Over two days, a small group of judges swirled, sipped and discussed with vigour which winemakers should make the list of finalists for the 15th annual Young Gun of Wine Awards. The results of that hard work has now been announced – 50 of the best young wine labels and winemakers on the rise in Australia have been recognised, 30 producers completely new to the competition.
“The Young Gun of Wine Awards trace the leading edge of Australia’s newest winemaking talent and bring together those who seek to bend the needle in the direction of interest while redefining the notion of wine quality in Australia,” says Nick Stock, one of the country’s leading wine writers and a judge for the awards since its first iteration in 2007.
Stock says like past years, this 50 is a diverse bunch, hailing from Tasmania, Western Australia’s Swan Valley and Great Southern, plus well-known wine regions such as South Australia’s Barossa and New South Wales’s Hunter Valley, and even Kangaroo Island – a largely unknown wine region.
“[But they] all are united by a fierce determination to collectively drive the conversation of Australian wine forward to greater heights of diversity and distinction,” he says.
The judges were on the lookout for makers “advancing the conversation on wine”, as well as innovating and contributing to the wine community, landscape and environment. They noticed less familiar grape varieties are popping up more and more, as are drought-tolerant vines, with producers increasingly looking for obscure grapes to carve out a niche in varying climates and geologies.
Judges included Leanne Altmann (beverage director at Trader House Restaurants, the group behind Cutler & Co, Gimlet, Marion, Builders Arms, Supernormal); master sommelier Sebastian Crowther; Olivia Evans of Fleet Restaurant; and Chris Dilworth and Loïque Allain from Dilworth and Allain, the 2020 Young Gun of Wine.
Here is the complete list of 50 finalists:
Sam Berketa, Alpha Box & Dice (Adelaide Hills)
David Caporaletti, Architects of Wine (Adelaide Hills)
Sam Dunlevy, Berg Herring (McLaren Vale)
Koen Janssens, Bink (Barossa Valley/Clare Valley)
Charlotte Hardy, Charlotte Dalton (Kangaroo Island/Langhorne Creek)
Aaron Fenwick, Chateau Comme Ci Comme Ca (Adelaide Hills)
Duncan Lloyd, Coriole (McLaren Vale)
Andrew Wardlaw, Edenflo (Eden Valley)
Riley Harrison, Harrison (McLaren Vale/Barossa Valley)
Lauren Hansen, Penley Estate (Coonawarra)
Jack Weedon, Rollick (Barossa Valley/Riverland)
Daniel Graham, Sigurd Wines (Adelaide Hills/Barossa Valley)
Charlie O’Brien, Silent Noise (McLaren Vale)
Benjamin Caldwell & Mauricio Ruiz Cantu, Somos (McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills)
Sven Joschke, Sven Joschke (Adelaide Hills/Barossa Valley)
Nick & Rebecca Dugmore, The Stoke Wines (Kangaroo Island)
Turon White, Turon (Adelaide Hills)
Anita Goode, Wangolina (Mount Benson)
Chad Connolly, White Gate Wine Co (Barossa Valley)
Louis Schofield, Worlds Apart Wines (McLaren Vale/Eden Valley)
Luke Growden, Year Wines (McLaren Vale)
James & Jessica Audas, ARC Wines (Gippsland)
Stuart Dudine, Alkimi (Yarra Valley)
Hadyn Black, Black & Ginger (Great Western)
Gabriel O’Brien, Cavedon Wines (King Valley)
Ryan Ponsford, Entropy (Gippsland)
Jean-Paul Trijsburg, Jean-Paul (Ballarat/Heathcote)
Glen Hayley, Kooyong & Port Phillip Estate (Mornington Peninsula)
Oliver Rapson & Renata Morello, Lyons Will Estate (Macedon Ranges)
Matthew Purbrick, Minimum (Central Victoria)
Jayden Ong, Moonlit Forest (Yarra Valley/Gippsland/Mornington Peninsula)
Ben Mullen, Mulline (Geelong)
Etienne Mangier, North (Macedon Ranges)
David Verheul, Saison (Victoria)
Natillie Johnston, Tillie J (Yarra Valley)
James Scarcebrook, Vino Intrepido (Heathcote/Mornington Peninsula)
Raquel Jones, Weathercraft (Beechworth)
Ben Ranken, Wilimee (Macedon Ranges)
Daniel Payne, Dirt Candy Wine (Hunter Valley)
Will Gilbert, Gilbert (Orange)
Nathan Brown, Linear Wines (Canberra District)
Jacob Carter, Sholto (Canberra District)
Max Marriott, Anim
Luke Monks, Made by Monks
Marco Lubiana, Marco Lubiana
Greer Carland, Quiet Mutiny
Natasha Arthur, Arthur Wines (Margaret River)
Tom Daniel, Chouette (Swan Valley)
Ryan O’Meara, Express Winemakers (Great Southern)
Andrew Scott, La Petite Mort (Granite Belt)
You can vote in this year’s People’s Choice award here until Monday May 24, putting you in the draw to win a Liebherr wine cellar and a year’s supply of wines (52 bottles) from the 2021 Top 50 winemakers. The Young Gun of Wine trophies will also be announced on May 24.