TERTINI Wines' sales manager Robert Kay is a regular attendee at Illawarra, Shoalhaven and South Coast wine shows and festivals.
Mr Kay said it was important to support the wine industry in the emerging region south of Sydney and learn from each other.
This year he has encouraged more Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven residents to drive up the Illawarra Escarpment to Bowral for one of Australia's fastest-growing cool-climate wine events.
As president of the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Association, Mr Kay is involved in the organisation of the Dan Murphy's 2013 Australian Highlands Wine Show, and he said there were two exciting opportunities for the public to enjoy the best wines this year.
The first is a Best of Region tasting at the Grand Hotel Bowral this Saturday from 4pm, featuring a selection of the highest-scoring wines from the Southern Highlands and food prepared by chef Nicole Cooper.
The second is the presentation dinner on March 8 featuring all the trophy winners from the wine show, and local produce cooked and served by the team at Bendooley Estate.
"Wine shows are often a mystery to the public because judging has to be done behind closed doors to protect the impartiality of the judging process," Mr Kay said.
"But these two events create opportunities for wine lovers to test their palates as well as enjoy premium wines that may not be generally available."
The annual wine show is open to all Australian wines made from grapes sourced from vineyards above 500 metres in altitude.
Entries come from wine regions such as the Southern Highlands, Orange, Mudgee, New England, Tumbarumba, Hilltops, Gundagai, Canberra and Adelaide Hills as well as Beechworth, Strathbogie Ranges and the Macedon Ranges in Victoria and the Granite Belt in Queensland.
Further information at www.australianhighlandswine show.com.au.