Stuart Bourne from Soul Growers was named 2020 Barossa Winemaker of The Year at the annual Declaration of Vintage in Tanunda today.

Presented by The Wine Fraternity, Barons of Barossa, this award recognises a winemaker who has made a significant contribution to the industry, producing wines that exhibit the regionality of Barossa grapes, and generously share their knowledge with others.

Stuart said, “Some people say that gold medals make a winemaker, but to be recognised by your peers as Barossa Winemaker of the Year in Australia’s best wine region is truly the greatest accolade a Barossa winemaker can achieve.”

Managing director of Soul Growers, Paul Heinicke said he was delighted to hear his colleague and friend had received such a prestigious honour.

“Stuart is a true, genuine ambassador for the Barossa,” he said. “He works tirelessly to promote the region, and his passion is infectious. He is a very worthy recipient of this award.”

The Barons’ newly-elected Grand Master Louisa Rose said Stuart Bourne was one of the great characters of the Barossa.

“He is a long-term thinker, always putting the region front and centre,” she said.

“Since he arrived, he has embraced everything Barossa, with strong, positive contributions to the wine industry and to the greater Barossa community.”

Hailing from a grapegrowing family in the Clare Valley, Stuart has a long history associated with wine and vines, but his passion for winemaking was sparked working part-time hospitality jobs while studying medical sciences at Adelaide University. After earning a BSc in Pharmacology, Anatomy and Histology, he stayed on to complete an additional degree in Agricultural Science in Oenology.

After gaining extensive experience in wine regions across Australia, Stuart returned to the Barossa in 2001, lured by generational grapegrowers, the old vines and the history of the region.

The Barons of Barossa was founded in 1975 by a group of influential Barossa wine industry personalities. Membership is by invitation only, offered only to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Barossa region.

Every year on the third Sunday of February, the Barons gather for the Declaration of Vintage, heralding the official start to the Barossa grape harvest. The unique event begins with the blessing of the first picked grapes, continues with a colourful pageant procession, and with grapes hand-cranked in a 100- year-old press, the juice distributed among the crowd in joyful celebration of the arrival of vintage.

Soul Growers’ name comes from the soul of the Barossa – the history of the vineyards, family growers, the handing down of knowledge from the generations and establishing a winemaking style for generations to come.

The Barons of Barossa Viticulturists of the Year are Fiona and Daniel Habermann.

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