JUDGE BIOS

 

CHIEF

JUDGE

DARYL Groom

Owner/Winemaker, Groom Wines | Healdsburg, CA

Daryl Groom is the recipient of 8 Winemaker of the Year awards. He has judged in over 100 wine competitions across the USA. While he resides in Healdsburg California he is also 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 recently launched his most rewarding wine project ever, Colby Red Wine. This wine from California was initiated by his 13-year old son Colby who recently underwent back-to-back heart surgeries. Profits from Colby Red Wine go to heart related charities across the USA. Daryl's previous experience includes winemaking and operational management at Penfolds, Geyser Peak Winery, and Beam Wine Estates.

COMPETITION

DIRECTOR

DEBRA Del Fiorentino

Director of Wine Competitions, Wine Competitions Management + Productions | Sonoma County, CA

International Wine Judge, Sommelier, Certified Wine Professional and Certified Specialist of Wine, Debra Del Fiorentino is a consummate wine professional who brings a dynamic energy and expertise to every endeavor she undertakes. Debra is a familiar face at numerous prestigious wine competitions. She currently holds the esteemed position of Director of Wine Competitions for Wine Competitions Management + Productions, a producer of wine competitions for eight unique craft beverage competitions. Born and raised in San Francisco, Debra is a second generation Italian from a large family that originally settled in the Napa Valley. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of California at Berkeley, Debra opened two gourmet food stores in Marin before venturing into the wine industry. Debra also serves as an independent wine educator and partner at Russian River Vineyards.

LAURA Ness

Wine Writer, 

Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Spirited Magazine, Wine Industry Network, Los Gatos Magazine, The San Jose Mercury News and Edible:Monterey. She loves sharing stories about wine with character and the characters who make them. The Girl Scout in her keeps a corkscrew in every purse, although she adores screwcaps.

COREY Beck

Director of Winemaking/General Manager, Francis Ford Coppola Winery | Sonoma County, CA

Director of Winemaking and General Manager Corey Beck has more than 20 years of experience in the wine industry. Corey began his career in viticulture quite by accident, tagging alongside his grandfather who was the vineyard manager for Napa Valley’s renowned Chateau Montelena. Born and raised in Calistoga, Corey spent summer vacations working in the vineyards. In 2006, the Coppola family appointed Corey as director of winemaking and general manager. When asked about his true winemaking passion, Corey’s answer is always Petite Sirah. It’s not just Corey’s favorite varietal, it was a passion of his grandfather’s and one of the primary reasons Corey chose winemaking as a career.​

TIM Bell

Winemaker, Dry Creek Vineyard | Healdsburg, CA

Tim Bell, Winemaker at Dry Creek Vineyard, has worked with a wide range of grape varieties and wine styles over his 25-year career in Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Central Coast; still wine, sparkling, dessert, even Kosher. Tim graduated with honors in winemaking at University of California, Davis, learning the intricacies of wine chemistry and microbiology that would inform his stylistic choices in creating complex and nuanced blends. Hands-on cellar work at premium California wineries led Bell to the historic Freemark Abbey Winery for 10 years, and later to Kunde Family Estate. He joined Dry Creek Vineyard in 2011 and has elevated the winery’s robust program of award-winning Dry Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage blends, as well as a portfolio of single vineyard selections.

MICHAEL Jordan MS, CWE 

Director of Global Key Accounts at Jackson Family Wines | Costa Mesa, CA

Jordan, one of only fifteen people in the world to hold both Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator diplomas, has decades of hospitality and restaurant management experience, with particular focus on creating world-class beverage programs. In addition, his weekly CRN digital talk radio show, “What’s Cooking With Wine Radio,” helps demystify wine for consumers across the country. 

