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Los Angeles International Wine Competition 2015 Judges
Michael A. Jordan, MS, CWE, "Sommelier for the
People" Veteran restaurateur, chef and farmer, Michael is one of only
fifteen in the world to hold both the Master Sommelier and the Certified Wine Educator Diplomas. He is
currently Director of Global Key Accounts with Jackson Family Fine Wines. Michael is also the host of the syndicated
weekly “What’s Cooking With Wine” Radio Talk Show featuring Wine, Food and Travel. It is broadcast LIVE in several
major AM Radio markets across the US. The Show also airs Live on CRN Digital Talk Radio (internet). Before joining the
Jackson Family team Michael was VP of Food & Beverage at THE RANCH, Anaheim. Prior to that, he worked nine years
as Global Manager of Wine Sales and Standards and Wine Educator for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts®
Worldwide. Michael opened Napa Rose, Pinot Provence, Pavilion and Bella Teresa ‐ Four top restaurants in Southern
California. Early on Michael worked his way up to executive chef at his family's Matteo's Italian Restaurant ‐ his
father Matty's Hollywood celeb hang‐out that opened in 1963. The California Restaurant Writers Association (CRWA), a
journalist organization, named Michael “2001 and 2002 Sommelier of the Year,” The STARWINE International Wine
Competition Board named Michael “Wine Educator of the Year 2003” and in 2005 Orange Coast Magazine named
Michael “General Manager of the Year 2006” and also voted him “Restaurant Professional of the Year 2005.” The
Whitefish Food & Wine Summit honored Michael as “International Sommelier of the Year 2008.” Additionally, in 2008
the Southern California Restaurant Writers (SCRW) voted him “2008 General Manager of the Year” and then in
"2011 F&B Director of the Year."
Margie Ferree Jones is a Professor at The Collins College of
Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. She is a
certified sommelier and a certified wine educator (CWE). She has been a wine judge at several international wine
competitions. Margie is a board member of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) and is involved in a number of other
wine related organizations.
Robert Bath, MS is a third generation Northern Californian. Bob became
one of the first twenty five Americans to pass
the Master Sommelier exam in 1993. Over the last thirty years he has worked in virtually every aspect of the hospitality
and wine industries, including managing several “Wine Spectator Grand Award” Restaurants, directing National Sales for
Shafer Vineyards, as well as, starting two companies; Robert Bath Imports and Robert Bath MS Consulting and Wine
Education. His consulting clients include The French Laundry, Taj Hotels, Crystal Cruise Lines and over twenty five high
profile, artisan California wineries. A consummate wine educator, Bob currently teaches a variety of wine programs at
the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley, including the ground breaking Accelerated Wine and
Beverage Program, the first year long, accredited wine and beverage program of its kind in the US. Bob’s articles on
wine have appeared in Santéand Sommelier Journal and he is a frequent judge at wine competitions and speaker at wine
festivals around the world.
Sarah Bennett is the research enologist and co‐owner of Navarro Vineyards
and Pennyroyal Farm. She grew up on the
family farm in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. Sarah has a B.S. in Business Administration from Saint Mary’s
College of Moraga, and in 2006, Sarah received a M.S. in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California, Davis.
Sarah’s masters thesis was on the phenolic profile of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. After gaining winery experience in
New Zealand, Sarah returned to the Anderson Valley and is working full time with her parents Ted Bennett and Deborah
Cahn, as well as her brother Aaron Cahn Bennett. Sarah has been leading the family's efforts to make Navarro
Vineyards more sustainable as well as creating a new low‐input, no waste farm operation in Boonville, CA called
Pennyroyal Farm. Pennyroyal Farm is a farmstead goat and sheep dairy, that also includes 23 acres of estate vineyards
designed for grazing.
Ian Blackburn is a distinguished alumina of Cal Poly Pomona, Collins
School of Hospitality Management (91') and hosts a
series of wine credentials including: 2nd Year Master of Wine Student (sitting June 2015)/ Sommelier/JWE and CSW. As
Founder/CEO of Wine Cloud Inc, a collection of wine domains; LearnAboutWine.com (Digital Wine Education) and
WineLA.com (LA based classes & tastings), Ian drinks wine for a living and plans approx 100 public and private events a
year in the Southern California Marketplace representing the efforts of Santa Barbara, Napa, Bordeaux, Argentina and all
fine wine regions in‐between. Ian also is involved in wine‐making and has successfully launched Beekeeper Cellars
(BeekeeperCellars.com) ‐ an artisan Zinfandel producer featuring extreme hillside vineyards. Ian's joy is teaching;
sharing his passion for wine. The new LearnAboutWine goes live this year with its relaunch as a digital platform and
wineLA takes over hosted & entertaining the LA audience which is approximately 80,000 total reach.
Chris Braun was born and raised in California. After playing professional
volleyball for three years, he received an MS in
Wine and Spirits from ESC in Dijon. Chris then started working in Bordeaux and later moved to the Languedoc region in
southern France where he was Managing Director of Ciatti Europe in Montpellier. He received the Chevalier de l’Ordre
de Merite Agricole medal for his service to the French wine industry. Chris now runs Advinture, a wine import
consultancy, and is based in Southern California.
