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HANDPICKED WINES: On the Cutting Edge of Australia’s Contemporary Wine Scene


1,000 years from now, when the story of Australian wine is told, it will be a tale of two eras: a) the Yellowtail Era; and b) the post-Yellowtail Era. We can all rejoice that we are now living in the era of the latter—it’s the year 2019 A.Y., and it’s the best of times to be alive and drinking Australian wines.

In the blink of an eye, within the ‘00s decade Aussie wine transformed from a pariah of the global wine industry—how long has it been since the last time you saw a selection of Shiraz, Grenache, Cab or Chardonnay from Down Under on your restaurant menu?—to that prized though ever-elusive unicorn: a wine continent that’s able to be all things to all wine people. 

Australia today is producing superb and—key word—diverse, in fact remarkably diverse wines that fall into all price categories for the varied global consumer, from classic and ultra-premium to value priced to mid-tier. Throw in the high likelihood that the wine in your bottle is old-vine and/or single-vineyard without the jacked-up pricing of some comparative Northern Hemisphere wine regions—and you’ve got a winning formula that is truly unmatched to suit modern consumer trends going forward as far as the eye can see. 

Handpicked Wines, one of the newer, cutting edge wine companies that has emerged in the New Age of Australian wine, boasts a wide-ranging portfolio of wines that showcases the vast regionality of Australian wine country. What does that mean, “regionality?” Let’s put it in this context: France has several well-known regions we’re all familiar with—Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire and Champagne; Australia has more than SIXTY wine regions, most of which have yet to be discovered by the wine consumer at large. In layman’s terms, that’s a shitload of potential, mate. 

Imogen Hayes, Marketing Manager of Handpicked Wines, Australia

I sat down with Handpicked Wines’ award-winning Marketing Manager, Imogen Hayes, and USA Market Manager, Adam Dromi, in a bustling coffee shop located in the heart of the artsiest district of Beverly Hills—a setting well-suited, it turns out, to go deep into the story of what makes such an innovative, international wine company tick. 

At the emptying of two oversized cups of joe and one mint tea amongst us at the table, I arrived at an undeniable conclusion about the evolving story of Melbourne/Sydney-based Handpicked Wines: there is no other wine company doing what it is doing, and there is no other wine company so uniquely positioned and structured to capture the magic in the bottle of a virtually unlimited diversity of established and emerging Australian wine regions. 

Want to know the future of Australian wine? Get to know Handpicked. 


It was bound to happen. Just when you leave something for dead, like Apple Computers circa the mid-’90s, or the ‘70s disco era, someone comes along and sees the potential that’s there and then bam! you have Steve Jobs creating an iPhone and Tiësto and Daft Punk bringing about the EDM era. 

Handpicked’s founder, William Dong, who is from South China, emigrated to Australia around 20 years ago. He started the business 5 years later, operating more in the negociant business model of producing wine—that is, a merchant who goes out and seeks smaller winegrowers and winemakers and sells their end-product under the merchant’s custom label. Dong’s business went through a transformation in 2013—hiring two winemakers in-house and bringing on a whole new team. 

William Dong, Founder (L), and Jeffrey Tan, General Manager (R), of Handpicked Wines, Australia

Imogen was part of that new team and transformation, having previously worked in Hong Kong with the country’s most prominent wine critic, Jenny Cho Lee. With a new General Manager, Jeffrey Tan, at the helm, Imogen and her small marketing team set out to fully develop Handpicked Wines’ brand, managing every facet to the point where now the wine is the brand, and the brand is the wine. She is the first to caution, however, “Wine quality comes first, because without that, marketing just becomes hollow.” For her efforts in developing a new wine brand, as well as her work in export markets, Imogen was awarded the NSW [New South Wales] Young Business Executive award at the 2016 Sydney City Business Awards. 

Imogen speaks of the core philosophy behind Handpicked’s branding:  

IMOGEN HAYES, Marketing Manager, Handpicked Wines (IH): Our concept is all about travel and regionality—that’s what makes us quite different from the rest of the industry. Within our portfolio, we have different tiers. The ‘Regional Selections’ is classic varietals, classic regions. The ‘Collection’ level is above that, it’s more premium fruit, more barrel aging. And then we have the ‘Single Vineyard’ tier above that. Within each region we explore the spectrum, depending on where the consumer is at on their wine journey.

THE CORKSCREWER REPORT (TCR): What kind of infrastructure was put together to support this vision?

IH: We have two full-time winemakers based out of Victoria and several viticultural staff.  The winemakers work with all the territories. They are traveling around all the time. We’re a brand for consumers. We don’t make wines thinking, what would the trade like? We make wines thinking—what do consumers actually want to drink, and how can we educate people about Australian wines? That’s our founder’s vision. He’s always been very driven by that.

It was five years ago that the business started to transition and come to its own. That’s when we purchased our first vineyard in Mornington Peninsula—one hour south of Melbourne. After that, we purchased vineyards in Yarra Valley, where we’re building a sustainable winery, and Barossa Valley. Five years ago, the evolution and shift started to happen for us, and we started to grow the portfolio of wines. 2013 was the first vintage from our own vineyard.

TCR: How big is your company at this point?

IH: There’s about 40 of us in Australia. We run at a furious pace. We’ve grown close to 40% compound for the past 4 years, which is probably faster than a lot of wineries in Australia. We now own and manage vineyards in Tasmania, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Barossa Valley—which is pretty incredible.

Somewhere in here, there’s a vineyard… site of Handpicked Wines’ vineyard in Mornington Peninsula

(Imogen Hayes cont’d.)

Peter Dillon is our current Chief Winemaker, taking over from industry stalwart Gary Baldwin in 2018. Peter is starting to experiment with our winemaking. We’ve released a new tier of wines called ‘Trial Batch’ and have purchased some concrete egg fermenters. It allows us to break out of our story of traditional varietals. We put these wines out in our tasting room, and, if people like them, we’ll consider adding them to the Regional Selections category. For example, he’s doing some Fiano and Vermentino—half skin contact, half no skin contact.

Our winemakers are pretty busy and hold envious jobs for an Australian winemaker, who is usually contained to just one region. Peter Dillon, this week alone, was in five different regions. He’s kind of madly flying around. It sums up how our business works. We’re moving at a furious pace. Everyone is excited about the challenge and working towards a common goal. 2018 was a great year—we picked up several prestigious trophies for our Pinots and Chardonnay. Cool climate Pinot Noir from Victoria and Tasmania is becoming a focus point in our portfolio.


Adam, one of two representatives for the company in the entire U.S., jumps in: 


ADAM DROMI, USA Market Manager, Handpicked Wines (AD): This is what Australia really is. We’re 65 wine regions.

IH: James Hunt, our Export Director, is always innovating in how he sells—he’s opened up new markets throughout Asia and now into the U.S. He’s always done it on a shoestring. Whenever I think about James, I picture him on the back of a motorbike in Asia somewhere. We’re all very excited about prospects in the U.S.

AD: We are growing so fast. It’s a company that works very hard, very serious—but it has a lot of fun. I saw that with everyone I met in Australia. What excited me was building something. Five years from now… who knows where we’re going to be? It’s so new, it’s so different.

IH: Everyone’s a little bit mad. That helps. But, yeah, everyone’s very passionate.


See our companion piece: WINE REVIEWS | A Flight Through Australia Via Handpicked Wines for reviews of each of the wines on our list above.



It’s a typical wine-world trope to see a picture of your archetypal wine drinker as some white-haired male in a tailored suit sitting, let’s say, on a rattan patio chair with a deep-focus shot of his luxurious and expansive countryside estate as the backdrop—or perhaps—yikes!—a sommelier oh-so convincingly sniffing into his/her large Bordeaux wine glass filled with a 1982 Mouton Rothschild with a backdrop of, you got it, a restaurant wine cellar—but, let’s stop kidding ourselves: this is hardly your archetype of a wine consumer today even though tons of wine companies all around the world are still playing to the same audience like it’s Prince’s “1999.”

Handpicked Wines, under the influence of Imogen Hayes, is, to say the very least, doing things differently. How about holding regular faux-wedding events, with attendance generated via social media, where your wines are the focus?

Scenes from a Handpicked Wines faux-wedding

Imogen elaborates:

IMOGEN HAYES, Marketing Manager, Handpicked Wines (IH): We try to make fine wines that are more accessible, which I guess is everyone’s goal in the wine industry—it’s always a challenge—and we do that through lifestyle focused events and activities. I run a lot of eccentric, non-traditional events. A lot of things that will engage the Millennial market as well. Female-focused also, because a lot of the marketing in Australia is targeted towards men. So, just opening that up.