Winemaker, Trione Vineyards and Winery | Geyserville, CA

Scot Covington

In 2005, when the Trione family decided to build their legacy winery on their Home Ranch in Alexander Valley, they searched for a winemaker with design, construction and wine production experience – a tall order that Scot Covington filled. The family appointed him winemaker in 2005. “The Triones basically gave me a blank piece of paper and said ‘Design your winery’.” Scot envisioned a straightforward facility, customized to accommodate small lots and hands-on winemaking. Scot brought years of relevant experience to the project. After graduating from California State University, Fresno in 1990 with a B. S. degree in Agricultural Science, Enology, he enhanced his knowledge working on three continents — in North America here in Sonoma County, South Africa and Australia. Scot’s mentors are legendary; his winemaking is influenced by years of training under such icons as Bill Bonnetti and Merry Edwards.  Living a winemaker’s dream, Scot has his choice of the finest grapes grown on the Trione family’s vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Coast AVAs. He selects the top three percent of grapes from more than 650 acres of vineyards. Scot’s goal: make wines that express the highest level of quality across all varieties produced from estate grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Blanc, Syrah and Zinfandel.

FRED Dame

Master Sommelier and VP of Prestige Accounts, American Wine & Spirits | San Francisco, CA

Frederick L. 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 of 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.  Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time. Dame is also an active member of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, serving as the current Vice Conseiller Culinaire of the Monterey Peninsula Bailliage. He has been awarded Officier Commandeur in recognitiion of his 30 year membership with La Chaîne and is the recipient of the Bronze Star of Excellence, awarded for outstanding service by a Bailli.

TRACI Dutton

Educator, Sommelier, Wine & Beverage Judge - Public Wine and Beverage Studies, CIA | Napa County, CA

Traci Dutton is a sommelier, a wine judge, and the manager of public wine and beverage studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. She joined the CIA in 1998 as beverage manager and sommelier for the college’s Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant. Over the course of more than 30 years in the wine world, Ms. Dutton has worked in high-end establishments such as Montrachet, The Striped Bass, and 231 Ellsworth, and has served luminaries as varied as Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Bacon, and Chef Paul Bocuse. She has studied and tasted great wines at vineyards around the world, from Portugal and Austria to Argentina and the United States. Her writing on wines and beverages has appeared in Kitchen & Cook, the St. Helena Star, iSanté.com, and many other publications. In 2011, she was named one of the top wine country sommeliers by Tasting Panel magazine.

ZIGGY Eschliman

Radio and TV Personality, Wine Blogger ZiggyTheWineGal.com | Sonoma County, CA

Ziggy Eschliman, known to most simply as The Wine Gal or The Contessa of Cocktails, is among America's most enthusiastic, authoritative and entertaining libation experts. For over 20 years, Ziggy has set and reported trends in all things to imbibe. Her radio shows are broadcast throughout wine country and are available on the internet. As a leading American speaker, consultant, and wine writer, with personal experience extending from the hills of Tuscany to the streets of New Orleans, Ziggy is a driving force behind a national movement toward making wine hip, fun and accessible. As Ziggy plainly puts it, "...wine has been around for centuries; the mystery is so over. It's time to get past the stuffiness and clichés. They're simply a turn off to many would-be wine drinkers."

LIZ Thach MW

Dr. Elizabeth "Liz" Thach, MW, Professor of Wine,  Professor of Management, Author,

Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Thach, MW is the Distinguished Professor of Wine and a Professor of Management. Her areas of expertise include Wine Business Strategy, Human Resource Management, and Leadership Development. In May of 2011 she was awarded the title of Master of Wine from the Institute of Masters of Wine in London, making her the first female MW on the West Coast and the 7th woman in the US to achieve this honor. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 50 countries.. She is an award winning author who has published over 130 articles and 8 wine books, including Call of the Vine, Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. She is an active member in community organizations, and has held positions with the Board of Directors for Women for Wine Sense, Petaluma Gap WineGrowers Alliance, PASCO and many others. She is on the Editorial boards for International Journal of Wine Business Research and Wine Economics & Policy. In addition, Liz serves as a professional wine judge at many prestigious wine judging competitions.

NICK Goldschmidt

Winemaker and Consultant, Goldschmidt Vineyards | Healdsburg, CA

Mr. Nick Goldschmidt co-founded Goldschmidt Vineyards in 1998. Mr. Goldschmidt served as an Executive Winemaker of Beam Wine Estates, Inc. Mr. Goldschmidt began his career in 1982 winemaking journey in New Zealand Lincoln University before setting off on an 18-month journey to explore winegrowing throughout the world's best viticultural areas. In 1990, he settled down in Healdsburg, California, as Simi's Associate Winemaker. He was promoted to Chief Winemaker 1991 and became Vice President and Chief Winemaker in 1996. He settled in Northern California as Simi's Associate Winemaker. During a number of acquisitions Nick became Vice President and Executive Domestic Winemaker for Beam Estates wine portfolio. He soon became Winemaker, and eventually, Vice President, Winemaker. During this period, he also started several brands of his own - including Forefathers Winery, Goldschmidt vineyards and Boulder Bank. In 2003, he became Executive Vice President, Winemaker at Allied Domecq Wines USA - overseeing the California portfolio of wines. He serves as a Member of Board of Advisors at Zero Link Markets, Inc. Mr. Goldschmidt originally studied civil engineering before his enduring love affair with viticulture and winemaking began in the vineyards of the South Island. After graduating with distinction in horticulture, Mr. Goldschmidt continued his studies in viticultural studies in Wagga Wagga, Australia at Charles Stuart University, and completed his postgraduate studies in enology at Roseworth Agricultural College in Australia. He graduated with Distinction in Horticulture from New Zealand Lincoln University.

BILL Hayes

Wine Category Manager, BevMo! | US West Coast

Bill Hayes is the Wine Category Manager for the growing BevMo! Retail chain of 163 Stores throughout California, Arizona and Washington.  With over 33 years of career experience in the Wine  Retail industry, Bill has developed key relationships with winery Owners, Winemakers, Growers as well as other industry partners that have cultivated his vast knowledge of and passion for Wines around the world.  Bill’s career in the Wine business began as a Buyer with the Liquor Barn stores.  Bill was also a part of the Kendall-Jackson Family Wine organization where he managed the Distributor portfolio that included Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria and Stonestreet Wines.  In 1994 Bill joined BevMo! as one of its very first employees as the Corporate Wine Buyer.  He has played key roles in the development, launching and fostering of BevMo!’s iconic 5₵ Wine Sale that has grown from one Wine to now over two-hundred.  As part of the BevMo! Private Label/Exclusive Wine program, Bill has traveled throughout Europe and South America to work with Wineries and industry partners to blend and bottle Import Wines such as Zolo and Tapiz, and has blended and developed varietal extensions of the Unruly , Shiloh Road and Stateland Cellars brands.  Bill’s current focus with BevMo! is sourcing and developing the premium selection of wines from around the world  and promote the local brands for the next-generation BevMo! Consumer.  The Hayes family has had deep roots in the Russian River Valley and its Wine industry for over 50 years.  Bill continues that heritage and tradition through his love and passion of Wine, whether it be an approachable bottle or  a rare bottle for his cellar.  If you know Bill, you have been fortunate enough to share in a great bottle of Wine along with a story that truly captures the spirit of the Wine, its origins and the people who made it.

BARRY Herbst

Wine Director, Bottle Barn Liquors | Santa Rosa, CA

Barry has more than three decades of experience in the wine industry, ranging from sommelier and wine shop owner to high-level retail and private cellar acquisitions. He was raised in Southern California, where he earned his stripes in some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, among them Chinois on Main and Osteria Angelini. Most recently, Barry was General Manager of the Rare Wine Company in Sonoma, as well as working with Soutirage and Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits in Napa Valley. Currently, he is the wine buyer for Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA, a 15,000 square foot superstore and arguably has the largest and finest selection of fine wines north of San Francisco. Barry blames a bottle of 1980 Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux for having sent him down the rabbit hole many years ago. Today, he lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife, two children and Australian Shepherd, Elvis, to whom he happily dedicates every spare moment outside of work.

PHILIP Levesque

Wine Consultant, Oakville Grocery, | Healdsburg, CA   

Philip Levesque spent over two decades in the food and wine industry in New York City and Los Angeles. 

