Chair of Judges
Warren Gibson was educated at Massey University, New Zealand, and at Roseworthy Agricultural College, South Australia. He began his winemaking career in New Zealand in 1987, subsequently travelling the world as a Flying Winemaker, including vintages in Australia, Italy, Hungary, France and California.
Warren has just completed his 21st vintage at Trinity Hill, currently as Chief Winemaker and also heading the viticultural team.
In 1997 with partner Lorraine Leheny, also a winemaker, they established their own brand, Bilancia. In Italian, Bilancia translates to balance and equilibrium. The la collina Syrah is now in its 16th vintage. The material for la collina (Italian for “The Little Hill”), is grown on the steep slopes of Roy’s Hill, near Hastings.
In 2015, Warren spent time as visiting Winemaker on a Walter, Carew and Richard Reynell Fellowship as guest of the University of Adelaide mentoring the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Oenology students.
Warren has been a regular judge at all of his country's major wine shows plus a range of wine competitions in Australia. In 2016 Warren was Chairman of Judges for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards and was also appointed the new Chairman of Judges for Air New Zealand Wine Awards for 2017.
Elaine Chukan Brown
Based in Sonoma, California, Elaine Chukan Brown serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, is a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits, and a columnist for Wine Business Monthly.
Her work has also been featured in The World of Fine Wine, The Robb Report, Decanter, MensHealth.com, San Francisco Magazine, among others, and appears on her own website, WakawakaWineReviews.com. Elaine is known for having created illustrated tasting notes, which have been described by @KermitLynchWine as “a new standard in wine reviews.”
Prior to her career in wine, Elaine served as a philosophy professor at Northern Arizona University. She was Dartmouth College’s Charles A. Eastman Fellow, and a Tomlinson Fellow at McGill University, where she did her doctoral work. Prior to her career in philosophy, Elaine was a commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where the rest of her family still operate their businesses.
Emma Jenkins MW
Emma Jenkins MW abandoned her university training in anatomy and structural biology for a more sociable career in wine. She's worked in fine wine retail, studied
winemaking and viticulture, and in 2011 became New Zealand’s ninth Master of Wine.
Emma is wine columnist for the New Zealand edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly, co-editor of The Independent Wine Monthly alongside Jane Skilton MW,
and also writes on a freelance basis for a number of trade and general publications.
In addition, Emma teaches WSET courses on occasion, is involved with the MW education program, and continues to hone her skills judging wine both at local and international competitions.
Emma's spare time is spent attempting to gain control of a large unruly garden populated by small children, dogs, chickens and two pet pigs. This is largely proving futile.
After working for over 30 years for Air New Zealand as a Flight Attendant, Inflight Service Director and Wine Consultant, Jim and his wife now own and operate The Gates Country Lodge; a boutique luxury lodge situated in New Zealand's South Island. As part of Jim's passion for wine he was involved in the creation of the Air New Zealand Wine Club and was responsible for the development and structure of the Flight Attendant Wine Education Programme.
After studying winemaking and viticulture at the Eastern Institute of Technology in New Zealand's Hawkes Bay, Jim has worked vintages in France, Australia, New Zealand and as well spent time working in Christies Fine Wine Department in London.
With over 20 years experience, Jim has been part of the judging teams at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, the International Wine Challenge, the Decanter World Wine Awards, the Bragato Wine Awards, the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, the San Franscico Wine Competition and the Canterbury International Aromatic Wine Competition. Jim currently holds the position of Chairman of Judges for the New World Wine Competition, the Japan International Wine Challenge, and the Australian Small Winemakers Show, is a Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge, a Senior Judge at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and is a Wine Consultant for Air New Zealand.
Olly is winemaker at Misha’s Vineyard in Central Otago. He also has his own winery / vineyard consulting business, Tripwire Wine Consulting.
Previously a winemaker at Ata Rangi Vineyard in Martinborough where he still lives on and organically farms 2 acres of Pinot Noir. Olly graduated with an Honours degree in Biotech (Massey, 1989) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology (Lincoln University, 1990).
He has previously chaired the Bragato Wine Awards and is a senior wine judge at many national wine competitions, including The Sydney International Top 100 and Royal Adelaide Wine Show.
Simon Nunns has been winemaker at Coopers Creek Vineyard Ltd since 1998. In 1995 he completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University, where he graduated with distinction and received the inaugural Jason Winter Memorial Award for academic achievement. Simon has worked vintages in Oregon, Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Simon is, or has been, a senior judge in all major New Zealand wine shows. Simon is currently a Panel Chair at The Bragato Wine Awards, The New World Wine Awards and The Marlborough Wine Show. He is also a judging panelist for magazines such as Cuisine and Winestate.
Under Simon’s tutelage, Coopers Creek Vineyards have become synonymous with Alternate Varieties. Simon has been responsible for New Zealand’s first Arneis, Grüner Veltliner, Albariño and Marsanne.
When not making or judging wine, Simon can be found spending time with his partner Katrina (also a winemaker) and cat Meila (a Sphynx = bald as a badger), walking his Italian Greyhound (Guido) or riding his bicycle on his indoor trainer. Simon used to ride his bicycle outside but has crashed so many times and broken so many bones that it has been deemed that indoor cycling is now his only option.
Nikolai St George
Nikolai St George leads Giesen’s winemaking team ensuring they offer a suite of wines for wine lovers across the world to enjoy. Nikolai joined Giesen in early 2016 bringing with him three consecutive ‘Winemaker of the Year’ titles: New Zealand Royal Easter Wine Show 2015 and 2013 and the 2014 New Zealand International Wine Show.
Originally from the King Country, Nikolai’s winemaking career has taken him around New Zealand and the world – including stints in Chile, France, Australia and the United States.
Nikolai was drawn to Giesen because of its potential, saying while the winery has achieved so much over the past 30 years it still feels like its on the cusp of something great. With the founding Giesen brothers involved in the business every day decisions are made quickly ensuring Giesen is a dynamic environment. What’s more Nikolai says Giesen have amazing viticultural resources like Marlborough’s first hillside vineyard the prized organic Clayvin.
