The AWAC Scholarship selection committee comprises a range of experienced professionals with extensive expertise in the area of wine show judging and wine sensory assessment. Each judge, rates all of the applications based on set criteria, and ranks the applicants based on their opinion of their suitability for the scholarship.

Sam Connew

A highly experienced and respected winemaker and consultant, Samantha Connew launched her Tasmanian solo project Stargazer in2013. Prior to establishing this and her consulting company, Compass Wine Consulting she was employed working in applied research, development and extension for the Australian Wine Research Institute as Manager of the Hunter Valley Node. Before this she was the Winemaker/Manager of boutique Hunter Valley winery, Tower Estate, after working in McLaren Vale for ten years as the Senior Wine maker at Wira Wira Vineyards.
Amongst her many achievements, in 2007 she was awarded 'International Red Winemaker of the Year' at the prestigious international Wine Challenge in Loudon, and in 2008 she was a South Australian finalist in the Telstra Business Womens Awards. She has served on the Boards of several regional associations and was a board member of the Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology and was a founding member or the Australian Women in Wine Awards. She is currently a Director on the Wine Tasmania Board.
She is a highly respected wine Show judge and has chaired many regional and capital city wine shows, having completed both the AWRI Advanced Wine assessment Course and the Len Evans Tutorial where she continues her involvements a tutor. In 12014 she was appointed Chair of judges at the Sydney Royal Wine show the first female and the youngest judge in that position.
In 2016 she acquired a small vineyard and olive grove in coal river Valley north east of Hobart, under her stewardship, this vineyard was awarded ‘Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year’ in May 2019



Bryan Currie

Bryan has been heavily involved in regional and state based industry organisations such as NSW Wine Industry Association, Riverina Winemakers Association, MIA Vine Improvement Association and National Grape and Wine Industry Centre. Keen to further knowledge, education and mentoring opportunities, he established the Riverina Sweet Wine Tutorials, was key in developing the Riverina, Hilltops and Tumbarumba regional wine shows and the International Sweet Wine Challenge and is a regular judge on the Australian Wine Show circuit.

Rob Diletti

Robert Diletti has been part of Castle Rock Estate since its inception in 1981. He can still remember helping plant the first vines as a six year old in 1983. Many a school holiday and weekend was spent helping his parents on the vineyard.
In 1995 he enrolled in the Charles Sturt University winemaking course, graduating in 1998. After finishing his studies Rob worked at Mountadam and Alkoomi, completed a vintage in Alsace, France and then returned to Castle Rock Estate to design and build the winery with his family.
Rob has been a Panel Chair at the Perth Wine Show and the Wine Show of Western Australia and has judged at numerous other shows including the Sydney Wine Show, National Canberra Wine Show and the Hobart Wines Show.
As well as receiving many awards for his wines, Rob also has achieved many personal accolades including being a finalist in Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2019 and was the inaugural Wine Maker of the Year in James Halliday’s 2015 Wine Companion!

Matt Harrop

Matt grew up in Auckland, working his first vintage in 1988 at Nobilos, in West Auckland. He then studied at Roseworthy College, graduating in 1991.

Vintages in the Hunter Valley and a year with Jeff Grosset in the Clare Valley gave Matt an understanding of the discipline needed in both vineyard and winery to produce great Australian wine.

Matt then returned to the Hunter for three years as winemaker at Brokenwood. Under the tutelage of Iain Riggs, Matt was exposed to the best wines of Australia and the world, an incredibly valuable experience.

A brief stint as Senior Winemaker for Nautilus in Marlborough ensued before moving to Melbourne to create Shadowfax in 1999.


Trina Smith

With 20 years of winemaking experience, Trina Smith is a skilled winemaker in all styles of wines.
Once Trina completed the Degree in Oenology (University of Adelaide, it was time to travel and put the study into practice with vintages in USA (Sonoma County), South Africa (Stellenbosch) and Italy (Chianti).
Back in Australia Trina started working for Brown Brothers taking control of a number of innovative wines as well as the sparkling wines and a number of the Patricia range wines. After a brief interlude in the Yarra Valley, Trina started working with Treasury Wine Estates in 2007 before moving into the role of Senior Sparkling Winemaker in 2008.
In October 2016, Trina was announced as the new Jacob’s Creek Group White & Sparkling Winemaker and is elated by the opportunity to continue specialising on her greatest passion with Australia’s largest wine brand.

Trina has judged at numerous capital and regional shows and was a scholar at the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2005. Trina is also the committee chair for the Australian Sparkling Wine show.


Virginia Willcock

Virginia is an authority on Margaret River winemaking, having completed almost 30 grape harvests in the region. She’s won several winemaking awards and is a sought-after regional wine show judge.

Past scholarship judging committee members:

  • Sue Bastian
  • Pete Bissell
  • Sue Bell
  • Nick Bulleid M.W.
  • Sue Hodder
  • Sarah Crowe
  • Jeremy Dineen
  • Mark O’Callaghan
  • Chris Pfeiffer
  • Corrina Wright