The Young Gun of Wine Awards – now in its 17th year – has announced the 50 finalists for 2023.
“Since 2007, we’ve scoured the country for the best emerging talent, always looking for new approaches to wine, for mavericks, and for those whose commitment to their vision helps lead the way,” founder Rory Kent says.
“These winemakers are forming a new fabric in Australia’s wine culture and community. The annual list has become the go-to guide for drinkers looking for cutting-edge wines and the stories behind them.
“When we first started the Young Gun of Wine Awards in 2007, the premise was about making wine more relevant to young adult drinks.
“Then it quickly became about providing a platform for young winemaking projects. While it’s always fascinating to spot the new trends that emerge each year, I think what’s really striking now is to see the immense depth and diversity of the projects – people’s journeys into and through wine – and how the layers in the community and culture continue to build.
“Australian wine today looks nothing like it did in 2007 – be it the grape varieties grown, or the winemaking techniques used, or the fashion in which wine is presented and engaged with. Reading through the profiles of this year’s winemakers shows just that.”
Over two days of intensive judging, a panel of leading industry figures from across the country tasted their way through the wines to select who was in the running for the six trophies: Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice, Danger Zone, and the Vigneron.
Rory Kent was joined on the judging panel by Ben Ranken of Wilimee (the inaugural YGOWA Vigneron trophy winner); Jeremy Shiell from Winespeake; Meg Brodtmann MW; wine critic Nick Stock; Abby Moret of Atlas Vinifera; Sophie Carbonneau, national sales manager Bibendum Wine Co.; and Ryan Ponsford from Entropy Wines, the 2022 Young Gun of Wine.
All applicants submitted wines that were tasted and discussed at length, but their project and its achievements and aspirations as well as their place in their region and the broader wine landscape were given equal airtime.
“With winemakers submitting two wines that are tasted side by side, and not blind, the YGOW judging process is totally unique,” says Master of Wine Meg Brodtmann.
“It was my first time on this panel, and I loved how assessing the wine takes everything into consideration.
“Obviously, the wine in the glass needs to be delicious, but the conversation about the maker and their place in the Australian wine story and all the context around that, is so beneficial.
“At times, the panel challenged one another’s thinking about wine – it was quite a forum for fostering creative projects.”
If you want to have your say on who is Australia’s best winemaker, you can purchase the winemakers’ wines via the Finestro cellar door platform.
People’s Choice voting will be open until Monday 19 June.
The complete list of finalists…
Koen Janssens, Bink Wines
Riley Harrison, Harrison
James & Kimberly Cooter, Cooter & Cooter, Hedonist Wines
Andrew Kenny, Kenny Wine
Jordan Hein, Moorak
Iain Baxter, New Era Vineyards
Lauren Langfield, Orbis Wines
Skye Salter & Charlie Seppelt, Paralian Wines
Ashleigh Seymour, Paxton Wines
Belinda Hughes, Rieslingfreak
Jack Weedon, Rollick Wines
Ben Caldwell & Mauricio Ruiz Cantu, Somos
Nick Dugmore, Stoke
Sven Joschke, Sven Joschke Wine / WineWolf Foundation
Turon White, Turon Wines
Alan Varney, Varney Wines
Anita Goode, Wangolina
Chad Connolly, White Gate Wine Co.
Louis Schofield, Worlds Apart Wines
Greg Clack & Kate Horstmann, XO Wine Co
Gabe O’Brien, Cavedon Wines
Charlie Mann, Charles Oliver Wines
Emily Kinsman, ECK Wines
Chris Strickland, Foxeys Hangout
Marcus Radny, Gonzo Vino
Chris Ryan, Honky Chateau
Leigh Ritchie & Matt Purbrick, Minimum
Doug Lilburne, Mise En Place Wines
Callie Jemmeson, Pacha Mama
Rowly Milhinch, Scion
Jean-Paul Trijsburg, The Happy Winemaker
Tillie Johnston, Tillie J Wines
James Scarcebrook, Vino Intrepido
Raquel Jones, Weathercraft Wine
Dale Wheeler, Wheeler & 3P25
Steffi Snook, Yayoi Wines
Tony Zafirakos, Aristotelis Ke Anthoula
Nadja Wallington & Steven Mobbs, ChaLou Wines
Samuel Renzaglia, di Renzo
Chrissie Smith, Intrepidus Wines
Aaron Mercer, Mercer Wines
Peta Kotz, Sabi Wabi
Justin Folloso, Cave Wines
Sudeep Parial, Pipers Brook Vineyard & Kreglinger Wine Estate
Keira O’Brien, Rivulet Tasmania
Luke Andree, Sonnen Wine
The winners of the six trophies – the Young Gun of Wine, Best New Act, People’s Choice, Winemaker’s Choice, Danger Zone, and the Vigneron – will be announced on Monday 19 June.
The Young Gun of Wine Awards is presented with thanks to Amorim Cork, Cornershop design, Finestro online cellar doors, Liebherr wine cabinets, MCC Label, Nexia Australia accountants, Sanector wine services, WBM magazine, Wine Guns for Hire and Vintrace software.
Photo: Raquel Jones, Weathercraft Wine.