A guest blog by Jeni and Burt Surmon, Mt Surmon Wines
We had planted nebbiolo, pinot gris and viognier vines in our Clare Valley vineyard so the initial AAVWS in 1999 featuring sangiovese was of interest. We were delighted when the concept was broadened to include a large number of lesser known and unknown varieties. Many of these varieties were already grown in Australia, just waiting for something like AAVWS to bring them to the attention of wine buyers looking for something different.
We attended the 2000 grand dinner orchestrated by Stefano di Pieri in the grand ballroom of the Grand Hotel Mildura. This was a seven stage degustation with four different wines presented with each stage – two imported wines against two local of the same or similar variety.
From these beginnings AAVWS revealed a whole new world of wines and the concept of matching these with appropriate foods offering those in the industry a great learning and broadening experience.
AAVWS provides a unique experience for grape growers, winemakers, judges and foodies to work together and socialize to achieve outstanding results. Strong teamwork by the dedicated organizers – Jenni and Bruce Chalmers, Stefano di Pieri, Helen Healy and many distinguished judges enabled AAVWS to claim an exceptional place in the Australian wine show calendar. These judges understood about allowing the grape variety to speak for itself instead of being assessed through the prism of traditional Australian winemaking techniques.
Not only did AAVWS put Mildura on the wine show map as a hub of innovation in the wine industry and associated gourmet food industry, it opened to Australian wine regions a vision for updating themselves by introducing new and exciting grape varieties and the challenge of matching these with appropriate local foods.
We have won many medals for our alternative variety wines, the first in 2003 for three nebbiolos. Stefano was so impressed with this success that he agreed to come to our cellar door – Scarlattis Cellar Door Gallery Clare Valley – to present a seven stage degustation alternative varieties lunch to help to spread the word. This was an outstanding success. We’re putting up a few wines again this year, so here’s hoping.A guest blog by Jeni and Burt Surmon, 29.08.2014 Mt Surmon Wines, Clare Valley www.mtsurmon.com.au