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A wine show for wineries, industry and the public.

Our History: By Liz Dart Foundation Member ICCWS

In 1998/99 the then Committee of the Red Hill Agricultural & Horticultural Society Inc., spent considerable time on re-focussing the program of the annual Red Hill Show in order to make it current and reflective of the agricultural and horticultural pursuits and initiatives on the Mornington Peninsula.

Over the years, farming on the productive Peninsula had changed.   Dairy cattle had given way to beef cattle; dairy goats were no longer popular, giving way to Boer (meat) goats and there had been a huge growth in alpaca farming.   Whilst homemade wines were a significant exhibit at the Show, the burgeoning commercial wine industry had largely taken over from apple and pear orchards. Grapes had been exhibited at the Red Hill Show from the early years (1920’s) but there was no wine show on the Mornington Peninsula at that time.


A Steering Committee was formed to investigate the possibility of staging a wine show to be held in conjunction with the Red Hill Show.  This committee had representatives from the A & H Society (Liz Dart, Michael Pound, Steve Davies and Craig Pittard), the Mornington Peninsula Vigneron’s Association and local winemakers.  

It was decided that from the start the wine show should be professionally organised with the best judges available at the time.   The committee was well aware that although we were hugely enthusiastic about staging an event, we did not have the expertise required to stage a first-class wine show, so we sought advice from local Event Management Group, ASN (Australian Science Network), organisers of the very successful Australian Science Show, amongst several other highly reputable major Australia-wide events. We asked ASN Directors Mike Pickford, Simon Monk and Event Manager Stephen Robin to submit a proposal to the Steering Committee to organise an annual wine show under the auspices of the Red Hill A & H Society.   The Society would provide seed capital for the purchase of wine tasting glasses, some infrastructure and an enthusiastic team of volunteer workers.

The first Cool Climate Wine Show was held in March 2000.

Over the year’s changes have been made to various aspects of the Show.  Firstly, the date of the Show was changed to avoid clashing with the local vintage.  Secondly, the name of the Show was updated to reflect where entries were coming from, and thirdly, where the Show was conducted.  We moved the show venue from Lindenderry @ Red Hill in 2000 to the Red Hill Coolstores in 2001; to Hillside Cellars in 2002 and 2003; Red Hill Showgrounds in 2004 to 2009 and to the Mornington Racing Club in 2010, This was largely at the instigation of our Judges who (not unreasonably) requested well-lit, air-conditioned premises, free from dust and noise.  

After achieving a momentous 19 years of outstanding growth on the Mornington Peninsula, the International Cool Climate Wine Show (ICCWS) is now recognised as the Southern Hemisphere’s foremost show for inspirational cool climate wines.


The Show attracts more than 700 wines from Australia, New Zealand and other cool climate regions of the world, in 38 competition classes including sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz and other varietals such as Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Prosecco.


New for the 2020 Show was to be a trophy for the best organic/biodynamic wine.   This was in response to a worldwide interest in this method of production.


Wines are assessed by a team of experienced and highly credentialed judges from both Australia and overseas, currently working within the industry. In retrospect our judges have included every “mover and shaker” in the wine industry – Masters of Wine; wine merchants; wine writers; sommeliers; wine makers and wine educators.

For winemakers – this is an opportunity to benchmark in an independent show where ‘like is judged against like’; where elegant wines with restrained fruit are seen at their best, and where diversity is encouraged and rewarded.

For wine lovers – the ICCWS offers a rare opportunity to assess the styles, characteristics and latest trends in cool climate wines as entered in the wine show. The Public and Tutored Tastings held at the Mornington Racing Club and in other regions including Geelong, Gippsland and the Yarra Valley are designed for wine enthusiasts keen to find new wines for their cellars; for winemakers, educators, retailers and sommeliers wanting to identify trends and discover some cool climate gems, and for those who just love a glass of good wine!

The ICCWS has made a solid contribution to the Red Hill Show, the Mornington Peninsula wine industry, visitation to the Mornington Peninsula and the broader wine loving community.

Sadly, with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 events and the 20th Anniversary celebrations have had to be postponed.

The good news is, in May 2022 the ICCWS will be staging the 20th Anniversary event.

A comprehensive history and photographic record of the wine show is presently being prepared.   The following information is extracted from this history.  We hope you find it of interest.   Further “episodes” will follow in the next few newsletters.



Commencing from the first planning meeting in 1999, our vision was to expand the show each year.

In 2000, we received 370 entries.   The Chairman of Judges was James Halliday and the event was held at Lindenderry @ Red Hill – a luxury hotel property adjacent to the Red Hill Showgrounds.

In 2001, we received 440 entries.  The Chairman of Judges was Brian Croser and the event was held at the Red Hill Coolstores.  We marketed the event overseas, resulting in the 2001 Show being bolstered by a large number of New Zealand wines (about 1/3rd of the entries) and some from South America.