Greg Burns of Lodi, California is a fifth generation descendent of
Jessie’s Grove Vineyards & Winery. Greg is the
director and head winemaker for Jessie’s Grove Winery. His family has been in Lodi since the 1850’s and has
been growing grapes in the Lodi area since the 1880’s. He continues that legacy today, having returned to
manage his family vineyards in 1994. With 280 acres of grapes in full production his collection for Jessie’s
Grove Winery has been carefully hand selected. Where he is fifth generation grower, he is a first generation
winemaker and has been actively making wine for the last 21 years. As Greg puts it, “Lodi’s rich history and
recognition as an AVA producing high quality grapes gives our region’s growers and winemakers an incredible
opportunity to define our uniqueness.”
Bernard Burtschy is wine columnist in Le Figaro (a French newspaper,
every Thursday), the internet site "L'Avis du vin"
and in several magazines in the French press (Amateur de Bordeaux, GaultMillau, La Revue du Vin de France) and abroad
(Wands in Japan, Feinschmecker Germany). He is also President of the French Wine Press and permanent member of the
Grand Jury Européan (the leading European wine tasting group).
Kimberly Charles, marks her 30th anniversary as a marketing
communications professional in the wine business in 2014.
Her agency in San Francisco was started in 2003 specializing in strategic branding, corporate social responsibility with a
focus on launching, reinvigorating and repositioning of brands. She has a particular passion for aligning social causes
with businesses and advocates for sustainability in all business practices, as she likes to say, “Green is the new black”.
Rene Chazottes originally from Madagascar, after private schooling in
France and Switzerland, Rene came to the United
States in 1967. Rene has been featured in the New York Times, Wine Country Living and Santé Magazine. He conducts
wine and gastronomic tours in Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Rene was named “Best Sommelier” in
the United States in 1988 and is the only Frenchman outside of Europe to hold the title “maitre Sommelier” and
Commandeur” in the International Association of Masters Counsel in French Gastronomies.
Paul Coker is the lead sommelier at Stonehill Tavern, the Forbes
Four‐Star Michael Mina restaurant at the St. Regis
Monarch Beach Resort. Coker has an Advanced Sommelier certificate, and oversees a wine selection of more than 700
bottles with a focus on boutique producers in the California wine regions. Prior to becoming a sommelier, Coker spent
seven years as a cook and leverages his culinary background to create wine pairings on a molecular level. His fresh, fun
approach to wine is easily accessible to aficionados and novices alike. Coker is engrained in the Orange County
community having worked at several local restaurants. In his free time, Coker enjoys playing hockey, mountain biking
and reading. “Sometimes people make too big a deal of it. We want wine to be fun,” said Paul. “My goal is for people to
try something new, shift their paradigm a little, but ultimately have a great night enjoying delicious food and wine.”
Patrick Comiskey is a freelance wine writer and editor living in Los
Angeles with years of wine competition experience.
He contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times Food Section, as well as Bon Appetit Magazine, Zester Daily, and Wine
Mitch Cosentino is known for his innovative and artistic approach to
winemaking. He has founded, developed and/or
created numerous wineries and brands including his own pureCru Napa Valley Winery where he produces wines by hand
in small, individual lots, using the old Burgundian method of punched cap fermentation for all red varietals. Mitch still
consults for several other wineries, including a couple of new projects. He has an exceptional talent for identifying fruit
sources while crafting and designing the final blends. He takes great pride in each and every wine regardless of where
the grapes are from and for whom the wines are made.
Jan Cotter is the Vice President of Wine Sales Education for Jackson
Family Wines. During her tenure, she has witnessed
its growth from eight wineries to over 35 distinct wineries today. Hands‐on always, Jann has worked harvest in
California, France, Argentina and Chile. Jan is respected wine judge at the San Diego and Monterey wine competitions,
Jann works with celebrity chefs in conjunction with Food & Wine Magazine. Jann is a Certified Advanced Level
Sommelier and Society of Wine Educators Certified Wine Educator. When she’s not kicking the dirt in a vineyard, look
for a dust trail behind her mountain bike or Harley!
Fred Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience,
expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine
and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of The Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and
assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Vice‐President of Prestige Accounts,
American Wine & Spirits California. He is currently the President of The Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. He
holds Honorary Professorships at Purdue University and The University of South Carolina. He received his MS Diploma in
the UK in 1984 becoming the first American to win the prestigious Krug Cup of the British Court of Master Sommeliers.
He is also heavily involved in the culinary arts as he is an Honorary Trustee of the American Academy of Chefs and a
holder of the Antonin Careme Medal.
Sammie Daniels has extensive experience in the wine and food world. This
includes living and working for the past
twenty‐eight years at various Tuscan wineries. In Italy she conducts tastings and acts as a private wine tour guide. She
has more than 24 years’ employment with Young’s Market NW (Admiralty importers), where she is a wine consultant
and liaison to the Italian wine market. She currently divides her year between Tuscany and Northern California.
