New Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations

ASVO announces new Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations

The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) has this month released a comprehensive update and extension of its Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations (BPRs) following an extensive, industry-wide review process.

The first update to the BPRs since 2004 represents a substantial extension, encompassing more than 200 recommendations for best practice in conducting a wine show.

“The objective set by the ASVO was to produce a single document for consideration by the agricultural societies, regional bodies and others that conduct wine shows in which the industry would express its current view on what constitutes best practice in the Australian wine show system,” said ASVO President Mardi Longbottom.

The recommendations reflect the evolution in practice and thinking over the last decade and propose changes to such details as the mix of judges, term of appointment of judges, selection process for judges, use of specialist judges, entries by brand and blend, relaxation on the number of entries per class, and appointment and remuneration of auditors.

The document also delves into the finer details of judging, with recommendations for such things as acceptable range of room temperature during judging, appropriate glassware, tasting bench heights, remuneration of judges and stewards and the number of judges on each panel.

Where differences of opinion exist across the industry, the recommendations reflect the debate and will continue to evolve in time.

Some of the key points in the ASVO Wine Show Best Practice Recommendations 2015 include:

  • Recommendations on relaxing the number of wines that an exhibitor can enter in a class and reducing the volume requirements so that the shows attract the widest range of wine styles.
  • Recommendations clarifying criteria for building class structure.
  • Recognition of the importance of ‘regionality’ in Australia’s developing wine story and therefore of the need for evolution of the judging process to achieve this.
  • Many recommendations on establishing ideal judging conditions.
  • Recommendations on changes to class and trophy judging processes to one that gives a considered consensus on each wine. These include limiting the number of wines per class to ideally 30 to 40 and the number of wines per day to 130 so that judges are not under time pressure and have time for debate and recall tastings if required.
  • Recommendations to tighten the selection process of judges, developing across the show system a manageable process for assessment of judge performance, and defining term of appointment and rotation intervals for judges.
  • Recommendations about how shows minimise perceived and potential judge conflict of interest.
  • Recommendation that the wine shows and the industry work together to promote the rigour of the system and the integrity of the awards so that the awards become a reference point for Australian wine quality and style to both domestic and international consumers.
  • Recommendation that to maintain a focus and uniqueness about Australian wine show awards exhibitors be encouraged to use Gold, Silver, Bronze and Trophy nomenclature, not points, in their publicity.
  • To ensure the integrity of the awards the importance of audit is emphasised and recommendations are made to simplify the current audit process.
  • Consideration be given to the introduction of a wine show accreditation system to help achieve a consistently high standard of across all capital city, state, regional and niche shows.

“Through this document, the industry seeks to encourage practices in the organisation and judging of all shows that are robust and have integrity and yet leave the shows with flexibility to express their own ‘personality’ or ‘character’,” said Dr Tony Jordan, who chaired the ASVO Wine Show Technical Advisory Group responsible for the updated BPRs.

The final 2015 ASVO Best Practice Recommendations are freely available to download here:

A timely update

The ASVO is a non-political organisation which promotes the exchange of technical information in the industry. It has long played an important role in the Australian wine show system, including the establishment of the 2004 ASVO Best Practice Recommendations (BPRs).

Ten years on, in the light of continuing debate about many aspects of the wine show system and evolution in the practice of conducting wine shows, the ASVO proposed that it was time to establish an industry committee to review, update and expand the 2004 BPRs and to address new issues that have arisen since 2004.

“The adoption of many of the best practice recommendations of the 2004 ASVO Wine Show Review produced more robust and uniform show judging standards in Australia’s capital city and regional shows,” said Chair of the ASVO Wine Show Technical Advisory Group Dr Tony Jordan. “Ten years on, it was time to review those recommendations and to address new issues that have arisen with the aim of further strengthening the show system to the benefit of both producers and local and international consumers.”

A comprehensive, industry-wide process

The wider industry readily agreed with the ASVO proposal and in 2014 a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was established to carry out the review, with Dr Tony Jordan appointed as chair and Dr Tony Robinson as secretary.

As the TAG needed to express an industry view, members were chosen to represent a wide range of industry interests, and were drawn from large and small companies across a wide geographic spread, including members of the wine trade, press, experienced wine show chairs, wine show judges, members of wine show committees, and representatives with links to the 2004 ASVO committee.

The TAG met in multiple telephone conferences between November 2014 and November 2015. The committee sought opinions from industry members and show societies at various intervals throughout the process.

A draft of the updated Best Practice Recommendations was circulated to more than 50 interested parties in the industry before the chair met with the Capital City wine shows committee (CCWSC), whose comments were considered before the TAG finalised the document.

Endorsed by the wider industry
“This comprehensive body of work significantly underpins the robustness of the Australian Wine Show system and provides a framework for continuous improvement as the sector evolves. All wine shows in Australia now have a reference book at their fingertips.”

­– ­Brian Walsh, Chair of Wine Australia

”I applaud this excellent work and am hopeful that all Australian wine shows of every size adopt the clear recommendations. It will reinforce the international standing of the Australian wine show system and also the marketing of Australian wines.”

– Lyndey Milan OAM, Chair of the Sydney Royal Wine Show


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