In 1999 Stefano de Pieri, Bruce and Jenni Chalmers, along with Dr. Rod Bonfiglioli, initiated the Sangiovese Awards and continued in 2000 with the Australian Italian Wine Show. Following the success of these shows, the first Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show was held in Mildura in November 2001. Since then the show has gone from strength to strength, starting with just 28 exhibits and now attracting well over 700 wntries from across Australia and New Zealand.
The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show is more than a forum for wines that fall outside the mainstream. It encourages cutting-edge judging procedures and provide a host of social and educational events that promote knowledge sharing and the ferment of ideas. In 2014 the AAVWS instigated a fellowship for talented and passionate candidates to visit Mildura to experience the show and become new alternative variety ambassadors.