Gillian Dodd is the Director of Sales and National Accounts for
Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, a unique
collection of traditional and contemporary wine brands from some of the world's most coveted wine regions. Gillian has
over 25 years’ experience in the wine industry. Her career began with Heublein Spirits (now Diageo) followed by
Beaulieu Vineyard, which was her first venture into the wine business. Gillian was instrumental to the growth and
success of Australia’s famed Rosemount Estate, where she was Vice President of Sales, West, and then went on to create
and lead their first national accounts team through the Southcorp merger. In 2005, Gillian went on to become a
founding member of Cumulus Wines, alongside Philip Shaw (original Rosemount Estate Winemaker). Soon after,
Cumulus was acquired by Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, where she is currently enjoying her tenth year with
the company, and twenty fifth year in the business.
Mike Dunne is a freelance wine writer who divides his time between
Sacramento, California , and San Jose del Cabo,
Baja California Sur, Mexico . The retired food editor, wine columnist and restaurant critic of The Sacramento Bee, Mike
continues to contribute a weekly wine column to The Bee, among other stories. In addition to judging at a dozen or so
wine competitions annually he's been a judge of fellowship candidates for the Napa Valley Wine Writers Symposium for
the past decade and a judge for the Wine Blogger Awards in recent years. He recently completed a two‐year stint as one
of two chief judges for the California State Fair commercial and home wine competitions.
Traci Dutton of Calistoga, California, is currently the Manager of Public
Wine and Beverage Studies for the Culinary
Institute of America at Greystone. Working with the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies, a state of the art
sensory facility, she oversees the instruction of classes on wine, beer, spirits and other beverages for consumers and
Gary Eberle, began his forty‐year career in winemaking in the 1970’s.
After achieving academic and athletic success at
Penn State University and while pursuing his doctorate in zoology at LSU, Eberle met a professor who introduced him to
the world of wine and soon changed his life. In 1973, Eberle made his first trip to Napa and entered the UC Davis
winemaking doctoral program. Four years later, Eberle was heading his family’s Estrella River Winery. In 1980, he cofounded
the Paso Robles Appellation and in 1983 Gary opened the doors to his own Eberle Winery. Today, Eberle
handcrafts 30,000 cases of wine each year and consistently remains one of the highest award‐winning wineries in the
Vince Ferragamo is a former Los Angeles Rams Superbowl Quarterback. He
owns and operates Touchdown Real Estate,
a full service residential sales company. Vince is an active wine enthusiast, sommelier and owner of Tenuta di
Ferragamo Winery, which produces a world class Super Tuscan called “Caressa J, named after his daughters.
Don Galleano is the President of The Historic Galleano Winery which makes
it a third generation of wine growers in the
Cucamonga Valley. Galleano Winery produces Old Vine Zinfandel and world class Ports, Sherries and Angelica.
Orietta Gianjorio is a certified sommelier, an olive oil, chocolate and
honey taster. She collaborates with the UC Davis
Olive Oil Taste Panel, California Olive Oil Council, the Honey and Pollination Center and Mars Chocolate Taste Panel.
Orietta was born and raised in Rome, and now resides in California. Orietta is the Delegate in Sacramento for the Italian
Academy of Cuisine. She is the author of A guide to Olive Oil and Olive Oil Tasting and two children’s books about olive
oil and tasting, Coratina and Come Visit The Teeny Tiny Town of Taste. Orietta has judged in different wine and olive oil
competitions including the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition and BIOL (Puglia, Italy). She has
written, produced and hosted several TV shows in Italy and America and is a regular guest on many TV stations as a food
and wine taster and expert.
Nick Goldschmidt was born in Auckland, New Zealand. Nick found his way to
viticulture through a slightly tortuous
route. After completing his Bachelor of Science at Canterbury he ended up in a research position at Lincoln
University in 1982. After a year of working in Organics, plant breeding and in the small vineyard, Nick
proceeded to take the Diploma in Horticulture at Lincoln. From there he went to Charles Stuart University in
Australia to study viticulture. Then, after three vintages back in New Zealand, he returned to Australia to
complete his post graduate degree in Winemaking. Chile was his next stop and then in 1990 became the VP/
Winemaker for the Simi Winery in California. During his time there he also developed his own brands:
Forefathers and Goldschmidt Vineyard. During his time at Simi the winery was owned by LVMH where he
helped with Cloudy Bay, Terrazas and Ruffino and then it was purchased by Constellation in 1999. In 2003
Nick became Senior VP / Winemaker for Allied‐Domecq where he managed winemaking in California brands
such as Clos du Bois, Atlas Peak, William Hill, Buena Vista and Gary Farrell to name a few, Argentina, Mexico,
New Zealand, and Spain. In 2006 AD was sold to Jim Beam and Nick continued on overseeing all California
winemaking but now also including Geyser Peak and Wild Horse. Starting in 2008 Nick went full time on his
own. Making his own single vineyard wines and continuing to consult for 16 wineries in 6 countries. He also
continues his fascination with new technology and Biodynamics.
