Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show awards update

For 2019 The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) has made some changes to the Awards list.

The AAVWS committee and new chief of judges Sophie Otton have put a lot of time and thought into the type and number of Awards the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show will deliver for the 2019 show.

In response to great constructive feedback received from exhibitors and other key AAVWS stakeholders at an extremely fruitful Future Vision Workshop held in late 2018, and in association with the sponsors of these awards, the committee has made a few changes which it believes will help showcase the best and most worthy winners in 2019 while highlighting all that is great about alternative varieties in Australia.



In 2019 the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show is kicking off a very exciting initiative. After nearly 20 years of awarding Australia’s best alternative variety wines, we are going to start directly acknowledging viticulturists who are doing great work in the field of alternative varieties.

From 2019 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 will be reviewed for a shortlist to be created.

The award recipient will not be selected purely based on scores or medals. Rather it will be 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) and Dr Mardi Longbottom (SA), two of Australia’s most well respected viticulturists, along with chief of judges Sophie Otton.

This award will give 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 new AAVWS Viticulturist Award will focus on this dedication in the vineyard, rewarding the process, not just the product.

The committee “couldn’t be happier” to announce that the awards’ loyal local sponsor Morellofert will be the partner for the new AAVWS Viticulturist Award. Owner David Morello said “This is a great new award and it couldn’t be a better fit for Morellofert. The whole focus of our business is innovative and sustainable viticulture so we can’t wait to get to know the inaugural winner.” The recipient of this award will receive a free half day consultancy with one of Morellofert’s agronomists and have a chance to showcase and discuss their own methods in return. The winner of the award will also be asked to join the selection panel for the following year’s award.



It’s no secret that current Australian wine consumption trends tend toward the highly drinkable, vibrant, juicy and fresh styles.  Slurpable or smashable are commonly used positive descriptions for these kind of wines. So it is no surprise that these are also the wines being highly awarded in wine shows these days.

It would however be a shame to overlook the broodier wines, the wines that take time to evolve and come out of their shell. The wines that benefit from a bit of age, be they white or red. Wines whose makers exercise patience, waiting for the right moment for the wines to come out of the cellar and greet the world. They may not be so-hot-right-now down at your local, but these wines can offer some of the most memorable wine experiences, and are worth the wait.

From 2019 the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show will award a new trophy, The Best Museum Wine. To be eligible the wine must be at least four years old – so in 2019 that means the wine must be from 2015 vintage or earlier. It can be any variety or blend and will be judged in its varietal class alongside wines from younger vintages. Chief of judges Sophie Otton says “Showing a breadth of vintages within a varietal class will keep the judges on their toes. I love the idea of getting an understanding of a variety’s ageing curve, its secondary characteristics. It shows the maturity of the Australian alternative variety scene that we now have older wines we can pull from the cellar which can hold their own in a line up with a few years on them.”

The committee is “absolutely thrilled” to announce long-term sponsors of the AAVWS, Riedel, are supporting this new award. The Riedel brand is known for their innovation and evolution as a global glassware leader, designing the perfect instruments for wine enjoyment. Their collection of beautiful and functional decanters highlight the structure and integrity of aged wines, making them the ideal partner for this award. Mark Baulderstone, managing director of Riedel Australia, says, “We are thrilled to sponsor The Best Museum Wine at this year’s AAVWS, and cannot wait to find out who the winner is!”

No specific minimum on-hand quantity is required at the time of entering for submitting these Museum wines, although the committee does like exhibitors to be able to supply wine to showcase trophy winners at the following year’s Long Lunch as per the entry conditions.



In the shake-up, taking into account important stakeholder input, the committee decided to retire some trophies to make way for these new awards which better reflect the contemporary state of the show and the alternative variety movement.

Two varietal trophies, Best Nebbiolo and Best Nero d’Avola, were retired as it was seen as unbalanced to single out only a couple of specific varieties for their own awards when there are over 100 varieties exhibited in our show. Now the committee has settled back into more equitable set of category awards based on wine type or origin of the variety.

The Best Commercial Volume Wine was also retired. It was seen by the AAVWS committee that this award was no longer necessary. This Award was instated many years ago in an effort to encourage larger wine companies to venture into alternative variety production. Now with all major-scale wine companies in Australia having some involvement in alternative variety production, in some shape or form, the committee feels this trophy has done its job.

The 2019 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show will take place in Mildura from 6-9 November.

Entries for the show are currently open online – closing Friday 6th September. Conditions of Entry can be found here including our current definition of ‘What is an Alternative Variety’. Awards List can be found here. Class List can be found here.

Tickets for events, such as the 2019 AAVWS Talk & Taste – The Future Is Now, are also available online now.  Awards Long Lunch is Sold Out.