At the release of his annual Australian Wine Companion, James Halliday annointed Sarah Crowe of Yarra Yering his Winemaker of the Year for 2017 – the first time a female winemaker has claimed the prestigious award.

The Qantas epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards for 2017 were held in Melbourne on 3 August, supporting the release of the 776 page 2017 Halliday Wine Companion which features 1,302 wineries, and is on shelves nationally from 4 August.

Sarah Crowe’s red wines – from one of the oldest and most revered vineyards in Victoria’s Yarra Valley – made two 2014 vintage reds that scored 99/100 (of only seven table wines that scored 99 in the book) and four that received 98 points.

The Hunter Valley’s Mount Pleasant, established in 1921, was named Winery of the Year with seven shirazes scoring between 97 and 99 points, supported by three semillons scoring more than 95 points. Halliday credits the appointment of chief winemaker Jim Chatto in 2013 as key to the winery’s growing success.

Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2014 took out Wine of the Year. From a small block of just 15 rows of shiraz planted in 1867, this wine was crafted by Justin Purser and scored 99/100. Best’s celebrates 150 years of winemaking in 2016.

For this year’s book, Halliday tasted more than 9,000 wines.

“There are more than 1,300 wineries profiled in this edition and I often get asked 'How do you do it?' With help, of course, but even after 11 editions it still brings me great joy in seeing the quality of wines and the increasing talent of winemakers from Australia. And now we are witnessing an ever-increasing diversity of sub-regions, sites and varietals. It continues to be a very exciting industry to be working alongside,” Halliday said.

Honoured with a second Halliday award, Larry Cherubino Wines won Best Value Winery (Cherubino won Winemaker of the Year in 2011). Of the 35 Larry Cherubino wines that appear in the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion, 28 (80 percent) of them have the value red star – meaning they of great value.

Best New Winery was presented to McLaren Vale’s Bondar Wines, the business of Andre Bondar and wife Selina Kelly, and Dark Horse of the Year was awarded to Arlewood Estate at the southern end of Western Australia’s Margaret River. The winery dates back to 1988 and is now owned and run by Garry Gosatti, who spent 2008 to 2012 living on what was a very run-down vineyard. Today, Arlewood’s cool Forest Grove property produces highly regarded Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and red and white blends made by winemaker Stuart Pym.


  1. Wine of the Year: Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2014
  2. Winery of the Year: Mount Pleasant (Jim Chatto)
  3. Winemaker of the Year: Sarah Crowe, Yarra Yering
  4. Best Value Winery of the Year: Larry Cherubino Wines
  5. Best New Winery: Bondar Wines
  6. Dark Horse Winery of the Year: Arlewood Estate


  1. Sparkling: House of Arras Blanc des Blancs 2005, 97 pts
  2. Riesling: Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Riesling 2015, 98 pts
  3. Semillon: Mount Pleasant Lovedale Hunter Valley Semillon 2009, 98 pts
  4. Chardonnay: Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2013, 98 pts
  5. Sauvignon Blanc: Geoff Weaver Ferus Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2014, 97 pts
  6. Pinot Noir: Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir 2014, 98 pts
  7. Other Reds: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard The Peake Cabernet Shiraz 2013, 98 pts
  8. Shiraz: Best's Wines Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2014, 99 pts
  9. Cabernet Sauvignon: Yarra Yering Carrodus Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, 99 pts
  10. Fortified: 1916 Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Liqueur, 100 pts

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