Australia’s best wine venues revealed

11 November, 2020 by Andy Young

The 2020 Wineslinger Awards last night presented four awards to Australia’s best wine venues, as voted by over 100 of the country’s leading sommeliers, winemakers, hospitality tastemakers and journalists.

The four trophies presented named the ‘Wineslinger’ as the country’s best wine venue plus ‘Best New Haunt’ for the best newcomer, the ‘Maverick’ recognising a venue pushing the boundaries of possibility, and the publicly voted ‘People’s Choice’.

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The trophy winners are:

  • Wineslinger: Carlton Wine Room (Carlton, Victoria)
  • Best New Haunt: Leigh Street Wine Room (Adelaide, South Australia)
  • Maverick: Snack Man (Fortitude Valley, Queensland)
  • People’s Choice: Union Street Wine, (Geelong, Victoria)

Wineslinger Founder Rory Kent said: “2020 has been the toughest year ever for Wineslingers in this country, and that’s made it equally tough on cutting edge winemakers who rely on the passionate individuals and their brilliant venues to capture the imaginations of wine lovers.

“We’re so excited to celebrate the places and hospitality professionals serving up the best wine experiences in the country, and after months of lockdown and restrictions, getting back to supporting them in person.”

The top award is a wlecome boost for Melbourne’s Carlton Wine Room after being locked down for four months, with owners Andrew Joy (front of house), Travis Howe (sommelier) and John Paul Twomey (chef) recognised for “blurring the lines between wine bar and restaurant to serve up Australia’s best wine experience in a cool, unpretentious environment”.

Howe said: “Andy and I love the Wineslinger awards because it’s people voting for the places that they actually love and want to go to. To be named with City Wine Shop and 10 William Street (2018 and 2019 Wineslinger trophy winners) is such a fast progression for us and so far ahead of where we thought we were, and the fact that we’ve been voted in by our peers in the industry is incredibly humbling.”

Best New Haunt was awarded to Adelaide’s Leigh Street Wine Room with owner and chef Nathan Sasi saying: “We’re absolutely ecstatic to have awarded Best New Haunt. You don’t open a venue to receive an accolade, you open a venue to make people happy and have an enjoyable and memorable experience, and it just makes it better when people in the industry tap you on the back and say they want to recognise you for doing what you love.”

Brisbane’s Snack Man took home the Maverick trophy as the venue pushing the boundaries of possibility for 2020. Snack Man serves up a tricky-to-match Chinese snacks with European wine gems, aiming to debunk wine and food pairing conventions. The venue also has a cellar of around 300 ‘unlisted’ wines, which guests have got to chat to the bar staff about in order to order – so patrons have to engage.

Owner Cameron Votan said: “We were really excited just to be named in the Top 50 and now, even more, to have won the Maverick award. In a way, the Brisbane wine scene is still up and coming and there’s been a few guys that have really pushed the wine bar flag here and we’re coming in behind them.

“Our intent for Snack Man was to create something uniquely Brisbane, for Brisbane – we’re tucked away off James Street and just off the Valley and the word maverick is very fitting as it is about what we want to create, not necessarily what has come before.”

Finally the People’s Choice award went to Geelong’s Union Street Wine, which serves up a selection that pays homage to local winemakers as well as an eclectic mix of international makers, with their wine bar and adjacent store.

“It’s been such a tough year for everyone and hospitality in particular and to named in the Top 50 with venues of such high calibre was enough for us. It’s so great for Geelong too – we love being here, we love the people and we’re so stoked to have won this award,” said Owner Andy Leigh.

Acknowledging the hardships that the hospitality industry has faced in 2020, Wineslinger partnered with hospitality relief fund TipJar this year, with Young Gun of Wine donating over $2,500, as well as encouraging others to support TipJar – helping raise over $25,000 – to support those in the industry who need it most.