Best New Wineries 2014

The winner of this category, announced at the inaugural Australian Wine Companion awards, was Rob Dolan wines. Each one of the top ten wineries making its debut in the Wine Companion has earned a five-star rating. They are thus the leaders of the 94 new wineries in this edition, although a number of other first-up wineries also achieved five stars. The ultimate selection criteria included the number of wines earning 94 points or above, and also value for money.

  • Altamont Wine Studio

    Altamont is a partnership of winemaker Brendon Keys, Brian Gilbert, Steve Harris, Michael Sawyer and Matthew Morrissy. It uses small parcels of high-quality fruit from the Adelaide Hills, but the associated label, Seven Deadly Vins, goes to the Barossa Valley for its grapes, with Michael Sawyer as winemaker. All four wines are linepriced at $25, three of them at 94 points, offering excellent value.

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  • Aravina Estate

    When Accolade sold Amberley Estate winery (but retained the brand), Steve Tobin and family acquired the basic infrastructure for what will become a multifaceted business, with sculptured gardens, wedding facilities and a generally expanded cellar door. But it’s not just a pretty face; Aravina’s three best wines are emblematic of Margaret River at its best, and there are also alternative varietal wines.

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  • Denton Viewhill Vineyard

    Leading Melbourne, and indeed Australian, architect John Denton joined forces with son Simon in 1996 to begin the establishment of a 32ha vineyard on an outstanding site. The focus is on supplying high-quality grapes to leading Yarra Valley wineries. The Denton family has built a striking house, but has no winery. Small parcels of estate-grown grapes are made for the Denton Viewhill label by an eclectic group of young winemakers. The DM (dead mouse) label may be a flight of fancy, but this is a serious and successful enterprise.

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  • Eldorado Road

    This is a busman’s holiday for Bailey’s winemaker Paul Dahlenburg (nicknamed Bear); in a win-win scenario, he has leased a paddock with 2ha of shiraz planted in the 1890s. The owners were not able to look after the vines, and were happy that Paul and family would do so. Four years of rehabilitating the old vines has paid an appropriate dividend, and the family has also planted a small area of nero d’Avola and durif. In the meantime they are purchasing small quantities of nero d’Avola and durif.

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  • Hart of the Barossa

    The ancestors of Michael and Alisa Hart arrived in South Australia in 1845, the parents and seven children initially setting up home in a hollow tree on the banks of the North Para River. 168 years later, Michael and Alisa tend a 6.5ha vineyard, which has a patch of 110-year-old shiraz, and is the oldest certified organic vineyard in the Barossa Valley. Wonderful Shiraz and very good Cabernet is the result.

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  • Red Art - Rojomoma

    Artist/photographer Bernadette Kaeding acquired the 5.4ha property in 1996, at which time it had 1.49ha of eight-year-old dry-grown grenache, now joined by 3.95ha of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and tempranillo. Until 2004 the grapes were sold to a stellar clientele, but Bernadette now vinifies part of the production, selling the remainder to Spinifex and David Franz. ‘My business is small,’ she says, and she intends to keep it that way.

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  • Rob Dolan Wines

    Rob Dolan has had a 20+ year career as a winemaker in the Yarra Valley. In 2011 he was able to purchase the Yarra Burn winery from Accolade at an enticing price. It is large and well equipped, giving him the opportunity to build on an extensive contract winemaking business, and, of course, make the wines under his own label. The quality and price of the wines on offer, should guarantee long-term success.

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  • ShowBlock Estate

    In 2008 John and Sarae Adamopoulos were able to acquire 12ha of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot that had been planted in 1997. In a prior life John was an engineer and engineering teacher. His father and uncles have grown grapes in McLaren Vale since migrating to Australia from Greece 60 years ago, so winemaking is in his blood. The wines are not only well made, but very well priced.

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  • The Alchemists

    Former metallurgists Brad and Sarah Mitchell purchased their 13.6ha vineyard in 2007, then already 11 years old. The prior owners were simply grapegrowers, but The Alchemists have begun converting grapes into wine. They have reshaped the vineyard, removing vines on unsuitable soil, and grafting others to more appropriate varieties, and appointed Dave Johnson (Credaro Family Winery) as their contract winemaker. They have got off to a flying start with significant show success for their wines.

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  • Woods Crampton

    Wine marketer and consultant Nicholas Crampton is not by training a grapegrower or a winemaker, but has a very good palate, and a keen understanding of the workings of the wine market at every level. He and winemaking friend Aaron Woods have formed this partnership, making the wines at Sons of Eden winery with yet further advice from winemaker Igor Kucic.

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Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money.