Next time someone asks about the best new winery in Australia, direct them to McLaren Vale. South Australia’s Bondar Wines has been crowned the 2017 winner of Best New Winery at the Qantas epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards. The announcement was made on August 3 by wine judge James Halliday at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. It’s a big deal for the little family business. “It’s very nice to be recognised,” says owner Selina Bondar who started the business with husband Andre in 2012. “We’re very small and we weren’t expecting it so we’re very excited.”

Neither has family history in the industry. “We’ve chosen this path,” says Selina. “We weren’t born into it, we picked this passion.” The couple put in the hard yards, initially purchasing fruit from growers in the region and then acquiring their current home, Rayner Vineyard, in 2013. “We needed to have our own vineyard and have control and understanding of the fruit,” Selina says.

The awards were held ahead of the release of the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion, which scores drops by 1302 wineries. Competition was tough. Bondar beat 67 other new wineries to come out on top, based on points and value for money. Three Bondar wines scored 95 points: a chardonnay, shiraz and a grenache.

The Bondars don’t yet have a cellar door but their wines can be found in restaurants and independent bottle shops. The winery also hosts two annual special events, a Sea and Vines ‘Shed Party’ with food, bands and beats, and a pop-up cellar door experience over Christmas in the barrel shed with tapas and platters to graze on.