Barossa’s 2024 Winemaker and Viticulturist of the Year awarded industry’s top accolades

The 2024 Barossa Winemaker of the Year and Viticulturist of the Year were officially announced at the Declaration of Vintage event held in Tanunda.

Images: Sam Kroepsch

The Barossa Valley, renowned globally for its exceptional wines, recently toasted to the talents of its winemaking and viticultural stars at the annual Declaration of Vintage event held in Tanunda.

Amongst the grape-laden festivities, Marie Clay was heralded as the 2024 Barossa Winemaker of the Year, while Marcus Schulz claimed the prestigious title of Viticulturist of the Year.

Each year, on the third Sunday of February, the Barons come together in Tanunda to declare the vintage. This colourful event begins with the blessing of the first picked grapes in the historic Tabor Church, and continues with a colourful procession of Barons, in full ceremonial regalia, along the main street to Keil Garden.

Here, the first grapes of the vintage are crushed and tasted, the Barossa Winemaker and Viticulturist of the Year are announced and the Vintage is Declared. 

Louisa Rose, the fraternity’s Grand Master, expressed the difficulty of selecting this year’s winners from the pool of deserving candidates this year.

“Although all were deserving, we had to choose just one winemaker and one viticulturist for the 2024 awards,” she says.

Marie Clay, a stalwart of Barossa winemaking since 2006, has garnered acclaim for her dedication to crafting exquisite Rieslings.

Working with TWE, she is lauded as one of the finest Riesling makers of her generation, with a mission to restore Leo Buring Rieslings to their former glory under the tutelage of the legendary John Vickery. Beyond her winemaking prowess, Clay’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of industry talent shines through her role in various wine committees and mentoring programs.

Meanwhile, Marcus Schulz, marking his 60th vintage on family vineyards in Ebenezer, took out the award for his work with sustainable viticulture.

Known for his support of both established and emerging winemakers, Schulz’s vineyards boast certifications in organic and biodynamic farming, embodying his dedication to environmental stewardship. A respected figure within the Barossa wine community, Schulz’s willingness to share his wealth of knowledge underscores his role as a community leader.

Amidst the celebrations, viticulturist Adrian Hoffmann delivered the eagerly awaited 2024 Vintage Forecast, painting a picture of another exceptional year for Barossa’s wine industry.

Despite initial signs of an early vintage, recent favourable weather conditions have set the stage for a promising harvest. With wineries primed and harvesters poised, anticipation runs high for a short, sharp, and spectacular 2024 vintage.

For more information about the Barons of Barossa, head here.

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