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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.

The Vigneron

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

Filters

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  • Award
  • Year
    • Agitate Wines
    • Andrew Ling
    • NSW/ACT, Hunter Valley, Orange

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Andrew Ling’s foray into the winemaking world was serendipitous – his transition into the field in 2001 as a vintage lab assistant, a favor from his soccer coach, prevented this star player from leaving Mudgee. It didn’t take long for the wine bug to bite, and his career has since spanned roles with leading names across Mudgee, Orange, and the Hunter Valley. In 2017, Ling assumed the role of Senior Winemaker at Carillion Wines, a position he retains to this day. His own venture, Agitate Wines, was launched in 2021 with a Pét-Nat Riesling, and the label has since expanded to include five wines. The Agitate wines embrace a minimal intervention approach: unfiltered and unfined, they are “raw and textured,” in Ling’s words, yet “generally bottled in their youth” to capture their brightness and freshness, resulting in eminently gluggable wines.

    • Agricola Wines
    • Callum Powell
    • South Australia, Barossa Valley, Eden Valley

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    From the tapestry of the Barossa’s vine-strewn landscape, Callum Powell is weaving an exciting new chapter with his Agricola label that is a homage to the pursuit of ‘a sense of site’. This journey, rooted in the soils of the famous Torbreck winery, where his formative years unfurled, has blossomed into a quest for a profound connection with the land. Powell’s odyssey took him from the nurturing embrace of the Barossa to the storied terrains of Hermitage at Domaine JL Chave, enriching his palette of winemaking hues. His wax sealed Barossa and Eden Valley wines, with hand illustrated vineyard maps on the back labels, deliver on the goal of perfumed, complex, naturally balanced interpretations of Barossa.

    • Alessandro Stefani
    • Alessandro Stefani
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Working from his family’s Yarra Valley vineyards, Alessandro Stefani’s journey is a testament to the powerful pull of heritage and land, with roots extending from the Yarra Valley to Tuscany across generations of his winegrowing family. His eponymous label, Alessandro Stefani, features a Cabernet Franc and a Sangiovese in its debut offering, launched in 2024, providing an alternate perspective on the family’s Stefani Estate Yarra Valley wines.

    • Alkimi Wines
    • Stuart Dudine
    • Heathcote, Yarra Valley

    • 2021, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    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.

    • Allevare
    • Alysha Moscatt & Lucy Kendall
    • Victoria, Gippsland

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In the verdant expanses of Gippsland, Alysha Moscatt and Lucy Kendall have woven a narrative of passion, perseverance, and profound connection to the land through their work at Allevare Wines. Their journey, rooted in a shared commitment to hands-on approach to in the vineyard and growing wines that echo the voice of each vintage, with a hands-off approach in the winery, unfolds a tale of sustainability, and community.

    • Alpha Box & Dice
    • Sam Berketa
    • 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.

    • Aunt Alice
    • Alice Davidson
    • 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.

    • Cape Jaffa Wines
    • Giulia Fiorovic & Federico Pezzino
    • South Australia, Mount Benson

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    The Cape Jaffa Wines vineyard has been at the forefront of biodynamic practices in the Limestone Coast region, setting a benchmark for sustainable viticulture. At the heart of Cape Jaffa’s winemaking today are the talented Italian expatriates Giulia Fiorovic, who took the helm as head winemaker in 2022, and Federico Pezzino, who joined as winemaker in 2023. Their shared journey in winemaking began a decade earlier at the University of Oenology and Viticulture in Bologna. With the support of Cape Jaffa’s owner, Derek Hooper, Fiorovic and Pezzino have infused the winery with their inventive spirit, as seen in the creation of the ‘Aura’ range. This new lineup to the Cape Jaffa banner offers vibrant wines and emerging wine styles through winemaking exploration that can extend beyond the Cape Jaffa vineyard.

