Once again the Young Gun of Wine Awards, now in its ninth year, introduces the fresh faces leading the charge in the world of wine.

Competition founder Rory Kent, together with fellow judges Nick Stock (wine expert, Gourmet Traveller Wine contributor), Philip Rich (Prince Wine Store), Josh Elias (Alquimie magazine editor), Mike Bennie (delicious. magazine wine editor, co-founder of Rootstock) and last year’s top-gong winner, Fraser McKinley (Sami-Odi Wines) put together a shortlist of the best winemakers from around the country, who were then invited to submit two wines to the panel. The judges then determined the 12 finalists.

“These guys are shaping the future of the industry – they’re the leaders among their generation of winemakers and they’re going to be steering the identity of Australian wine for years to come,” says Kent.

Despite receiving entries from all over the country, the top 12 this year are all from Victoria and South Australia: Adrian Rodda (Rodda Wines), Adrian Santolin (Santolin), Jarad Curwood (Chapter Wine) and Simon Killeen (Simão & Co) are representing Victoria. Ben Chipman (Tom Foolery), Brendon Keys (BK Wines), Brett Grocke (Eperosa), Laura and Brendan Carter (Unico Zelo), Luke Growden (Year Wines), Marco Cirillo (Cirillo), Michael Downer (Murdoch Hill) and Steve Crawford (Frederick Stevenson) are all flying the flag for South Australia.

Four trophies are up for grabs: the Young Gun of Wine, the People’s Choice, the Winemaker’s Choice and the Best New Act. The judges decide on the Young Gun of Wine and the Best New Act. The 12 finalists vote on the Winemaker’s Choice. And you get to decide on the People’s Choice.

“The People’s Choice is really important to communicate to people that they’re the best judges of their own palate. So rather than have a so-called expert tell you, you tell us who should win,” says Kent.

The People’s Choice event is an opportunity to try the wines submitted by the final 12, and then, if you like them, to buy them. The winner of this award will be determined by how much of their wine is sold on the day – by the dollar amount, rather than quantity of bottles.

“I think it’s the purest way to do it, because people have to put their money where their mouth is,” says Kent.

The Young Gun of Wine Award winners will be announced in Sydney at Nomad restaurant on October 12.