Settlers Tavern; Australia's Wine List of the Year

Better wine lists a winner for pubs & clubs

February 13, 2020
By Alana House

Pubs and clubs are finding increasing financial rewards in finessing their wine lists and educating their staff.

Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards founder Rob Hirst notes: “Research into this aspect of the hospitality industry around the world shows that premiumisation is happening and consumers are becoming far more discerning.

“They are drinking less but better – be it for health, knowledge, legislative or other reasons, plus both the consumers and the trade are certainly embracing industry education more than ever before and becoming more and more discerning each day.

“It follows that Australia’s pubs and clubs  – the ‘home away from home’ for so many Australians – to retain and hopefully grow, their membership, must cater for this trend to prosper.

“In some instances more vocal patrons and members have demanded it and owners, boards and managers have responded – to the delight of all patrons and members – and to the financial benefit of those respective pubs and clubs.

“It is the pubs and clubs in our industry that have the greatest opportunity to benefit financially from upskilling their staff and ‘Awards benchmarking’ their offer to the market by participating in Awards programs such as Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards.”

Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards recognise the talented creators of Australia’s leading wine and beverage lists for their knowledge and experience. 

Last year, pubs and clubs scooped up six prestigious trophies in the Awards.

Entries to the 2020 Awards are now open and sommeliers and business owners have until March 9, 2020 to submit their lists to the judges.

Chairman of Judges at Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards Peter Forrestal said: “In a period of expansion for Australia’s Wine List of the Year and the soaring quality of the country’s best lists, the standard of those venues entering Best Club List and Best Pub List is stronger than ever.

“Some of our finest club restaurants – such as the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the RACV City Club (now the Members Dining Room) have been long-time members of our Hall of Fame and have been up with the finest lists in the country for a long time. Recently, the Terrace, Launceston, the Queens Club and the Newcastle Club have tussled for the Best Club Award.

“They have vastly different lists and illustrated the diversity that is possible with those who enter the awards. Carmody’s in Queensland shows that you can be different and make an impact in the awards with their emphasis on organic and sustainable wines. One great strength of many Club lists is the attention that they pay to local wines – with the Newcastle Club’s Hunter selection and Blue Tree Grill’s Yarra collection particularly noteworthy.”

Regarding the pub scene, Forrestal added: “The strength of the Best Pub List is undeniable with the Hall of Fame featuring the Botanical, the Healesville Hotel, and Settlers Tavern all of which remain among Australia’s most impressive wine lists.

“At a time when gastro pubs are making their presence felt serving stunningly good food at affordable prices, alongside thoughtfully curated wine lists, one can’t help but feel that exposure through Wine List of the Year would boost the reputation of these outstanding places.”

The Republic, Norwood, proudly asserts: “We believe that a pub can be everyone’s local, however there is no reason you should be unable to try something new every time you visit.”

“And they offer an extensive range of South Australia’s finest to make this possible,” Forrestal said.

“Sydney’s The Dolphin offers everything by the glass, the Crafers Hotel in the Adelaide Hills has a cellar to die for, Mayfair Lane in West Perth has a knowledgeable sommelier and a list to match her ambition. The Lord Nelson upstairs is a pub brewery with an enviable wine list while the Avoca may be a country pub but few can match its diverse range of local wines.

“The great thing about Australia’s Wine List of the Year is that pubs can be rewarded for their achievements even with significantly more modest lists than these stellar venues.”

Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards gives all participants the opportunity to benchmark themselves against the industry and to receive not only an individual review from some of Australia’s and the world’s leading wine list judges, but also guidance as to how to do better next time.

Entrants also receive a certificate if a ‘Glass’ is achieved – the Awards bestow one, two or three glass accolades on Australia’s top venues – not to mention a 12 months listing on both Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards Website and the Gourmet Traveller WINE Website – all for a $150 entry fee.

Visit for more information.

Drinks Trade is the official trade magazine partner of Australia’s Wine List of the Year.

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