29 years old and stronger than ever!

The Awards are more than just a competition

They are a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of quality and integrity in the wine industry. Each entry is meticulously evaluated by a panel of 12 expert judges lead by Master of Wine Toni Paterson, ensuring that only the best wines receive the accolade they deserve.

This rigorous assessment process is underpinned by the world leading Drinkme Digital software suite – custom built to our rigorous specifications and centered around instant access to information. All of these components not only uphold the prestige of the awards but also guide consumers in discovering outstanding wines that stand a cut above the rest.

Our Evolution

1996 | Australian Awards Founded

The awards aim to celebrate the greatness of the small winemakers of Australian and New Zealand. Huon Hooke joins as the Chairman.

2009 | New Zealand Invited

The boutique winemakers of New Zealand were invited into the show for the first time in 2009.

2018 | Changing Face

Ross Anderson took over the reins of this critically important wine show from Judith Kennedy in 2018. A complete re-brand and rebuild commenced to bring the awards into the digital era.

2020 | A World First

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020 awards become the 1st in the world to be judged remotely and in real time using the Drinkme Digital software and a team of dedicated stewards delivering re-poured entries to judges homes. Watch our 2020 awards wrap-up video here.

2022 | 12 Judges appointed

Since 2021, the awards have moved from 9 judges and 3 panels, to 12 judges and 4 panels. This was an important and much needed adjustment to manage workloads and palate fatigue, thereby ensuring even better results.

2023 | Huon Hooke retires, Toni Paterson MW takes over

Huon Hooke, our founding Chairperson (since 1996) handed over the reigns of the Awards to the incredible and long serving Toni Paterson MW at the start of the 2023 judging. Its very rare to have a Chairperson serve in this capacity for this length of time – a testament to the importance of the Awards to the Australian & New Zealand industries.

2024 | Rigorous selection process implemented

Not only are our results checked and cross-checked for accuracy; so are our judges. Our rigorous selection process and each judges performance is reviewed to ensure that we have the best possible people looking at each and every entry. We have also re-introduced associate judging positions for members of the trade looking to further their experience in wine judging.

Growing into the Future

As the show reaches approaches its 30th anniversary, bespoke technology is being used to drive results, feedback and awareness every year.