Australia’s best wine venue revealed

Wineslinger Awards announce 2020 trophy winners.

On Monday night, the Wineslinger Awards, the wine guru’s guide to the best haunts in Australia right now, crowned the 2020 Wineslinger trophy winners – as voted on by over 100 of the country’s leading sommeliers, winemakers, hospitality tastemakers and journalists – in a virtual awards presentation.

The four trophies presented include top spot ‘Wineslinger’, ‘Best New Haunt’ for the best newcomer, the ‘Maverick’ recognising a venue pushing the boundaries of possibility, and the publicly voted ‘People’s Choice’.

In 2020, the trophy winners are:
•  Wineslinger: Carlton Wine Room (Carlton, Victoria)
•  Best New Haunt: Leigh Street Wine Room (Adelaide, South Australia)
•  Maverick: Snack Man (Fortitude Valley, Queensland)
•  People’s Choice: Union Street Wine (Geelong, Victoria)

“2020 has been the toughest year ever for Wineslingers in this country, and that’s made it equally tough on cutting-edge winemakers who rely on the passionate individuals and their brilliant venues to capture the imaginations of wine lovers. We’re so excited to celebrate the places and hospitality professionals serving up the best wine experiences in the country, and after months of lockdown and restrictions, getting back to supporting them in person,” says Wineslinger Founder Rory Kent.

In much needed good news for Melbourne, Carlton Wine Room was named the 2020 Wineslinger. After being closed for almost seven months, it was a welcome win for the trio of Andrew Joy (front of house), Travis Howe (sommelier) and John Paul Twomey (chef), who opened the venue in early 2018 and are blurring the lines between wine bar and restaurant to serve up Australia’s best wine experience in a cool, unpretentious environment.

“Andy and I love the Wineslinger awards because it’s people voting for the places that they actually love and want to go to. To be named with City Wine Shop and 10 William Street (2018 and 2019 Wineslinger trophy winners) is such a fast progression for us and so far ahead of where we thought we were, and the fact that we’ve been voted in by our peers in the industry is incredibly humbling,” says Carlton Wine Room Owner and Sommelier Travis Howe.

Best New Haunt was awarded to Adelaide’s Leigh Street Wine Room. A temple of natural wine, Leigh Street Wine Room has made an immediate impression on the national Wineslinger panel of industry experts and announced itself as one of Australia’s best wine venues within just over a year of opening, with a 400-plus strong wine list and some of Adelaide’s best food.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic to have been awarded Best New Haunt. You don’t open a venue to receive an accolade, you open a venue to make people happy and have an enjoyable and memorable experience, and it just makes it better when people in the industry tap you on the back and say they want to recognise you for doing what you love,” says Leigh Street Wine Room Owner and Chef Nathan Sasi.

Brisbane’s Snack Man took home the Maverick trophy as the venue pushing the boundaries of possibility for 2020. Snack Man serves up tricky-to-match Chinese snacks with European wine gems, and they debunk wine and food pairing conventions. There’s a cellar of around 300 ‘unlisted’ wines at Snack Man, which guests have got to chat to the bar staff about in order to order – so patrons have to engage. This gambit could backfire but here it turns into an adventure. The Snack Man wine bar goes hand-in-hand with their Happy Boy restaurant next door, which has a dedication to showcasing emerging Australian producers, with winemaker ‘takeover’ nights, and perhaps the most exciting line-up of house wines in Australia. The Snack Man and Happy Boy experience is a knockout one-two combination, full of thrills and discovery.

“We were really excited just to be named in the Top 50 and now, even more, to have won the Maverick award. In a way, the Brisbane wine scene is still up and coming and there’s been a few guys that have really pushed the wine bar flag here and we’re coming in behind them. Our intent for Snack Man was to create something uniquely Brisbane, for Brisbane – we’re tucked away off James Street and just off the Valley and the word maverick is very fitting as it is about what we want to create, not necessarily what has come before,” says Snack Man Owner Cameron Votan.

The People’s Choice, as decided by the public via online voting was awarded to Geelong’s Union Street Wine. Opened in early 2014 by duo Andy Leigh and Lewis Phiddian, Union Street Wine serves up a selection that pays homage to local winemakers as well as an eclectic mix of international makers, with their wine bar and adjacent store.

“It’s been such a tough year for everyone and hospitality in particular, and to be named in the Top 50 with venues of such high calibre was enough for us. It’s so great for Geelong too – we love being here, we love the people and we’re so stoked to have won this award,” says Union Street Wine Owner Andy Leigh.

Acknowledging the hardships that the hospitality industry has faced in 2020, Wineslinger partnered with hospitality relief fund TipJar this year, with Young Gun of Wine donating over $2,500, as well as encouraging others to support TipJar – helping raise over $25,000 – to support those in the industry who need it most.

For the first time, each Wineslinger trophy winner received two immersive wine experiences, one hosted by Mike Aylward at Ocean Eight in Victoria* and one hosted by Prue, Stephen and Justine Henschke with Henschke Wines in South Australia** to give back to each venue team.

To see all the winners from the 2020 Wineslinger Awards, head to

The 2020 Wineslinger Awards are brought together with thanks to partners Cullen Wines, Henschke, Liebherr, Ocean Eight, Studio Round, Tahbilk and Young Gun of Wine.

About Wineslinger
Wineslinger is an annual awards to help lead people to places around Australia where they can enjoy a glass of wine, whilst at the same time encouraging creativity and excellence in the industry. For the first time, Wineslinger hosted its 2020 trophy presentation virtually and with the help of some of Australia’s top names names in wine, including the team at Henschke, Liebherr and Ocean Eight, and sommelier Penny Grant who were able to deliver the trophies live to each winner in their home state.


*After restrictions in Victoria have eased and borders reopen for travel. Prize includes a two-day wine experience on the Mornington Peninsula hosted by Mike Aylward at Ocean Eight, to gain local insights and ideas from some of the best makers, vineyards and dining experiences that the Peninsula has to offer, including a stay at the luxurious Jackalope Hotel.

**After borders reopen for travel. Prize includes an overnight stay in South Australia hosted by Prue, Stephen and Justine Henschke, visiting the Henschke vineyards including Lenswood, Eden Valley, Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace and the Henschke winery in the Eden Valley, as well as private cellar tastings and dining experiences with the Henschke family.

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