While the 2000 Olympic Games haven't started in Sydney yet, one Australian winemaker has already brought home a collection of medals from an overseas trip.

Tom Newton of Stonehaven Vineyards was declared "Winemaker of the Year," while his Stonehaven Premium Shiraz and Stonehaven Premium Merlot were awarded "Double Gold" medals and "Best of Varietal" at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. The Stonehaven Premium blend of Shiraz and Cabernet was awarded a bronze medal.

The Stonehaven wines were two of only 34 wines to be rated Double Gold out of the 2,783 entered in the competition, held June 17 and 18 in downtown San Francisco. Samples from 660 wineries in 16 countries and 22 U.S. states were judged by a panel of 42 professional sommeliers, wine critics and industry professionals, who voted in panels to award 86 gold, 326 silver and 825 bronze medals.

Wines that received a unanimous vote for gold were declared "Double Gold." The "Andre Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year" award is based on the greatest number of medals for a single winery.

Stonehaven was introduced into the US market in March, with three distinct tiers of regional varietals. The premium range, priced around $8 US retail, includes a Shiraz, Chardonnay and Merlot as well as a blend of Shiraz/Cabernet, all from the broad South Australia appellation, The Limestone Coast tier, which sells for around $16 retail, and the region-specific Reserves, selling from $25 to $40, each include a Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet.

The Stonehaven winery, opened in 1998, is located in Padthaway, with a 2,000-acre collection of dedicated vineyards in the Padthaway, Wrattonbully, Coonawara and Elgin Valley areas of the "Limestone Coast," a prestigious wine-growing region. The area is recognized for its temperate maritime climate, ideal for white wines, and Terra Rossa soils, a prime component for growing important red wines. Stonehaven's vineyards were assembled and planted over the past 25 years by Australia's leading wine company, BRL Hardy, which then developed Stonehaven to focus on the Limestone Coast's unique terroir. The wines are represented in the U.S., Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean exclusively by leading US importer Banfi Vintners.