Vineyard of the Year – Criteria


The intent of these awards is to shine a light on our best vineyards and give a voice to our best grape growers. These awards are a national initiative with trophies going to outstanding vineyards across the country.

As winemakers frequently say, “great wine is made in the vineyard.” Through these awards we will reconnect finished wine to the place and the manner in which the grapes are grown. We want to talk about provenance, and the unsung heroes of wine – the viticulturists, the growers, the custodians of the vines who labour at producing the best fruit they can.

Beyond providing recognition to the people who tend the vineyards, these awards are an opportunity to lead change and innovation in the industry, and grow the consciousness of consumers. Vineyards are finely attuned to their environment and can be seen as the ‘canary in the coalmine’ in a changing climate. Vineyards are also intricately linked to communities, and the first link in the chain of producing wine, so they have social and economic impact too. To that end, we are placing sustainability at the heart of these awards by making it the base criterion for entry.

Applications for the inaugural
Vineyard of the Year Awards
are now open!

You can read a copy of the application questions – download available here.

Applications must be made online, via this web form. Applications close by October 22.

The panel

Dr Irina Santiago-Brown, co-owner of Inkwell Wines; Sustainability in Agriculture Consultant; Accredited Lead Auditor for ISO 14001; Viticulturist of the Year (Inaugural, Women in Wine); PhD in Sustainability in Viticulture.

Dr Mardi Longbottom, Manager, Sustainability and Viticulture at AWRI; Director, Australian Grape and Wine; Director, ASVO; PhD in grapevine reproductive biology.

Dr Mary Cole, Director and Principal Scientist, Agpath; PhD in plant pathology; Honorary Senior Fellow at University of Melbourne.

Dr Peter Dry AM, Emeritus Fellow at AWRI and University of Adelaide; PhD in grapevine biology; McWilliam’s Wines Maurice O’Shea Award recipient; Member of the Order of Australia.

Mark Walpole, vigneron/owner of Fighting Gully Road; viticulture consultant; a pioneer of alternative varieties in Victoria; Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Viticulturist of the Year 2017.

Max Allen, award-winning journalist and author; honorary fellow in history at the University of Melbourne; wine and drinks columnist for the Australian Financial Review and JancisRobinson.com.

Process & calendar

  1. Entries open, September 2020
  2. Entries close, October 22, 2020
  3. A shortlist of vineyards around Australia to be inspected by consultants to the panel ~ November, 2020
  4. Finalists of vineyards in running for trophies announced ~ December 2020 (date TBC)
  5. Each of the finalists (number TBC) to be profiled through Young Gun of Wine digital channels
  6. Trophy winners announced ~ early 2021

Trophies & criteria

There will be four trophies in these inaugural awards:

  1. Vineyard Innovation of the Year (working title)
  2. New Vineyard of the Year (working title)
  3. Old Vineyard of the Year (working title)
  4. Vineyard of the Year (working title)

Our definition of a vineyard

  • Our use of the term vineyard is about the vines growing in the land. The vineyards we are acknowledging will include both pure grape growers as well as wine producers, or vineyards with wineries attached.
  • Because these awards are talking to consumers about the place of origin of wine product, we define ‘one vineyard’ as it would be labelled on a bottle, or the name of the fruit source as it is sold as by the grower.
  • When multiple blocks or adjoining vineyards are considered as one, and thus limiting the application to one VOTY Awards submission per business per year:
    • If an ‘Estate’ has multiple blocks or adjoining vineyards, but it is all managed as one, and the various vineyard blocks are not named separately on products, then it is one vineyard. In other words, if a vineyard is large enough to have multiple blocks of differing vine plantings, but there is no name distinction seen on finished wine product, or the fruit is sold as the one entity by the grower, then this is still considered one vineyard – even if the vineyard may be separated by a road and not part of the same original property title.
  • When a business may have multiple vineyards, and thus could potentially have multiple VOTY Awards submissions in the same year:
    • If the one wine producer or grower has multiple vineyards, with unique names for each vineyard which can be seen on finished wines, then the producer may have multiple entries to these awards.

The base criteria

  • First and foremost, these awards are about championing the pursuit of grape and wine quality.
  • Vineyards will need to name a viticulturist or grower responsible for the vineyard, as these awards recognise the place and person hand-in-hand.
  • These awards are open to grape growers who sell fruit to winemakers, as well as wine producers who grow their own fruit.
  • Growers will need to be able to name wines that are made from the grapes grown on that vineyard. Wine products which are blends of multiple fruit sources are acceptable.
  • We are looking for viticulturists who are committed to improving vineyard health.
  • To that end, “sustainability” will be a fundamental element of these awards. Sustainability encompassing one or all of the following: environmental, economic and social endeavours.

Vineyard Innovation of the Year

  • This trophy singles out innovative methods, processes and ideas being applied in the vineyards. Beyond the pursuit of wine quality and vineyard health, as a commercial imperative, a sustainable vineyard should take also take into account economic, social and environmental responsibilities.
  • For instance, finalists/winners may be recognised for novel approaches to carbon capture; water efficiency; biological farming practices; cover cropping; alternative (non-chemical) disease and pest management; varietal/clonal selections, as well as co-planting, pruning techniques, etc. This award can also single out broader environmental initiatives, or interconnected activities (such as tourism) that add to the sustainability of a vineyard when the broader economic and community benefits are considered.

New Vineyard of the Year

  • For a vineyard ten years old or younger at time of entry.
  • This award exists to talk about entirely new vineyards. A new block of vines planted as part of an established vineyard is not considered a new vineyard.
  • Top-working/grafting an existing vineyard to new varieties is not considered to be new vines.
  • Re-planting a vineyard is not considered a new vineyard, unless a majority of the vineyard has been replanted, and the vineyard name has not previously been used on bottled wines.
  • The entrant needs to be able to point to wine produced from that vineyard that has been available in the marketplace within the last year.

Old Vineyard of the Year

  • Old vines must constitute at least 50% of the vineyard, and the average vine age must be at least 35 years at time of entry.
  • The entrant needs to be able to point to wine produced from that vineyard that has been available in the marketplace over multiple vintages within the last five years. Blended products from multiple vineyard sources are acceptable (e.g. the grapes from this older vineyard were blended with fruit from other, younger vineyards).

Vineyard of the Year

The “open” category. Please see ‘base criteria’ above.

Eligibility across trophies

  • By definition, it is impossible for a vineyard to apply for both the New Vineyard and Old Vineyard trophies.
  • A vineyard may apply for up to three trophy categories.
  • If a business owns multiple vineyards that meet our definition of more than ‘one vineyard’, then the business may make multiple applications.
  • If a vineyard makes an application for the awards, but does not specify which category is being entered, the panel may consider the vineyard for a trophy in any category at its discretion.
  • A vineyard may only be awarded a maximum of two trophies in one year.

Applications for the inaugural
Vineyard of the Year Awards
are now open!

You can read a copy of the application questions – download available here.

Applications must be made online, via this web form. Applications close by October 22.


Bookmark this job

Please sign in or create account as candidate to bookmark this job

Save this search

Please sign in or create account to save this search

create resume

Create Resume

Please sign in or create account as candidate to create a resume