Nikolai is driven to create great tasting wines that people love to drink. He says experience over multiple vintages has taught him that wine shouldn’t be seen as pretentious. “The best wines I have had are not usually ones from the great Chateaus or Domaines. My most unforgettable wines complement an occasion – that could be travelling or dinner with family – at its essence wine is about sharing…”
It’s this understanding which drives his winemaking philosophy. Nikolai crafts wines that have a sense of place, and tell the story of the growing season. His practical, rural Kiwi upbringing means he embraces the season and adapts his winemaking to work harmoniously with what nature provides.
Nikolai and his family moved to Marlborough in 2016 and love getting out and exploring the region. Unfortunately for Nik the family have seen through his generous offers of day trips and recognise most are thinly disguised reconnaissance to find great dive spots. In addition to his family – and winemaking – Nikolai’s passion is the ocean, especially free diving for seafood or spearfishing.
Phil Brodie is the Senior Winemaker at Te Mata Estate Winery, and has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Wine Science.
Phil joined Te Mata Estate in 1992 and has had vintage experiences at Clos des Lombrays, Burgundy and Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux.Phil has been a Senior Wine Judge for 7 years..He is married to Leanne and has two children Benjamin and Hannah, and enjoys mountain biking, tramping and sharing food and wine with family and friends.
Wendy is an internationally acclaimed winemaker whose career has spanned the US, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the accolades received by her wines, she has been recognised as one of the Top 20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry and Intowine.com’s Top 100 Most Influential US Winemakers.
Wendy joined Constellation Brands New Zealand in 2015 following seven years at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and 18 years in the Barossa Valley region of Australia. She has judged many of Australia’s national wine competitions as well as competitions in California and Washington. Accolades for her wines include a Decanter World Wine Award, Wine Spectator Top 100 appearances, and countless gold medals internationally.
At Constellation New Zealand, Wendy leads a team of winemakers and labs across three wineries in Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough. She drives quality and oversees all aspects of the winemaking process for Constellation’s Brands including Kim Crawford, Nobilo, Selaks, VNO and Monkey Bay, among others.
Originally from the South Australia, Wendy is now enjoying NZ’s many outdoor activities with her family including hiking, snow skiing and exploring the Marlborough Sounds.
Stu Marfell grew up on a 2,000-acre farm a few miles from Cli¬fford Bay in Marlborough. “There were always things to be done on the farm from hand carting hay to drenching and shearing sheep.” When not drenching and shearing sheep, Stu and his brother could be found swimming and fishing in the Awatere River.
“The vineyard was planted in the Awatere Valley in 1985. Prior to that wine was only for special occasions, but good food was always on the menu. We were very lucky to spend holidays down at the Marlborough Sounds where we would enjoy scallops, mussels, blue cod, butterfish, moki and other seafood treats all gathered by my father and cooked expertly by my mother.”
In 2003, after earning his degree in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, Stu landed the assistant winemaker’s position at Vavasour Winery. He became winemaker in 2007 and Chief Winemaker in 2012.
“The Awatere Valley is a stunning place. We have Tapaue-o-Uenuku—the highest mountain out of the Southern Alps at 2,885 meters—watching over the valley. We have a dry, windy, temperate climate with beautiful autumns. Our cool nights help retain acid and flavour which is so important for Sauvignon Blanc. The soils are more ancient than those of the Wairau Valley and lower in fertility. They impart a signature mineral character to all of our wines.”
When he isn’t busy at the winery, Stu spends most of his time with his wife Emily and daughter Nina, and son Guy. They are outdoor fanatics and travel junkies. Stu also plays a mean ukulele.
Initially interested in a career in the culinary area, whilst in London Liz found herself drawn to wine, which quickly became her passion and her career.
Late in 1994, Liz started working for Glengarry Wines, her first role was as Retail Sales Assistant in their Takapuna store. Many changes of sites followed as she moved from Sales Assistant to Assistant Manager then Retail Manager, moving to Glengarry’s original site on Jervois Road. Liz managed Glengarry Jervois Road for a number of years very successfully and thoroughly enjoyed it. In 2000 Liz moved from the shop floor to manage the Product selection for Glengarry and are now is General Manager for Glengarry Wines Limited.
Whilst wine is a passion, and now the direction of her career, she is a passionate foodie. Weekends are often spent first planning the event and then entertaining friends and family with magnificent food and wine experiences.
Dining at top restaurants another pastime, the top three to date – The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, Tetsuya in Sydney, Australia and El Bulli in Roses, Spain. Liz is passionate about great food, wine and the experiences around them as she is about Retail, strongly believing in Retail as a valuable and rewarding career.
Huw has been with Escarpment Vineyard in Martinborough as winemaker since spring of 2008. Huw grew up in the Snowy Mountains area of NSW and studied winemaking in Australia at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
Huw first came to New Zealand for a vintage in Hawkes Bay for Trinity Hill in 2007 and enjoyed it so much he returned for a second vintage in 2008. Then the opportunity arose to move to Martinborough to work along side Larry McKenna, concentrating on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Huw has worked in the Hunter Valley, Margaret River, Coonawarra, California, Languedoc/Roussillon, Burgundy and Hawkes Bay.
Having studied food science, Kyle began his working life in the dairy industry, involved in microbiology and sensory evaluation. Kyle has always been passionate about wine, but his interest in the wine industry began in earnest while living in London and working in France. After two vintages in Bordeaux, a vintage in Tuscany, and further winemaking study, Kyle returned to his homeland of New Zealand.
Having worked with a number of renowned Marlborough wineries, Kyle was excited by the opportunity to join Saint Clair at the beginning of 2006 – when the new state-of-the-art winery was being built. Kyle appreciates being part of a winemaking team that has received such consistent recognition of its winemaking success through numerous medals, awards and trophies, both internationally and domestically.
Kyle also enjoys being involved with judging at various New Zealand wine shows and serving on the tasting panel for New Zealand Wines Export Certification.
Kyle says “winemaking is my dream job. I love having the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting grapes in the world, and a multitude of varieties. I am able to combine my knowledge of old world techniques, with the freedom, innovation and cutting-edge technology that winemaking in New Zealand gives me”.
James Rowan has been senior winemaker at West Brook Winery in Auckland, a family owned winery established in 1935, for the past 13 years. Making wine from Matakana, Auckland, Waiheke Island, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Marlborough.
James has been a senior wine judge at numerous New Zealand wine competitions including Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Gisborne Regional Wine Awards, the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards and the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. James is also a senior New Zealand Cider judge.
Over the years, James has chosen to share his passion and knowledge for wine with various New Zealand magazines and trade publications.
Villa Maria Senior Auckland Winemaker David Roper began his career in wine at Villa Maria in 2002 as a Cellar hand. His flair for winemaking was apparent from the outset and in 2005 he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker.
Having developed his skill and knowledge across all of Villa Maria's wines, Davids talent was once again recognised and he was promoted to the position of Auckland Winemaker in 2007 then to Senior Auckland Winemaker in 2015.
During his career he has worked vintages in Oregon and Washington State.
David was brought up in the Bay of Plenty by two Science teacher parents and holds a degree in Microbiology, graduating from the Auckland University of Technology in 1995.
Drawn toward the wine industry in 1999 he studied at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawkes Bay completing a Certificate in Winemaking.
He believes winemaking ‘requires a strong appreciation of art plus an understanding of science, you’ve got to have both.’
David and his wife Angela have two girls, Stella and Holly. He enjoys live music, great food, is a keen gardener, fisherman and avid sports follower.
As a disenchanted university student in the 1980’s (studying maths and physics), Richard got a part-time job working with something he found much more interesting: wine. Before long he was working full-time in hotels and restaurants around Auckland. It was while working as Bar Manager of Cin Cin on Quay that he met the other love of his life, Kaye. Together they established Pandoro Panetteria, a business they owned and operated until 2002.
Selling the bakery meant Richard and Kaye could retire early and focus on raising their two daughters. In 2006 the family moved to Hawkes Bay, where Richard eventually turned his attention back to wine. In 2013 he graduated from EIT Hawkes Bay with a Diploma in Grapegrowing and Winemaking, and did his first of five vintages at Te Mata Estate.
Still thirsty for knowledge, Richard gained WSET Certificates at Levels 2 & 3 in 2014. To refine his tasting skills further, he went to Adelaide in 2015 where he completed the Advanced Wine Assessment Course and Introduction to Wine Show Judging, both run by the Australian Wine Research Institute.
Richard is a firm believer in the positive influence of the wine show system, and has been involved in numerous shows since 2012, both as a Steward and Associate Judge. Apart from wine, he enjoys cooking, photography, good fiction, malt whisky, and playing drums in his rock band.
Since moving to New Zealand from the Clare Valley in South Australia in 2015, I have been lucky enough to be making the wines at Clearview Estate. Hawke’s Bay has been an amazing place to raise our growing family and the climate is superbly suited to the many varieties it plays host too. The unique Terroir that our patch of dirt in Te Awanga has been great to begin to get to know and has been made easier with a couple of stellar vintages in the Bay.
Before I embarked on a career in wine, I was originally studying marine biology, and I am also a qualified Chef. Once I decided to pursue my love of wine, I studied at Latrobe in Melbourne and had a little vineyard in the Yarra Valley producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
I have worked in many countries during my winemaking career, including Australia, China, France (burgundy), Austria, Germany and now here in New Zealand. I have developed a real passion for the wines of the world, and have judging experience at The Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Clare, and Royal Adelaide shows.
Even though she grew up in the middle of Marlborough’s wine country, it took a while for Lauren to decide she wanted to pursue a career in the industry. Her parents had an apple orchard in the Awatere Valley, but in 2003 they decided to pull it out and plant sauvignon blanc grapes instead, and she spent her summers working in the vineyards.
Lauren worked at various wineries in Marlborough, including Clos Henri and Oyster Bay, before heading to the Hawke’s Bay to study a Bachelor of Wine Science and Diploma of Wine Marketing at the Eastern Institute of Technology.
Lauren joined Ash Ridge Winery after graduating in late 2012 and had only been there a few months when she was asked to help build a new winery – and to become the head winemaker. From that point onwards she’s been responsible for nearly every step in the process.
After the 2013 harvest was in, Lauren headed to California to soak up as much experience as she could. This experience paid off, as Lauren was named New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2015 following a three-day contest that pitted her against the winners of regional contests in central Otago and Marlborough.
Following the Young Winemaker win, she headed to France for a six-week working holiday in the Rhone region. Long-term, she’s keen to stay in the industry and find new ways to use her skills, with ambitions to be a consultant, or have a few of her own brands.
With Australian DNA and a New Zealand accent, Murray began working in the vineyards of Central Otago during the winter of 2003 while pursuing his other interest, snow sports.
It was there, despite frigid temperatures that his interest in wine as a career was solidified. From there, it was off to the Australia’s Yarra Valley where he worked in the winery at Yering Station for 5 years whilst studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University.
It was during this time at Yering Station that he was able to work abroad in Champagne and Burgundy. In 2008 he moved to Marlborough, to work as a winemaker at Villa Maria Estate before starting with Dog Point Vineyard in late 2013.
Jannine Rickards has been involved in the wine industry for fifteen years and worked in several wine regions of New Zealand along with many overseas vintages. She completed her Graduate Diploma of Oenology while working for the distinguished Ata Rangi in Martinborough, where she spent seven seasons learning some of the intricacies of Pinot Noir.
Jannine has returned to the Wairarapa for the 2017 vintage after 5 years away, most of which was spent working in North Canterbury at Pegasus Bay as Red Winemaker. She also spent a season in Burgundy with Thibault Liger-Belair and most recently South Australia, gaining experience making sparkling wines in the Adelaide Hills at Deviation Road. Jannine is the winemaker for Julicher Estate on Te Muna Road in Martinborough and now calls the Wairarapa her home.
Jannine grew up on a large sheep and beef farm overlooking the Coromandel Peninsula. A hard working kiwi girl who enjoys the outdoors and when not winemaking can be found hiking and hunting in the hills or in the kitchen curing meat and cooking up a storm.
Born and raised across the ditch in Adelaide, to a family who is not involved in the wine industry, but definitely supports its economy, Vanessa has always had an interest in wine. Winemaking was a career that she believed would encompass her creativity, love of science, travel, the outdoors and of course satisfy her thirst for wine.
She completed an Honours Degree in Oenology at The University of Adelaide, graduating dux in 2009 and has not looked back. Vanessa worked around Australia in the Hunter Valley and Clare Valley, before completing vintages overseas in the Napa Valley, Soave and Pfalz.
