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Tasmanian winemaker crowned top Young Gun of Wine in a state first

Left to right: Bridget Mac, Matthias Utzinger, Marco Lubiana, Rowly Milhinch and Andrew Kenny. Image courtesy Young Gun of Wine.

For the first time in the competition’s 18-year history, the top Young Gun of Wine trophy has gone to a Tasmanian winemaker, with Marco Lubiana, son of Tasmania’s ‘king’ of biodynamic winegrowing, Steve Lubiana of Stefano Lubiana Wines, cementing his status as one of Australia’s best young winemakers.

The awards spotlight the best young winemakers in the country, revealing Bridget Mac of Werkstatt Wine as Australia’s ‘Best New Act’, and Andrew Kenny of South Australia’s Kenny Wine as the country’s best young vigneron.

Wine critic Nick Stock, who was among the judges of this year’s Young Gun of Wine Awards, said he was impressed by the range of “unique and personal” wines produced by Australia’s young winemakers.

“The top 50 winemakers are very eclectic in terms of style, geography and inspiration, yet their common thread is a determined and very convincing ability to produce Australia’s most exciting wines,” said Stock.

“Our 18th Young Gun of Wine recipient Marco Lubiana joins a special group of award-winners that have taken out multiple awards over multiple years in the Young Gun of Wine Awards. This kind of deep commitment to the realm of emerging Australian winemaking talent really defines what is so valuable about the whole program. It advances the visibility, success and excitement of this whole category of Australia’s best, brightest and most talented young winemakers. But more importantly these winemakers are already proving to be the leading face of Australian wine and these winemakers are the ones building new audiences for Australian wine. They are the future and it is right here, right now.”

“18 years ago, the wine landscape was pretty stuffy and elitist, and a bit of an old man’s domain. We wanted to break that,” said Rory Kent, founder of Young Gun of Wine. “The Young Gun of Wine Awards started as an event to connect younger adults to the wines being made by the future stars of Australian wine – creative winemaking mavericks who push boundaries.”

In the last 18 years, the Young Gun of Wine Awards has helped launch the careers of around 260 young winemakers and young wine businesses, connecting these wines to audiences around the country.

“Australia’s younger generations are increasingly adventurous, exploring and confident in their wine choices, which is a testament to the vibrant and evolving wine culture in this country,” said Rory Kent.

The three top winners of Tuesday night were…

YOUNG GUN OF WINE
Marco Lubiana, Marco Lubiana (TAS)
Hailing from Australian wine ‘royalty’, Marco Lubiana has now stepped out of his father’s shadow to claim his place at the pinnacle of the industry. Winning the Young Gun of Wine award for 2024, Lubiana has proven himself as one of Australia’s best young winemakers. Now, with Young Gun of Wine accolades such as ‘Best New Act’ and ‘The Vigneron’ under his belt, Lubiana is building on his family’s legacy and redefining the future of Australian wine.

BEST NEW ACT
Bridget Mac, Werkstatt Wine (VIC/SA)
As the creative force behind Werkstatt Wine, Bridget is an artist turned winemaker. Her debut Riesling and sparkling Riesling (pet nat) have wowed judges, combining European sophistication with New World terroir. Produced in the underappreciated region of Mount Gambier, her debut wines put her centre stage as a future rockstar of the industry. Inspired by Old World regions like Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, she infuses a European flair into her wines made from Australian grapes.

THE VIGNERON
Andrew Kenny, Kenny Wine (SA)
Andrew Kenny launched his Kenny Wine label in 2021, focusing on Clare Riesling and Adelaide Hills Pinot. With the purchase of a vineyard in the Clare subregion of Auburn, the 2021 vintage saw a home-site Shiraz join the portfolio, while an old vine Grenache and a Sangiovese were added in 2022. 2023 saw the introduction of a collaboration from the Pfalz region of Germany – a ‘Kenny X Gabel’ Riesling, with more Riesling and a Pinot Noir to be released under this label. Kenny’s wines are classic in style, expressions of variety and sites he believes excel for specific grapes, and it is in the Clare Valley that the range of wines offers a particular exploration of sub-regionality.
Their Auburn – home – vineyard was purchased in 2020. It’s a site that was planted by Kilikanoon in 2001 to shiraz, and their principal goals have been increasing biodiversity and organic matter in the soil.
Half the Shiraz has also now been grafted over to Sangiovese and 2023 saw a makeover of their Auburn vineyard, close planting 600 vines on around a third of the site to Pinot Blanc.
“It’s the Clare Valley’s first Pinot Blanc as far as we are aware,” said Kenny. “Three years is a long wait for our first crop, but good things take time and we are excited to see what it produces.”

Other trophies announced: People’s Choice; the Winemaker’s Choice; and the Danger Zone, which goes to the most adventurous wine.

The judging panel in 2024 consisted of Rory Kent; wine critic Nick Stock; Master of Wine Meg Brodtmann MW; sommelier Jeremy Shiell; wine retailer Abby Moret; and last year’s Young Gun of Wine winner, Lauren Langfield.

 

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