We believe creating a fun culture is the best way for people to gain further appreciation for wine. We see a world where people discuss and consume wine as comfortably as they do any other interest. We want to make wine more connected and current to all people, whatever their level of wine knowledge. This is what leads us to create projects like the Young Gun of Wine Awards and WINE: BAPTISM OF FIRE.
WINE: BAPTISM OF FIRE
WINE: BAPTISM OF FIRE is a competition open to anyone who has not professionally produced a wine.
The finalists have complete creative and hands-on control in making a wine. They are given grapes from an iconic vineyard, the experience and knowledge of the competition’s mentors, all the necessary equipment in a pop-up city winery, and then it is up to them!
The first WINE: BAPTISM OF FIRE runs from the 2013 harvest and concludes with finished wines in bottle by October. The wines are then sold with the public deciding the ultimate winner.
Grand Cru D'Italia named Matt Skinner the Best Young International Wine Writer of 2012. Matt believes wine is for everyone and appreciating it should be fun, not hard work – a message he’s been spreading for over 20 years. Thirsty Work, the first of his eight books about wine, has been published in 17 countries and in 10 different languages. In 2012, supermarket giant Coles appointed him as the face of their First Choice Liquor stores. In addition to being a regular contributor for several Australian newspapers and magazines, Matt acts as a wine consultant for organisations including the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Plumm Glassware and Jetstar airlines.
Rory Kent’s career in wine started when he helped plant his father’s vineyard. Since 2006, he has been creating programs to inspire interest with wine and educate people. He is the founder of the Young Gun of Wine Awards – a competition that celebrates the most influential young winemakers. Rory believes in challenging the status quo and is driven to connect new audiences to wine in new ways.
Sally Humble studied Viticulture at La Trobe before embarking on a career in hospitality. In short time she has earned accolades including dux of the inaugural Lorenzo Galli Scholarship and a distinction in the Len Evans Tutorial, establishing herself as one of Melbourne’s most esteemed sommeliers. Having launched the wine lists of both Cutler & Co and Kumo Izakaya, she now heads the wine team at Circa restaurant and is a committee member of Sommeliers Australia.
Born in Burgundy, Gilles Lapalus has made wines around the world, from the French regions of Burgundy, Languedoc, Medoc, and Beaujolais, to further afield in Tuscany, Campania, and Chili. Gilles was among the first alumni of the Institut Francais du Gout, where he developed and taught a program of taste education for the French school system. He has designed and conducted tasting analysis forums and classes for the chocolate, cheese, beef, champagne, and international wine judging categories. Gilles moved to Australia in 2001 and he currently manages the biodynamic viticulture and winemaking at Sutton Grange Winery. More recently, Gilles has launched Maidenii, the first vermouth made with Australian botanicals.
Mac Forbes grew up in the Yarra Valley and first donned the overalls in France at 19 years of age. After graduating with a winemaking degree from Adelaide University in 1998, Mac’s local winemaking experience included the iconic Mount Mary, however, he worked mostly in Europe (Austria and Portugal) before starting his own venture in 2005. The Mac Forbes wines have a particular focus on the sub district areas of the Yarra Valley and demonstrate the courage and stylistic vision of their maker.
Born in New Zealand, Matt Harrop started working in wineries when he was 17. In 1989, he moved to Australia to attend Roseworthy College where he completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology. Beyond a career throughout regions of Australia and New Zealand, Matt has also spent time working in the vineyards of Italy and Moldova. Since Shadowfax Wines’ inception in 1998, he has directed the winery’s operations. Matt is also a regular judge of Australia’s city and regional wine shows including Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and the Barossa and Yarra Valleys.
Michael Glover’s passion for wine began with the planting of his family’s vineyard in the Moutere Hills of Nelson in New Zealand. He moved to Australia in 1994 and has been winemaker at the iconic Bannockburn Vineyards since 2005. Throughout his winemaking career, Michael has constantly sought to expand his knowledge and understanding of wine, undertaking vintages across Tuscany, Puglia, Campania, Sardinia, Mosel, Cote Ventoux, and Burgundy. He has judged at a range of wine shows across Australia and is a past Len Evans Tutorial scholar. Michael is passionate about the concept of creativity in winemaking, endeavouring to capture a true reflection of the site in wine each year.
Sandro Mosele completed Biological Sciences with Honours in Genetics at La Trobe University in 1989. Looking after a small vineyard unearthed a passion for viticulture and in 1995 Sandro began studying Applied Science Oenology at Charles Sturt University. It was during that time he began making wine for Kooyong. Sandro is General Manager and Winemaker for Port Phillip Estate. Sandro’s wines are guided by “place” and the philosophy of extending beyond science for the art to reveal itself.
Steve Webber developed an understanding of horticulture and innovation in the wine industry from his late father, Ron. Steve’s first employer, Leo Buring/Lindemans, sponsored him through his Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology at Roseworthy. Steve and his wife Leanne De Bortoli moved to the Yarra Valley in 1989 where they established their famed De Bortoli winery and restaurant. An influential winemaker, Steve was named the 2007 Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Wine. In 2008, his appointed as Chairman of Judges at The Royal Melbourne Wine Show and the subsequent changes in its direction reflect Steve’s commitment to the future of Australian wine.
William Downie established his own label in 2003 after several years living and working in Burgundy. In 2006, he was awarded the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Young Australian Winemaker of The Year. Since 2010, William has also been General Manager and Winemaker at Thousand Candles in the Yarra Valley. His intention is to produce wines of purity and detail that reflect their place of origin and made in the most natural way possible. Photo courtesy of Guy Lavoipierre.