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
    • Brave New Wine
    • Yoko & Andries Mostert
    • Great Southern

    • 2016, 2017, 2018

    2018 Finalist
    2017 Finalist
    2017 Danger Zone
    2016 Finalist

    The spirit of Andries Mostert and Yoko Luscher-Mostert’s Brave New Wine is neatly captured in the name, a venture that joyfully tosses out convention in the aim of making wine that tastes good in surprising new ways, from fermenting grapes with native botanicals to low-alcohol skinsy affairs to fridge-able reds, and much, much more. With the vintage, exemplary parcels of fruit from Western Australia’s Great Southern and their flights of creative fancy the guides, the pair make an ever-changing catalogue of offerings that veer from the engagingly wild to the cheerfully gluggable. Young Gun of Wine finalists in 2016, the pair took out the 2017 Danger Zone with their botanically enhanced 2016 ‘Wonderland’ Riesling.

    • Cavedon Wines
    • Gabe O’Brien
    • King Valley

    • 2021, 2022, 2023

    2023 Finalist
    2023 Danger Zone
    2022 Finalist
    2021 Finalist

    Cavedon Wines is the third-generation manifestation of a pioneering King Valley vineyard, with Gabe O’Brien making micro-batches of wine to celebrate the hard work of his father-in-law over 40 plus years, who helped pioneer and then revolutionise grape-growing in the region. O’Brien is starting to do the same for winemaking, introducing styles less common in the district, including skin contact on white grapes, sparkling gewürztraminer, nouveau reds and bottle fermenting prosecco to make both col fondo and zero dosage wines.

    • 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…

    • 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.

    • 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…

    • Patrick of Coonawarra
    • Luke Tocaciu
    • Coonawarra

    • 2022

    2022 Finalist
    2022 Danger Zone

    Luke Tocaciu has terra rossa soil in his blood, growing up in Coonawarra. His career path was never in doubt, with his winemaking travels leading him back to the family vineyard, Patrick of Coonawarra, a little over a decade ago. Today, while “heritage” styles are still a large part of the business, he is pushing the boundaries with his Méthode range, which celebrates different sides of cabernet sauvignon – including one laced with eucalypt character and another made in a gulpable nouveau style – as well as giving riesling the skins treatment.

    • Saison Vermouth
    • Dave Verheul
    • Victoria

    • 2021

    2021 Finalist
    2021 Danger Zone

    Dave Verheul is a chef, and a celebrated one at that, but he’s also one of the leading lights in Australia’s burgeoning vermouth movement, producing micro-batches of his Saison vermouth that are based on pure, singular flavours and built with organically farmed local produce. Starting as an inhouse offering for his Melbourne restaurants – Embla and Lesa – the steel clamp of 2020’s lockdowns gave him enough breathing space to properly launch his range, with a second pair of vermouths – ‘Blackcurrant Leaf’ and the second edition of ‘Summer Flowers’ – following in 2021.

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