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.


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

    • 2017, 2018

    The Vigneron
    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,…

    • Cave Wines
    • Justin Folloso
    • Tasmania

    • 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2023 Best New Act

    Justin Folloso’s career direction snapped into vivid clarity at a Young Gun tasting in 2018. An epiphany with a Tasmanian pinot noir saw him pack his bags and head back to his home state, taking on winery work and travelling overseas to work in Burgundy and California. Today, while working for an iconic Tasmanian winery in his ‘day’ job, Folloso is crafting his own wines at his modest home facility. The launch of the brand comes in 2023, releasing two Coal River Valley pinot noirs from the 2021 vintage and a textural oak-aged sauvignon blanc from 2022.

    • Commune of Buttons
    • Jasper Button
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2016

    2016 Finalist
    2016 Best New Act

    Jasper Button somewhat fell into wine. Starting with a thoroughly pragmatic approach to the family’s crop (which just happened to be grapes) from their Adelaide Hills property, Button was quickly ensnared by the wine bug after meeting Basket Range guru Anton van Klopper. A brisk education in natural wine, from growing to making, saw Button…

    • 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…

    • Dormilona
    • Josephine Perry
    • Margaret River

    • 2013, 2014, 2016

    2016 Young Gun of Wine
    2016 Finalist
    2014 Finalist
    2013 Finalist
    2013 Best New Act

    The Margaret River story was somewhat heavily inked before Josephine Perry came along, with a brigade of iconic names holding sway. Emerging out of her Perryscope wine consulting business, Dormilona was given breath to elaborate the fruit that was coming off organic vineyards across the region. Her direction was to pick earlier, and to do…

    • Lauren Langfield Wines
    • Lauren Langfield
    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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…

    • Santolin
    • Adrian Santolin
    • Heathcote, Yarra Valley

    • 2014

    2014 Best New Act

    Adrian Santolin’s winemaking as much as his work ethic is informed by his Italian heritage and long hours working amongst the vines of the arid Riverina district, the irrigated food bowl of New South Wales. The tug for cool climate fruit and more elegant styles saw Santolin head to the Yarra, where his brand was…

    • 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…

    • Year Wines
    • Luke Growden
    • 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.

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