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Friday 15 September 2023

Why so many awards are a crock of poo

I was once on the judging panel of a major regional tourism award.

The entrants all had compiled highly impressive declarations of their worthiness.

The only problem was that I knew from my own experience - of actually visiting these applicants - that some of those entries were bunkum.

But the panel chair said firmly that "personal experience should not come into it". We had to judge solely on the applications in front of us. Even if we knew they were dishonest.

I stood down from that panel asap.

My point is that there are so many awards nowadays that it seems just about everyone can win a prize if they are smart enough to pay a professional to craft their nomination.

Two press releases crossed my deck this week that raised my hackles.

One was about top tourism towns.

One of the big winners was a town that is surrounded by ugliness and has very little, in my eyes, to commend it.

The win will probably boost regional tourism and garner some headlines. But I fear a lot of visitors will be disappointed with what they find.

The next press release told me that the state of Victoria has been nominated as a finalist for the 2023 Wine Region of the Year at the 24th annual Wine Star Awards.

Now Victoria produces some very fine wines. But it is not a wine region. It is a state.

In fact, the press release pointed out that Victoria "is recognised as having a diverse range of climates and winemaking styles across its 21 regions".

Victoria is the same size or bigger than many entire European countries, so the judges are being asked to compare apples with onions. It is 370km from the Mornington to Rutherglen for heaven's sake. That's some region. 
The other nominees for 2023 Wine Enthusiast Region of the Year are Lambrusco in Italy; Provence in France; Charlottesville in Virginia in the US; and Swartland in South Africa. 

All of which actually are wine regions. 

If a Victorian region were competing against them it should be the Yarra Valley, the Mornington Peninsula. Heathcote or Rutherglen. Not the whole flipping state. 

Swartland, for instance, covers 3,707 square kilometres, while Victoria, around the same size as the British Isles, is 227,600 square kilometres.

If Victoria as a whole is a contender the it should be up against the likes of the Western Cape, Oregon, Umbria etc. 

So when you read about some great wine or travel triumph in your local media, be sceptical, and take a look at the judging parameters. 

All may not be as it seems.

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