For example, we run an event called ‘Wine Wedding.’ It’s, like, a pretend wedding. We run this every year. We put our wines into a release schedule in the manner of a fashion collection calendar—Spring, Summer and Autumn, Winter. So, for Spring/Summer we do a wine wedding. It’s Pinot, Chardonnay and light wine focused—sometimes Pinot Grigio or Prosecco. People come like they’re attending a wedding—it’s about wearing an expensive dress that you’ve purchased to attend a wedding before. We put out a lot of cheese and cake. We have a DJ. It’s a traditional wine tasting with a twist.

Everything we do, we try to do in a non-traditional way from a marketing point of view. We drive a lot of attendance to our events through Facebook and Instagram. We’re on Chinese social media as well.

THE CORKSCREWER REPORT (TCR): What are some of the approaches you have in place to educate the wine consumer?

IH: We have a tier structure in our portfolio. We have our Regional Selections range, which is around the $25 U.S. dollar price point, and they are classical varietals from classic regions. We start with well-known export wines such as Barossa Shiraz, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon or Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. Our point of education is consumer tastings—we’ll set up Cabernets from 3 different regions by the same winemaker. We get people to really taste the regional characteristics and the differences between those. We make a number of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at the moment. We make 7 Pinots to tell the story of regionality. It’s really interesting to do Tasmania versus Yarra Valley versus Mornington Peninsula.

TCR: Are you able to do this outside of Australia?

IH: It’s a really good concept for bringing about a broad basis for Australian wine education and building upon our themes of travel and curation. In terms of outside Australia, we try to work with the travel industry—airports within Australia for example—so that we hit an international market. We have an urban cellar door set up in Sydney that we target towards locals and inbound tourists. And then, within our export countries, we run a lot of educational tastings. We send winemakers into market, for example into Asia, two or three times a year. We run similar programs that we run within Australia. From a retail side, we put a lot of work into a lot of content—little cards that talk about regional differences and food pairings and stuff like that.

TCR: There’s a synergy happening between your branding and the wine—your wine is your brand, and your brand is your wine. How much would you attribute your marketing efforts to the growth of the company?

IH: Wine always comes first—and our quality continues to grow, which is winning us accolades. This is all down to the hard work of the production team. From a brand POV, five years ago we got to completely refresh the brand. Previously, there wasn’t time put into looking at that side of the business. I wanted to take a more contemporary approach, and an art-focused approach as well. As I’ve said, our themes are travel and curation. We like the story of curation because it’s as if we’re curating our portfolio—we’re traveling to different regions and selecting the growers that we want to work with, or buy fruit from. As we’re curating our portfolio, that ties nicely into an art-focused story as well.

A typical art-focused space for a Handpicked Wines event that’s rather atypical for the wine industry

You can take a look at our portfolio of Collection Wines [the tier above Regional Selections]. For these to tell a story of regionality, we photographed regional plants from each of the regions we’re sourcing the wines from. For example [she shows me the label to their Tasmania Pinot Noir], this is an exotic flower native to Tasmania—the Billy Button. Often, we hang images like these on the wall as art prints. We do a lot of tastings in galleries and try to do sensory tastings. We make our own ceramic art decanters. We try to take it beyond a typical wine tasting—you know, with a table and a white cloth—and place it into an art-focused and design-focused space.

We have a lot of partnerships as well within the creative industries. We work with fashion, with theater companies, cinemas and architects. Contemporary design is very important to us.

TCR: How does that relationship work? So, you approach an architect or a theater company—how does that whole relationship evolve?

IH: Wineries always get asked for sponsorship of events. That’s the first point of entry. And then we say, there’s no value just doing a one-off sponsorship, where people are drinking your wines and not remembering what they’re tasting. So, maybe, we’ll look at a 12-month partnership with someone where we would go into a contract or sales component. We look into how we can fully integrate. For example, we had a partnership with the Australian Fashion Council. We made a rosé with one of Australia’s top fashion designers as part of that partnership. They are a very eccentric and non-traditional client, so we matched in aesthetic and philosophy. We put on a number of fashion events and introduced the rosé alongside their designer. We ran some wine-and-fashion combined trunk shows or catwalks… things like that.

TCR: It’s all very progressive. I love it.

IH: It’s quite fun. I’m lucky because I’ve found that [Handpicked founder] William is always willing to push boundaries. He’s open to trying. ‘Do whatever you want,’ he says. ‘Let’s try. Worst case is we fail. But, at least, give it a try.’

TCR: It’s very apparent that your company isn’t just interested in making and selling wine. You’re creating experiences.