    • Chalari
    • Alexi Christidis
    • Perth Hills, Swan Valley

    • 2020, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    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…

    • Curator Wine Co
    • Daniel Vladimir Zolotarev
    • South Australia, Barossa Valley

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Daniel Vladimir Zolotarev’s journey in the winemaking realm reflects a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, deeply rooted in the rich terroirs of Barossa Valley. With an undergraduate degree in viticulture and oenology from the University of Adelaide, Daniel’s career trajectory has seen him take on roles from vineyard hand to a pivotal position at Curator Wine Co, where his collaboration with Tom White, the owner, has been instrumental. “We have about a 50/50 contribution between the both of us in terms of decision-making and processing responsibilities, from growing to bottling,” Daniel shares, highlighting the partnership’s balanced approach to winemaking.

    • ECK Wines
    • Emily Kinsman
    • Victoria, Heathcote

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Emily Kinsman’s ECK Wines is based out of her small vineyard and winery in central Heathcote, where she organically farms less than half a hectare of shiraz. That modest holding is supported by fruit – shiraz, chardonnay, pinot noir, marsanne, cabernet and riesling – sourced from across Heathcote and Mount Alexander, in the Bendigo region, with a greenfield site in Macedon recently purchased, which will soon be planted to vines. A lawyer by trade, the pull of making something with her hands and a simpler, more connected life captivated Kinsman, and her wines follow that attraction, with a traditional approach, incorporating old, larger format oak and amphora, along with low sulphur additions and no fining or filtration.

    • Fervor Wines
    • Callum Garland
    • Victoria, Western Australia

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Callum Garland’s winemaking voyage, deeply rooted in his family’s Italian lineage, reaches a pivotal juncture with Fervor Wines, a label that marries tradition with a pioneering spirit. The first Fervor wines have been crafted in Victoria from Italian grape varieties, where Callum, leveraging his winemaking experiences from around the globe, embarked on a venture that’s a testament to his heritage and his passion for the craft. With the next step to be seen in a return to his West Australian roots.

    • Gum Wine
    • George McCullough
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Having curated wine selections for elite Melbourne establishments like Grossi Florentino, Coda, Tonka, and King & Godfree, George McCullough developed a nuanced understanding of wine’s intrinsic link to gastronomy and terroir. His leap from an accomplished sommelier to a committed winemaker, from the dining room to the vineyard, underlines a profound commitment to the craft of wine. His intent with Gum Wine – launched in 2022, is to make fresh and savoury styles of wine, that are suited to food. The endeavour is centred on a vineyard in the Yarra Valley, but is complemented by wines sourced from Heathcote and Macedon vineyards. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

    • Guthrie Wines
    • Hugh Guthrie
    • South Australia, Adelaide Hills

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Hugh Guthrie’s Guthrie label stands as a testament to the art of micro-batch winemaking, where each bottle narrates a unique tale of its provenance. From the his family’s Adelaide Hills farm, where the Guthries have been for five generations, he crafts his wines, working with the local knowledge of the top local growers and special pockets of the Adelaide Hills. His range showcases a thoughtful curation of the region’s classic varieties, enriched by more unconventional offerings, such as his Pinot Noir Syrah blend and a nuanced grüner veltliner. Guthrie’s approach is one of subtle innovation – his aim is not to overpower but to unveil the inherent narrative of each vineyard block and grape, letting the land’s voice resonate through his wines. This philosophy yields creations that are not just beverages but reflections of the Adelaide Hills’ diverse terroir, captured through a winemaker’s lens that values authenticity and a gentle guiding hand over intrusive intervention.