Wanting to work in Central Otago for a vintage and learn more about Pinot Noir, a friend put her in contact with Maude Wines, where she worked for vintage in 2013.
Vanessa fell in love with New Zealand, particularly Wanaka, and the wine industry here. Fortunately for her she was asked to stay and join the Maude family, so she moved to Wanaka and has been winemaker at Maude Wines since 2014.
Sam has been working at Whitehaven Wines for 17 years. Sam heads the winemaking team at Whitehaven, crafting distinct wines that are expressive of the Marlborough region. He also has his own label, called Sea Level, making single-vineyard wines from the hillside family block in Mariri, Nelson.
Sam is originally from Christchurch, where he first sparked his interest in wine. After completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Oenology from the University of Adelaide, Sam worked vintages in North-east Italy and California before settling in Marlborough.
This is Sam’s first year of judging at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. He is a regular judge at the New Zealand International Wine Show, as well as having judged at The Marlborough Wine Show, Spiegelau International Wine Competition and the International Aromatic Wine Competition.
Sam lives in Marlborough with his wife, Annabel, and two children, Lucille and Freddy. He has been known to play golf, ski, garden, and cruise the Marlborough Sounds.
Monique never dreamt she would be involved in the wine industry, the wine industry found her. Monique graduated with a BCOM/LLB(hons) from the University of Auckland and worked at one of Auckland’s largest law firms specialising in Anti-Trust Law. After her O.E. traveling throughout Europe and USA, Monique’s passion for wine on her return led to a significant career change.
With her enthusiasm to further her knowledge about the wine industry and the finer points of wine, Monique completed the WSET Level 4 Diploma and a Post Graduate Degree in Marketing from the University of Auckland while working for some of New Zealand’s largest wine companies in both Auckland and most recently Chicago, USA managing On Premise National Head Office Accounts and Distributor partner relationships in the Mid West region.
While working in the commercial wine sector, Monique continues to pursue her passion for wine, food and travel writing for several publications including Senior Wine Writer for Preferred Luxury Lifestyle Magazine in North America and freelance work in Sunday Star Times and other media.
In 2012, Monique was fortunate to be accepted into the Associate Judging Program at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London whilst completing the WSET Level 4 Diploma. In 2014, Monique was approved as a panel Judge member.
Paul’s family for generations has been closely associated with the wine industry, however his initial studies at Canterbury University were in Management and Psychology. It was a Waipara producer who approached him about selling their brand that led to him developing a small portfolio of brands which he distributed between 2008 through 2012. These included Two Rivers of Marlborough, Black Cottage, Cypress, Glasnevin, and Zephyr among others.
Paul has worked vintages in 2009 with Kate Radburnd and Russell Wiggins at CJ Pask and 2010 with John Belsham at Foxes Island. This was followed by 2011 and 2012 with Dan and Sarah Kate Dineen at Maude wines.
In 2011 Paul gained experience with a small UK distributor of New Zealand wine which he describes as weeks of touring the UK attending food shows in a heavily loaded van. Prior to this Paul worked in the wine retail store Franks in Christchurch, offering an excellent opportunity to sample a wide range of the countries wines.
Paul feels strongly that the industry has afforded him some excellent opportunities and it has also allowed him to meet some fantastic people. These relationships have fuelled the passion, and helped him hugely in his career.
More recently Paul has been responsible for South Island wine sales for Ara Wines between 2012 and May of this year. Since June of 2016 Paul has worked for Villa Maria Estate and is the South Island regional field sales manager for the company.
Shona was raised in Mosgiel, Otago and spent 14 years in hospitality education as a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology. The past nine years has put this into practice with running her own motel with her husband in Taupo. Shona has been involved in the back area of wine shows since the late 1980s as a steward, assistant chief steward and chief steward of many of New Zealand’s largest wine shows including the Air New Zealand Wine Awards (15 years), Royal Easter Show Wine Awards (18 years), Liquorland Wine Awards (seven years) and New World Wine Awards (five years). She has been the Competition Co-ordinator for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards for six years. Shona has a Diploma in Wine Marketing from Adelaide University as well as a Graduate Diploma in Business (Human Resources) from Auckland University.
The Stewards work behind the scenes to pour the wine flights and then deliver the glasses of wine to the judges.
The Stewards for the 2017 Air New Zealand Wine Awards are:
Assistant Chief Steward
Past International Judges - 2016
Michael Franz, Ph.D. is a wine writer, educator, and consultant. He is editor of Wine Review Online as well as Sommelier magazine, and is a freelance contributor to many national and international wine magazines.
He wrote nearly 300 articles as regular wine columnist for The Washington Post from 1994 to 2005. Franz left the Post in 2005 to help found Wine Review Online as editor and managing partner. Wine Review Online has become one of the world’s most widely viewed wine publications, now logging roughly 100,000 unique visitors per month.
Franz is also a wine consultant for 15 restaurants in the National Capital area with combined annual wine sales of more than $11 million, and also works as a wine instructor for L’Academie de Cuisine. He has conducted more than 1,300 site visits and tastings at wineries across Western and Eastern Europe, South America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
He tastes approximately 9,000 wines each year, judges wine competitions regularly around the world, and has acted as Chief Judge for international competitions in Washington, D.C., San Diego, New Zealand and China. He has appeared on numerous television shows, has served as an expert witness in several cases regarding the wine trade in Federal District Court, and is interviewed frequently on public radio.
Ralph Kyte-Powell has over forty years’ experience in wine and hospitality. His interest in wine was first piqued by his father, a wine buff long before such things became fashionable.
Ralph’s first job was with Seppelt wines in Victoria when he was a university student, and since then he has worked in sales and marketing for leading Australian wine merchants, managed a wine shop, been sommelier and assistant manager at two of Victoria’s best restaurants, worked in vineyards in Australia and France, extensively travelled the world of wine, and lectured on wine at an educational institution. He’s also owned and run a successful small hotel. Along the way Ralph started writing about wine, and his first columns of 24 years ago led to regular contributions in The Age, Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald that continue today.
Ralph has also written regularly for 13 years in New Zealand’s leading food and wine magazine, Cuisine, along with freelance work in many other publications. For eight years Ralph co-authored the award-winning Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide and he regularly judges in Australian and New Zealand wine shows.
