The 2022 Vineyard of the Year Awards – the third annual edition – is now open for registrations.
The Awards are designed to place vineyards and growers across the nation at the heart of the Australian wine story, and the heart of the Australian wine community.
As a celebration of Australian viticulture, each year the Awards have profiled the special sites and remarkable custodianship of 50 winegrowers.
“Since the inception of these awards, that annual list of 50 profiles has become essential reading,” says Max Allen.
“It’s the heart and soul of the whole project for me: a seriously useful insight into the great work and inspirational innovation happening in vineyards across the country.”
Viticulturist Dan Falkenberg joins the judging panel in 2022. Having taken out the top title in 2021 with Eden Hall Vineyard, he understands the challenges of the growers as well as anyone.
“We entered the awards to showcase our viticultural and environmental initiatives and because it was purely dedicated to viticulture alone,” says Falkenberg.
“There are many benefits to a grower participating: networking, the wealth of viticultural information that growers possess to enhance their businesses and provide a collaborative and resourceful approach for others.”
The judging panel consists of Dan Falkenberg, Dr Kerry De Garis, Kim Chalmers, Max Allen and Melissa Brown.
“It’s always been really important to get a good mix of judges for these awards,” says Allen.
“This year the panel covers the complete viticultural spectrum, from hands-in-the soil everyday experience to award-winning academic excellence, from a deep understanding of tradition to cutting-edge experimentation.”
The awards are about sustainability, innovation and the pursuit of vine health and wine quality. They want to hear what viticulture approaches are being employed to enhance, strengthen and better express unique vineyard sites across the country, as well as shine a light on the work of the best growers.
In the continuing evolution of the program, they are also planning more events to bring together the viticulture community. They want to connect growers to the industry because it offers an opportunity for all to learn.
Melissa Brown says, “In our early days of conversion to organic and biodynamic farming, an initiative like the Vineyard of the Year Awards would have been most valuable as a forum to share ideas and build a community of like-minded growers.
“These awards actively encourage a community approach to sustainable viticulture and regenerative farming. There is an increased interest in how businesses are engaging in and with their local environment and community and making positive changes with impact. These awards highlight those who are doing it well.”
Grapevine importer Kim Chalmers emphasises that participation of growers is critical to the advancement of these topics. “Being very much a vine-grower before a winemaker, the more airtime the vines get the better, as far as I’m concerned,” she says.
“There has never been a time when provenance and responsible farming have been more important, so it’s great to see Young Gun of Wine highlighting vineyards which grow great grapes while supporting the human, social and natural ecosystems that are connected to them.”
In addition to the base entry, there are four trophies that are ultimately presented: Innovative Vineyard of the Year – The Groundbreaker – highlighting novel approaches to farming grapes; New Vineyard of the Year, recognising a young vineyard (less than ten years old); Old Vineyard of the Year, given to an established site (more than 35 years old); and Vineyard of the Year, for the most outstanding entry.
“It is about elevating the grapegrowers and celebrating the hard work and tireless effort that goes into producing wines of provenance to showcase to the consumer that great wine begins in the vineyard – at the hand of the grower,” Falkenberg says.
• Entries for the 2022 Vineyard of the Year Awards are open now until September 30. Read the full criteria and submit an application here.