Judges

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BROOKS ANDERSON

Owner, Boulevardier, Rapscallion, Veritas Wine Room Dallas, TX

www.dallasboulevardier.com

Brooks Anderson was raised in Plano, Texas, and significantly influenced by his French Grandmother who instilled in him a love of food, wine, literature, travel, and a deep sense of intellectual curiosity.

Brooks graduated from the University of Oklahoma. An involved student, his studies and experiences were wide-ranging. Brooks, several other students, and the late Professor J. Rufus Fears took 3-week driving tour of the American Civil War Battlefields in 1994. Also in 1994, Brooks delved into Journalism classes at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In 1995, Brooks had the great fortune to study at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In 1995 Brooks commenced his studies at the University of Houston Law Center. In 1997, Brooks attended a Summer Study Program in the Greek Isles through Tulane University’s Law School, with Justice Antonin Scalia as a course professor. In 1998, Brooks graduated with a JD from the University of Houston Law Center. After his extensive studies and travels, both through school and with his brother Bradley, Brooks practiced law for 9 years. Most of this time was spent at Anderson & Anderson, LLP, the law firm he founded with his brother Bradley in October, 2002, which still operates today. He met his beautiful and amazingly talented wife Kate in court. She was opposing counsel. Brooks was smitten. In 2008, life presented Brooks and Bradley the opportunity to sign a lease for a small wine bar they named Veritas Wine Room. Brooks left the practice of law to run Veritas’s day-to-day operations. Veritas opened to a deafening silence and for several years the business itself was day-to-day. However, persistence prevailed and Veritas developed a loyal following. Veritas Wine Room has won many national, state, and local awards including Best Wine Bar in Dallas from D Magazine for the years 2009, 2012, 2014, and 2015; Top 25 Wine Bars in America from Travel + Leisure; Ultimate Best Wine Bar in Dallas from Pegasus News; Best Wine List in Dallas 2009 and 2010 from the Dallas Observer; Top 10 Wine Bars in the US 2012 from Gayot. In 2012, Brooks opened Boulevardier with his brother Bradley and their Chef Partners Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland. Boulevardier opened to great critical acclaim and fanfare. Boulevardier has won many national, state, and local awards including the following from D Magazine alone: Best Burgers 2015; 100 Best Restaurants in Dallas 2013; Best French Restaurant Readers’ Choice 2015; Best Bartender in Dallas Readers’ Choice 2015; Best French Restaurant in Dallas 2014 Editors’ Pick and Readers’ Choice; Best French Restaurant in Dallas 2013; Best Brunch in Dallas 2013; and Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2012. In addition, Texas Monthly listed Boulevardier as a Top 10 Best New Restaurant 2012 in the State of Texas and Dallas Observer listed Boulevardier as having one of the Top 10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas. Boulevardier has also been written up in the New York Times, Town & Country Magazine and many other publications too numerous to name here. In 2015, Brooks opened Rapscallion with his brother Bradley and their Chef Partner Nathan Tate. Rapscallion opened to great critical acclaim and fanfare. Rapscallion has won many national, state, and local awards including Top 10 Best New Restaurants 2015 in the State of Texas by Texas Monthly; Top 10 Best New Restaurants in Dallas by D Magazine; Top 50 Best Restaurants in Dallas 2016 by D Magazine; Top 10 Best Wine Lists in Dallas by the Dallas Observer; Best Hot Chicken in the US from Food Republic; and many, many others. Brooks has had the great pleasure and distinct honor to spend thousands of hours drinking and learning from the greatest minds and palates in the international world of wine. Brooks’s extensive wine travels have taken him to Alsace, the Loire, Champagne, Chablis, Burgundy, the Northern Rhone, the Southern Rhone, Costières de Nîmes, Provence, the Willamette and its sub-appellations, Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, California’s Central Valley, and Texas Wine Country. Brooks’s food travels extend quite a bit further than his wine travels. Brooks hopes to continue his career in Food and Wine and really hopes he does not ever again have to practice law.

BROOKS ANDERSON

Owner, Boulevardier, Rapscallion, Veritas Wine Room Dallas, TX
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WAYNE BELDING MS

Partner, Preferabli and Author, Diving Into Wine Boulder, CO

Wayne Belding, MS is a geologist turned oenophile. He has written about wine for over 35 years for local and national publications. In 1990, he became the 13th American to pass the Master Sommelier Diploma examination, passing all three parts of the exam on his first attempt. Since that time, he has been active in teaching and examining at all levels of the Master Sommelier program. He has served as Education Director and Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers – Americas.

Over the years, he has taught thousands of sommeliers and industry professionals, many of whom have risen to significant positions in the trade. After decades as a successful retail owner, he now teaches consumer and professional wine classes. He is a frequent wine reviewer, competition judge and speaker at wine events. He is a partner at Preferabli, the leading AI-driven, personalization software for the wine and spirits industry – changing the way people discover, evaluate, buy and share wine. He is also the author of “Diving Into Wine”, a guide for wine consumers.