John Gorman has 20 years experience in the
industry as an importer and online retailer of Southern Hemisphere
Daryl Groom is the Owner and Winemaker for Groom
Wines from Australia. This highly acclaimed Australian Winery
focuses on three varietals; Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. In addition to Groom Wines, Daryl is involved in many
other wine projects. These are: Colby Red, a wine launched nationally that raises money for heart research. The wine
was inspired by and named after his then 13 year old son Colby who had recently underwent back to back heart
surgeries. You can check out the story through a video at www.colbyred.com. The wine has raised $600,000 in just 4
years and DRG, which is a limited release range of wines in partnership with Naked Wines. Daryl is also partner in the
North Coasts prestigious Charlie Palmer Pigs and Pinot which raises over $150,000 from a weekend event and is partner
in The Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge Competition.
Laely Heron's unconventional upbringing in
Africa, Asia, Europe, and the US may explain the wanderlust which
has led to
her passion for international wine studies and winemaking. She began at the Institute of Enology in Bordeaux, and
worked with wines in the US, Australia, and Scandinavia before starting Heron Wines 19 years ago.
Rob Holder is Director of Beverage and a
Certified Sake Professional for JNK Concepts based in Scottsdale,
became passionate about wine in 2001 and soon began working as a buyer for various restaurants around the Valley. In
2011 he took a position as the Beverage Director for Roka Akor and subsequently all of the concepts under the JNK
umbrella. Holder currently oversees the programs of establishments in Scottsdale, Chicago and San Francisco. Rob has
four years of sake and shochu buying experience and earned his Sake Professional Certification in 2012. He anticipates
completing his Advanced Certification in 2015 through the Sake Education Council.
Michael Horn is President/CEO of CRN Digital
Talk Radio, the nation’s largest radio syndicator across multiple
(AM/FM Radio, Cable TV, Internet, Cell phone Aps , Automobile Aps , I Tunes etc.) . He is also the host of “Whats Cookin
Today” a food, wine, travel and entertainment show and “The Whats Cookin On Wine” show, both daily wine shows on
syndicated radio and heard in over 11 million homes. Michael has reported and covered major wine events around the
world including Auction Napa Valley, The Sonoma Showcase Of Wine and Food, Kaanapali Fresh and many more. He
currently produces “Brown Bag Wine Tasting” with William Shatner. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHornCRN.
Don J Huffman: Don is a California native, 30
year wine industry veteran and wine palate junky. Known to have an
entrepreneurs’ spirit, he’s an agriculture advocate, winemaker, alternative energy lobbyist, and mar/com professional.
Don has worked with many national wine brands and wine regions across North America. He’s worked many retailers
including: BevMo, Total Wine, Safeway, Spec’s, ABC, HEB, Wholefoods and more. He’s working with Caesars
Entertainment Group to establish bar‐back recycling programs at their 33 properties. An extremely creative, strategic
contributor to the marketing/communication process, Don is always mindful of all green oriented issues relating to
farming and operations. As Sr Trade Mktg Mgr for Nomacorc, his responsibilities include: North American on/offpremise
wine education; developing retail marketing intelligence and strategic planning; initiating pre/post‐consumer
sustainability programs; and fostering relationships with private label and custom‐crush providers. Don is a family man
living Napa, California. He serves on several boards including: Napa County Office of Education, Ag 4 Youth and is a
Director on the 25th District Agriculture Association for the State of California. IG/Twitter: Visitawinery##.
Stacie Hunt, Certified Sommelier and Co‐founder
of SPLASH (www.splashpros.com), producers of Wine, Cuisine & Art
exhibitions and video productions/documentaries, television/digital publicity and marketing for wineries and regions.
Stacie is NPR's on‐air wine reporter and a blogger for "Good Food" on KCRW‐FM, Los Angeles flagship station. Stacie
writes a wine column on the award‐winning MY LA Lifestyle (www.mylalifestyle.com) and National Wine Examiner
(www.examiner.com). She is producer of the anniversary documentary for Wine Spectator magazine; Emmy Award
winning journalist; Product/brand spokesperson. Stacie is a partner in Du Vin Wine & Spirits in West Hollywood,
specializing in the wines of Italy and Latin America; Board Member, North American Sommelier Association
(www.nasommelier.com) and NAWR (National Association of Wine Retailers).
Budi Kazali has been cooking for over 20 years,
and earned his chef stripes working at some of the best restaurants
both the east and west coasts. His current venture, The Ballard Inn & Restaurant, is located in the Santa Barbara wine
country, has garnered rave reviews and awards since he established it in 2004. His television show, The Inn Crowd with
Chef Budi Kazali, began airing in the Santa Barbara area in 2012, and features fresh local cuisine with an emphasis on
wine pairing. The first three seasons can be viewed on Hulu.
Chuck Keagle of Upland, California, is founder,
owner, and CEO of Cask & Cleaver restaurants and the Sycamore Inn.