    • Honky Chateau
    • Chris Ryan
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Chris Ryan’s Honky Chateau is somewhat of a COVID baby, a natural extension of his casual vintage work in wineries, but one sped up by the closures of Melbourne’ restaurants in 2020 and ’21. Working as a head sommelier in Andrew McConnell’s Trader House group, Ryan was well-acquainted with the great wines of the world, but his ambitions for his own label, centred around Yarra Valley shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, were somewhat humbler: “My goal is to make wine that gives pleasure to common people. I think expectations are the enemy of wines, so I hope that people can grab a bottle mid-week, pull a cork, share it with friends, alongside food and be pleasantly surprised. Someone else can be a disrupter and trend maker.” Today, he balances his winemaking with his senior buying role.

    • Intrepidus Wines
    • Chrissie Smith
    • NSW/ACT, Canberra District

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Chrissie Smith’s Intrepidus Wines was only born in the 2021 vintage, working from a one-acre vineyard in the Canberra District that she farms herself. And that’s critical for her philosophy, with an abrupt career shift leading her to wine and quickly to a vineyard-first approach, recognising that the work done amongst the vines was just as important, if not more so, than the work in the winery. The label is currently built around sangiovese and shiraz, with tiny amounts of external grapes to allow for experimentation. Blends of the two home grapes make up a rosé and light red, while shiraz is also co-fermented with a splash of viognier, marsanne and roussanne.

    • J & S Fielke Wines
    • Jemma & Steve Fielke
    • South Australia, Adelaide Hills

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Launched with a focus on the terroirs of Adelaide Hills, J & S Fielke is the brainchild of Steve and Jemma Fielke, a winemaking couple who channel their passion and expertise into crafting wines that resonate with the story of their region. Their range currently includes a chardonnay from the Lenswood subregion, a pinot noir from the Piccadilly Valley subregion, and a shiraz and pinot noir blend, each wine a reflection of their commitment to expressing the distinctiveness of their vineyard sites. While 2025 is set to be the first crop from their Lower Hermitage site where they have planted varieties with an eye on a changing climate.

    • Jean Bouteille Wines
    • Jean-Baptiste Courdesses
    • South Australia, Adelaide Hills

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In the undulating terrains of the Basket Range – a hamlet renowned as ground-zero of Australia’s low-fi and natural wine movement – in the Adelaide Hills, Jean-Baptiste Courdesses is crafting unfined, unfiltered and 100% whole-bunch fermented wines, with no or minimal sulphur, packaged in locally made bottles. His project, Jean Bouteille Wines, is firmly planted in the belief that winemaking should be a harmonious extension of nature, and that wine can be an elixir.

    • Jones Winery & Vineyard – J6 Wines
    • Benjamin Jones
    • Victoria, Rutherglen

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Nestled in the historic wine region of Rutherglen– a land of big reds and famous for its fortified wines, Benjamin Jones, the sixth generation vintner of Jones Winery & Vineyard, is redefining the region’s vinous landscape with his J6 label released in 2020, delivering unfamiliar wines with a focus on drinkability and enjoyment. The J6 range is made with a minimal intervention mindset, made from dry-grown vines on the family estate vineyard. The ‘J6 Jimmy’s Block’ – a blend of chasselas, muscat gordo, muscat of Hamburg, grenache blanc, et al – and the ‘J6 Grenache Noir’ have the benefit of being fermented in the Jones Winery wooden fermenting vats from 1860.

    • Juliard Wines
    • Jules & Bernard Morey
    • -

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Juliard Wines, a burgeoning project rooted in the picturesque landscapes of Beechworth, Victoria, represents a fresh take on winemaking tradition. Launched with the 2018 vintage, this nascent label from Jules and Bernard Morey has quickly established itself by crafting classic wines with minimal intervention, all while nurturing its own fledgling vineyard where they have chosen to grow varieties such as grenache, mourvèdre, carignan, shiraz, cinsault and malbec. Operating from the revered Sorrenberg winery, Juliard’s lineup currently includes Shiraz, a GSM blend, Rosé, and Chardonnay, each telling a unique story of their terroir, with new climate-apt varieties to be seen from Juliard in the coming years.

    • Linear Wines
    • Nathan Brown
    • Canberra District

    • 2021, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    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.