WAYNE BELDING MS

Partner, Preferabli and Author, Diving Into Wine Boulder, CO
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ALISHA BLACKWELL CALVERT

Advanced Sommelier and Beverage Director of Madrina St. Louis, MO

Alisha Blackwell-Calvert is an Advanced Sommelier and Beverage Director of Madrina Restaurant. Formerly of Cinder House at the Four Seasons Hotel STL, awards include Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2021 “Sommelier of the Year” Wine Star Award nominee, a 2018 “40 Under 40 Tastemaker”, and the 2023 Iconoclast Wine Honoree at the James Beard House. Blackwell-Calvert has served as a mentor in the Bâtonnage Forum program and member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International. Her hobbies include mead consulting and working with draft horses.

ALISHA BLACKWELL CALVERT

Advanced Sommelier and Beverage Director of Madrina St. Louis, MO
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DILEK CANER MW Ph.D.

Director of Tasting World, Dallas Wine Center Dallas, TX

www.dallaswinecenter.com

Dilek Caner currently is the Director of Tasting World/Dallas Wine Center, an organization that educates the wine trade and the consumer since 2005. Prior to the formation of Tasting World, Dilek taught at other organizations such as Institute of Culinary Education and American Sommelier Association. Earlier in her career, she has worked at Wine & Spirits Magazine and has been a sommelière at Restaurants Bruno Jamais and Alain Ducasse. Dilek is a Master of Wine, a title which has been earned only by 312 people in the world to date. She also holds a Ph.D. in Economics from New York University.

DILEK CANER MW Ph.D.

Director of Tasting World, Dallas Wine Center Dallas, TX
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KIMBERLY NOELLE CHARLES, DipWSET

President & Founder, Charles Communications Associates San Francisco, CA

Kimberly Charles’ name is synonymous with wine marketing at its best level. Over her 35+ year career she has, through her creative marketing efforts helped brands such as Taittinger Champagne, Domaine Carneros, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Square One Organic Vodka, Cakebread Cellars, Wente Vineyards, the region of Lodi, E. & J. Gallo among many others attain a level of recognition and draw in the marketplace. She possesses a natural gift of storytelling and helps her clients develop highly tailored messages, strategies and audiences to convey their brand essence and truly stand out. Additionally, her holistic approach to marketing from packaging to messaging coupled with strategic communications planning has helped her company Charles Communications Associates excel in its field. Charles Communications Associates celebrates 20th years in 2023 and specializes in strategic branding, and corporate social responsibility with a focus on launching, reinvigorating and repositioning of brands. Learn more at www.charlescomm.com follow on Twitter @CharlesComm and Instagram and Facebook @AlltheSwirl

KIMBERLY NOELLE CHARLES, DipWSET

President & Founder, Charles Communications Associates San Francisco, CA
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MOLLY CHOI

Senior Vice President, Marketing Broadbent Selections

After graduating Bowling Green State University with a BA in Communications and Public Relations, Molly worked in advertising – first at an agency specializing in blue chip accounts and then to the client side for the LVMH group (Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton). From there she entered the wine world as the marketing manager for Cape Classics, a South African and French wine importer, where she worked for over 20 years focused on sales, marketing and PR. Before joining Broadbent as the SVP of Marketing and Brand Management in 2022, she spent two years in the cannabis industry leading a national sales team for the packaging company, Greenlane (formerly KushCo).

MOLLY CHOI

Senior Vice President, Marketing Broadbent Selections
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JIM CLARKE

U.S. Country Manager for Wines of South Africa and Author of The Wines of South Africa New York, NY

Jim Clarke is the U.S. Country Manager for Wines of South Africa. Prior to joining WOSA in 2013 Jim was the wine director at Armani Ristorante and Megu, both in New York City.

Jim has also been writing about wine for twenty years and has contributed to a wide range of trade and consumer publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, Fortune, World of Fine Wine and Club Oenologique.

In 2020 Jim received the International Louis Roederer Wine Writer Award for Feature Writing and in August of that year Wine Business Monthly named Jim as a Wine Industry Leader of the Year for his work supporting South African wine during the Covid pandemic.

Jim is the author of The Wines of South Africa, published by Infinite Ideas as part of the Classic Wine Library in July 2020.

JIM CLARKE

U.S. Country Manager for Wines of South Africa and Author of The Wines of South Africa New York, NY
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MARK DAVIDSON

Head of Education Development, Wine Australia

Born in London, raised in Sydney Mark has over 40 years of experience in the hotel, restaurant and wine business, fifteen of those as a Sommelier. In 2001 he was name Sommelier of the Year at the Vancouver Wine Festival- also won the Spirited Industry Professional award in 2014.

As a Department Head and instructor with the International Sommelier Guild he was instrumental in the on-going development of the curriculum and has taught classes in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Mark is an annual judge at Texsom International Wine Awards and has judged many other competitions in both Canada and the US. His Wines of Australia book for Classic Wine Library will be available in 2023. Mark is currently Head of Education Development for Wine Australia in North America.

