The 2020 NSW Wine Awards have just been announced and Chair of Judges Dave Brookes has given the nod to the top quality of Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon. The Riedel Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded to Ballinaclash Tom Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, which also stood stall in the 2020 Hilltops Wine Awards where it won the Best Cabernet Trophy.

Consistent gold medals and trophies for Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon highlight the realisation that this region’s cool climate elevated terroir is finally winning deserved acclaim for the traditional Australian red varieties – cabernet and shiraz. Expect to see ‘Hilltops Region’ on more wine labels in the future!


Every year the vignerons and winemakers of the NSW Hilltops celebrate the excellence of the wines of their region at the Hilltops Wine Show and the Wine of the Year is recognised by the award of the Peter Robertson Trophy.

The 2020 Hilltops Wine of the Year has been won by the McWilliam’s prestige portfolio label McWilliam’s 1877 Hilltops Shiraz 2018.

Yet again the focus is on the calibre of Hilltops Shiraz, a variety that vintage to vintage excels on the rolling slopes of the cool climate region around Young NSW. 

There were over 50 wines entered in the Hilltops Show and seven Gold Medals granted by an independent judging panel led by Chief Judge, Gabrielle Poy.

The current release McWilliam’s 1877 Hilltops Shiraz was the product of a warm dry season, which delivered perfectly ripe grapes with intense and balanced fruit flavours that were hand-harvested in the cool of the morning.

‘The McWilliam’s team are both humbled and excited to receive this award. It not only reinforces our commitment to the Hilltops region but is a testament to the stonking quality of wines being produced from high altitude regions of NSW,’ said Chief Winemaker, Andrew Higgins.  

‘The 1877 Shiraz is a multi-vineyard blend with fruit sourced from Roger and Meghan Clark’s Hillrose vineyard at Boorowa and the McWilliam’s Barwang vineyard. The quality of fruit from both vineyards was once again exceptional and a pleasure to work with.’

Trophies were also awarded to:

Best White Wine:                               Collector Summer Swarm Fiano 2019

Best Shiraz:                                         McWilliam’s 1877 Hilltops Shiraz 2018

Best Cabernet Sauvignon:               Ballinaclash Tom Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Best Red Blend/Other Red:             Moppity Vineyards Lock & Key Reserve Tempranillo 2017

‘The Hilltops Wine Awards continue to highlight the calibre of our vineyards and the diversity of the premier wines of this region, a fact noted more and more by wine writers and by the increasing numbers of wine explorers arriving at our cellar doors,’ remarked Hilltops Wine President, Brian Freeman.


Great prelude story from ABOUT REGIONAL showcasing the top producers in the Hilltops wine region… It precedes the imminent announcement of the 2020 Hilltops Wine of the Year and trophy-winners of the 2020 NSW Wine Awards.

Check it out here….


The rolling vineyards of the NSW Hilltops wine region are producing trophy-winner wines.  Look for cabernets, shiraz, nebbiolo, sangiovese and more… PIC: Courtesy FREEMAN Vineyards.


The 2020 NSW Wine Awards have tallied the scores and just announced the Gold Medal winners. From the HILLTOPS the bling goes to…

Ballinaclash 2019 Tom Cabernet Sauvignon

Ballinaclash 2018 John Shiraz

Hungerford Hill 2018 Corvina

McWilliam’s 2018 1877 Shiraz

McWilliam’s 2019 480 Shiraz

Trophy winner announcement yet to come… 23 October.


Regional champion the Sir George Hotel in Jugiong is determined their guests take home happy memories (and some wine) when they head to the Hilltops region for a break away…

Publican and passionate regionalist Kim Gamble is putting his country hotel mini-bus to good use, offering in-house guests bespoke wine tours.  The first route to be launched heads north to the Hilltops – to FREEMAN Vineyards, Ballinaclash, Grove Estate, Chalkers Crossing and Trandari – or guests’ own bespoke winery selection – for ‘meet the maker’ cellar door wine tastings and vineyard picnics.  Maximum 8 people.

All hotel guests will receive wine tour package information when booking accommodation in the pampering contemporary converted historic sandstone stables.  The tours are an all-day adventure and start and finish at the hotel.

For more info and bookings:  info@sirgeorge.com.au


The Hilltops region may be best known for its Shiraz and Cabernet, but increasingly its Italian varieties are shining bright.  Latest top performer is FREEMAN Nebbiolo 2016 rated No.4 in Australia’s Top 2016 Nebbiolos by The Real Review.

‘A very smart Nebb…’ says wine writer Huon Hooke who commends its bouquet ‘earthy, meaty and forward, soft and mellowing, with a twist of the peppercorn grinder; palate medium-bodied and savoury with a light kick of firm tannin at the end.  A suggestion of raspberry jam and a sweet fruit core. Decent length.’

Other Hilltops vineyards producing tip-top Nebbiolo include Ballinaclash, Grove Estate, Moppity and Trandari.



Hilltops Inc., the representative organisation for the NSW Hilltops wine region, has a new President, Brian Freeman, vigneron, winemaker and proprietor of FREEMAN Vineyards.

Brian was previously professor of wine science at Charles Sturt University and established his family vineyard in the Hilltops region near Young in 1999. Brian has taught many Australian winemakers and his first wine under the FREEMAN brand was released in 2004.

‘The Hilltops is still a relatively young wine region, rapidly growing a reputation for both wine quality and versatility. So many red varieties thrive in this cool, elevated location, from shiraz and cabernet to nebbiolo and sangiovese.

‘More and more wine explorers are finding their way here, visiting our cellar doors and discovering our award-winning wines.’

Brian takes over from grape grower Peter Creyke, dedicated President of the association for the past eight years.



Two Hilltops wine producers are rated a prestigious FIVE STARS in the just published HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2021 – drum roll for FREEMAN VINEYARDS and MOPPITY VINEYARDS.  Two other vineyards are also included – Barwang and Grove Estate.

Of particular note is the varietal diversity of the top-rated – mostly red wines – from the region’s classic varietal heroes Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon to Tempranillo, Merlot, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.

The Companion tasting team assessed over 9000 wines from over 1100 wineries.