    • Little Frances
    • Erin Frances Pooley
    • 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.

    • M&J Becker Wines
    • Meagan and James Becker
    • NSW/ACT, Hunter Valley

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Meagan and James Becker of M&J Becker Wines have carved a distinctive niche in the winemaking world by bridging the vinous landscapes of two continents. Their journey spans regions of New South Wales, Australia, and the renowned wine regions of California, USA. In Australia, their offering includes a dozen wines, ranging from Tumbarumba Pinot Noir and Hunter Valley Chardonnay to Hilltops Nebbiolo. While their commitment to transmitting terroir extends to managing a vineyard in Hunter Valley, where they converted to Certified Organic through ACO late in 2019. All theM&J Becker Wines from Australia are made in a collaborative winemaking facility shared with the other rising stars of the Hunter Valley.

    • Mac Forbes Wines
    • Hannah Maltby
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Hannah Maltby began working for Mac Forbes Wines in 2017, taking the winemaking reigns in 2019. Maltby champions a winemaking philosophy succinctly captured in her “minimal intervention, maximum attention” mantra. This approach guides the production of a diverse range — with multiple bottlings of pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling at the core, alongside other Yarra Valley varietal mainstays and a freewheeling experimental ‘EB’ range.

    • 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.

    • Meredith
    • Ben Luker
    • Victoria, Grampians

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In the heart of Western Victoria, Ben Luker’s Meredith label emerges as a reflection of his rich and varied journey in the wine industry. With a background that spans an array of roles, from restaurant service to in-depth wine research, Luker’s foray into winemaking is a testament to his deep-seated passion for the craft. The 2023 debut of Meredith, from the 2023 vintage, is not just a milestone for Luker but an ode to Western Victoria. His approach is unmistakably ‘punter-friendly,’ emphasizing low-fi winemaking that underscores the intrinsic qualities of varietal riesling and grenache, with the Meredith lineup complimented by a rosé and pét-nat.

    • Mise en Place Wines
    • Doug Lilburne
    • Victoria, Great Western, Pyrenees

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Doug Lilburne’s journey into wine started in kitchens in New York as a teenager, progressing through culinary school then to setting up a farm-to-table food program at a winery in Northern California. Winery work eventually drew him away from the stove, and vintages around the world followed. Now settled into his leased winery and vineyard in the Yarra Valley’s Steels Creek, Lilburne’s Mise en Place label focuses on home fruit and organic vineyards in the Pyrenees and Great Western to currently make a syrah, syrah and touriga nacional blend, and a syrah rosé. The winemaking is manual and traditional, with only sulphur added, and not always. The first release was in 2022 with wines from the 2021 vintage.

    • Mon Tout
    • Richard Burch & Nic Bowen
    • Western Australia

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Mon Tout (‘my everything’) is a collaboration between Richard Burch and Nic Bowen, with fruit sourced across Western Australia. Coming from a notable winemaking family (well, they both do), Burch had the enviable resources of his family’s Howard Park Wines – which has vineyards and growers in regions celebrated, emerging and re-emerging – when he founded the brand a decade ago. That label has evolved considerably and will continue to, with Bowen coming on board in 2021. The key drivers are a spirit of adventure coupled with eschewing winemaking inputs, aside from sulphur for stability, with natural balance achieved in the vineyard. A pinot gris, gewürztraminer and riesling blend, a chardonnay, a rosé, a light and two red blends with varying combinations of pinot noir, syrah and grenache make up the offerings.

    • Mountadam Vineyards
    • Caitlin Brown
    • South Australia, Eden Valley

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In the Eden Valley sub-region of High Eden sits Mountadam Vineyards. With initial plantings established in 1972, the vineyard has been nurtured by the Brown Family since 2015, with Caitlin Brown at the helm as the winemaker. Here, across 147 hectares of vines, the focus is on crafting wines that truly express the High Eden terroir. The range of varietal wines Brown makes are quintessential to the region, where the intent is on purity of fruit and a transparency of site.

