2023 ASSOCIATE Judges
The Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge strives to be an educational platform for young wine industry professionals growing in their careers. Associate Judges are nominated by their peers and attend the judging process, each assigned a panel with our highly experienced wine judges. They get to learn and network with winemakers, sommeliers, media people and other seasoned wine industry professionals.
Jennifer (Jenn) Barak
Winemaker, E & J Gallo Winery | Healdsburg, CA
Jennifer (Jenn) Barak found a passion for winemaking and the beautiful Sonoma County early, despite growing up in Los Angeles. Jenn holds a BS in Enology and MS in Viticulture and Enology, focusing on tannin chemistry, from Fresno State. Early in her career she strove to garner the best understanding possible of world winemaking and wine culture by working and studying locally in California and abroad in Italy, Switzerland, and London amongst others. After completing school and internships she landed at E & J Gallo Winery; where she has had the opportunity to rotate through Winemaking, Vineyard Management, and Food Safety and Lab Management, returning to Winemaking as the Winemaker focusing on Bordeaux varietals at Gallo’s Sonoma Winery for the last five harvests.”
Grower Relations Representative for E&J Gallo | Fresno, CA
Christian Clements is a Grower Relations Representative for E&J Gallo in the Fresno area. Christian graduated from CSU Fresno with a B.S. in Agricultural Business. After college, he followed in the footsteps of his father by going on to work in the Wine Industry. Having grown up in Sonoma County, Christian was always surrounded by vineyards. At a young age his dad would take him along for various business trips, meetings, and vineyard visits. This sparked Christian's passion for wine and grapes which has persisted to this day.
Sr. Specialist of Experiential Development- Dining and Specialty Wine for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy
While taking a class called “The Idea of Wine” in her senior year at the University of Puget Sound, Michelle discovered her love for wine as a lens to study the world. Being hired at Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Healdsburg as a Guest Services Associate prior to her college graduation, Michelle jumped into wine country and her career with full force.
Michelle then pursued her WSET 2 and 3 certifications in Sonoma County, with Odyssey Wine Academy, where she is currently an educator for WSET levels 1 and 2.
She now works for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy as the Sr. Specialist of Experiential Development- Dining and Specialty Wine, Northern California where she is able to bring Moët Hennessy’s world-renowned wines and spirts brands to life.
The French proverb that embodies Michelle's passion for wine is, "When one looks into water, they see their own reflection, but when one looks into wine, they behold the heart of another."