IH: We have a cellar door in Sydney CBD [Central Business District], in the heart of the city. We knew that we wanted to open a tasting room, but we didn’t know where we wanted to open it. In Mornington Peninsula? Or Yarra Valley? We have wines from all over Australia, so it didn’t make sense to open a tasting room in one region. So, we decided to bring the tasting room to the city. We were one of the first wineries to do that. We launched the venue with the aim of allowing consumers to taste our wines and also for inbound tourists to learn about Australian regionality.

The “Barrel Room” of Handpicked Wines’ cellar door (tasting room)

We run a lot of wine educational events there, several times a week. Whether it’s just Wine 101 or Cheese and Wine Pairing. Wine & Yoga runs every Saturday—that’s very popular. It’s one hour of yoga followed by a wine tasting. Anything we can combine with wine tasting we will try. We’ve also done flower arranging and wine.

ADAM DROMI, USA Market Manager, Handpicked Wines (AD): And we can do real weddings at our cellar door too.

IH: Oh yes, we have a lot of weddings there.

AD: I’m biased, but if I wanted a local winery in Sydney to hang out and work on my laptop in, I’d be there.

TCR: You’re really building a community in that space. That’s really the concept, isn’t it?

IH: Definitely. It’s a really creative area. And we put a lot of attention to small details like menu colors so that everything fits together from a design point of view.

Retail space of Handpicked Wines’ cellar door in Sydney CBD

TCR: It’s unique to come across a winery that puts such a high priority on branding.

IH: First and foremost, you need good wine. And then, you can do whatever you want beyond that. I think people get tired of seeing the same stuff. Same photos of barrels or vineyards. We push the boundaries, or interpret them in different ways.

Advertisers can’t reach people anymore through traditional channels. You have to innovate, and you have to create interesting content, interesting stories.


How did we get here? Unlike, say, the wine region of Napa Valley that has enjoyed steady consumer interest in the multiple decades since the region came into public consciousness, Australian wine—if you could picture it as a stock chart—has been rather zig-zaggy and volatile, to say the least. 

It’s a wine country full of ancient vines but remained for the longest time as a sort of interloper that possessed no native grapes and, save for a few wines that entered the global vernacular starting in the 1950s, only served a limited local community, especially with fortified and sweet wines. That is, until the cheap stuff came on board. Oh, people loved the cheap stuff over here on Western shores! In a flash, our airwaves were saturated with Aussie archetypes that turned into stereotypes—Crocodile Dundee, ‘roos, vegemite sandwiches, Olivia Newton John gettin’ physical, etc. Critters populated popular wine labels, and the rest was history. Or, so we thought. 

As it turns out, the critter-wine-label era faded (kind of—the last two Super Bowls featured prominent TV ads reprising several of your favorite Aussie stereotypes), and after a lingering “dead zone” that occupied the bulk of the ‘00s decade where Australian wines fell out of favor, here in the ‘10s decade a brand new story emerges. Instead of Crocodile Dundee we now have Chris Hemsworth. Hey, that’s considered a major improvement in optics. And the Australian wine region is all but busting out of the stereotype of being the world’s greatest purveyor of “cheap wine.” 

I spoke with Aaron Ridgway, Head of Market, Americas, of Wine Australia—a large Australian Government authority whose central role is in the promotion and increasing of demand for Australian wine both locally and globally—for some perspective. 

THE CORKSCREWER REPORT (TCR): How would you describe what’s happening in Australian wine today, from a U.S. perspective, if you could put your finger on it?

AARON RIDGWAY, Head of Market, Americas, Wine Australia (AR): It’s a wide-eyed collection of good Australian wines being exported to the United States. It’s a shift away in the minds of the trade, retailers and sommeliers. We’re obviously well-known at the value end. Mostly known for a particular variety, which is Shiraz. And now the excitement is really being driven by people who feel like they skipped Australia the first time around. We had our moment in the sun in the mid-2000s. It went sort of quiet for a few years. In the global context, it’s not surprising that things are cyclical, but now the Australian category is really starting to stand up—I won’t say en masse because it’s not an invasion—it is a very, very healthy increase in the number of great wines, and an increasing presence of really good winemakers.

I think Australia has made good wine for a very long time, but I think we did a somewhat sloppy job of sharing the best of what we do and promoting our diversity. Now it’s our time. And it’s incredibly exciting.

TCR: When would you say Australian wines hit a peak in sales in the U.S.?