Chuck is a former board member of the Collins School of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona, and the California
Avocado Commission and the California Restaurant Association. Chuck is an avocado grower and former wine grape
Wesley Kollar's professional journey began as a
student at Sonoma State University, earning extra money working in
first job in the wine industry. He subsequently worked with over a dozen wineries throughout Northern and Central
California where he gained experience with vineyard management and laboratory analysis. This foundation led to tasting
room experience, working in Barrel Rooms, and hands‐on experience making wine. He has held almost every position
possible in his 20 years in the wine industry, where he now enjoys a 360 degree viewpoint of the industry, with
knowledge of wines from vineyard to table and all points in between. He has traveled to wine regions in Germany,
Austria, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and North America to sample wines and work one‐on‐one with vineyards in vineyard
design and consulting. He has hosted hundreds of Wine Events throughout California, specializing in Wine Pairing
Dinners. Currently, he works in wine sales, distribution and brokering.
Wing Lam is co‐founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco.
Wing has done extensive work with charity wine auctions, tastings
wine dinners. He has also judged food competitions and has appeared on the Food Network, ABC Secret Millionaire and
was the Southern California Spokesman for Ford the last 2 years.
Adam LaZarre is the Director of Winemaking for
The Wine Hooligans based out of Santa Rosa, California. He produces
and/or supervises the production of a number of nationally distributed brands such as Cycles‐Gladiator. He is also the
proprietor and winemaker for LaZarre Wine Company, an artisan wine company specializing in small lots of Pinot Noir
and Chardonnay to name a few. He is a veteran winemaker with over two decades of experience behind him. Adam is
one of the most accoladed winemakers in California, with Best‐of‐Show wins at the most prestigious wine competitions
in the world including the L.A. International Wine Competition where he is the only three time winner of this respected
wine competition. In 2005, Adam was named “Winemaker of the Year” in the Sacramento Bee and was also named “One
of the Top Five Winemakers” in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2006. Earlier in 2012, Adam was ranked #69 on
IntoWine.com’s “100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry”. Adam and his wife Angie are completely
committed to providing the very best possible wines at any price and will continue to do so until he departs this earth.
After all, wine is a gift from God and should be enjoyed responsibly or at least naked…..
Shelby Ledgerwood, CWE is the owner of Savant
Wines ‐ a wine education and consulting company in Southern
California. She has worked in the food and wine industries for over 20 years where she regularly conducts wine
education seminars for luxury hotels, restaurants and wine distributors. Shelby is a senior instructor in the Wine
Education and Management Program at UCLA Extension and a former Academic Instructor of wine at The California
School of Culinary Arts (Le Cordon Bleu). Shelby Ledgerwood is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) with the Society of
Wine Educators and wrote her first exams for the Master of Wine in 2008. She holds credentials from numerous wine
organizations such as: The Court of Master Sommeliers, The Wine and Spirits Education Trust, The Wine Academy of
Spain, L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux and L’Ecole du Vin de Bourgogne.
Keith Mabry graduated from the Collins School of
Hospitality Management at CSU Cal Poly Pomona. During a wine
class, he tasted a wine that changed his life forever, a German Riesling from the Mosel. After completing the course,
Keith knew his passion had become wine and he became the teaching assistant for the wine course several times.
While finishing his degree he began working at Wally’s, one of Los Angeles’s top retail stores. There he quickly worked
up through the ranks of sales people and became the Sales Manager and Spirits Buyer. After a few years, he moved over
to Los Angeles Wine Company where he became the General Manager. In 2007, Keith was recruited by K&L Wine
Merchants, one of California’s largest independent wine retailers, to help launch their newest location in Hollywood. He
came on board as the Sales Manager and ultimately has become the Import Director for the Hollywood location.
Philip Scott MacConnell has been haunted by wine
since he visited Italian Swiss Colony at the age of eight. He has
worked in the trade since 1996. Scott is a trained Archivist and advocates for the Southern California pioneers of the
California Wine Industry. He also explores the space between sketch comedy and wine education in a Web Series
entitled "One Minute Wino."
Monica Marin, was born and raised in Madrid,
Spain. Throughout her career, Monica has visited the best wine
of Italy, Germany, Austria, France, California and Spain, falling in love with the culture, wine and gastronomy in
Piemonte, Toscana, Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Monica has completed the WSET Diploma/AIWS/French Wine Scholar
Instructor/Wine Academy of Spain Educator/WSET Intermediate and Advanced Instructor. Monica and her family now
live in California, where she dedicates her professional efforts and time to wine by working at The Wine House (the
largest independent retailer in Southern California).
Peter Marks, MW, is the Vice President of
Education for Constellation Wines in St. Helena, California. Before
Constellation, Peter was the Senior Vice President of Wine for COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in
Napa, CA. Peter has also been the Chief Wine Merchant at Wine.com, a wine Internet retailer, and Director of Wine for
Draeger's Supermarkets located in San Mateo, Menlo Park, and Los Altos, California. Peter is one of 35 members of the
Institute of Masters of Wine residing in America, and the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation
Award awarded each year to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score. Peter also consults for restaurants
and private clients, and teaches wine classes through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He is the Education Coordinator
for the Institute of Masters of Wine tasting exam in the United States, is on the Wine Education Committee of the Napa
Valley Vintners, judges at many international wine competitions and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.
Dennis Martin is vice president and winemaker at
Fetzer Vineyards. Martin and his winemaking staff are dedicated to
working with individual grape growers and are committed to the concept that winemaking is an integrated team effort.
