The 50 finalists in the inaugural Vineyard of the Year Awards have been revealed.
A national initiative of Young Gun of Wine, the awards are shining a light on our best vineyards and giving voice to the finest grapegrowers from right across the country.
“The top 50 have been selected based on the pursuit of fruit and wine quality, vine health, innovation and sustainability – encompassing environmental, social and economic sustainability,” awards founder Rory Kent says.
“With more than 6,000 grapegrowers, picking the top vineyards in Australia is no easy task.
“Inundated with entries, the judges narrowed the field to the 50 that best exemplified the values and criteria of these awards.”
Awards panellist Max Allen says it was “super exciting and really encouraging” to receive such a strong batch of entries.
“It’s so heartening, in a year when our lives have been mired in challenges, setbacks and uncertainty, to celebrate the resilience and long-term thinking and optimism demonstrated by this group of winegrowers,” he says.
“By focusing on the vineyards, on the places where wine comes from, and on the practices of sustainable grapegrowing, these awards can help recalibrate how we think about wine, shifting our perception of it from a liquid commodity in a glass to a cultural product of the country it’s from.”
A group of leading experts on viticulture, agronomy and sustainability were enlisted to personally review all the applicants. Dr Mary Cole, Dr Mardi Longbottom, Mark Walpole, Dr Irina Santiago-Brown and Dr Peter Dry AM joined Max Allen in arriving at the Top 50.
“It was thrilling to visit each of these vineyards, albeit vicariously,” Max says, “and learn about all the hard work going into looking after the land, nurturing the health of the vines, and – most importantly – continually improving wine quality.
“That we can showcase 50 such diverse and inspiring vineyards is a testament to the strength of Australia’s grapegrowing community.
“These vineyards are the source of some the best wines in Australia.”
“Among the group of 50,” Dr Santiago-Brown says, “there is a trend of going away from scheduled sprays and many of them are choosing to use less harmful chemicals to try to create a healthier environment for a more ‘self-balanced’ vineyard, with beneficial insects, healthier and more alive soil, as well as being healthier for the people who work there.
“Many innovations are being used to reach this end… from more suitable grape varieties, to state-of-the-art technology to measure vine and soil status in order to make better decisions.
“It’s an incredibly exciting field, and it’s time the growers – whether they’re making their own wine or selling the fruit – were recognised.”
Peter Dry says, “The appropriate recognition of our finest grapegrowers is well overdue and these awards address this situation.
“The significant advances in vineyard management over recent decades is highlighted in these finalists.
“The foundation has been laid for our industry to face, with modest confidence, the many challenges of the future.”
Over the next two months, the organisers will profile each of these vineyards and the viticulturists/growers behind them at younggunofwine.com .
Beside celebrating the achievements of the Top 50, there are four trophies to be awarded, with the winners announced in February.
The Top 50 finalists…
Lake George, Canberra District
Printhie – Millwood Millwood, Orange
Ravensworth, Canberra District
Somerset Vineyard, Pokolbin
Adelina, Clare Valley
Angove – Warboys Vineyard, McLaren Vale
Bowyer Ridge, Adelaide Hills
Cirillo Estate, Barossa Valley
Dallwitz Block, Barossa Valley
Eden Hall, Eden Valley
Garden & Field, Eden Valley
Gemtree, McLaren Vale
Hayes Family – Stone Well, Barossa Valley
Torbreck – Hillside Vineyard, Barossa Valley
Hither & Yon – Sand Road, McLaren Vale
Koonara – Ambriel’s Gift, Coonawarra
Mickan Block, Barossa Valley
Oxford Landing, Riverland
Penley Estate, Coonawarra
Rayner Vineyard, McLaren Vale
Ricca Terra, Riverland
Shaw + Smith – Lenswood, Lenswood
Smallfry, Barossa Valley
Smart Vineyard, McLaren Vale
Wirra Wirra, McLaren Vale
Yangarra Estate, McLaren Vale
Best’s – Concongella, Great Western
Crawford River, Henty
Crittenden, Mornington Peninsula
Gorton Drive, Swan Hill
Oakridge, Yarra Valley
Place of Changing Winds, Macedon Ranges
Quealy, Mornington Peninsula
The Wine Farm, South Gippsland
Thousand Candles, Yarra Valley
Wilimee, Macedon Ranges
Cape Mentelle, Margaret River
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge, Frankland River
Gralyn Estate, Margaret River
Swinney, Frankland River
Voyager Estate, Margaret River