Melanie Chester appointed new Chair of Judges for Melbourne Royal Wine Awards

Melbourne Royal has announced that Melanie Chester is the new Chair of Judges for the prestigious Melbourne Royal Wine Awards.

“We are delighted to have Melanie as our new Chair of Judges for the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards,” said Brad Jenkins CEO Melbourne Royal. “Melanie has been on our Wine Awards Committee and served as a judge for many years and her expertise is respected in the industry. As Chair of Judges, Melanie will be instrumental in ensuring the Awards continues to be highly valued by the Australian winemaking industry for celebrating excellence and inspiring innovation.”

“We are most grateful to Matt Harrop, our outgoing Chair of Judges, for his passion, commitment and dedication to the role since 2018. Matt helped to evolve judging of the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards to reflect industry trends. This has further enhanced the value of entering and the prestige of winning a medal,” said Mr Jenkins. “Although Matt has completed his term as Chair of Judges, we are thrilled that Matt will remain involved as a member of Melbourne Royal Wine Awards Committee.”

Ms Chester is the Head of Winemaking and Vineyards at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley, working with the unique single vineyards in its portfolio.

Armed with a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Adelaide, Ms Chester started as a winemaker at Seppelt at Great Western, working across a diverse range of brands before joining Sutton Grange Winery in Central Victoria as the Chief Winemaker in 2015. In the same year she was named Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine's Young Winemaker of the Year.

“I am proud to be appointed the Head of Judges for the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards. I have been a part of this show since 2012 starting as a steward, so now stepping into the role of chief judge and continuing on the legacy and hard work of Matt Harrop and those before him is a real honour,” said Ms Chester.

Ms Chester is the Head of Winemaking and Vineyards at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley

Ms Chester is the Head of Winemaking and Vineyards at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley

Melbourne Royal Wine Committee Chair Samantha Isherwood welcomed Ms Chester’s appointment. “Having worked alongside Mel on the Committee for many years I am impressed by her passion to see Melbourne Royal strive for a more professional, innovative and relevant approach. She will bring her excellent communication skills and experience and will continue to educate those judges who follow in her footsteps.”

Entries for this year’s Melbourne Royal Wine Awards will open on 2 August, with judging and the trophy presentation taking place in October. The Wine Awards is one of Australia’s oldest and most respected wine shows recognising and rewarding excellence in Australian winemaking, including the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for best young red wine. Established in 1884, the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards attracts around 3,000 entries from over 500 wineries from across the country annually.