Since 2007, the Young Gun of Wine Awards has been toasting Australia’s best emerging winemakers – the people innovating, trying new things and ultimately making this country a more interesting place to drink wine.

The aim of the awards, says founder Rory Kent, has always been to show young people that wine is relevant to them. It’s a counterpoint to all the dry, academic wine competitions and events out there.

“I wanted to make wine sociable, fun and enjoyable, and enable people to learn about it at the same time,” he says.

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Each year Kent and his team scour the country for talent and assemble a longlist of 50 vintners (couples, siblings and other winemaking duos count as one entry). A panel of wine writers and other industry experts later winnow this down to 12 finalists (see last year’s here), before awarding the Best New Act award (to a first-time finalist) and the titular Young Gun of Wine award.

But the 12 finalists and the public also get to pick their own winners from the top 50 and hand out trophies – the Winemaker’s Choice and the People’s Choice. It’s the latter that really sets Young Gun apart.

“From the get-go, the Young Gun of Wine Award has been about the People’s Choice,” Kent says.

Ordinarily, tasting events are held in Sydney and Melbourne so the public can taste the wines and cast their votes. This year, seven events are being streamed instead, on Young Gun of Wine’s website. Viewers can buy mixed sixpacks and mixed dozens of the relevant wines in advance. Voting is open here.

The free events will last up to an hour and focus on specific regions and topics: Western Australia and pét-nats; Adelaide Hills; South Australia and McLaren Vale grenache; Victoria and new shades of white; Tasmania and pinot noir; NSW, ACT and alternative Barossa; and Macedon Ranges, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and gamay. Six different winemakers and other experts will dial into each event to provide tasting notes and answer questions.

“It’s like speed dating for wine,” Kent says.

Attendees will be able to ask questions anonymously (if they like) and a system will allow the most popular questions to be voted up the queue.

“One of my frustrations when it comes to wine events is, no matter how fun and disarming you try and make it, there are always people with some sense of trepidation or anxiety about asking questions, for fear of their questions being perceived as silly,” Kent says. “One of the beautiful things that will emerge out of these virtual events, I think, is the anonymity that someone might be able to have to ask questions.”

Young Gun of Wine’s virtual events are free, but registration is mandatory.

May 12, 6.30pm AEST – Adelaide Hills
May 17, 4pm AEST – Western Australia and pét-nats
May 20, 6.30pm AEST – South Australia and McLaren Vale grenache
May 22, 5pm AEST – Victoria and new shades of white
May 26, 6.30pm AEST – Tasmania and pinot noir
May 28, 6.30pm AEST – NSW, ACT and alternative Barossa
May 30, 4pm AEST – Macedon Ranges, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and gamay