MARK DAVIDSON

Head of Education Development, Wine Australia
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NICK DAVIS MS

Sommelier and Founder, Medium Plus Seattle WA

Nick Davis is a Master Sommelier, and founder of Medium Plus, an online retail business that offers elevated service to enthusiasts and collectors. A native to Seattle, Nick graduated from Ballard High School and the University of Washington before starting his hospitality career in bars and restaurants around the city. Since passing the Master Sommelier exam in 2019, Nick has continued to further his beverage education, and is active with the Court of Master Sommeliers and TEXSOM, in addition to weekly volunteer mentorship sessions for students in the trade. His hobbies include chess, songbird identification, and road trips through the vineyards.

NICK DAVIS MS

Sommelier and Founder, Medium Plus Seattle WA
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ETINOSA EMOKPAE

Sales Representative, Skurnik Wine & Spirits, Philadelphia, PA

Etinosa Emokpae is a wine professional based in Philadelphia via The Bronx, NY. While cutting her teeth at Maialino, Lafayette and Mission Chinese in New York City, Etinosa developed a deep appreciation and love for all things wine. In search of new adventure, she moved to Philadelphia in 2016.

She served as Beverage Director at Walnut Street Café and later Wine Director at Friday Saturday Sunday. She was named one of SevenFifty’s Rising Stars in Philadelphia for 2019. Etinosa is a current WSET Diploma candidate and is a Pennsylvania sales representative for Skurnik Wine & Spirits.

ETINOSA EMOKPAE

Sales Representative, Skurnik Wine & Spirits, Philadelphia, PA
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CHRISTY FRANK, DipWSET

Owner, Copake Wine Works, New York, NY

Christy Frank is a leader of the independent retail scene, the founder of Copake Wine Works, and a writer for many industry publications. She is a mentor with multiple organizations and is (perhaps unwisely) launching a canned cocktail business called Hamlet Hound, because everyone loves a dog.

CHRISTY FRANK, DipWSET

Owner, Copake Wine Works, New York, NY
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LISA GRANIK MW

Author, Consultant and Market Adviser, New York, NY

Lisa Granik MW is the author of both Granik’s Guide to Georgian Wine (2021) and The Wines of Georgia (2020), along with numerous articles about Georgia and other regions world-wide. Her career has spanned the off-premise, distribution and import channels, and most recently has worked as a consultant and market adviser to wineries looking to improve their performance in the American market. Before her career in the wine trade, she was a lawyer and a law professor, with an expertise in international law. With more letters after her name than in her name, she is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including two Fulbright Scholar awards (in 1990-91 and 2017-19).

LISA GRANIK MW

Author, Consultant and Market Adviser, New York, NY
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PETER GRANOFF MS

Owner/Partner-Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Oxbow Cheese & Wine, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese, San Francisco, CA

In 1991 Peter Granoff was the 15th American to earn the coveted title Master Sommelier, and is one of the 19 Americans to date that have earned the Krug Champagne Cup by passing all three parts of the exam on the first attempt. He is active today as an examiner and lecturer for the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory, Advanced and Masters level programs. In 1991 Peter also received the James Beard Foundation Sommelier of the year Award.

In January of 1995 Peter and Robert Olson, a software engineer, launched Virtual Vineyards, an ecommerce pioneer and the first US entity to sell wine on the Internet. Virtual Vineyards was the subject of a Harvard Business School Case Study, and was cited in numerous business and e-commerce marketing journals & texts as a pioneer during that heady (headless?) era.

Prior to Virtual Vineyards Peter spent 25 years in the hospitality industry in the US, France & Switzerland. He is active as a speaker, panelist, judge, and educator in numerous wine consumer and wine industry settings, and has presented at professional wine and e-commerce conferences at Harvard, Wharton, Rhodes, and UC Berkeley, and as far away as Switzerland, France, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Today Peter is co-proprietor of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco, Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in Napa, California, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese and Mission Bay Wine Bar @ Thrive City, both in San Francisco.

www.petergranoff.com

PETER GRANOFF MS

Owner/Partner-Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Oxbow Cheese & Wine, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese, San Francisco, CA
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EUGENIO JARDIM

USA Ambassador, Wines of Portugal, Brand Ambassador for Ernest Vineyards, San Francisco, CA

Eugenio Jardim is the Wines of Portugal USA Ambassador, the Brand Ambassador for Ernest Vineyards in West Sonoma Coast, and the co-founder of WiFi-WineTime, a virtual events company.

He was the Director of Wine Studies for the San Francisco Cooking School and an Adjunct Professor at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Napa Valley. He currently conducts very high-profile, private, and corporate, wine seminars and tastings in the US and South America under My Private Somm, his personal venture focused on finely curated wine events.

He was the Wine Director of Jardinière, Chef Traci des Jardins’ flagship Restaurant in San Francisco, from 2001 to 2013 and he was named Sunset Magazine’s 2010 Sommelier of the Year! He also consulted on the wine programs of many award-winning restaurants in California.

