Thirteen Australian winemakers make top 100 list 

February 27, 2024
By Cody Profaca

In a positive news story for Australia’s viticultural industry, 13 Australian winemakers were recently inducted into Drinks Business’ Top 100 Master Winemakers list for 2024. This included Hickinbotham Wines’ Chris Carpenter taking home the awards’ top honour of Master Winemaker of the Year 2024.

The prestigious list, first published in 2020, differs from many comparable awards in that the winemakers are selected from wines that achieved a Masters medal in the Global Masters tasting series, the Drinks Business’ highest accolade. This means that awarded winemakers are being recognised alongside the best wine they produced that year, giving greater importance to both technique and innovation. 

“Essentially, this guide is designed to shine a light on those talented people who toil deep within the dark environs of the wine cellar,” said Patrick Schmitt MW, Chair of the Global Wine Master, in a Drinks Business article.

“It is a way to raise the profile of the people behind brilliant wines – many of whom are personalities that, in our view, don’t receive enough recognition.”

Chris Carpenter was awarded Master Winemaker of the Year after receiving two Masters medals in 2023. Impressively, Carpenter – who’s work spans two continents – received a Masters Medal for both his McLaren Vale Hickinbotham Trueman Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 and his Napa Valley Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon 2019.

Out of the 13 Australian’s who made the Top 100 Master Winemakers list for 2024, eight work for South Australian vineyards, which is equal to about the 80% of Australians named.

Château Tanunda’s Jeremy Ottawa was one of the inducted, awarded for his single vineyard Eden Valley wine, the Château Cabernet Sauvignon 2021. 

“I’m incredibly honoured to be named alongside winemakers that I admire from all over the world,” he said. 

“The Drinks Business and its Global Masters program sets the benchmark for quality and value on a global scale, it’s a fantastic result for the entire team at Château Tanunda.”

Also making the list are Australians Mike Brown (Gemtree), Kym Milne MW (Golden Amrita), Paul Lindner (Langmeil), Tim Pelquest-Hunt (Orlando Wines) Liam McElhinney (Bream Creek Vineyard), Marc Scalzo (De Bortoli Wines), Melanie Chester (Giant Steps) and Philip Shaw (Hoosegg). These Australian stalwarts placed alongside revered international winemakers such as Gérard Bertrand, Randy Ullom (Kendall-Jackson), and Mark Beaman (Kenwood Vineyards). 

The strong performance comes at a time of developing tension in Australia’s wine industry, with the latest report from Australia’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Bureau (ABARES) predicting that, by the 2027-2028, domestic winegrape production will have fallen to 1.2 million tonnes, down from a peak of over 2 million in 2021. 

ABARES has attributed this to a number of factors, namely the consistently low prices of red grapes, the global oversupply, and the above-average reduced rainfall years predicted over the period. IWSR data extends this list to include falling consumption, especially in the under-34 segment. 

The ongoing trade tariffs in place on Australian wine in China are also a significant contributing factor.

As it stands, Australia’s wine industry is already starting to show signs that the economic pressures it is facing are unsustainable. Last week, South Australia’s Riverland region convened with state government to discuss the now urgent need for short-term financial assistance for its grape growers

Every international accolade received by Australian wine is an opportunity to confirm our industry’s reputation as a leading international producer in a broad variety of export markets. As economic pressures continue to build in the global wine industry collectively, celebrating the quantifiable quality and consistency of our viticultural industry will become increasingly important.

Share the content