The Land

How Sydney Royal competitions are driving excellence in Australian produce

Sydney Royal competitions are held across wine, dairy, fine food, and beer and cider. Pictures supplied
Sydney Royal competitions are held across wine, dairy, fine food, and beer and cider. Pictures supplied

This is branded content for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS)

Mike De Iuliis is a chilled out, laid-back kinda guy. Except when it comes to wine.

The Hunter Valley winemaker has a huge reputation for his approach to making wine, and has earned plenty of accolades during his 25 years in the business.

Among them, a swag of Sydney Royal Wine Show medals and two trophies - including the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Annual Prize for Best Current Vintage White for his 2023 De Iuliis Semillon Single Vineyard at this year's show.

'See how you stack up'

Mr De Iuliis has been entering his wines in the prestigious Sydney Royal for more than two decades and says it has been pivotal to his development as a winemaker.

Open to producers across the country, the competition is judged by experts in the field, recognised nationally and internationally for their knowledge of product and knowledge of industry.

Feedback from Sydney Royal judges is given to winning champions and to first-time entrants alike, a practice that helps drive excellence and product innovation.

Sydney Royal wine trophy winner Mike De Iuliis. Picture supplied
Sydney Royal wine trophy winner Mike De Iuliis. Picture supplied

Mr De Iuliis says the judge's feedback is invaluable.

"It's really important to be able to benchmark your wine against your peers and see how they stack up not only at a regional level but also at a national level," he said.

"To have your wine assessed by a panel of industry experts and get feedback - that's been the sole reason I still enter wines today..

"If you do poorly, you can go back and say: 'we need to work on that' or if you do well you can say: 'we're heading in the right direction.'"

It's an approach that benefits the producer, the consumer and the industry as a whole, he says.

Promoting excellence

Administered by The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS), Sydney Royal competitions are held throughout the year across ten classifications in wine, dairy, fine food, and beer and cider.

Judged by Australian and international food, wine and beer experts, they are designed to improve the quality of livestock, agricultural produce, fine food and wine products in Australia.

Sydney Royal competitions are synonymous with agricultural excellence and underpin Australia's growing agricultural performance and innovation.

They attract entrants (also known as exhibitors) from all over the country, who strive for a Champion medal and entry to the President's Medal.

Consumer benefits

The calibre of the judges means a Sydney Royal win carries prestige and a distinct marketing advantage for producers, with Sydney Royal competitions recognised as amongst the most trusted in Australia.

With all judging done 'blind' without any branding or identification, Sydney Royal competitions are an even playing field and provide an unbiased assessment of specialty foods. Picture supplied
With all judging done 'blind' without any branding or identification, Sydney Royal competitions are an even playing field and provide an unbiased assessment of specialty foods. Picture supplied

All Sydney Royal Champion, Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal winners are encouraged to include the medal artwork on their packaging, helping their product stand out on supermarket shelves and in fridges and making it easier for discerning consumers to make sure they are purchasing award-worthy products.

From regional markets to gourmet delicatessens, supermarkets to independent grocers and pantry doors, Sydney Royal medal-winning products range from mother and daughter or small family operations to franchises, supermarket home brands and even grocery giants.

Unbiased assessment

With all judging done 'blind' without any branding or identification, Sydney Royal competitions are an even playing field and provide an unbiased assessment of speciality foods.

Products are judged on their own merits, with no head-to-head comparison to other products.

Products are judged on their own merits, with no head-to-head comparison to other products.

This means if the quality of the product is Gold Medal standard, every product that meets that standard is awarded a medal.

So, if the standard is high, there can be multiple medals awarded. The trophies are then presented to the best in class.

When consumers purchase any Sydney Royal medal-winning product, they can be sure they are supporting an Australian producer and enjoying food that is not only Australian-grown but also proudly Australian-made.

Come full circle

Mr De Iuliis is now not only an enthusiastic long term Sydney Royal Wine Show entrant, he's also a judge and helps train other judges.

As a small winery owner, he says his initial motivation to become a judge was to broaden his expertise, but this developed into something more.

"It's progressed to giving a little bit back - to the industry that's helped me make better wines, and to the exhibitors by providing constructive comments and notes on their wines," he said.

  • See all the 2023 Sydney Royal Wine Show winners, and find out more about Sydney Royal competitions at rasnsw.com.au/sydneyroyal

This is branded content for the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS)