Up early... international wine judge from Germany, Steffen Schindler, samples some entries. Photo: Graham Tidy
Drinking wine at 8am in the morning might be considered socially unacceptable by some - but for these wine connoisseurs, it's all just part of the job.
Seven judges from Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Singapore were up early this morning testing some of the world's best rieslings, at the Canberra International Riesling Challenge.
The challenge is the biggest wine competition in the southern hemisphere, with wines from Europe, the USA, New Zealand and Australia judged.
And vintages from the Canberra wine region are expected to be up there with the best of them.
14 Canberra vinyards will vie for honours in this year's challenge - and event chairman Ken Helm said they're expected to be very competitive.
The organiser said he's "very optimistic" that Canberra wines will do well this year.
Canberra International Riesling Challenge is much more than just a wine contest - it also covers many aspects of wine making and judging, according to Mr Helm.
"This particular event, we do judge wine, but we do everything else. We judge the wines, we train judges, we judge wines through their regions, we don't just judge them as an overall riesling."
The event has many separate awards, which includes an encouragement award of $3000 which is awarded to a wine made by a winemaker in their first seven years.
Wine connoisseur and third time judge at the challenge Steffen Schindler said that you can always tell a riesling, but they have many different flavours.
"There's no doubt that it's a riesling, you can really taste that it's a riesling, and still it's different from the way we make it. It's so versatile and usually you can tell where it comes from just from its tastes and its flavours and its aromas," he said.
Mr Schindler also described how this event is different to events in Germany.
"In Germany the panels are usually a lot bigger and you do not discuss that much, but what I like here is... you discuss with the panel so you can always get really good results," he said.
The 100 point scoring system has been introduced this year to make it easier for judges and winemakers.
It's also a handy tool for wine drinkers, on the hunt for a good drop.
"The hundred point system is very good for the producers, because once they get their grades and their points they can use it in the marketing and the consumer is getting very used to it, so it's very good for the consumer as well," Mr Schindler said.
Although this year the event didn't host the largest amount of entrants, over 400 wines from around the world were entered and Mr Helm believes it will only grow.
"The biggest event we had was three years ago, that was 500 entries, so we're just a little short. But in the future I predict that it will grow to probably 800 to 1000 entries," Mr Helm said.
The Canberra International Riesling Challenge is held from the 8-13 October at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra and the Albert Hall with the awards being presented on Friday at the Hyatt Hotel.