    • Musical Folk
    • James Becker
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    James Becker’s journey in the winemaking realm is a narrative of growth, passion, and a deep connection to the Yarra Valley. His label, Musical Folk wines, reflects a harmonious blend of his experiences, showcasing the essence of the region and his love for Chardonnay. Launched in 2021, the range has expanded to also include a pinot noir and a skin contact pinot gris, ‘Amber Pinot Gris’.

    • Nomads Garden
    • Ben Schulz Dahlenburg
    • Victoria, Bendigo

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    Ben Schulz Dahlenburg, winemaker at the family-run Eldorado Road winery since 2016, embarked on a solo venture in 2017 with Nomads Garden. This label represents a vibrant divergence from the tradition-bound family vineyard, allowing Schulz Dahlenburg to explore a broader canvas of varieties and terroirs across North East Victoria. Nomads Garden is a celebration of singularity and creativity, offering a collection of single vineyard, wild ferment wines that are both intriguing and financially accessible. The lineup boasts unique offerings like a Pinot Meunier, a Skin Contact White, a Pinot Noir, and a ‘Durif Nouveau’, each telling a distinct story of place and process.

    • Parley Wines
    • Sarah Feehan and Melissa Gray
    • South Australia, Adelaide Hills

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Launched in 2021, the Parley Wines range – owned and made today by Sarah Feehan and Melissa Gray – offers around 10 wines that defy the traditional paradigms of the regions they’re sourced from. Their wines in glass are as playful and approachable as the abstract geometric art that adorns each bottle. Sourcing grapes from across the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, and Coonawarra, they also breathe new life into a 1-hectare old vineyard in the Basket Range of Adelaide Hills. This carefully crafted collection from Parley Wine encapsulates the vibrancy of classic South Australian wine regions through a non-traditional lens, offering a fresh take on winemaking for wine enthusiasts and novices alike.

    • Patch Wines
    • Matt Talbot
    • Victoria, Yarra Valley

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    The first release of the Patch wines came from the 2020 vintage. Approaching wine from a varied wine trade background that began with studies in in viticulture, Matt Talbot crafts the Patch Wines with support from winemaker and partner, Kirilly Gordon. There are presently three wines in the Patch lineup: a ‘Shed Red’ Bordeaux inspired blend with a Turkish twist, a ‘Nebbiolo Bianco’ (which is actually the arneis grape variety), and their Marsanne. The Patch project – with the intent on sourcing exciting parcels or ‘patches’ of grapes – is unbound by region. Made from Yarra Valley and Nagambie fruit thus far. All small batch, using a combination of vessels in the making – from tank, to oak, to ceramic egg, to terracotta – delivering wines that are juicy, textural and delicious. All wax sealed, and all pleasingly democratically priced.

    • Poppelvej
    • Uffe Deichmann
    • South Australia, McLaren Vale

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Uffe Deichmann is the winemaking force behind Poppelvej, a label that has quickly captured the attention of Australian ‘natty’ wine enthusiasts. Now crafting a suite of around 20 wines, sourced from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, with a focus on texture and early approachability, including a range of alternative varieties and techniques, from skin contact expressions of white grapes, to pet-nats, to zeitgeist bottlings of chenin blanc, pinot meunier, cabernet franc, and more. Concrete egg-shaped vessels are employed in the winery for fermentation and maturation.

    • Port Phillip Estate & Kooyong
    • Tim Perrin
    • Victoria, Mornington Peninsula

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Kooyong and Port Phillip Estate are two of the Mornington Peninsula’s enduring stars. Tim Perrin took on the role of chief winemaker of both estates in 2023, where he gets to demonstrate his understanding of chardonnay and pinot noir across some of the Mornington Peninsulas most recognised vineyard sites.

