The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) has released a comprehensive update and extension of its Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations (BPRs) following an extensive, industry-wide review process.

As the first update to the BPRs since 2004, ASVO president Mardi Longbottom says that the recent update represents a substantial extension, encompassing over 200 recommendations for best practice in conducting a wine show.

The recommendations reflect the evolution in practice and thinking over the last decade and propose changes to: the mix of judges, term of appointment of judges, selection process for judges, use of specialist judges, entries by brand and blend, relaxation on the number of entries per class, and appointment and remuneration of auditors.

The document also addresses the finer details of judging, with recommendations for acceptable range of room temperature during judging, appropriate glassware, tasting bench heights, remuneration of judges and stewards and the number of judges on each panel.

"The objective set by the ASVO was to produce a single document for consideration by the agricultural societies, regional bodies and others that conduct wine shows in which the industry would express its current view on what constitutes best practice in the Australian wine show system," says Longbottom.

Some of the key points in the ASVO Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations 2015 include:

  • Recommendations on relaxing the number of wines that an exhibitor can enter in a class and reducing the volume requirements so that the shows attract the widest range of wine styles.
  • Recommendations clarifying criteria for building class structure.
  • Recognition of the importance of 'regionality' in Australia's developing wine story and therefore of the need for evolution of the judging process to achieve this.
  • Many recommendations on establishing ideal judging conditions.
  • Recommendations on changes to class and trophy judging processes to one that gives a considered consensus on each wine. These include limiting the number of wines per class to ideally 30 to 40 and the number of wines per day to 130 so that judges are not under time pressure and have time for debate and recall tastings if required.
  • Recommendations to tighten the selection process of judges, developing across the show system a manageable process for assessment of judge performance, and defining term of appointment and rotation intervals for judges.
  • Recommendations about how shows minimise perceived and potential judge conflict of interest.
  • Recommendation that the wine shows and the industry work together to promote the rigour of the system and the integrity of the awards so that the awards become a reference point for Australian wine quality and style to both domestic and international consumers.
  • Recommendation that to maintain a focus and uniqueness about Australian wine show awards exhibitors be encouraged to use Gold, Silver, Bronze and Trophy nomenclature, not points, in their publicity.
  • To ensure the integrity of the awards the importance of audit is emphasised and recommendations are made to simplify the current audit process.
  • Consideration be given to the introduction of a wine show accreditation system to help achieve a consistently high standard of across all capital city, state, regional and niche shows.

The final 2015 ASVO Best Practice Recommendations are freely available to download here.

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