Eugenio is a featured guest Sommelier and Speaker at national and international events and a judge at many National and International wine competitions.

EUGENIO JARDIM

USA Ambassador, Wines of Portugal, Brand Ambassador for Ernest Vineyards, San Francisco, CA
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JIRKA JIREH

Wine Consultant, Educator and Advocate New York, NY

Jirka Jireh makes it a point to challenge the status quo and encourage marginalized folx to take up space in whatever industry sparks passion for them, including wine & spirits. A few years ago Jireh left New York for the West Coast in order to connect with what she saw as the inception of a grassroots push to increase BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ representation amongst domestic natural winemakers and the reclaiming of Black and Brown farming practices. In 2020, Jireh organized The Price of Admission, a workshop on bias and sexual assault in the wine world which equipped a network of professionals with language and tools to combat these issues across the country. Later, Jirka would become the Co-Founder of Industry Sessions, a digital wine education program exclusively for marginalized people that spans 14 cities in the US and Canada. Behind the scenes, Jirka uses her network as a tool to advocate for BIPOC in the winemaking sphere and connects like-minded professionals with business opportunities. Her leading voice has become associated with interrogating misogyny and white supremacy within our industry with a focus on restructuring the ways in which we activate & influence change throughout beverage spaces.

Her work has been celebrated in the pages of The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Imbibe, Cherry Bombe Magazine, Pipette, Punch, and Wine Enthusiast to name a few. In 2021 she was even invited to host an episode of “Mind of a Sommelier”, a spin-off to PBS’ “Mind of a Chef”.

When she is not mentoring, educating, or diving into regenerative farming practices she spends her free time pouring wine at events in community centered spaces that highlight foods of the Diaspora, zipping around the country to show love and support to the various radical beverage businesses founded by her BIPOC & Queer colleagues or popping to the West Coast to check on her winemaking projects.

The majority of Jirka Jireh’s 15 years in hospitality were fine-tuned in New York City’s bustling fine-dining world. She is currently based in NYC where she runs Industry Sessions and consults on a variety of groundbreaking projects geared at reclaiming wine spaces for all people.

JIRKA JIREH

Wine Consultant, Educator and Advocate New York, NY
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MARQUITA LEVY-PENNINGTON

Sales Representative, Banville Wine Merchant New York, NY

Upon retiring from Dance in 2002, Marquita began working in and studying Wine. In 2004, she received her Viticulture/Vinification Certificate from the American Sommelier Association. She homeschools in Wine in preparation for the rigorous Master of Wine program. Her hopes are to teach and write!

MARQUITA LEVY-PENNINGTON

Sales Representative, Banville Wine Merchant New York, NY
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SUSAN LIN MW

Head of Wine Expertise, Belmont Wine Exchange, San Francisco, CA

Susan is the Head of Wine Expertise for fine wine retailer Belmont Wine Exchange in the SF Bay Area. She creates delightfully thought-provoking experiences through music and wine. Susan approaches her craft through an interdisciplinary lens, forged by her background as a high tech program manager, performing arts program developer, and as a classical pianist and dancer. Her research and work on the interaction of music and wine have been featured on Decanter, GuildSomm, Robb Report, and others. Each of Susan’s creations is rooted in academic research and inspired by a deep respect for the essence of wine and music.

SUSAN LIN MW

Head of Wine Expertise, Belmont Wine Exchange, San Francisco, CA
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KEITH MARTON

Owner, Marton Consulting Seattle, WA

Keith I. Marton, MD, is a seasoned internist and physician executive, but his friends and family know him as a wine geek. Whenever possible he has combined his love of medicine with his love of wine. In medical school his most frequent day trips were to the Napa valley wineries, where he began his education in all aspects of wine.

Over the last 45 years he has done almost everything involving wine except make money. He has been an avid winemaker and collector for 40 years, has regularly led wine tastings and has lectured extensively on the health effects of moderate wine consumption. He has been a leader of several physician based wine and health organizations and represented the US in an international organization (OIV) that develops standards for viticulture and winemaking. He has judged wine professionally for over 20 years and successfully passed the theory exam as a candidate the Master of Wine degree.

KEITH MARTON

Owner, Marton Consulting Seattle, WA
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SHARRON MCCARTHY

Wine Consultant, Educator, Speaker, and Founder Bewitched by Wine Surfside Beach, SC

Sharron McCarthy, Director Emeritus and Past President of the U.S. Society of Wine Educators and former VP Wine Education at Banfi Vintners, is a wine industry legend.

Over the past four decades, this lively, engaging, articulate woman has traveled the world, sharing with others her boundless knowledge and enthusiasm for the joy of wine. From wine clubs and consumer groups, to law firms and Fortune 500 companies, to hospitality and grad students at some of America’s most prestigious centers of learning, to floor staff at wine stores and restaurants, and to frequent appearances on radio and TV, Sharron is in constant demand as one of the wine industry’s most popular and effective guest speakers.

At the heart of her success is a refreshingly unpretentious, progressive approach, firmly aimed at demystifying wine.

Born and raised in Long Island, NY, Sharron McCarthy’s wine business career began in 1978 when she joined Banfi Vintners. In 1986, Sharron went on to form her own consulting agency. A partnership with the Italian Trade Commission in New York is widely credited with playing a pivotal part in advancing Italy to its current status as America’s leading source of imported wines. Sharron subsequently returned to Banfi Vintners in the mid-1990s, where she took on the role of Executive Director for Riunite wines. Sharron later pioneered a role as VP focused exclusively on developing wine education which she left in April of 2021. Founder of Bewitched by Wine https://bewitchedbywine.com

SHARRON MCCARTHY

Wine Consultant, Educator, Speaker, and Founder Bewitched by Wine Surfside Beach, SC
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MICHAEL MCCLENDON

Co-Founder, Sages Vintage, Tyler, TX

Michael McClendon is the co-founder of Sages Vintage, a “custom crush” winery and consultancy in Nacogdoches. In addition to producing world class wines at Sage’s Vintage he has been named as a “Young Turk of Texas Wine ” by Dr. Russ Kane; featured in the Dallas Morning News; and on the cover of Wine and Spirits Magazine as part of their national collective of “Rising Black Voices” in the wine industry. At Sage’s Vintage, Michael has produced over 80 labels for nearly 30 winery and brand owners.

These wines have medaled in competitions across the US including San Diego Critics Challenge, American Wine Society, and San Francisco Chronicle. Michael graduated from The University of Texas at Tyler with a B.S. in Biology. His career has taken him all over the world, from Chile to New Zealand, but East Texas still has a special place in his heart. He has worked with several local organizations such as the Heritage Land Bank Northern advisory committee, Discovery Science Place board of directors, and the former Tyler Bolts Rugby Club. Michael loves spending time with his wife, Senetra, and their nine-year-old son, an avid baseball player.

MICHAEL MCCLENDON

Co-Founder, Sages Vintage, Tyler, TX
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CARA PATRICIA

Co-founder and Sommelier of DECANTsf San Francisco, CA

Cara Patricia is co-founder and sommelier of DECANTsf, a wine bottle shop & bar in San Francisco’s SoMa West District. Known for her relaxed style of wine education, Cara’s motto is “Drink for Yourself”, a reminder that regardless of the trends of the beverage world, what you like is most important.

CARA PATRICIA

Co-founder and Sommelier of DECANTsf San Francisco, CA
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BOB PAULINSKI MW

Managing Partner, Moxie Wine Group, Concord, CA

Bob has over forty years in the wine trade. He was a long-time wine store owner prior to becoming an MW in 2002. After selling his shop, he went into corporate roles, holding key leadership roles for major wine retailers throughout the US and Australia, such as Wal-Mart, Southeastern Grocers, Bevmo, and Coles. He is currently a Managing Partner of a wine import company focusing on exclusive brands and private label. He’s also a Consulting Editor for the Somm Journal and Tasting Panel Magazines, along with a wine YouTube channel at Bob Paulinski, Master of Wine which posts new content each week. He routinely works in wineries to stay connected by pruning vines, harvesting, etc. He’s judged in major competitions throughout the US, Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.

BOB PAULINSKI MW

Managing Partner, Moxie Wine Group, Concord, CA
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FRANCIS PERCIVAL

Food editor and columnist for The World of Fine Wine London, United Kingdom

Francis Percival writes on food and wine for The World of Fine Wine. With Bronwen Percival, he is the coauthor of Reinventing the Wheel: Milk. Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese. He is also a judge for the World of Fine Wine’s World’s Best Wine List Awards.

FRANCIS PERCIVAL

Food editor and columnist for The World of Fine Wine London, United Kingdom
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LARS RYSSDAL

Co-Publisher and Director of Operations, Art Culinaire, Healdsburg, CA

When Lars traded records for wine, he dove into roles as salesman, educator, twice-certified sommelier, working sommelier for Seastar Restaurant, The Herbfarm, Cascadia, and brand Manager for Corliss Wine Estates. He became such a fixture on the Northwest wine scene for 25 years, that in 2011, the Washington Wine Commission awarded Lars as the state’s first and only “Ambassador of Wine.” When Lars returned to California in 2012, he took on a General Managing role for Ackerman Family Vineyards in Coombsville, while he and Carol transitioned AC and operations from Issue 110 in New Jersey to Issue 111 in California. Lars enjoys helping facilitate the careers of aspiring sommeliers with his heartfelt involvement in the Court of Master Sommeliers and Society of Wine Educators. He continues to head the sommelier teams at Taste Washington (he has since 2003) and has returned as Chef Sommelier for the Children’s Hospital Auction of Washington Wines. For the past eight years, Lars has led the wine team at San Francisco’s Annual Meals on Wheels Star Chefs & Vintners Gala. He is the brainchild of Art Culinaire’s Looking Glass section, bringing wine education to the magazine through quarterly blind tastings, and day-to-day he facilitates AC’s behind-the-scenes functions as printing, subscription, retail and advertising liaison…and then some.

