Some of the best and brightest talent of the Australian Wine Industry gathered in the Hunter Valley last weekend to do two very important things. Firstly, celebrate the birthday of Len Evans with a reunion of past scholars of the respected Len Evans Tutorial (LET) and secondly to discuss the future of the Australian Wine Show System in the 21st century.

With much debate and challenge to the status quo, the resounding outcome of the TalkFest was that Australian Wine Shows have played a critical role in shaping Australia’s wine styles and trends and the best regional and capital city wine shows will continue to play a critical role in the pursuit of excellence in viticulture, wine making and marketing.

Many of the countries Agricultural Societies and Wine Show Committees were represented with perhaps one of the biggest outcomes being an historic meeting of the minds and sharing of ideas and current activities between these groups on Sunday morning.

LET Trustee and Convener of the weekend’s activities, Brokenwood’s Iain Riggs said “we wanted to make the most of bringing this group of talented people together. A core role of the LET is to foster the next generation of wine show judges and so we all have a vested interest in the strength, relevance and future of Wine Shows.”

With the support of the ASVO and ASVO Wine Show Committee member, Samantha Connew, the major recommendations and ideas of the weekend will be pursued by the wine shows, Agricultural Societies and others from industry over the coming months.

Some of the outcomes and recommendations included:

  • The establishment of an Association of Judges and a central register, similar to the current ASVO system, of current judges
  • The enhanced focus on consumer engagement and marketing and the importance of strong, relevant communication of wine show outcomes
  • The continued focus on best practice and the communication of agreed standards for the conduct of wine shows
  • A continued commitment of the agricultural Societies to meet collectively
  • Moving the dialogue about the purpose of Shows from “improving the breed’ to the “pursuit of excellence”

There are many views and ideas to be assimilated and acted up by the many associations and groups who conduct wine shows in Australia and the LET, ASVO and other groups will continue to drive this dialogue and communicate with industry.