliver Rapson
    • 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.

    • Main & Cherry
    • Michael Sexton
    • Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    The Main & Cherry label is Michael Sexton’s ever-evolving canvas for creating micro-batches of distinctive wines. Working from his family vineyard in McLaren Vale and his parents’ vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, along with select growers, Sexton punctuates his broad portfolio of classic regional varieties with specialisations in sangiovese, tempranillo and pinot meunier. His wines…

    • Mallaluka
    • Sam Leyshon
    • Canberra District

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Mallaluka’s Sam Leyshon got his first experience of winemaking hands on, helping with his father’s rather consuming hobby vineyard near Yass. But that’s all it was when he was growing up – a hobby. Circling back to wine later in his 20s, that hands-on approach has stuck with Leyshon, who now crafts a range of…

    • Mattara
    • Matt & Tara Campbell
    • Mornington Peninsula

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Matt and Tara have spent most of their winemaking careers on the Mornington Peninsula, with regular forays to France and Spain. And it was inspiration from one of those trips that saw their first names merged to form their Mattara label centred on what has become a bit of a calling card – rosé. The…

    • 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…

    • Micro Wines
    • Jonathan Ross
    • Barossa Valley, Geelong

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Master Sommelier Jonathan Ross knows a little bit about wine. Before his recent foray into getting his hands dirty, Ross has been more accustomed to the crisply starched linen of some of the world’s best restaurants. Indeed, actually the world’s best. A New Jersey native, Ross worked his way along the familiar busboy-food-runner path in…

    • Mulline
    • Ben Mullen
    • 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.

    • Noisy Ritual
    • Alex Byrne
    • Victoria

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Noisy Ritual was born out of a chance discovery in a Melbourne rental house in 2014. From bucketing shiraz grapes down the driveway to a fully operational multi-purpose facility, it has grown to become the yardstick for urban wineries in this country. Winemaker Alex Byrne and Cam Nicol, who handles the events side of things,…

    • Oakridge
    • Tim Perrin
    • Yarra Valley

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Oakridge is one of this country’s most respected cool climate producers, with Chief Winemaker David Bicknell especially lauded for his contribution to the revolution in Australian Chardonnay, and the mapping of some particularly distinguished vineyards through single-site bottlings, but Oakridge has also fostered a wealth of exceptional talent as senior winemakers, like Beechworth’s Adrian Rodda….

    • Paralian
    • Charlie Seppelt & Skye Salter
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Charlie Seppelt and Skye Salter have both had diverse and decorated careers as winemakers, recording stints at notable wineries all around the world, but it is in their beloved McLaren Vale that they have settled down to make their wine, their way. Paralian celebrates distinguished sites in the Vale and the Adelaide Hills, with styles…

    • Pyren
    • Leighton Joy
    • Pyrenees

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Pyren, in Victoria’s Pyrenees, is now overseen by Leighton Joy, both son and nephew of the founders (brothers). He has diverted the more traditional line of the estate down one that tinkers with experimentation, from working whole bunch and carbonic maceration into their classic varietal wines to spinning the creativity wheel in the Little Ra…

    • Quiet Mutiny
    • Greer Carland
    • 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.

    • Sailor Seeks Horse / Home Hill
    • Gilli & Paul Lipscombe
    • Tasmania

    • 2016, 2018, 2020

    2020 Finalist
    2018 Winemaker's Choice
    2016 Finalist

    Gilli and Paul Lipsombe’s quest to make the finest new world pinot noir and chardonnay they possibly could led them to the extreme viticultural south of Tasmania, in the Huon Valley. Along the way, they won a Jimmy Watson at one of their day jobs and helped tune the viticulture at the vaunted Chatto at…

    • Scout
    • Sarah Adamson
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Scout is the trans-Tasman “wine child” of Sarah Adamson and Greg Lane, named after the narrator in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, that literary reference may seem a little odd for a wine brand, but in the book, Scout observes carefully and questions rather than just going with the flow. This is the…