LARS RYSSDAL

Co-Publisher and Director of Operations, Art Culinaire, Healdsburg, CA
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MONICA SAMUELS

Vice President Sake and Spiritsof Sake and Spirits for Kome Collective, the Japanese division of Vine Connections New York, NY

Monica Samuels is the VP of Sake and Spirits for Kome Collective, the Japanese division of Vine Connections. She is based in New York City.

Monica’s 15+ years of experience in the sake industry include working as a restaurant beverage director, overseeing the category for one of the country’s largest wholesalers, and now directly importing sake and spirits from Japan and beyond. She has been recognized for her efforts in sales and education in Wine Spectator’s “Sake’s True Believers (2013),” Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Tastemakers Under 40 (2014),” received the title of “Sake Samurai” in 2017, and as part of the IWSC and WSET’s “Future 50 Awards (2019).” Monica’s education in sake includes studying under John Gauntner and his Sake Education Council, where she received both Certified and Advanced Sake Professional distinctions; she is also a WSET certified Educator for the L3 Award in Sake. She participates as a judge for many international competitions including TEXSOM, IWC, and the US National Sake Appraisal.

Monica was born in Los Angeles and spent summers in Tokyo at her grandparents’ house growing up. As a bilingual individual with a unique perspective on two very different cultures, she has been particularly successful in demystifying sake for the US audience. Her years in the hospitality business and ingrained passion for the restaurant industry have given her an exceptional understanding of pairing sake with food, particularly outside of the traditional Japanese setting.

MONICA SAMUELS

Vice President Sake and Spiritsof Sake and Spirits for Kome Collective, the Japanese division of Vine Connections New York, NY
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KERRY SHIELS

Winemaker, Côte Bonneville, Sunnyside, WA

Kerry is the winemaker for Côte Bonneville. Her parents planted DuBrul Vineyard in 1992 and were active in the early Washington wine industry, so it only made sense that she began making wine in middle and high school in a series of science projects. After earning her engineering degree from Northwestern University in Chicago, she worked in Torino, Italy and Chicago, Illinois in Fiat’s management development program before deciding to enter the world of wine in 2005. While she was at Northwestern, Côte Bonneville was founded to showcase the distinctive grapes that are grown in DuBrul Vineyard.

Kerry has been immersed in the family businesses of DuBrul Vineyard and Côte Bonneville since the inception, but especially after leaving engineering. Recognizing the importance of quality at every step, she earned her master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, and gained experience in California, Argentina, and Australia. She worked in all aspects of winemaking at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Robert Mondavi Winery, Tahbilk, and Tapiz, before returning to Côte Bonneville full time. Since 2009, she has expanded the range of wines beyond the Bordeaux blends and Chardonnay to also include Riesling, Cab Franc Rosé, Syrah, and a second label, Train Station, celebrating their historic tasting room location.

KERRY SHIELS

Winemaker, Côte Bonneville, Sunnyside, WA
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JAMES SLIGH

Grape Kid, Children's Atlas of Wine Brooklyn, NY

James is a sommelier, writer, + educator based in Brooklyn. He draws the Children’s Atlas of Wine, which maps underrated wine regions, overlooked grape varieties, and the people that grow them. With Jirka Jireh, he co-founded Industry Sessions, a natural wine study for BIPOC beverage professionals.

JAMES SLIGH

Grape Kid, Children's Atlas of Wine Brooklyn, NY
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STEVIE STACIONIS

Co-Owner, Bay Grape and MAMA Oakland and Founder, Bâtonnage Forum

Stevie co-owns Bay Grape wine shops and bars in Oakland and Napa and Italian restaurant MAMA Oakland. She also founded the Bâtonnage Forum and has earned a reputation for progressive thought leadership and advocacy for greater sustainability and diversity in wine retail and hospitality.

STEVIE STACIONIS

Co-Owner, Bay Grape and MAMA Oakland and Founder, Bâtonnage Forum
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BREE STOCK MW

Education Director, Oregon Wine Board and Director and Winemaker, Constant Crush, Willamette Valley, OR

Bree Stock is a Master of Wine, since 2016, she is Oregon’s first MW and the only female MW in the Pacific Northwest. Australian-born, her wine career began in the Canadian on-trade with Sommelier buying roles on both coasts before returning to Australia to pursue a career in wine importing, sales, and winemaking roles. Her curiosity and love for wine led her to travel extensively to pursue harvest roles in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and the US where she fell in love with Oregon’s Willamette Valley and her now partner, Chad Stock. Together they are committed to knowledge and idea sharing and to expanding the conversation around sustainable and innovative vineyard and wine production in the region. She is the Director of Education for the Oregon Wine Board. She is also the co-winemaker in Limited Addition Wines, and Concinnitas Fermentations and winemaker for Artist Block wine, and Grace + Vine all based in Oregon and sourcing grapes and wine from the Pacific Northwest.

