At every Pinot Palooza event since our inception in 2012, we’ve asked people to vote for their favourite wine on the day. With 14,000 attendees across 11 cities in 5 countries voting for their Top 10, it’s a wonderful way to celebrate all the different styles and regions we champion and respect.

It’s a great representation of Pinot Palooza: what we stand for and why we do it.

We are proud to present the Top 10 for 2018



Andrew Donaldson found the pinot siren song so strong that he threw in a successful career in financial engineering and returned to his hometown of Wanaka in order to make his own. Turns out it was a smart move – Donaldson took out the National People’s Choice competition for 2018; his first ever Pinot Palooza tour. A phenomenal effort from the whole Akitu team.



Charteris & Shaw + Smith

Second place was a draw between Central Otago’s Charteris and the Adelaide Hills’ Shaw + Smith. Charteris, by PJ and Chrissi Charteris (our favourite pinot power couple) came in at number 9 on the list in 2017, and we’re stoked to see them climb even higher in 2018. We’re equally stoked to see such a good result for Shaw + Smith – another Pinot Palooza veteran.



Our reigning champion from 2017 is still making some of the best pinot noir around as far as we’re concerned. If you can’t place his name, Moondarra winemaker Neil Prentice is all big smiles and floppy hats and is just as likely to be found shoeless on the dancefloor cutting a move to New Order’s Blue Monday as he is behind his stand pouring wine.


Golden Child

James Hamilton from Golden Child came in 10th in 2017 – his first year at Pinot Palooza – flying up the ranks to fourth place in 2018. This is down to more than just beginner’s luck; there’s some real talent here. We see bright things in this young gun’s winemaking future, perhaps starting with a People’s Choice victory in 2020? It’s on you to make it happen!



David Bowley is no stranger to the People’s Choice Top 10, coming in at second place in 2017 and 2015 – and first place in 2016. He consistently performs well in the individual city competitions too – particularly in his hometown of Adelaide – proving that you all love his wine just as much as we do.


Giant Steps

This Yarra Valley winery is the result of Phil Sexton, originally a pioneer of the Australian craft beer industry and Steve Flamsteed originally a chef, who came together in 2003 to create beautiful wines. While we’d never admit to having favourites, we do find ourselves drinking Giant Steps wines at Pinot Palooza HQ quite often. You obviously agree – otherwise it wouldn’t be number six on the national list!


Josef Chromy

Josef Chromy’s upbringing was very different to most Australian winemakers, having emigrated to Tasmania from his war-torn Czech village as a penniless 19-year-old in 1950. He was instrumental in the growth of the Tasmanian wine industry where he owned and developed Bay of Fires, Janzs and Tamar Ridge wineries. Today, his eponymous winery remains in good hands, helmed by winemaker Jeremy Dineen.


Stefano Lubiana

Stefano “Steve” Lubiana and his wife Monique own and run their biodynamic vineyard in Granton, about 20 minutes north of Hobart. The wines they produce are truly delicious, absolutely speaking of their little patch of dirt on Australia’s island state. If you haven’t tried their wines before then do yourself a favour and seek them out.


Ashton Hills

We knew there was something special about the Adelaide Hills – and four winemakers in the Top 10 proves it. It’s great to see Ashton Hills at number 9, with wines grown from a site in the Piccadilly Valley originally planted and tended by Stephen George, now run by Wirra Wirra with George still overseeing operations.


Becker Wines

Husband and wife team James and Meagan Becker make wine in both the Hunter Valley and in California. Based in New South Wales, they make the journey to the USA every year to play around with interesting fruit and be inspired. Becker is definitely one of the most interesting producers at Pinot Palooza – it’s great to see them make the Top 10 in 2018.