    • Sentio
    • Chris Catlow
    • Tumbarumba, Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Macedon Ranges, Yarra Valley

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Sentio is the Beechworth based solo project of Chris Catlow, a Chardonnay-centric endeavour sourcing from prime regions across Victoria. The wines are classic, racy and textural, with regional differences to the fore. A Beechworth pinot noir and eclectic red and white blends – with variety giving way to style and place – also get a…

    • Small Island Wines
    • James Broinowski
    • Tasmania

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    James Broinowski turned out his first wine under the Small Island Wines imprint from the 2015 vintage, from Glengarry in the north. That wine went on to considerable wine show success and he was quickly talked about by some of the top critics as a maker to watch. That pinot was also the first Australian…

    • Somos
    • Ben Caldwell & Mauricio Ruiz Cantú
    • 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.

    • Spider Bill Wines
    • Tarrant Hansen
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Spider Bill Wines is the culmination of Tarrant Hansen’s abandonment of a budding career in research medicine to follow a path in wine. The passion for grapes took Hansen from Queensland to the South Australia to study, then subsequently around the world to refine his craft. Today, his Adelaide Hills label sees chardonnay and pinot…

    • Swinging Bridge
    • Tom Ward
    • Orange

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Swinging Bridge is the premium label that fronts the Ward family’s grape-growing enterprise in the chill climes of Orange, New South Wales. Tom Ward, recognising the immense potential of their site and the broader region, reworked their approach to growing from a commercial mindset to one that prioritised quality and character over yield. Today, Ward…

    • The Stoke
    • Nick & Rebecca Dugmore
    • 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.

    • The Vinden Headcase
    • Angus Vinden
    • Hunter Valley

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Working out of the family winery, Angus Vinden has expanded on the traditional base his father established in the 1990s, both growing the classic Vinden range, as well as building his own wing to the portfolio with The Vinden Headcase. The latter is his outlet to create wines that sit outside the styles commonly associated…

    • 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,…

    • Two Tonne Tasmania
    • Ricky Evans
    • Tasmania

    • 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020

    2020 Finalist
    2018 Finalist
    2017 Finalist
    2016 People's Choice
    2016 Finalist

    A local who sought education and experience on the mainland, it wasn’t long before Ricky Evans returned to Tasmania to take up a role at Bay of Fires (good breeding ground that – Peter Dredge, Fran Austin…) and launch his own micro-project that ended up taking up a macro amount of time. Starting with a…

    • Vino Volta
    • Garth Cliff
    • Swan District

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Garth Cliff spent 20 years making wine across Australia and in the US, with a decade at Houghton before striking out on his own with partner Kristen McGann. And while many a Western Australian winemaker would feel drawn to the glamour regions, like Margaret River, Cliff was most passionate about the deeply unfashionable Swan District….

    • Vinteloper
    • Alyson Tannenbaum
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    With the acquisition of a home vineyard, Vinteloper has evolved from a label cherry picking fruit from various South Australian regions into a roster of wines that reflect their home in the Adelaide Hills, Alyson Tannenbaum now pulls the winemaking levers in David Bowley’s operation, crafting everything from their Adelaide-Hills-centric White Label range (which still…

    • Wallington / Dreaded Friend
    • Steve Mobbs
    • Central Ranges

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Steve Mobbs heads up Wallington Wines, overseeing the organic farming and making their wines, as well his experimental incursions using Wallington fruit, which appear under his Dreaded Friend label. While the biodynamic Wallington wines are classic expressions from a warm pocket of the Central Ranges, in New South Wales, Dreaded Friend takes the same fruit…

    • Weathercraft
    • Raquel Jones
    • 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.

    • Wellington & Wolfe
    • Hugh McCullough
    • Tasmania

    • 2020

    2020 Finalist

    Hugh McCullough’s Wellington & Wolfe label (named after the famous British generals) is a nod to a career in history left to gather dust while he forged ahead with an all-consuming love of wine. That love is democratic, with McCullough personally embracing all styles, but he has a special passion for riesling, and his Tamar…

    • 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.