BREE STOCK MW

Education Director, Oregon Wine Board and Director and Winemaker, Constant Crush, Willamette Valley, OR
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GUY STOUT MS CWE

Corporate Director Beverage Education, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Houston, TX

http://www.southernglazers.com/

Guy is one of only 274 Master Sommeliers (MS) in the world. He is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE), Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS), Certified Bordeaux Wine Educator, and previous board member & past President of the Society of Wine Educators. Guy has also served on the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and has been recognized as a Houston icon for his contribution to the wine and food industry of Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Houston Hilton School for Hotel Restaurant Management. He is the Texas Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Company. Guy has been the featured “wine expert” on the PBS cooking series Cucina Amore with Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba, the founders of Carrabba’s Restaurants. He has also appeared on a number of radio and television talk shows covering wine and food. He was a featured speaker at the Smithsonian Institute Folk Life Festival in Washington D.C. lecturing on the Texas wine industry. He is a member of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and owned and farmed Stout Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country AVA, producing Syrah and Tempranillo grapes for the pasted 20 years. He is an active wine judge for a variety of national competitions; including the TexSomm International Wine Awards, California State Fair, Jefferson Cup, Missouri Grape Growers, Indiana State Wine Competition, and the Houston Rodeo Wine Competition. Guy is also a member of the Houston Food and Beverage Managers Association and founder of the Houston Caesar Salad Competition for Charity. He is an active spokesman for the adult beverage industry.

GUY STOUT MS CWE

Corporate Director Beverage Education, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Houston, TX
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KATHLEEN THOMAS

Wine Goddess & GM, Ada’s Food + Wine Las Vegas, NV

KATHLEEN THOMAS

Wine Goddess & GM, Ada’s Food + Wine Las Vegas, NV
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MADELINE TRIFFON MS

Master Sommelier, Plum Market Michigan

https://www.plummarket.com/find-your-store/

Madeline Triffon joined Plum Market in 2011 as the in-house Master Sommelier. Plum Market is a full-service grocery retailer with stores in Southeastern Michigan and Metro Chicago. Madeline directs wine tasting events, hand selects wines for in-store and online retail sales, and serves as a corporate wine educator. Madeline is one of 182 professionals who have earned the title Master Sommelier as part of the American chapter; of these 29 are woman. There are 274 people worldwide people who have passed the exam since its inception.  Madeline was the second woman in the world to pass the M.S. exam. She is a Chairman Emeritus of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers and has also served as Scholarship Chair. For over 30 years, Madeline has directed wine programs & events in the Metro Detroit area. She has mentored dozens of service professionals and enjoys nothing more than watching them grow and excel. Santé Magazine named Madeline Triffon Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year for 1999. Restaurant Hospitality awarded her their Vanguard Award in 2002 for industry leadership and vision. In 2008, WCR (Women Chefs and Restaurateurs) awarded her their Golden Goblet Award for “Women Who Inspire”. Cheers Magazine gave Madeline their Award for Beverage Excellence in 2011. In 2012, Champagne Krug awarded her a Lifetime Achievement Award for exceptional achievement in wine service, education and hospitality.

MADELINE TRIFFON MS

Master Sommelier, Plum Market Michigan
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TOSHIO UENO MSS, DipWSET

Director, Sake Specialist Division, Mutual Trading Company, Los Angeles, CA

Toshio Ueno MSS, DipWSET, CSW, FWS, SWS, IWS, CS
Toshio is the creator of Sake School of America and English Shochu Adviser Certificate program, and only one in the world to hold Master of Sake (酒匠), Master Sake Sommelier (日本酒学講師), WSET Sake Educator diploma and WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits. Born in Japan where his family has grown Japanese wine grape, Koshu, for generations, Toshio grew up helping the business from a young age. Following his college education in the US and employment at an international trading company in Tokyo, Toshio joined Chateraise, a pastry and wine company as Director of Sales. There, he was put in charge of overseeing the personal wine collection of the company’s president, which intrigued him to enter the world of wine stewardship and research. Toshio joined Mutual Trading Company in 2002, where he is Director of Sake Specialist Department in marketing Japanese foods, Sake, and Shochu to the mainstream American trade. With his passion and expertise in Sake, Shochu, and Wine, Toshio aims to further promote Japanese food and Sake cultures to new, international audiences. Since 2010, he has been Vice President & Executive Instructor at Sake School of America. In 2016 he was awarded the industry’s most prestigious title Sake Samurai from Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association. And in February 2021, he was appointed as The Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Honors & Awards:
2022 Ambassador of Yamanashi, Yamanashi Prefectural Government
2021 Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
2021 Brewing & Distilled Spirits Education Award, Brewing & Distilling Educational Services
2020 Awamori Jinbner, Okinawa Awamori Distillers Association
2019 Professionnel du Vin and Chevalier de la Societe Mondiale du Vin, Chaine des Rottiseurs
2019 to Current Board of Director, Society of Wine Educators
2017 Distinguished Service Prize, FBO Japan
2016 Sake Samurai, Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association

