After nearly 20 years of awarding Australia’s best alternative variety wines, since 2019 we started directly acknowledging viticulturists who are doing great work in the field of alternative varieties.
Any single vineyard wine entered in the AAVWS can be attributed to a specific viticulturist at the time of entering the wine. Once the results of the tastings are in, the list of viticulturists for all high scoring single vineyard wines is reviewed for a shortlist to be created.
The award recipient is not selected purely based on scores or medals. Rather it is decided in consideration of the performance of attributable wines in the current year’s show in association with extended discussion about wider contribution to alternative variety viticulture in Australia. The selection panel is made up of independent experts Dr Mark Kristic (Vic), Dr Mardi Longbottom (SA) and Liz Riley (NSW), three of Australia’s most well respected viticulturists, along with our Chief of Judges.
This award gives the AAVWS an opportunity to highlight the critical work that goes on in the vineyard, not only in terms of cultural practices but also in learning to wrangle a new variety. There is so much to discover when working with new grape varieties, starting with deciding what to grow in your patch of dirt. Then there is the process of studying the habits of a new variety, it’s pros and cons, how it responds to soil types, weather and nutrition. When is the right time to harvest? What is the best pruning method? So much work goes, even before the first wine is made. Every season brings new challenges and with tackling them also comes new knowledge. The AAVWS Viticulturist Award focuses on this dedication in the vineyard, rewarding the process, not just the product.
We couldn’t be happier that loyal local sponsor Morellofert have been our partner for the AAVWS Viticulturist Award ever since we brought in the award. Owner David Morello said “This is a great Award and it couldn’t be a better fit for Morellofert. The whole focus of our business is innovative and sustainable viticulture so it’s an honour to have an association with the best practitioners in Australia.” The recipient of this award receives a free half day consultancy with one of Morellofert’s agronomists and has a chance to showcase and discuss their own methods in return.
And the winners are:
- 2023 Troy McInnes, Chalmers
- 2022 Sam Costanzo, Golden Grove Estate
- 2021 Don Oliver, Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards
- 2020 Mark Walpole, Fighting Gully Road
- 2019 Richard Leask, Hither & Yon