    • Portsea Estate
    • Matt Lugg & Will Ross
    • Victoria, Mornington Peninsula

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    In the expanse of Mornington Peninsula, the Portsea Estate banner has grown to include wines from their own vineyards in Portsea and Main Ridge, as well as sourcing from other growers in the Mornington Peninsula. Matt Lugg and Will Ross work together in crafting the offering for Portsea Estate, with a focusing on refining the classic wines – particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – that the Mornington Peninsula does so well.

    • Sabi Wabi
    • Peta Kotz
    • 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.

    • Saltfleet
    • Kyle Egel & Jonny Cook
    • 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.

    • Scanlon Wines
    • Harry Scanlon
    • South Australia, Adelaide Hills

    • 2024

    Finalist
    2024 Finalist

    From the family vineyard In the Piccadilly Valley subregion of Adelaide Hills, at altitude close to 600m, Harry Scanlon of Scanlon Wines is carving out his niche with two new Pinot Noirs added to the family label in 2022, with the intent of crafting distinct pinot offerings from the family vineyard.

    • Scion
    • Rowly Milhinch
    • 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.

    • Tillie J Wines
    • Tillie Johnston
    • 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.

    • Turon Wines
    • Turon White
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2021, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist
    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 gamay 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.

    • Utzinger Wines
    • Matthias Utzinger
    • Tasmania

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In the Tamar Valley, Matthias and Lauren Utzinger planted their vineyard in 2018 – now certified organic – at an impressive density of 6,500 vines per hectare. Wines for the ‘Utzinger’ labels come from their own land, as well as three additional vineyards where Matthias is hands-on in the vines – he has the vigneron ethos that wine are “grown, not made”. The Utzinger wine range showcases Tasmanian classics such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and a ‘Fumé’ Sauvignon Blanc. Looking ahead, the Utzingers plan to introduce alternative varieties to their range, importing vine cuttings from Matthias’ homeland of Switzerland, promising an exciting future for this Tasmanian project.

    • Vallée du Venom
    • Rhys and Emma Parker
    • Western Australia, Margaret River

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    In Margaret River, Rhys and Emma Parker have cultivated a distinctive approach to winemaking with Vallée du Venom, intertwining regional heritage with a flair for the contemporary. Their collection, adorned with labels that have an electro-punk aesthetic, boasts a dozen wines that combine Margaret River classics with avant-garde offerings like pet nats, chenin blanc, and chilled reds. This eclectic range, all sourced from local vineyards, reflects the Parkers’ innovative spirit. Central to their operation is the development of their ‘Urban Micro Winery’ in the northern Margaret River town of Dunsborough, and their Cellar Door ten minutes away at Yallingup Galleries.

    • Wangolina
    • Anita Goode
    • 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.

    • Werkstatt Wine
    • Bridget Mac
    • South Australia, Mount Gambier

    • 2024

    2024 Finalist

    Bridget Mac, the creative force behind Werkstatt Wine – with a focus on Riesling (thus far) – embodies the spirit of an artist turned winemaker, melding her passion for Germany, Austria, Switzerland wines with the distinct terroirs of Australia. Her label debuted in 2022 with releases thus far including a Riesling and a Pétillant Naturel Riesling, with a Pinot Noir to be released in due course from the 2024 vintage.

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

    • 2021, 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist
    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.

    • XO Wine Co
    • Greg Clack & Kate Horstmann
    • South Australia

    • 2023, 2024

    2024 Finalist
    2023 Finalist

    Greg Clack and Kate Horstmann founded XO Wine Co. in 2017. They focus on small-batch parcels of fruit, building complexity subtly through fermentation and maturation methods, with bright fruit and sense of place taking the lead. The pair work with the established strengths of both the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, with shiraz, grenache, pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling all getting a run, alongside the emerging stars of nebbiolo, barbera and tempranillo. A lightly skinsy pinot gris and a light chillable red that is a collage of red varieties completes the suite.

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