The 2025 Shortlist

Winemaker of the Year: The Finalists

By Halliday Wine Companion

Meet the 2025 Winemaker of the Year finalists.

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Our Winemaker of the Year award is a celebration of the people who do their darndest to put stunning wines on our tables, and into our lives. We present the 2025 Winemaker of the Year Shortlist – meet our finalists below.

Colin McBride of Adelina

Colin McBryde, Adelina Wines

Where: Clare Valley, South Australia
Established: 2002
ViticulturistDylan Grigg (consultant)
Why: "Colin McBride is a smart, gentle, detailed winemaker. Everything he does is sensitive to his land, both at the base level as a farmer (organically) and in the glass, in that the land is forever encouraged to shine through."

Jacinta Jenkins

Jacinta Jenkins, Balnaves of Coonawarra

Where: Coonawarra, South Australia
Established: 1975
Viticulturist: Pete Balnaves
Why: "Jacinta Jenkins is Coonawarra through and through... and it shows in the wines that she’s making at Balnaves. Her wines are elegant, authentic, balanced; there’s nothing forced about them, which leaves the region to shine through. In other words, she does her region proud."

Andre Bondar of Bondar Wines

Andre Bondar, Bondar Wines

Where: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Established: 2013
Viticulturist: Ben Lacey
Why: "Bondar is an example of deft, responsive winemaking at its best; every step is an attempt to eliminate the winemaker’s fingerprints, and to highlight the expression of the site. Respect."

Gareth Belton of Gentle Folk

Gareth Belton, Gentle Folk

Where: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Established: 2013
Viticulturist: Dylan Grigg
Why: "Gareth Belton is a wine person who is on a grand wine journey, and when you drink his wines, you’re not just on it with him – you’re fascinated."

Melanie Chester of Giant Steps

Melanie Chester, Giant Steps 

Where: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Established: 1997
Viticulturist: Ashley Wood
Why: "Somehow Chester has pushed the level of excellence at Giant Steps yet higher... She is a force. She is a wonder. And she’s got Giant Steps flying."

Paul Osicka vineyard

Simon Osicka, Paul Osicka

Where: Heathcote, Victoria
Established: 1955
Viticulturist: Alison Phillips
Why: "Simon Osicka is a gem of a human being and a gem of a winemaker. Every time you raise a glass of his wine you can taste the history, the dedication, the thought, the knowledge, the humility."

Liz Silkman

Liz Silkman, Silkman Wines

Where: Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Established: 2013
Why: "You get the feeling, when you taste Hunter Valley winemaker Liz Silkman’s wines, that no challenge is insurmountable, and that with thought, knowledge and dedication, every lining can be silver."

Liam McElhinney of Tasmanian Vintners

Liam McElhinney, Tasmanian Vintners

Where: Southern Tasmania
Established: 2019
Viticulturist: Christian de Camps
Why: "One thing that’s obvious is that Liam McElhinney is on a roll... In short, he’s a force for good; he’s making both Tasmanian wine and Australian wine more broadly a better place."

Virginia Willcock of Vasse Felix

Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix

Where: Margaret River, Western Australia
Established: 1967
Viticulturist: Bart Molony
Why: "It’s quite incredible that Virginia Willcock, long-time head of winemaking at Vasse Felix, tastes every barrel and every parcel of wine in the Vasse Felix cellar every single week. Almost nothing else need be said: this is dedication at both its finest and most admirable."

2025 People's Choice Award

Voting is now open for the 2025 Halliday People's Choice Award. While the Awards celebrates the best of the best in Australian wine, the People's Choice Award honours the best winery experience from around the country. Cast your vote and go into the running to win the ultimate prize pack valued at over $1900. Vote now.

2025 Taste the Awards events

Tickets are now on sale for the 2025 Taste the Awards events. Meet some of the winning winemakers and be the first to taste the top wines of the year. Taste the Awards 2025 is an exclusive showcase of award-winning wines and wineries from the 2025 Halliday Wine Companion Awards. Secure your tickets below.

Taste the Awards: Melbourne
Thursday August 8, 2024
Sophia, Prahran
Book here

Taste the Awards: Brisbane
Thursday August 15, 2024
Blackbird, Brisbane City
Book here

The winner of each category will be announced at the 2025 Halliday Wine Companion Awards on Wednesday August 7, 2024.

The 2025 Halliday Wine Companion is available from August 8. You can pre-order your copy of Australia's most comprehensive wine guide here


*This is an edited extract from the 2025 Halliday Wine Companion, with reviews by James Halliday, Campbell Mattinson, Dave Brookes, Jane Faulkner, Jeni Port, Marcus Ellis, Mike Bennie, Philip Rich, Shanteh Wale and Toni Paterson MW. Cover art by Vera Babida.

Quotes by Campbell Mattinson.