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One happy chap: Luke Skeer sporting his Wine Society 2013 Young Winemaker of the Year award.

WYNNS COONAWARRA ESTATE’S Luke Skeer has received the Wine Society 2013 Young Winemaker of the Year award.

The 33-year-old took out the top honours at a gala dinner on Monday night hosted by Nick Stock and attended by wine industry luminaries and the 10 young winemaker finalists.

The award – which has been running annually since 2001 – attracted a total field of 69 nominees.

Judging was conducted in two rounds with industry stalwarts Ian McKenzie, Greg Melick, Travis Fuller and Toni Paterson MW responsible for the first cull to determine the 10 finalists.

From here, the finalists’ wines were shipped to an international judging panel comprising recognised industry leaders and wine show judges from Australia and New Zealand.

The 2013 finalist panel comprised John Belsham (Foxes Island), Tom Carson (Yabby Lake), Iain Riggs (Brokenwood), James Halliday, 2013 sommelier of the year Jarrod Mills and last year’s The Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year, Nick Picone (Villa Maria).

“As in previous years, the quality of the wines was fantastic,” Ian McKenzie said.

“It is a great opportunity as a judge to see the wines from this new generation of winemakers.

“They will obviously continue to gain experience and offer more to the industry in future years.”

Luke worked his first vintage while at school in 1996 and his second vintage at Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

From 2002 to 2004 he worked in McLaren Vale while studying Oenology at Adelaide University.

Since then Luke has completed vintages in Coonawarra, Bordeaux and the Barossa Valley.

Despite all the excitement of travelling and learning abroad, it’s the wines of Coonawarra which excite Luke the most – the heritage, tradition and of course, the quality.

The wines which secured Luke his Young Winemaker of the Year title were his Wynns Coonawarra Estate Alexander 88 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and his Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Shiraz 2010.

Other awards announced at the presentation dinner included the 2013 Young Winemaker of the Year finalists’ choice – a peer award which was judged by the finalists themselves at a trade tasting prior to the dinner.

The winemaker who won peer acclaim was Helen McCarthy from Thorn-Clarke Wines for her William Randell Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and William Randell Shiraz 2010.

The award was presented to her by 2012 Young Winemaker of the Year Nick Picone from Villa Maria Estate in New Zealand.

The third award for the night was the 2013 Young Winemaker of the Year supporters’ choice.

This vox-pop award was judged by representatives from the award’s sponsors, industry professionals and other supporters.

In a coup for South Australia, this award was also won by Helen McCarthy.

Nominations for the 2013 Young Winemaker of the Year were open to Australian and New Zealand resident winemakers aged 35 years or younger.

For more information visit www.youngwinemaker.com.au.