The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) has cancelled the 2020 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards (RMWA) due to the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular the social distancing measures in place.
This means there will be no prize awarded for the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy – Australia’s most famous wine award. The award was introduced in 1962 and this is the first time there will be no winner.
RASV CEO Brad Jenkins says the decision made in consultation with industry experts on the RMWA committee was particularly disappointing for the wine industry, but ensuring the health and safety of all involved including the judges, stewards, exhibitors and staff was paramount when reaching this decision.
“The Covid-19 health crisis is unprecedented and the further tightening of restrictions in Victoria means that in the best interest of the health and safety of all involved including judges, stewards, exhibitors and staff, we are unable to deliver the 2020 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards,” Brad says.
Chair of judges Matt Harrop says the cancellation is the most appropriate course of action.
“When considering the current global Covid-19 pandemic, the availability and health of the judges and volunteers has been at the forefront of this decision,” he says.
“With the introduction of stage four restrictions, limitations on travel and the mandatory mask wearing for Victorians, it is unlikely that restrictions would be reduced to allow the almost 40 members of the judging panel to come together in October.”
Committee chair Samantha Isherwood says it would not be appropriate to stage and celebrate the awards during the current global climate of uncertainty.
“The Royal Melbourne Wine Awards provide some of Australia’s most sought after trophies and recognition for Australian winemakers,” she says.
“In these challenging times, it is not possible to confidently ensure we could uphold the integrity of the awards to the standard expected by the wine community and so the decision to cancel is regrettable, but understandable.”
When last conducted in 2019, more than 3,050 wines were tasted over five days during October at Melbourne Showgrounds by a judging panel of 37 industry experts.
Conducted by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) for over 135 years, the RMWA gives winemakers the opportunity to benchmark their wines against industry standards, seek advice from an independent panel of experts, and promote and market award-winning products using the RMWA’s seal of excellence.
With no RMWA to be held in 2020, RASV CEO Brad Jenkins acknowledges the disappointment for the wine community but remains excited about the awards returning in 2021.
“The Royal Melbourne Wine Awards are Australia’s most prestigious wine awards that have recognised and rewarded the best in Australian wine production since 1884,” he says.
“This is the first year that the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy will not be awarded since it was established in 1962.”