Currently he is the wine buyer at Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg, fulfilling his passion for all wines Sonoma. 

His motto: drink lots of wine and ask lots of questions!

ELLEN Landis

CS, CSW

Ellen is a published Wine Writer, Certified Sommelier, Certified Wine Specialist, Wine Educator and Professional Wine Judge.  She is the author of the blog EllenOnWine.com and writes for the AWS Wine Journal (AmericanWineSociety.org) among other publications.  Ellen is a moderator for the highly acclaimed Vintner’s Holidays annual event at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and participates as a key speaker, moderator and panelist at various other wine events. For the past sixteen plus years, she and husband Ken co-owned award winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ellen served as Wine Director and Sommelier. They recently sold their Inn to devote more time to the world of wine.  Ellen was also a Sommelier at the Ritz Carlton for several years. Ellen has traveled many wine regions throughout North America including California, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, New Mexico, Arizona, New York and Canada, and several international wine regions including Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, Rhone, Tuscany, and wine regions throughout Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.  In addition to an MBA, Ellen’s wine education includes UC Davis viticulture course work, CSW certification from the Society of Wine Educators program, and holds the credential of Certified Sommelier (CS) from the Court of Master Sommeliers.  Ellen serves as a judge at numerous national and international wine competitions including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Mid-American Wine Competition, California State Fair Wine Competition, American Fine Wine Competition, Amador County Fair Wine Competition, Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition, West Coast Wine Competition,  Grand Harvest  International Wine Competition, Grand Cru International Wine Competition, Riverside International Wine Competition, Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, Mendocino County Wine Competition, Monterey Wine Competition, Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging, and the Central Coast Wine Competition.

PEG Melnik

Wine Critic/Blogger and Writer, The Press Democrat | Sonoma County, CA

Peg Melnik is the wine critic, blogger and writer at The Press Democrat..Melnik is also the lead author of the Explorer’s Guide Napa & Sonoma published by W.W.Norton, now in its 10th edition. She has written for publications such as Sonoma magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Melnik has also traveled extensively through the wine regions of Europe.

SPRETI ValEnte

Certified Sommelier - Wine Buyer - Professional Wine Judge, Consultant & Educator

Spreti Valente is a certified sommelier, professional wine Judge, wine buyer and consultant.  Spreti has 14 years’ experience as a wine buyer for retail clients, most recently, her 11 years at Anne’s Boutique Wines, resulted in winning the top wine shop in Orange County..

Spreti also works as an educator, teaching wine classes to both public events and university audiences.  Spreti’s consulting work has been published in both Spanish and English in the US and Abroad.   

Spreti’s tasting expertise has been further developed in her work as a professional wine judge.  Currently she serves in tasting panels for prestigious wine competitions both the U.S. and Europe

CHRIS Munsell

Director of Winemaking, E&J Gallo Winery | Sonoma County, CA

As Director of Winemaking for Gallo’s Premium Business Unit, Chris oversees the Winery’s Premium Wine programs across a range of California appellations.  He has been instrumental in creating new wines for Gallo, leveraging the Winery’s premier vineyard properties in the Sonoma County and the Central Coast. After honing his craft at some of the industry’s top wineries, including Geyser Peak and Domaine Chandon, Chris Munsell arrived at Gallo with more than 19 vintages behind him.​ “My job is to help our winemakers achieve their ultimate vision for each wine,” says Chris. “I really enjoy the depth of talent we have at Gallo. It allows us to marry traditional approaches with cutting edge winemaking.”

Linda Murphy

Contributing Writer, Sonoma Magazine | Healdsburg, CA

Linda Murphy is a former San Diego sportswriter who upgraded her drinking habits by moving to Sonoma County in 1990 and insinuating herself into the wine business. After eight years learning the industry as a cellar worker, vineyard sampler and communications director, she shifted her knowledge back to the journalism side, first as managing editor of the New York Times' wine website, WineToday.com, and then to the San Francisco Chronicle, where she was its first wine section editor and won two James Beard Awards. Linda now writes for numerous publications and websites, including JancisRobison.com, Decanter magazine, WineReviewOnline and Sonoma magazine. In March 2013, she and Jancis Robinson published the book " American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wine and Wineries of the United States" (University of California Press) - a celebration of the winemaking efforts in all 50 states.

