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
    • BK Wines
    • Brendon Keys
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2014, 2015, 2016

    2016 Finalist
    2015 Finalist
    2014 Winemaker's Choice
    2014 Finalist

    It’s not common to see a tagline for BK Wines’ Brendon Keys that doesn’t mention that he’s a DJ and mad skateboarder (see, we did it too), but at his heart he’s one of this country’s (well, he’s a Kiwi, but he lives here) most progressive, creative and prolific winemakers. You’ll find plenty of classic…

    • 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…

    • Jauma
    • James Erskine
    • McLaren Vale

    • 2013

    2013 Winemaker's Choice

    Ditching a career as one of this country’s most decorated sommeliers, James Erskine began crafting pithy, natural-leaning McLaren Vale Grenache in 2010. Since then, his Jauma label has become something of a touchstone for natural wines done well, and his soon to be planted Adelaide Hills vineyard promises to be profoundly exciting in the years…

    • Murdoch Hill
    • Michael Downer
    • Adelaide Hills

    • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

    2017 Young Gun of Wine
    2017 Top 50
    2017 Finalist
    2016 Winemaker's Choice
    2016 Finalist
    2015 Winemaker's Choice
    2015 Finalist
    2014 Finalist

    Before taking the reins at the family vineyard, Michael Downer learnt from some of the finest makers, both here and abroad. He now works from the Murdoch Hill home vineyards, near Oakbank, but also sources higher into the Adelaide Hills for cooler expressions, which inform his cutting edge Artisan Series wines. In a nod to…

    • Rieslingfreak
    • John Hughes
    • Clare Valley

    • 2017, 2018

    2018 Top 50
    2017 Winemaker's Choice
    2017 Top 50

    Perpetually afforded the tag of Australia’s nicest and most affable winemaker, John Hughes also has a very serious side, with a slavish obsession to his favourite grape, riesling. Hughes’ Rieslingfreak imprint has been steadily redefining that noble grape, bending it into all manner of shapes, and making perfect sense at the same time. His wines…

    • Rivulet Wines
    • Keira O’Brien
    • Tasmania

    • 2022, 2023

    2023 Winemaker's Choice
    2023 Finalist
    2022 Finalist

    Keira O’Brien started Rivulet Wines in part to attempt to save Tasmania’s oldest commercial riesling planting and in part to express her sense of creativity, which was being stifled in her contract-winemaking day job. Over the vintages released, the portfolio has ebbed and flowed, with availability of the right fruit a key driver in her range. In 2022, she became the winemaker at the iconic east coast vineyard Freycinet, juggling her brand and one of Tasmania’s most vaunted. The Rivulet range consists of cross-regional pinot noir and a pair of single site offerings, with a single site chardonnay, barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc and a sylvaner filling the roster of wines, though a riesling will come back into the range from the 2023 vintage.

    • 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.

    • 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…

    • Sigurd
    • Dan Graham
    • Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley

    • 2021

    2021 Winemaker's Choice
    2021 Finalist

    Dan Graham’s Sigurd has been helping to redefine the Barossa Valley since 2012, with fruit picked earlier to capture freshness, then made with a minimal-intervention approach and no additions bar sulphur at bottling. Now also working with grapes from the Riverland, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley, Graham makes varietal wines – chardonnay, riesling, chenin blanc, carignan and syrah – as well as complex white, rosé and red blends, with judicious amounts of whole bunch and skin contact employed to create complex, complete wines that are as focused on elegant flavour as they are on texture and structural detail.

    • 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,…

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