Coast to coast, Australia's next crop of winemakers are embracing old-school winemaking techniques with small-batch production and eye-catching labels. And their drops are turning heads for all the right reasons. These are the ones to watch.
ANDREW SCOTT, LA PETITE MORT
From Granite Belt, Qld
About the winemaker Andrew Scott has always had an affinity for wine, paving his way into the industry via an impressive career as a sommelier. In 2013, in an effort to broaden his winemaking knowledge, Scott volunteered at Bent Street Winery, where he eventually worked his way to becoming an assistant winemaker. There, he was given the liberty to experiment with natural and old-school winemaking techniques, producing his first bottle for the winery in 2014 under the La Petite Mort label.
Style Scott describes his wines as experimental and opportunistic. With the aim of showcasing Queensland's underrated cool-climate grapes, he produces drops that are fun, funky and intensely aromatic. He also heroes skin contact by using an ancient Georgian technique of fermenting grapes in earthenware vessels known as qvevri.
Grape varieties Chardonnay, marsanne, muscat, pinot gris, saperavi, shiraz, tempranillo, viognier
Fun fact Scott is chipping away at a Masters in winemaking at Charles Sturt University.
JOSEPHINE PERRY, DORMILONA WINES
From Margaret River, WA
About the winemaker Josephine Perry worked her first vintage at Margaret River's Cape Mentelle when she was just 14 and has been in the wine-making business ever since. Born and raised in Western Australia, she headed north to learn from the old masters, managing wineries throughout Spain and working vintages across Europe. Perry returned to Western Australia to launch her own label, Dormilona, in 2013, followed by her Swan Valley-produced offshoot, Yokel, in 2019.
Dormilona means "lazy bones" in Spanish but Perry's wines are far from idle, earning a place on wine lists in some of Australia's best restaurants.
Style Working with classic varieties from certified-organic vineyards across Margaret River, Perry brings a sense of place to her wines, capturing the wild, rawness of the limestone coast and its volatility from season to season.
Grape varieties Chardonnay, cabernet, chenin, grenache, verdello, trebbiano
Fun fact One dollar from every Yokel wine sold goes toward saving the critically endangered Western swamp tortoise.
JAMES MADDEN, SCINTILLA
From Adelaide Hills, SA
About the winemaker For James Madden, wine was always a footnote to food, until a chance meeting with some of Australia's most prolific natural winemakers saw the hospitality professional take on a four-month vintage in the Adelaide Hills. From there, his appreciation for wine grew and in 2017, Madden and his partner relocated from Melbourne to Adelaide to start their own project, Scintilla (previously Little Things).
Style Madden picks grapes early in order to capture their natural acidity and processes them with little-to-no intervention. Sustainability is key for Madden, who sources fruit from local, organic or biodynamic farms throughout the greater Hills area.
Grape varieties Chardonnay, savagnin, pinot noir, verdelho
Fun fact In 2018 Madden changed the brand's name from Little Things to Scintilla, which means "bright spark" in Latin.
Follow Scintilla Wines on Instagram / @scintilla_wines
TONY ZAFIRAKOS, ARI'S NATURAL WINE CO.
From Southern Highlands, NSW
About the winemaker Tony Zafirakos has come a long way since his days stomping grapes and "dodging wasps" in the back of a Coogee garage. What started as a side-hustle to his graphic design job turned into the dream gig when his family relocated to the Southern Highlands in 2014. With the help of his father, Zafirakos began bottling his efforts and in 2016 made his first sale to Bowral's now-shuttered Biota restaurant, where his unique blends and old-school approach took the natural wine world by storm.
Style Using traditional techniques learnt from his Greek father, Zafirakos takes a hands-on approach, quite literally. From harvesting to bottling, everything is done by hand, with no electricity or pumps used throughout the process. Unfined, unfiltered and free from additives such as sulphur, Zafirakos places emphasis on the fruit, which is sourced from organic producers wherever possible.
Grape varieties Chardonnay, fiano, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, pinot gris, pinot noir, zibibbo
Fun fact Ari's Natural Wine Co is named after Zafirakos' father, who brought his love of wine from Greece to Australia.
YURI ZINENKO, CALYX
From Melbourne, Vic
About the winemaker Yuri Zinenko ditched psychology for winemaking after taking on his first harvest at Leasingham Wines in the Clare Valley in 2007. The Melbourne-based producer has always had an affinity for wine, something he says progressed from a love of cooking.
With a notable string of vintages under his belt, including stints at Domaine de Montille in France and Margan in the Hunter Valley, Zinenko now produces small-batch blends from his tiny shed in Melbourne's north-west. His first, hand-crafted bottle hit shelves in 2017.
Style Zinenko likes to keep things simple and isn't afraid to interfere throughout the winemaking process, although he does hang back during the fermentation stage. The result? Bright, bold and aromatic blends that sell out quickly.
Grape varieties Chardonnay, malbec, nebbiolo, pinot noir, syrah, viognier
Fun fact Calyx's labels are hand-made from bamboo paper and printed by letterpress.