ERIK Olsen

General Manager, Clos du Bois Winery | Geyserville, CA

Erik joined Constellation in 2007 during the acquisition of Beam Wine Estates where he served as Vice President of Winemaking for Clos du Bois for seven years. Previously Erik spent 10 years at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State as Head Winemaker, and was an enologist for Simi Winery. He received his B.S. in fermentation science from UC Davis and an M.S. in food science specializing in enology from Cornell and holds an MBA from the University of Washington. In his career, Erik has produced over 30 wines rated 90+ and is a published author and speaker at consumer and industry events. 

DEBBIE Zachareas

Wine Expert, International Judge, and Lecturer | Napa County, CA

Debbie  is a highly regarded wine expert, international judge, and lecturer. Her passion is on display at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and Napa’s Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, where she is both owner and managing partner. Over her career, she has helped shape San Francisco’s wine culture through innovative wine programs, emphasizing small-production and sustainably farmed wines. She has developed wine programs at bacar, Ashbury Market, and EOS. Her expertise has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Food & Wine and Saveur. Debbie works closely with Family House and Make a Wish Foundation and consults with organizations to help fundraise for local and national institutions. 

JASPER Russo

Director of Wine Education, Sales & Marketing, Sigel’s Fine Wines and Great Spirits | Dallas, TX

In a wine career that has spanned over 30 years, Jasper Russo has worked in every tier of the wine trade throughout Texas and Louisiana, ranging from Sommelier (Atlantic Café, San Simeon), Retail (Marty’s Food & Wine, Sigel’s) Wholesale (Tarrant Distributors, Sigel’s) and Importing (Wilson Daniels). Jasper has over 20 years’ experience judging wine events, including The Dallas Morning News Wine Competition and TexSom International Wine Awards.  Follow Jasper on Twitter and Facebook as sigelswinebuyer.

CHRISTOPHER Sawyer

Wine Writer and “Sommelier to the Stars” | Sonoma, CA

Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned sommelier, wine educator, journalist, consultant, critic and public speaker: He travels the world following trends in wine and participating as a VIP judge in the world’s top wine competitions, and has been featured in a wide range of national media, including USAToday, MSN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Redbook, The Hollywood Reporter, Maxim, National Geographic Traveler, CNN and Esquire. Already legendary in the industry for his encyclopedic wine knowledge and rich wine industry relationships around the globe, Sawyer has been a personal sommelier for an array of luminaries and aficionados, from the Getty Family to the Gorbachevs, as well as for Oscar-winning director and chief creative officer of Pixar-Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter. Christopher has also become renowned for his unusual and entertaining ability to pair wines with just about any pop cultural experience. His wine pairings for movies are already celebrated, and have been featured in major national media. Sawyer is the recipient of many prestigious awards and industry honors. Most recently he was voted 2014 Best Sommelier in Sonoma County by readers in The Bohemian’s Best of the North Bay issue.

MICK Schroeter

Director of Winemaking, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards | Windsor, CA

Mick’s wine background made him superbly qualified to serve as only the third head winemaker in the history of Sonoma-Cutrer. Starting out on his own as an oenologist at Kaiser Stuhl winery in Australia, Mick wanted to blaze his own trail and had no intentions of following in his father and uncle’s footsteps at the Penfold Winery. Then in 1982, Penfold bought Kaiser Stuhl and reunited Mick with his family in the business. Although Mick was already well-versed in winemaking, Penfold allowed him to continue his pursuit of total enlightenment, sponsoring his winemaking education at the famed Roseworthy College and providing him a scholarship to visit and study Chilean wine country. This was followed with a 6-month tour around the world with his wife and a stop in California to work the wine harvest. Mick rose rapidly through the Penfold system and had the privilege to be part of their red winemaking team, eventually working on Penfold’s legendary Grange Hermitage, the benchmark of Aussie Shiraz. From there, Mick accepted an invitation from Geyser Peak Winery in California to take over as Vice President of Winemaking and for 17 years was in charge of vineyard assessment, harvest scheduling, winemaking direction, budgeting and brand ambassadorship. It is his long track record of success and illustrious career in Australia and California, along with twice being named “Winemaker of the Year” at the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, that gave Mick the encompassing experience to take the reins at Sonoma-Cutrer. He considers it one of the industry’s true dream jobs. He is honored to carry on the brand’s storied legacy but also eager to take it to new heights.