In 2002, we received 550 entries.  The Chairman of Judges was Brian Croser and the event was held at Hillside Cellars, Merricks North.  In 2002 we marketed to small and newer wineries needing benchmarking and exposure. This approach gained us support on the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley and the cooler areas of Victoria. The number of wineries entering had increased by 50%. In order to consolidate the gains the CCWS made in 2000 and 2001, the rules of the show were altered to allow entries from North America (specifically Oregon). This created a truly International Wine Show representing a diverse range of New World Cool Climate regions.

In 2003, we received 660 entries.   The Chairman of Judges was Peter Dawson and the event was again held at Hillside Cellars, Merricks North.   For the 2003 Wine Show, we made a special marketing effort in the Geelong region, and were rewarded with a big increase in entries.   We continued to look for new directions with more marketing in North America and this year were successful in adding Californian wines to the list of entries.   In developing new ideas for the 2004 show, we attracted the support of a distributor of wines from Alsace and looked forward to comparing wines from this region of France with those of our own.   This fostered an old world versus new world rivalry, further promoting comparisons of wines from cool climate areas around the world.   In 2003 wines were entered from New World Wine Regions including New Zealand, North America and Southern Australia.

The main cool climate grapes are Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.   The wine show has helped promote these varieties and indeed numbers in the Pinot Gris classes have expanded exponentially.   In 2003, as has been the case for every year, extra competition classes were added.

As an indication of the show’s growing ‘reach’, this year support from sponsors had grown, enabling the number of trophies to rise from 12 to 16.   The need for this increase was due in part to the desire of the organizers to add emphasis to cool climate Pinot Noir by expanding the number of awards for this flagship variety.

The number of judges has increased from 6 in 2000 to 12 in 2003, and will go to 15 in 2004 to cater for the growing number of entries.   We are also committed to training future judges and have two or more associate judges working with our experienced judging panel each year.

The 2003 Public Tasting, an event which was included to cater for the demand for an opportunity to taste the same wines as were judged, was again well supported.  It was planned to expand this in 2004.

The 2003 Award Presentation Dinner again attracted in excess of 150 guests from the wine industry and had become an important occasion on the Mornington Peninsula wine calendar.  Planning was underway to expand the number of attendees to 250+ in 2004.

In 2004 we received 660 entries.   The Chairman of Judges was Gary Baldwin and the event was held at the Red Hill Showgrounds.   A feature of 2004 was the inspired Awards Presentation Dinner for 250 guests, devised and presented by Max Paganoni or Max’s restaurant, Red Hill Estate, matched with CCWS wines. 

The Cool Climate Wine Show is now one of the largest regional wine shows in Australia.

The North American aspect of the competition was strengthened this year with the addition of entries from California to those from British Columbia and Oregon.  Entries were also received from France.  Twenty-five per cent of entries were from New Zealand.

Pinot Gris was judged as the outstanding wine of the show.

In 2005 we received 700 entries.   The Chairman of Judges was Gary Baldwin and the event was held at the Red Hill Showgrounds.   The wine show continues to expand its horizons with more additions of wines from the Northern Hemisphere, especially California and Alsace.

Entries up 25% on the previous record set in 2003.   Victorian entries made up more than half of all the entries.   Both the Mornington Peninsula and New Zealand each entered 250 wines.  Tasmanian entries had returned to their usual level following a rough 2003 vintage.   “The variation in entries from the different regions is caused by regional or seasonal factors” said Event Organiser Steve Robin in a press release.

Catering for the Awards Dinner was again sensational, with CCWS wine matched with a remarkable menu by renowned chef Max Paganoni from Max’s Restaurant, Red Hill Estate, using the highest quality produce from the Mornington Peninsula and adjoining regions.


For 2005 a Seminar Program was introduced to the event, held on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of March at the Red Hill Showgrounds, hosted and facilitated by Monash University.   The Seminar addressed major issues in cool climate viticulture such as contracts, business development, marketing and other aspects.

Topics covered –

  • Strategies for maximizing returns – review of tax issues – presented by Nicholas Storer and Shane Crockett from Bentleys MRI

  • Contracts for Vignerons – presented by Doug Robertson from Piper Alderman

  • Marketing Wine – presented by David Dean from the Australian Wine Export Council

  • Cellar Door Operations – presented by Audrey Lebkowski from Monash University

  • The Vineyard Business – presented by Di Davidson from DVCS

  • Streamlining Your Business –Panel      Discussion with participating speakers.

  • Crop Protection – presented by Dr Mary Cole from Monash University

  • Chardonnay in Cool Climates – Tasting

  • Vineyard Tour


Further History will follow shortly………..

Judging in the 2004 Show at Red Hill


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Click here to see photos through until 2010

Judging in the 2019 Show at Mornington Race Course

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Click here to see photos

through until 2019

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