Martin is now focused on the Fetzer super premium and Luxury collection and selects the highest quality varietal fruit
from vineyards in the finest growing regions of California. One of Fetzer’s major strengths as a winery is the ability to
blend consistently, vintage after vintage. Martin has been with Fetzer Vineyards for 29 years.
Sharron McCarthy is the Vice President of Wine
Education for Banfi Vintners, the U.S. leading wine importer and a
producer of premium offerings from Italy. Throughout her career she has conducted food and beverage management
courses at the Culinary Inst. Of America, Cal Poly, UNLV, University of Denver, University of Houston, Cornell University,
Johnson and Wales and the Smithsonian, among others. She is past President of the Society of Wine Educators and has
been associated with the American Inst. Of Wine and Food, American Wine Society, Sommelier Society of America, New
York Women’s Culinary Alliance just to name a few. She is also an associate member of the Cornell Hotel Society.
Tim McDonald of Napa, California is a thirty
year veteran in the wine industry and founded Wine Spoken Here, a
reputation engineering company for wine pr & marketing. The brands represented include, Clo Pegase, Wine Sisterhood,
Deep Purple, Middle Sister, Girl and the Dragon, Purple Cowboy, Wild Oats, Our Daily Red, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards,
Robert Oatley Vineyards, Light Horse, Niner, Chronic Cellars, Tooth & Nail Force of Nature wines, DGB Wines, Giesen
Estates, Chakras, Luna Nuda, Woodhouse Winery, Whiplash and Reata Wines and others. He is the Director of Judging
for the San Francisco International Wine Competition and has served as a judge at dozens of international wine
competitions. He enjoys life with his beautiful wife Lisa and 21 year old son Angus who all love food, friends and family.
Jon C. McPherson is the Director of Winemaking
at South Coast Winery, Resort and Spa, in Temecula, California, “The
oldest winemaking frontier in California that isn’t yet on any map.” He has over thirty years of winemaking experience,
starting with his tenure at Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas. He moved to California in 1985 to pursue sparkling
wine production at Culbertson Winery, and later Thornton Winery.
Ann Miller is the Marketing Manager at St. James
Winery in Missouri a top producer of sweet, fruit and regional
varietal wines in the Midwest. Ann has served as a wine judge for several national and international wine
competitions including the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, the New York Wine and Food
Classic, and the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Sally Mohr, MS, earned the title of Master
Sommelier in 1995 and was the second woman in the United States to
achieve that distinction. She enjoys passing the wonders of the wine world to aspiring Master Sommeliers through the
courses sponsored by the Court of Master Sommeliers. She began her wine career as an employee at The Boulder Wine
Merchant in 1983 and became a co‐owner of this prestigious specialty retail wine shop in 1986. In August of 2010, The
Boulder Wine Merchant was sold allowing Sally to pursue other avenues in the beverage trade. In 2009, Sally passed the
Advanced Saké Specialist course in Japan. She is a board member of the Saké Education Council, whose mission is to
spread the word of the joys of Saké. Kanpai! She continues to put her palate to the test by judging in various wine
competitions. Besides wine, Sally enjoys spending time with her husband and two grown children in the wonderful
outdoors of Colorado and the tropical beaches of the Caribbean. Her travels have taken her to many wine regions
around the world and her long‐term goal is to feel the dirt between her toes in all of them.
Robert Mott of La Quinta, California, is owner
and wine buyer for The Wine Bar Bistro in La Quinta. After a 25 year
career as an executive in the technology sector, he has dedicated his energies to running a top tier wine bar, restaurant
and premium wine retail establishment. Robert is a dedicated wine taster, constantly looking for the best new wines for
his clientele, regularly tasting over 2,000 wines annually and traveling the west coast looking for small production
wineries producing top quality hand crafted wines. He is equally dedicated to wine education, bringing a series of fun
and informative classes to his customers as well as broadcasting a weekly wine focused radio show.
Mark A. Newman of Studio City, California has
been Chairman and CEO of three wine & spirits industry companies,
has spent a lifetime in the industry. Mark is currently consulting for wineries in the south of France, Bordeaux, Italy,
Spain and California. In his over 35 years in the wine industry he has owned the largest per unit wine & spirits retail
chain in Arizona, held key California winery positions as well as senior level executive positions in the wine distributing
business. Mark has also produced wine in both California and France. He received his education at the University of
Southern California in Business (Marketing & Finance) and is a member of several wine industry trade groups. Mark was
inducted into the prestigious Commanderie de Bontemps du Medoc et Graves recognizing his years of dedication to the
wine industry, and is Maitre Consiels of Gastronomy, an honor bestowed by the French Minister of Agriculture, and he
has previously had his palate insured for one million dollars.
Robbi Jo Oliver is the Wine Buyer and The
Director of Training for Mastro’s Restaurants. She has worked with
for over 14 years.
Deborah Parker Wong, AIWS is Northern California
editor for The Tasting Panel magazine and senior industry editor to
SOMM Journal where she reports on the global wine and spirits industries with an emphasis on domestic trends. In
addition, Deborah contributes frequently to Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. She provides sensory
consulting services to companies in the beverage and technology industries and serves as a professional wine judge for
several regional, national and international wine competitions each year. As an educator, she teaches WSET
certification courses and is a wine instructor at Le Cordon Bleu San Francisco.