AR: U.S. sales peaked in 2007, at just over $950 million Australian dollars. We’re sitting at about half of that today. We’ve recouped some of that over the past few years. So, we’re growing again, which is great. Basically, our peak year was 2007, and the sharpest decline we saw was the balance of that decade. 2008, 2009 were extremely challenging years—and that’s another thing you should think about with Australia—we didn’t find the challenge alone—a lot of the global industries were hammered. It was a combination of bad timing with the economy and also consumers tiring of the Aussie brands that were getting the most attention—definitely at the value end and not being promoted as being regional or super-focused on variety.

But, really, over the last 2 or 3 years more cool climate wines have started coming over. More individualistic expressions of Shiraz have started to appear in the United States. Some Chardonnay and Cabernet from Margaret River. Some Grenache from Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Tasmania. Semillon from the Hunter Valley. Shiraz is about half the red wine that we make, and it’s about a quarter of the total wine that we make. But even within that, the Shiraz that’s being imported is better quality then when we were doing those volumes in the mid- to late-2000s. It’s also more diverse from the aspect of winemaking.

Another factor is more wineries are looking at the U.S. and saying, you know what?—I’m either going to try or I’m going to try again. We have 60% more product that sell above $15 per bottle today than we did five years ago. And that is incredibly important, because that allows you to say to someone that thinks Australia makes cheap wine, that—no, the primary interest is at the $15-25 price level, which is the bread-and-butter of so many healthy categories. France, California, Italy—that’s where you start to get regionality, you start to get ageability, and suitability for restaurants as well.

TCR: Let’s talk a bit about the international market for Australian wines other than the U.S.

AR: China is growing incredibly quickly. The 12 months through September 2016, China has jumped 60% in Australian exports. (We don’t measure for deflation through China—we wish we could, but we just don’t have that sophisticated reporting.) It’s become a very important market. It’s definitely emerging—consumer awareness and education are key parts of our strategy there. Many Chinese customers are, perhaps, early-on in their drinking lifestyles whereas the U.S. is, we know, a mature market. With China there’s definitely excitement because it is growing quickly.

If you had to roll it up and say, what are the two key markets Australia is going to be focusing on in the next three years?—I think business is good in Canada, and we’re happy to support where it is and grow in the single-digits, whereas we probably see more significant upside in the U.S. and China.

TCR: What’s the long view, the broad outlook, for Australian wines today?

AR: I do think there’s room for so many more people in so many more regions. Because the market is the size that it is. Again—also because we did a crummy job of building broad representation—if you think about a band, it was probably more of a small ensemble rather than an orchestra. We’re ready to bring an orchestra and explore all the octaves and all the tones.

Australia has 65 regions and sends a couple of billion dollars of wine abroad each year. It’s unfamiliar territory, and that’s exciting. At the premium end, we have some amazing winemakers—if they come, and they tell the story of 2019 versus 2011, people are ready to listen. People are ready to hear about a single-vineyard that had vines planted in 1878. These stories are significant to the global discussion around viticulture and wine. Rather than punish people for being from Australia, people are eager to have knowledge and credibility talking about what that is.


Handpicked Wines brand structure explained

Handpicked Wines’ presence is expanding rapidly around the world, particularly in Asia.  That makes sense, considering the proximity of the Australian continent to the Asian continent. But, it’s not that straightforward when approaching an emerging wine market versus a mature one, like the U.S. 

Imogen, Adam and I focused on this topic for a bit: 

THE CORKSCREWER REPORT (TCR): What are your other major markets other than China?

IMOGEN HAYES, Marketing Manager, Handpicked Wines (IH): Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia—a lot of Asia, which makes a lot of sense for where we are positioned in the world.

TCR: What percent of your company’s sales is in Asia?

IH: About 60%.

TCR: With the primary focus being China.

IH: Yes. We export a lot of Barossa Shiraz into China, at all levels of price points. For example, we sell into the city of Shenzhen, which has the population of Australia. There’s just crazy volume there at the moment. The entire Australian wine industry is focused on China.

TCR: How about the U.S.?

ADAM DROMI, USA Market Manager, Handpicked Wines (AD): We entered the market at the end of 2016.

The size of the U.S., in terms of geography and opportunity, presents a whole different set of challenges in comparison to Asia. That being said, we have taken a very focused approach by targeting key regions and markets for distribution. We’re not trying to be everywhere in the U.S. at once but, rather, working in key states with the plan of growing outwards from there. Basically, what we are doing is treating the U.S. as 50 different markets.

TCR: So, at this point, what percentage of your market is Australia?

IH: About 20%.

