This week should have been the start of Yass Valley’s very own wine show – the Australian Cool Climate Wine Show.  Unfortunately, due to the calamity of COVID, it has been cancelled.

Public tastings is always a popular angle of the show

Established over 20 years ago by our esteemed Patron – Virginia – our wine show has been providing a benchmarking platform for winemakers from every cool climate wine region across Australia.  Located at the Murrumbateman Rec Grounds, the wine show is also a showcase of fine wine and gourmet food for the Yass Valley community.

Brent Lello unpacking a few hundred glasses prior to a show

Central to any wine show is of course the wine.  Each year, we receive hundreds of entries from all corners of the nation.  Each entry needs to be picked, packed, delivered, received, and then processed by our Admin Manager – Caitlin – into their respective classes in our wine show management system.

On a Saturday before the show starts, a wonderful collection of community volunteers pitches in, to set up for the show and layout each of the wine entries according to their class.  The most recent vintage Rieslings are set out together, the older Rieslings are located in their own class location and so on for the other varieties and their respective classes.

Monday morning is go-time and our stewards, led by our Chief Steward – Kim – set about laying out the glassware onto the judge’s tables, and in a bottle wielding conga line, pouring just the right amount into each glass.  Some of our classes have over 60 entries, that’s 60 swirls, sniffs, slurps and spits by each of the judges.

Without knowing what the wines are, each judge works alone to assess every wine, giving them a score out of 20.

They then convene as a collective, reviewing, deliberating, sometimes debating and then applying a combined average score to each wine.  The top-rated wines then go into a Trophy taste-off for that class.  The glasses are collected, washed, dried and new glasses set out for the next class.  The cycle repeats all day, every day from Monday to Friday.

On the following Saturday, the much loved and highly regarded Public Tasting sessions and the Long Table Wine Luncheon require the dedicated care and expert attention of our Events Manager – Marnie.

Marnie does such a wonderful job to ensure that our public event patrons all experience the first-class hospitality that our wine show has become well known for.

All of our volunteers, sponsors and community members are so important to our wine show and all are hugely appreciated.

While this year’s show has been cancelled, our team looks forward to bringing a bigger, better wine show to the Yass Valley region in 2022 – September 19 to 24.


Brent Lello

Yass Valley Times Wine Columnist