Certification:
日本酒学講師 Master Sake Sommelier & 酒匠 Master of Sake, Sake Service Institute (SSI)
南部杜氏協会 研究科生 Nanbu Toji Guild Pre-Toji Candidate
WSET Diploma in Wine & Spirits, Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET)
WSET Certified Sprits Educator & Sake Educator,
Certified Specialist of Wine, Society of Wine Educators
Certified Sommelier, Court of Master Sommeliers
French Wine Scholar, International Wine Guild
Spanish Wine Scholar, International Wine Guild
Certified Italian Wine Specialist, North American Sommelier Association
Citified Beer Adviser, FBO
Cicerone Beer Server, Cicerone

Judge:
International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC), Spirits Judge
San Francisco World Spirits Competition Judge, Spirits Judge
TAG Global Spirits Awards, Spirits Judge
CINVE Spain, Spirits Judge
New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, Wine & Spirits Judge
International Wine Challenge (IWC), Wine, Spirits & Sake Judge
San Francisco International Wine Competition, Wine Judge
Texsom International Wine Awards, Wine Judge
Las Vegas Global Wine Awards, Wine Judge
Le Mondiale des Vins Blancs Strasbourg, Wine Judge
Berliner Wine Trophy, Wine Judge
Catad’Or World Wine Awards, Wine & Spirits Judge
Vinalies Internationales, Wine Judge

TOSHIO UENO MSS, DipWSET

Director, Sake Specialist Division, Mutual Trading Company, Los Angeles, CA
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JENNIFER UYGUR

Owner, Lucia Dallas,TX

Jennifer Uygur is the co-owner of Lucia, a 2023 James Beard nominee for Outstanding Restaurant, with her chef/husband. Prior to opening Lucia, Jennifer was the Wine Manager at Central Market. She’s a member of the Dallas Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier and is a certified Italian Wine Professional.

JENNIFER UYGUR

Owner, Lucia Dallas,TX
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JESSICA WAUGH

Founder and Owner, JWaugh Education and NeuroSips™ Henderson, NV

Jessica Waugh is the founder and owner of JWaugh Education and NeuroSips™, a platform dedicated to assisting students in unlocking their learning potential. The focus is on identifying individual learning styles, harnessing unique strengths, and fostering authenticity. Established in 2020, JWaugh Education initially served as a resource for those preparing for beverage certification exams. Since 2023, Jessica has expanded the scope to provide learning style and neurodivergency coaching, aiming to support students in successfully navigating various beverage exams. Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Jessica accumulated a decade of experience as a sommelier on the Las Vegas Strip. She later held the position of Director of Education at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits for six years. Jessica’s expertise extends to passing a multitude of certification exams, reflecting her dedication to the craft. Motivated by a desire to share practical insights on effective study techniques and personalized learning, Jessica Waugh strives to guide others on their educational journeys. Her commitment lies in helping individuals discover their strengths and achieve success in their academic pursuits. Jessica’s story is one of genuine passion, knowledge, and a sincere commitment to enhancing the learning experience for all.

JESSICA WAUGH

Founder and Owner, JWaugh Education and NeuroSips™ Henderson, NV
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DEBBIE ZACHAREAS

Managing Partner, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese and Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, Napa, CA and San Francisco, CA

Debbie Zachareas is the Proprietor and Managing Partner at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco’s restored Ferry Building, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese in San Francisco, and the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in downtown Napa. She was the consulting wine director to the Warriors at the Chase Center and has recently opened her latest Wine Bar at Chase Center’s Thrive City, Mission Bay Wine Bar. She is the wine consultant to Izzy’s Steak House in the Bay Area, and the Madrona in Healdsburg. She is also a well-known wine judge, lecturer, sommelier, and guest speaker throughout the country.

Zachareas has served as a trustee for the French American International School and International High School, as well as Family House, San Francisco. She chairs and volunteers for a number of fundraisers close to her heart, including Make a Wish, Meals on Wheels and the Food Bank, just to name a few.

Zachareas’s past include developing some of the most innovative wine programs that have helped to shape the city’s wine culture. She was the founder of one of San Francisco’s most extensive wine programs at bacar restaurant, the wine buyer for the Ashbury Market, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar, the opening sommelier at Rubicon Restaurant, and the opening wine director at Vertigo in the TransAmerica Building. She won the inaugural Wine Director of the year award for San Francisco Magazine and was the only sommelier ever to have won the award twice. Nationally recognized by Food and Wine Magazine, Market Watch, Wine Spectator and Saveur Magazines, Bloomberg, Women in Wine Leadership, The California Wine Institute and she remains a renowned international wine judge and brings a passion and expertise wine to her profession.

DEBBIE ZACHAREAS

Managing Partner, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Mission Bay Wine & Cheese and Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, Napa, CA and San Francisco, CA
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