Past International Judges - 2015
Ronny Lau is an independent wine critic in the Greater China since 1980s. His regular wine & spirits columns are published in the newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong, mainland China and Malaysia. He is the author of six wine books, and the editor and author of two wine books for Greater China Wine Critics Association.
He also released "Music & Wine – The Perfect Matching", and "Red: A Music & Wine Party", the innovative music and wine pairing CDs. He has been the co-chairman of "Shanghai International Wine Challenge" since 2011, and took up the role as winemaker and released the first ever Super Tuscan made by Chinese.
Mark joined Grossi Restaurants in May 2010 and heads up the beverage operations for all the venues. Shortly after starting with Grossi Restaurants he won the Negociants working with wine fellowship. In 2012 he was the runner up in the Sommeliers Australia Best Sommelier of Australia competition. This qualified him to compete at the Asia & Oceania titles finishing in the top 10, before going on to compete in the world titles a year later recording a top 20 finish. In the 2014 he was awarded Sommelier of the year by Age Good Food Guide and was one of three national finalists in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Best Restaurants guide in the same year.
He is currently on the National executive for Sommeliers Australia, studying for his Master Sommelier qualification and acts as a mentor for a number of Australia’s up and coming Sommeliers.
Past International Judges - 2014
David is a freelance wine journalist contributing to Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, Wine Companion and Wine & Spirits (U.S.) magazines. He hails from Nth Canterbury but today lives in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, where he is the principal consultant at Wine Marketing Labs, providing brand management, digital strategy and inbound marketing services for wineries and regions across Australia. With 22 years in the wine industry his experience spans retail, wholesale, winery, secondary market and brand management and he is a sought-after judge on the Australian & international wine show circuit judging at around 10 major and regional wine shows a year. David was awarded the Dux of the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2011, and his work in social media marketing in the wine industry has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Techcrunch & Mashable and he was one of five businesses featured in Twitter’s initial “ Twitter Business 101” benchmark study.
Sebastian Braun born in Stockholm in 1976 has since 1998 had a variety of positions at Systembolaget (Swedish Retail Monopoly), including: salesman, product info/descriptions and customer relations. Since 2005 he has been working as a Wine Buyer and has managed origins such as Chile, Portugal, Switzerland, UK, Luxembourg, Hungary, Bulgaria and South Africa. Since 2009 Sebastian is currently responsible for Italy, Austria and New Zealand. Sebastian has been a Judge at The Veritas Awards in South Africa, Concours Mondial Bruxelles and Decanter World Wine Awards. On his leisure time Sebastian enjoy cooking, riding his racing bicycle, dj:ing and playing in his rock band.
Past International Judges - 2013
Dan Berger began writing about wine in 1976 and has been nationally syndicated since 1979. He earned a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for The Associated Press for 10 years. After other newspaper positions, he was The Los Angeles Times staff wine columnist for eight years. Today he produces a weekly wine newsletter, Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, and contributes to numerous other publications. He is a wine judge both in the United States and internationally, has been a keynote speaker at numerous wine conferences, and is on the board of directors of the International Riesling Foundation. He also teaches wine courses at Santa Rosa Junior College and runs the Riverside International Wine Competition.
Madeleine Stenwreth MW
Madeleine Stenwreth MW is based in Sweden and consults globally to high profile wine producers as well as leading importing companies across the Nordic market. Her focus is on product development, blending, quality and style strategy in relation to the requirements of specific target markets. She is also an appreciated coach and mentor for brand and product managers, a WSET Diploma lecturer, and a speaker at international seminars. In 2008 Madeleine became an MW, one of only two MW’s in Sweden, and received the Quinta do Noval Award for her dissertation “The effect of altitude on Malbec in Mendoza". Prior to setting up her consultancy, Madeleine worked as Quality & Product Development Manager for Nordic wine importer, Prime Wine Group, as Wine Buyer for Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol retailing monopoly, as Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa, Sommelier and in various managerial F&B roles for 5-star Relais & Châteaux. She has been an international judge at the Argentina Wine Awards, the South African Top 100 and Veritas Awards. She judges in London at the Decanter DWWA and is Panel Chair at the International Wine Challenge, IWC. Madeleine was the only international judge for two consecutive years at The Royal Adelaide Wine Show and will be the international judge at the Riverina Wine Show and International Sweet Wine Challenge in August 2013.
Past International Judges - 2012
Julia Harding passed the notoriously stiff Master of Wine exams at the first attempt, the top student of her year. After reading French and German at Cambridge she worked for many years as a book editor before applying her keen brain and fine palate to wine. After a few years with Waitrose, in the UK’s most respected supermarket wine department, she became Jancis Robinson’s fulltime researcher, co-ordinator and associate palate in 2005. She played a major part in the markedly high quality and consistency of the texts and maps in the most recent editions of The Oxford Companion to Wine and The World Atlas of Wine, maintains the editorial standards of www.JancisRobinson.com and has just finished researching and writing, with Jancis and with Dr José Vouillamoz, Wine Grapes: a complete guide to 1,380 varieties including their origins and flavours (Penguin/Allen Lane, Oct 2012). She has judged in various wine competitions in the UK and internationally, including the Limestone Coast Show and South Africa's Old Mutual Trophy.
Active in the wine industry for over 15 years, Navneet Singh provides professional wine industry consulting across Asia and Australia. Hailing from India, Nav gained oenology and viticulture qualifications from The University of Adelaide, a Bachelor of Management from the University of South Australia, and is currently undertaking the international Masters of Wine program. He sits on the board of Wine Communicators of Australia and is a graduate of Winemakers Federation of Australia’s prestigious Future Leaders program.
Nav has comprehensive knowledge of many different winemaking styles and techniques with extensive experience throughout Europe and Australasia. He has been recognised with numerous accolades for his wines including 10 trophies and over 100 wine show medals. Nav and his wife Louise Radman have launched an exciting new winery named Domaine Simha.
Nav is in the process of launching the first ever Indian food and wine matching App for smart phones. He is also taking a delegation of Austalian wineries to India to advance relationships with the importers, sommeliers, on-trade, journalists and government authorities while providing a path for sustainable future growth. Nav has judged many wine shows nationally and internationally.
Bill began his wine journey at the age of 23, when he opened his own restaurant in downtown Montreal, Quebec. At 33, he became head sommelier at one of Quebec’s top restaurants, the Relais & Chateau L’eau a la Bouche, where he honed his skills as one of the province’s authorities on pairing food and wine.
