Online retailer Naked Wines has launched a competition looking for the world’s most talented unknown winemakers – with US$1 million up for grabs.

The Zero to Hero Wine Awards are free for winemakers to enter and will kick off with six preliminary rounds for France, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia and the UK – supported by trade bodies UBI France, Wines from Spain, Wines of Chile, Wines of Argentina, Wine Australia and English Wine Producers.

Wines from each of the regions will be tasted and judged by UK consumers in a number of venues around London, with the UK leg taking place in Vintners Hall on May 15.

The winner of each round gets a listing on Naked Wines worth £50,000, and the six winners will be judged against each other in a grand finale in December. The overall winner will be given a US$500,000 investment fund.

Naked Wines founder and chief executive Rowan Gormley said: “Our goal as a business is to reward genuine winemaking talent, not marketing budget, as there are thousands of top-drawer producers whose wines never make our shores because they don’t have the means to do so.

“Zero to Hero puts every winemaker who enters on a level playing field, as they’re judged by the juice inside the bottle alone, rather than the size of their wallet – and by hundreds of normal, everyday wine drinkers, rather than a handful of experts or critics.

“From everything we’ve learnt to date, consumer reviews are an incredibly powerful force and are worth 10 times any marketing spiel or tasting note when it comes to picking out the gems.”

Wines of Argentina director Andrew Maidment said: “Zero to Hero is a fantastic and innovative initiative that resonates extremely well with our members.

“We’ve run some hugely successfully consumer-powered tastings with Naked Wines in the past, so I’m delighted to see they’re rolling out the concept on a global scale and offering a fair, genuine and exciting route to market for wineries who might otherwise struggle to gain widespread distribution in the UK.”

Consumers who want to be a judge in the competition can apply on Naked Wines’ Facebook page, where they will also be entered into a prize draw to win an all-expenses-paid trip around the world to the six winning vineyards, worth £25,000.

Interested winemakers should email to find out how to take part.