The 50 best young Australian winemakers you need to know

Since launching 11 years ago, the Young Gun of Wine has become known as the best place to discover the new talents and top trends shaping the industry.

This year, the annual showcase of the most provocative emerging winemakers in Australia nominated its official top 50. It's a sign of the growing depth and quality of winemaking talent in this country.

The wine landscape has exploded over the past decade and there is now more winemakers, more experimentation, and more extraordinary growth than ever.

In 2007, for example, Matt Gant of First Drop won the inaugural Young Gun of Wine award with a montepulciano. Back then, seeing montepulciano grapes grown in Adelaide Hills blew the judges minds. Now there are around 50 producers in Australia making their own version – and they're just the ones listed in the industry directory.

Industry experimentation

Other varieties like gruner veltliner, nero d'avola, vermentino and pinot blanc are also booming.

White wines are being made like red wines, red wines are co-fermented with white grapes. The rule book has gone out the window and it's exciting times.

These young, up-and-coming winemakers are onto the trends first – or, at least they're rediscovering and remixing what has been done in the past for a new audience.

Exceptional taste

The definition of a 'young gun' is not about date of birth, but being young at heart. In talking to each of the top 50, some common threads emerge. Time and again, there were stories of winemakers who started to make wines that they wanted to drink for themselves.

These aren't people who set out to make manufactured products to deliver a bottom line. It's about something more substantial. It's about taste.

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These winemakers saw conventions established in their regions, and wanted a new status quo.

They're into making premium chenin blanc in Western Australia; lighter styles of wine in the Barossa; exploring sub-regionality in Tasmania and so on. Grenache and chardonnay are also experiencing a renaissance with new levels of winemaker passion.

Making the top 50

From whatever angle you look at it, whether it's regional, varietal, or stylistically, there is such a rich and three-dimensional tapestry of wine available right now.

Because of all of this, the judges felt the time was right to present this impressive Top 50 list to consumers as a snapshot of Australian wine today.

Scroll through the gallery to see the 50 best young winemakers above, and discover who was the most adventurous of them all.

Rory Kent is the founder of Young Gun of Wine.