He writing career began in 2004 with the The Caveman’s Wine Blog, one of the internet’s first. Bill quickly garnered a reputation for his irreverent take on the wine world, his staunch defence of “authentic” wines, his distaste for snobbism, and his willingness to take on the industry’s most sacred cows. Caveman was cited by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five most interesting wine reads on the internet.
Now in his forties, Bill has gone from on-line to ink and for the last five years has been the weekly wine writer for the Montreal Gazette. His articles are carried across Canada via National Post.com and other newpapers, making him one of Canada’s most widely read wine writers. Bill is a member of the Wine Access National Tasting Panel, and a regular contributor to the SAQ magazine, Cellier. He is a regular judge at international wine competitions such as the Canadian Wine Awards and the Chilean National Wine Awards, where he is known as the critic who prefers to taste barefoot.
Whether in writing, on radio, while judging, or in his many speaking engagements, Bill has not strayed from his ideological roots – that wine can be talked about in “real speak,” that wine was meant to be drunk and not idealized, and that no matter how big they may be, every sacred cow should be questioned as to whether or not it should be turned into hamburger.
Past International Judges - 2011
Wine Enthusiast Tasting Director and Senior Editor Joe Czerwinski joined the magazine in 1999 as an associate editor. Since then, his travels have taken him all over the world in pursuit of the holy grape, including three prior visits to New Zealand. He is the author of several feature articles on New Zealand wines. In addition to managing the entire tasting and review program for Wine Enthusiast, Joe formally reviews wines from France’s Rhône Valley, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
Charles Metcalfe is one of the best-known, most spontaneous and amusing wine critics in Britain. He presented drinks and occasionally food items for 12 years as one of the Richard-and-Judy team on the ITV programme, ‘This Morning’, and was drinks expert for ‘Great Food Live’ (UK Food) and ‘Taste Today’ (Taste TV CFN). He has also presented many TV wine and food programmes. He is co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, the world’s best wine competition, held annually in London, and was one of the founders of Wine International magazine.
You can read Charles‘s writing in a number of UK magazines, including ‘Decanter’, ‘World of Fine Wine’, ‘Food & Travel’, ‘Harpers Wine & Spirit’, and occasionally the ‘Telegraph’. ‘The Wine & Food Lover’s Guide to Portugal’, a travel guide about Portuguese wines, food and places to visit, written jointly with his wife, Kathryn McWhirter, recently won the Louis Roederer International Wine Book of the Year 2008 award. He also acts as a consultant for restaurant wine lists and is one of two consultants who advise the City of London Corporation on buying wines for their dinners and State Banquets.
Michael Hill Smith MW
In 1988 Michael Hill Smith became the first Australian to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination. Michael is a wine producer, international wine judge, wine consultant, wine writer and lapsed restaurateur. In 2008 he was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his contribution to the Australian Wine Industry. Michael featured in Decanter Magazine’s International Power List 2009 and 2011.
Past International Judges - 2010
Stephen became a freelance writer in 1982, specialising in travel and wine, after many years as publisher's editor in both the US and Britain. His Liquid Gold: Dessert Wines of the World won the Andre Simon Award in 1987 and Sauternes and the Other Sweet Wines of Bordeaux (Faber 1995) became the standard work on the subject. His other wine books include Pauillac, The Wines of California, Wine People, Bordeaux: People, Power and Politics, and The Wines of Germany. In 2007 his monumental work The Complete Bordeaux was published. He has just completed, for the second time, a comprehensive revision and updating of the wine encyclopaedia, the Hugh Johnson Wine Companion.
He has won numerous awards, including the Wines of France award in 1995, the Bunch Award for wine writer of the year in 1996, the Glenfiddich, Lanson, and Veuve Clicquot awards for his book on The Wines of California (1999), and the Andre Simon Award in 2007. He is also in demand as a wine judge in North America and Australia, and is chairman of the North American section of the Decanter World Wine Awards. Stephen has also written many travel books and has contributed travel articles to many newspapers and magazines. Stephen writes regularly on wine for Decanter, of which he is a Contributing Editor, Fine Wine Magazine, and Falstaff (Austria). He has regular columns in Livets Goda (Sweden) and Winies (Korea). He has also written about food and restaurants for Food & Travel, The Cigar Aficionado, The Financial Times, and other publications.
In what spare time is left he enjoys travel, opera and theatre going, and looking at buildings, ancient and modern.
Eric is the Author of First Big Crush, which chronicles the year he spent working at Allan Scott Wines in Marlborough (Scribner, 2007); the film option has been purchased by a NZ production company.
Eric spent three years as an editor and writer at Wine Spectator, and two years as a Lifestyle editor at Forbes. While at Forbes, Eric launched Forbes' Booze Blog.
Eric is currently Editorial Director for Bottlenotes.com and its e-newsletter The Daily Sip.
From 1994-1996 Philip Rich was the first imported wine manager for Philip Murphy Wine and Spirits before going to the Stokehouse and Prince of Wales where for over ten years Philip was responsible for all the wine buying for the group, sommelier training and wine lists including The Stokehouse and Circa's multi award winning list. Philip Rich is the founder and a partner in Prince Wine Store, South Melbourne which is one of the largest independent fine wine stores in Australia. Philip has been writing a monthly wine column for the Australian Financial Review Magazine since 1999, is a Len Evans Tutorial graduate and has judged at numerous wine shows in Australia and New Zealand including the Royal Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Wine Shows, Victorian Wine Show, Yarra Valley Wine Show, Hawkes Bay Wine Show and Margaret River Wine Show. This is Philip's second time judging at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Marina and sons, Spencer and Felix.
President of Sommeliers Australia and Director of The Wine Guide (a global sommelier consultancy), Ben learnt his craft in some of Australia's finest restaurants and is now one of the country's leading wine consultants and commentators. A former dux of the Len Evans tutorial, a highly respected show judge and now right hand man to the doyen of Australian wine, James Hall
Past International Judges - 2009
John Avery MW
John Avery is the fourth generation in his family wine business in Bristol. He passed the Master of Wine Exam in 1975, which is considered to be the pinnacle of academic achievement in the wine industry. He was Chairman of The Institute of Masters of Wine from 2000 to 2001.