TCR: That’s surprisingly small. But it speaks volumes for your company’s vision. Asia is known for being a big market for “status” wines—the wealthy among these emerging economies can be relied on to purchase the top Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, not to mention Penfolds Grange, the most iconic of Australia’s ultra-premium wines. Is Handpicked interested in making the 200-dollar… 800-dollar Aussie wines?

IH: We have made a couple of wines in the ultra-premium tier. They’re called the ‘Numbered Series.’ Very small volume, mainly private sales. Only three wines at the moment, and at a few hundred cases production. They were available in Qantas First Class and were very well received. And, also, at the airports. Again, related to our travel theme. These are part of a project that’s been evolving for many years. More things to come with that. Our chief winemaker Peter just made a Margaret River Cabernet that fits into this tier that he’s very excited about.

TCR: What are your observations about the Asian palate? Where is it right now?

IH: It’s really interesting. It’s going through the same evolution that the Australian consumer went through but at a faster rate. Shiraz has always been a very large market. There’s quite a big desire for those big, bold Barossa wines. We’re seeing that evolve. It follows patterns in Europe… first Bordeaux, and now there’s more of an interest in Burgundy—so there’s more of a Pinot interest growing. It makes sense with food matching as well. White varietals are still an incredibly small market, unless it’s Moscato.

And region-wise, there’s a lot of growing interest in Australia’s cooler climate regions… more of an interest in Yarra Valley, Tasmania and Mornington Peninsula. These areas are “interesting” and “different,” and these regions sell a story.

TCR: What’s the competitive dynamic happening among Australian wine producers right now? You’ve got this incredible mix of young wineries, from micro-size to global companies like yours, and then your traditional “First Family”-designated wineries like Henschke and Tyrrell’s who have been around a lot, lot longer than you have.

IH: Nothing in Australia happens unless the industry works together. There are so many interesting stories, and you have to band together with other producers—there’s so many tiny producers and they need to work together to make it happen. People are doing really great things at the moment.

AD: The Australian wine industry may be the most exciting in the world at the moment. There’s a wide range of experience and history that’s unmatched in the New World—as you mentioned, we’ve got the traditional First Family wineries and then these smaller, innovative guys that are really pushing the boundaries in terms of winemaking. As far as Handpicked, no one else that I’ve seen is doing the multi-regional thing in the way that we are. There might be wineries in South Australia that are doing their region and neighboring regions—but a winery that makes wine across different regions throughout Australia as individual identities… I can’t think of any.

TCR: I’m hard pressed to name an Australian winery that’s so global.

IH: The Australian wine industry is conservative in a lot of ways. We received criticism for our vision at the start. Our founder just kept plugging away at it and was able to prove people wrong. It’s a challenging concept to execute, from a production point of view. We’ve set up the foundations and keep building on that. It’s hard for other people to replicate.

TCR: Are there parts of the world where you cannot sell into?

IH: There’s certain countries where taxation just makes it too hard—like India and the Middle East. We try to focus and not do too much at one time. We get requests from Norway, who was a systembolaget [where liquor stores are government-run] similar to Sweden and Finland, so it’s difficult to make those European countries a focus.

TCR: Talk a little bit about the food & wine scene happening in Australia today.

IH: The Australian food & wine scene is just blossoming so much at the moment. Twenty years ago, it was nonexistent. Australia was known for meat pies. At the moment, there’s incredible restaurants. The regional produce is really, really good and interesting—seafood, meat, dairy. We’re looking at all the Native Australian ingredients as well. There’s a lot of excitement going on.

TCR: Do you have a burgeoning chef scene happening as well?

IH: Melbourne is the food capital of Australia. The city hosted the Top 50 World’s Best Restaurants awards in 2017. It’s evolving, and the image of Australia is changing very quickly. There’s places like Tasmania, an incredibly pristine, cool climate region, where the influx of tourism is booming. They used to make all the Australian sparkling wine. The seafood there is amazing… abalone, oysters.

TCR: I just thought of an Australian movie that I recently saw that, I think, captures the contemporary, adventurous spirit of your company and also the Australian wine scene of today in general: Mad Max: Fury Road [the fourth installment of the Mad Max series, released in 2015, directed by the great Australian director George Miller], which I loved so much. Wild and visually genius. Stunningly original. Vibrant, unpredictable and alive with creativity.

AD: That is a lot of who we are: Run with ideas. Go for it.

It bears repeating: Want to know the future of Australian wine? Get to know Handpicked Wines.

All images courtesy of Handpicked Wines and used with permission. 

CLICK HERE to see our full wine reviews of Handpicked Wines


May 14, 2019