Dr. Richard Grant Peterson of Napa, California,
is a consultant in Viticulture and Enology and an experienced expert
witness in lawsuits involving Viticulture, Enology, and cork taint in bottled wines. He began his career as a home
winemaker in 1948 in Iowa. In 1958, he joined the E. and J. Gallo Winery, where he became research director and
assistant production manager in charge of winemaking. Richard has served as Winemaster at Beaulieu Vineyard, and
Winemaster and Chairman of The Monterey Vineyard, Atlas Peak Vineyards and Folie a Deux Winery. He has been a
professional member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture since 1959, a director (1973‐1975), and its
president (1977‐1978), and has membership in most professional wine societies. He currently produces and sells a very
unique Pinot Noir and Blanc de Noir sparkling wine grown from a 200 year old Pinot Noir seedling, thought to have
descended from wild seedlings brought into England over the past 2000 years. Brand name: Richard G. Peterson.
Michael Ploetz is the Director of Food and
Beverage at The Peninsula Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. A certified
he oversees all food and beverage operations at The Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond property that includes the
iconic Belvedere Restaurant. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin he began his career with Four Seasons
Hotels, holding positions at Four Seasons Chicago and Four Seasons Jackson Hole. In 2008 Michael began an extended
tenure with José Andrés’ Think Food Group. He held several posts with the company including Tres, The Bazaar at the
SLS, and finally as opening General Manager of Jaleo and é at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Michael has also worked
for Auberge Resorts and most recently served as Corporate Director of Operations for celebrity Chef Michael Voltaggio.
Steven G. Poe, MS of Southern California got his
start in wine working at Napa Rose Restaurant, Disneyland Resort, as
server before becoming a wine captain and assistant wine educator. He attainted the distinguished Master Sommelier
Diploma in 2008 and is currently serving as Beverage Director at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach.
Nelson Siu is a renowned creative professional
and entrepreneur from Hong Kong with over fifteen years of
and publishing experience. In 2009, he entered the wine industry where he started WINE.Luxe in Hong Kong and
Macau. Nelson is now the Editor‐in‐Chief of WINE.Luxe Hong Kong and China Edition, and he became one of the most
influential Wine Editors in Greater China.
Howard Soon was born and raised in Vancouver,
British Columbia. He has 35 years experience in the British Columbia
Wine Industry, including the past 25 years as Senior Winemaker for Sandhill Wines /Calona Vineyards in the Okanagan
Valley. Also, Howard is a Certified Wine Educator and teaches at Okanagan College. He serves on the Dean’s Advisory
Board of the Faculty of Land Food Systems of the University of British Columbia. Recently Howard received the 2015
Spirited Industry Professional at the Vancouver International Wine Festival . This is “presented to an individual who has
made a significant contribution to sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia”.
Nina Sventitsky is the official West Coast
Regional Specialist for Wines of Rioja, representing the entire
region. She has a background in marketing and wine sales. She has the following wine certifications; WSA Silver Pin
Certified Sommelier, American Wine Specialist and Italian Wine Specialist from the North American Sommelier
Association (NASA), WSET Advanced, Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1. Nina sits on the board of the North American
Sommelier Association, managing all marketing, events, and administration, as well as course development. She lives
in Los Angeles, with her husband Alex.
Mark Tarbell is the owner of Tarbell’s
restaurant, The Tavern restaurant, and The Wine Store, all located
He earned his culinary degree at La Varenne Ecole Des Cuisine and studied wine at l'Academie du Vin. Nominated "Best
Chef ‐ Southwest" by the James Beard Foundation, Mark and his restaurants have earned almost 60 awards in the past
20 years. He serves on many advisory councils and boards, from the Arizona Department of Education to the Phoenix
Theatre. He has appeared on “Good Morning America”, the “Today Show”, and several Food Network programs,
including his triumphant "Battle Apple" against Iron Chef Cat Cora on "Iron Chef America" in 2007. Mark has been the
wine columnist for The Arizona Republic since 2004 and has been published in numerous magazines including Wine &
Spirits and Food Arts.
Chef David Teig’s cooking career began at an
upstate New York Buddhist ashram, giving him an early appreciation
fresh products and organic foods before it became mainstream. Further experiences lead him to France, working at the
Michelin three‐star, Maison de Bricourt, followed by a number of private and hotel restaurants, throughout Europe and
United States. Prior to settling at the Sheraton Fairplex, he traveled for Starwood Hotels, leading hotel openings and
providing operational support. At McKinley’s Grill, the focus is on fresh market cuisine, using local and sustainable food
sources. The menu revolves around seasonality and the Fairplex Fairview Farms, where the hotel organically grows
produce ranging from stone fruits to citrus to herbs and vegetables.