John has made a considerable reputation for himself as a pioneer in the discovery and importation of non-European wines (he coined the term New World Wines) into the United Kingdom. This started with quality table wines from California in 1965 followed by unfortified wines from Australia in the early 1970s when he also imported a couple of New Zealand wines. In 1979 he expanded this to include a selection of the best New Zealand wines from 7 leading producers. He was, in short, the first person to import New Zealand wines into Europe!
In 1978 he was invited to be the first European to be the Chief Judge at the Air New Zealand / Tourist Hotel Corporation wine competition in New Zealand and was invited back as Chief Judge in 1981.Since then he has been an International Wine Judge at wine competitions all over the world particularly Australia and the Far East and has judged at more overseas shows than any other European.
In 1982 with Terry Dunleavy and Don Walker (then Minister for Trade in London) he helped to organise and select the wines for the first of the now annual wine tastings of New Zealand wines in London.
He has been in the U.K. wine trade for over 40 years and is still Chairman of the company formerly owned by his family He still travels to France and the rest of the world to select the wines his company sells and is also still much involved with selling them to his customers. One of principal responsibilities is the tasting and selection of 'En Primeur' wines (i.e. very young wines 6 to 12 months old) which is very important considering that many of the wines in the competition are very young. He travels throughout the U.K. and elsewhere giving tastings and talking about the wines being shown. He writes considerably about wine mostly in his company’s literature.
John was Master of his own Livery Company – The Vintners for twelve months 2004/05 and during his year of office took the Court of The Company to the vineyards of New Zealand.
CH'NG Poh Tiong
CH’NG Poh Tiong is a lawyer by training.
He is publisher of The Wine Review, the oldest and most established wine publication in South-East Asia, Hong Kong and China. Ch’ng also publishes, since 2000, the world’s first “Guide to Bordeaux in Chinese” and the annual “Asian Sommelier Guide”. His articles have also appeared in other magazines, including l’Amateur de Bordeaux of France, United Kingdom’s Harper’s, World of Fine World, and Decanter, for which he also writes a column. Ch’ng is also the wine columnist of Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s largest-circulation Chinese daily. His articles have also appeared in China’s Food & Wine and in Wine in China magazines. And in Sommelier India magazine.
Ch’ng Poh Tiong is the Regional Chairman: Middle East, Far East & Asia, for Decanter magazine’s World Wine Awards. Founder of Sommelier Seminars and Sommeliers of Asia, he also organized the first-ever sommelier seminar in China in 2004.
In 2002, Ch’ng was a key-note speaker at the Master of Wine Symposium in Vienna. He was also a speaker at the Twelfth Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference 2004 and has also addressed Wine Australia and the World Inflight Food Service Association’s Congress in Osaka. In 2005, he spoke at, and chaired the Forum on Asia in Wine Evolution in Paris.
Ch’ng was a keynote speaker at the Cool Climate Symposium 2006, Christchurch, New Zealand, and at the inaugural China International Wine Summit and China International Wine Technology, Trade & Investment Annual Conference 2006 in Beijing. In 2007, he spoke at the Pinot Noir Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, and at the Enoforum Congress in Piacenza, Italy. More recently, in January 2008, he spoke at the Pinot Noir Celebrations, Otago, New Zealand, and in June 2008 at the Frankland Estate International Riesling Conference.
Ch’ng Poh Tiong also works as a consultant. His clients include FairPrice & Liberty Supermarkets and Conrad Centennial Singapore. He is also founder of the Lianhe Zaobao Wine Review Annual Wine Challenge, Singapore’s first, independent wine competition (since 1999). Ch’ng is also consultant to The American Express Tower Club Wine Awards of Singapore. He lectures extensively on wine including in India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore. Ch’ng also speaks on the subject to private clients, including international law firms and multi-national banks.
Ch’ng Poh Tiong also founded ICCCW and held the first International Congress of Chinese Cuisine & Wine, 23 to 25 May 2008, in Beijing, The next ICCCW will be held in Singapore in October 2009. China. He is fluent in English, Chinese, Cantonese and Fukienese.
Huon Hooke is a leading independent wine writer, based in Sydney, who makes his living entirely out of writing, judging and educating about wine. A journalist first and wine professional second, he has tertiary qualifications in both fields and has been writing on wine for 26 years. He pens a weekly column for both the Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Living’ section and Good Weekend magazine, as well as contributing to Gourmet Traveller Wine, The World of Fine Wine, Decanter, Tom Stevenson’s annual Wine Report and other publications on an occasional basis. He has published 17 books on wine including the biography of Penfolds Grange creator Max Schubert. He co-authored the annual Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide for 14 years until retiring from it in 2007. In 2008 he was named Australia’s Wine Communicator of the Year. He’s been a show judge for 22 years and judges about ten competitions a year in Australia and overseas.
Geoff Merrill was born in 1953 and was raised on a sheep station in the far north of South Australia until he was 11 years old. The Merrill family then moved to the Barossa Valley where Geoff’s first links with the wine industry were formed.
His formal education was gained at local Barossa Valley Schools and the Institute of Technology in Adelaide.
From 1970 to 1973 Geoff undertook a winemaking traineeship at B Seppelt & Son. A position as Experimental Winemaker with Stellenbosch Farmers Winery lured him to South Africa for a year in 1974, after which he travelled through Europe.
By the end of 1975 Geoff was back in Australia and had joined Chateau Reynella as Assistant Winemaker. In 1977 he was promoted to Senior Winemaker, a position he held until 1985. Whilst working a Chateau Reynella Geoff also managed to find the time to make wines under his own “Geoff Merrill” label. These wines were first released in 1983 with the 1980 Cabernet and 1981 Semillon.
When Thomas Hardy & Sons purchased Chateau Reynella in 1982 Geoff stayed on, continuing to make the Chateau Reynella wines. By 1985 he had become a Consultant Winemaker for Hardy and Chateau Reynella’s red wines. At the same time he was on the lookout for a winery where he could base his own operations. He found the beautiful, but run-down, Mount Hurtle Winery in 1985, which he restored and by 1988 Geoff had left Hardy’s to run his own operation.
Since 1988 Geoff has concentrated on the winery and his wines. He has continued to gain
national and international recognition for his distinctive style of winemaking and his zest for life.