Hugh Thacher founded The San Francisco Wine
Exchange in 1975, the oldest US based, independent wine marketing
Andrea Francesco Torelli‐Lesky is an Italian
wine expert. He is consulting wine import director for several
U.S. importers. He is a wine educator and proprietor of Deluca Trattoria & Wine Bar in El Segundo, California and
partner at Roxbury Market in Beverly Hills.
Philippe Tosques, a French restaurateur with
more than 25 years of restaurant management experience, is general
manager of Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. He is well known for his high standards of fine dining
and wine expertise, and for leading and motivating teams to deliver exceptional dining experiences. Tosques received
his bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management at the Lycée d’Hotellerie et de Restauration located in a
suburb of Paris. Prior to joining the Napa Rose team in 2010, Tosques oversaw operations for Jean‐Georges
Vongerichten’s Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Jim Trezise has been President of the New York
Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985. He is also
of the International Riesling Foundation, a Board member of four national organizations, and a judge in many
Andrew Turner is the National
Sales/Brand Manager for Clos Pepe Estate in the Sta Rita Hills. He
is a Certified
Sommelier and previously was the sommelier at Michael’s Restaurant for 7 years.
Toshio Ueno is a Master Sake
Sommelier, Shochu Advisor and Jizake Educator. Born in Japan where
his family has grown
wine grapes for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his education in the US
and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, he joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as
Director of Sales. In 2002 he joined Mutual Trading Company where he is Manager of the Business Development
Department in marketing Japanese foods, Jizake and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and
expertise he aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new international audiences. He is executive
instructor at Sake School of America.
Spreti Valente is the Wine
Buyer and Certified Sommelier at Anne’s Boutique Wines in Costa
Mesa, California. Spreti has
been immersed in the world of wine since her study abroad college days in both South America and France. As a wine
buyer, Spreti spends her days meeting with winemakers, importers, and winery owners tasting through hundreds of
wines each month to bring the best wines available from small producers from all around the world. These wines can be
found in the retail store, monthly wine club she runs, as well as the weekly wine tastings she hosts. Spreti is in charge of
training staff and manages the store social network presence.
Matt Viotto is a 22 year
industry veteran. He started out with a small broker in Southern
California working with top end
producers. Graduated to working as California Manager with Chalone Wine Group, managing the purchase by Diageo for
the state. Matt currently is with Talbott Vineyards running Global Sales and Marketing.
Paul Wagner formed Balzac
Communications & Marketing on April 1, 1991. Current clients include
Diageo Chateau and
Estates Wine Company, the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Consorzio Chianti Classico, Franciacorta, Caymus,
Wente, Mendocino Wine Company, and a host of other wine and food specialists. Paul Wagner is an instructor for Napa
Valley College's Viticulture and Enology department and the Culinary Institute of America, and contributes to
Allexperts.com in the field of wine and food. He is a guest lecturer for Sonoma State University, MIB School of
Management in Trieste, the University of Dijon, and the OIV program at UC Davis. He has lectured throughout the world
on communications, public affairs, wine and wine marketing. With Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, he has published a book:
Wine Marketing & Sales, Strategies for a Saturated Market by The Wine Appreciation Guild, which won the Gourmand
International Award in 2008 for the best wine book for professionals. In 2007 he was awarded Una Vida Dedicada al
Vino at the Feria Nacional de Vino in Spain. With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, he hosts a radio
show and podcast: “Bottle Talk with Rick & Paul” Tuesday at 11 a.m. Pacific time at www.rickandpaulwine.com. Also on
KVON AM 1440, in Napa, and on i‐tunes.
Wilfred Wong, Chief Storyteller
for Wine.com is a 40 year‐plus veteran of the wine industry. In his
role at Wine.com,
Wilfred concentrates his efforts on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). He is an extreme
researcher and a taster of wines and employs his photography skills in his role. As a wine judge, Wilfred has participated
domestically (Los Angeles International, San Francisco International, Sonoma County Harvest Fair and many others) and
internationally (Spain, France, New Zealand and Australia). He joined Wine.com on March 31, 2014. Wilfred lives in San
Francisco with his wife, Alice and dog, Cody.
Debbie Zachareas is the Managing Partner and
Wine Buyer at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco's
iconic Ferry Building, and at the Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa. Both locations offer and
international wine selection with an emphasis on small‐production and sustainably farmed wines. Zachareas hosts
weekly wine tastings in her San Francisco wine bar. Great winemakers, importers, and winery owners educate and
entertain her clientele by featuring their wines at the bar. Debbie teaches wine classes both at her own business as well
the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California. She is a well‐known wine judge, lecturer,
sommelier, and guest speaker for a number of wine events throughout the country.
Marvin Zeidler of Los Angeles, California, is a
partner and he CFO of FOODCO in Santa Monica, California, and
the general partner of Cora’s, Brentwood Restaurant, Cafe Brentwood, and Capo Ristorante. He was founder and
general partner of Citrus Restaurant and was President and CEO of Zeidler & Zeidler Ltd., a chain of men’s clothing
stores. He is an active member and past chairman of the Wine & Food Society of Hollywood and serves on the Executive
Advisory Council of the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Cal Poly Pomona, among other organizations.
He is also the sponsor and adviser to Zeidler Cafe at the Skirbal Cultural Center.