September 1993 marked a new stage in Geoff’s winemaking career as he took up a position as a Consultant Winemaker in Italy to UK supermarket Sainsbury and Gruppo Italiano Vini in Italy.
Past International Judges - 2008
James Lawther MW
James Lawther MW is an independent wine writer based in Bordeaux. During his 25 years experience in the wine industry, he has retailed wine in Paris (Steven Spurrier’s Caves de la Madeleine), had hands on winemaking experience in Bordeaux, the Languedoc and Western Australia (Cape Mentelle) and lectured on food and wine. He passed the Master of Wine examination in 1993. He is a contributing editor to Decanter Magazine and writes for other international publications (The World of Fine Wine, Wine Business International, Bordeaux Aujourd’hui). He has contributed to a number of wine books including Dorling Kindersley’s Wines of the World, The Global Encyclopedia of Wine, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book and Oz Clarke’s Bordeaux.
Editor and Publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine since 1986. After graduating from Princeton University in 1981, Mr. Greene pursued a career in magazines, starting in management of special interest publications. His involvement with Wine & Spirits began on a consulting basis, and eventually led to his purchase of the magazine in 1989.
Mr. Greene has travelled extensively through the wine regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Australia and Chile, as well as all the major regions of the United States. In addition to his duties as editor and publisher, Mr. Greene serves as the critic for California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Northern Italy, Portugal, Australia and South Africa, and contributes feature stories and commentary in each issue of the magazine.
Kym Milne MW
Kym has worked in the wine industry for over 30 years and has extensive international wine show judging experience. A winemaking graduate of Roseworthy College in Australia, he worked initially as a winemaker in Australia, before moving to New Zealand for a nine year stint as Chief Winemaker for Villa Maria winery from 1983 to 1992.
In 1991 he qualified as a Master of Wine (MW), becoming only the second Australian to pass the exam, before moving to Europe, and then to the UK where he became Director of Winemaking Operations for UK importer International Wine Services, and for the next ten years ran winemaking projects throughout Europe, South Africa and South America producing wine for the UK market.
In 2003 he moved back to Australia, and now has his own consultancy company Global Wine Solutions, working with wineries in Australia and around the world. He is currently Chairman of Judges at the Sydney International Wine Competition and resides in the Adelaide Hills.
Nick Stock is one of Australia’s most respected and prolific wine critics. Having twice been awarded Australian Sommelier of the Year, his deep involvement in wine stretches well beyond wine writing to show judging, educating, broadcasting and winemaking. His wealth of knowledge extends to all corners of the wine world and this, combined with his frank and fearless style, has made him one of the most popular and widely read Australian wine writers.
Nick was awarded Best Drinks Journalist at the 2007 Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards and is the author of the Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide.
Past International Judges - 2007
Peter McCombie MW
Peter McCombie is a New Zealand-born, English resident Master of Wine.
The roster of clients for his restaurant wine consultancy has ranged from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen to the Cinnamon Club, from the funky boutique Zetter to the five star Dorchester Hotel. He currently chooses wine for Moro, Zetter, Bar Shu, Canteen and the Cliff (Barbados).
James Rodewald is the editor of Gourmet 's "Drinks" section. He also follows fisheries and other environmental issues for the magazine.
Showing just how random a career path can be, James has a Masters degree from the American Graduate School of International Management in Phoenix, Arizona.
Prior to his first journalism job, James worked behind the bar at various restaurants in Santa Fe, New Mexico, New York's Hudson Valley and New York City.
After ten years as a reporter at Sports Illustrated and two years as the online editor at Outside magazine, he was lucky enough to jump to Gourmet, where he has been for the past nine years.
James has served as a judge at the Hawke's Bay Wine Awards, the National Wine Show of Australia and several shows in the U.S.
Tom Carson has been the chief winemaker at Yering Station since 1996.
During this time Yering Station has received international critical acclaim for its wines, culminating in being awarded International Winemaker of the Year at the 2004 IWSC in London.
Tom judges at many of the Australian capital wine shows, including Panel Chair at Sydney and the National Wine Show.
He has worked in Burgundy and Champagne many times. In 2002 he was awarded Dux at the Len Evans tutorial.
During his spare time he looks after his own close planted vineyard!
Mike de Garis
Mike graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1980. He has had extensive winemaking and management experience in most regions of Australia and New Zealand.
His term in New Zealand (a two-year contract which lasted for nearly eight years) has almost made him part Kiwi!
He left New Zealand in early 2005 to go back to the Hunter Valley to resurrect The Rothbury Estate, which was subsequently sold by the Foster’s Group. He now runs his own wine consultancy.
Mike has previously been a Panel Leader at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards from 2000 to 2004. He has been Chairman of Judges at the 2007 Liquorland Top 100 Wine Show and judged at the 2007 International Chardonnay Challenge, as well as being a Panel Leader at the 2007 Easter Show Wine Awards.
Past International Judges - 2006
Sam Harrop MW
Sam is a New Zealander with extensive winemaking and marketing experience. He has held winemaking positions in New Zealand, Australia, California and Oregon and also worked for Marks and Spencer for seven years as a wine buyer.
Sam left Marks and Spencer in 2004 to start his own consulting company. He now works with wineries in Portugal, the Loire Valley, Southern France and Brazil to improve wine quality destined for the export market. He also advises a number of wineries and distributors on developing and marketing brands for the export market. He is a partner in a small biodynamic winery in the Roussillon – Domaine Matassa.
Sam passed the tasting and theory sections of the Master of Wines examination at first attempt in June 2002. In passing he also received a distinction for his dissertation. He was also awarded the Tim Derouet award for outstanding performance. This award was established in 1976 and since this time only 22 students have been awarded this honour.
In 2006 Sam is one of only four co-chairman at the International Wine Challenge (the largest wine competition in the world with over 9,000 wines to be appraised). His role is to manage a large group of judges, while assessing their scoring to ensure that there is the necessary consistency and controls in the judging process.
Grant Ramage is the National Business Manager of Wine for the Coles Myer Liquor Group in Australia.
Grant is responsible for managing the buying team for stores such as Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice and Liquorland.
Grant has 13 years experience in the wine industry, working for 10 years at Oddbins (United Kingdom) as a senior buyer for wine markets in Australia,
New Zealand, Spain, France and Greece.