LARRY Van Aalst

Radio Host of "The Sonoma Wine Report", CRN Digital Talk Radio | Santa Rosa, CA

As Sommelier, Larry selected wines for Equus for over a decade. Larry has been judging at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair/San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for over a decade likewise, an opportunity for Larry to keep abreast of fine wines from California.

ELSIE Wolfe

Sales Manager, Alcohol, Safeway | Pleasanton, CA

Elsie Wolfe has 27 years’ experience within the Supermarket Industry. She currently manages the strategy and sales for total alcohol—wine, spirits and beer for Safeway Northern California Division, the largest division of Albertson’s Companies. As a California native, Elsie is passionate about leveraging local partnerships and inspired to bring wine history to life in her stores. She has participated in the New York Wine Spectator Experience for the past several years as well as the Women of the Vine Symposium. Prior to her current role, Elsie was the Vice President of Meals & Ingredients for the entire enterprise of Safeway consisting of 8 divisions before the merger with Albertson’s Companies. Elsie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Santa Clara University and an MBA from St. Mary’s College of California. She was recognized in 2014 by Progressive Grocer as one of the Top Women in Grocery.

CHELSEA Barrett

Winemaker | Calistoga, CA

Chelsea Barrett grew up in Calistoga in a winemaking family and began working in wineries at a young age.

After graduating from UC Davis and working harvests at Weingut Mayer am Pfarplaz, Two Hands, and Opus One, she

started as enologist at Joel Gott wines in 2012.  She was promoted to assistant winemaker a year later, and further

promoted to winemaker in 2017. Chelsea enjoys the challenge of working with a broad variety of regions and varietals

with Joel Gott, and particularly loves making Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2017, she also joined her mother, winemaker Heidi Barrett, as co-winemaker for Amuse Bouche and Au Sommet. At the same time, she, Heidi, and Remi Barrett (Chelsea's sister) launched the collaborative brand Aviatrix. 

2020 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.

Rachel Kelley

Student Winemaking Certificate Program at UC Davis. | Alexander Valley, CA

"As part of a generational farming family, Rachel grew up enjoying her family’s Alexander Valley ranch and vineyard but never considered a career there.  It wasn’t until she completed her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology at University of San Francisco that she realized city life wasn’t for her and she decided to work harvest at her family’s winery while looking for a job. After one vintage, she was hooked on the hard yet rewarding work that goes into grape growing and winemaking. Rachel has now completed 5 harvests and is currently working in the cellar at Robert Young Winery while she works towards completing the Winemaking Certificate Program at UC Davis." 

ADAM Clark

Tasting Room Manager, Williamson Wines | Healdsburg, CA

Adam was raised in Sonoma County and currently lives in Santa Rosa with his wife and 1 year old son.    He began working in the wine industry in 2010, starting out as a part time wine educator/tour guide, and quickly climbed the ranks in hospitality.  Since 2017, Adam has been managing the reserve tasting room at Williamson Wines in downtown Healdsburg, where the duality between wine and food are explored.  Adam is excited and passionate about continuing his journey in this industry. 

HEATHER Cordes 

Valette Restaurant | Healdsburg , CA

Moved from NY in 2011 to expand my food and wine knowledge. I am currently the wine buyer and server at Valette Restaurant in Healdsburg. Excited for the opportunity to judge amongst some of the best in the business. 

JENNIFER BaraK

Associate Winemaker, Gallo’s Frei Winery |

“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 Associate Winemaker focusing on Bordeaux varietals at Gallo’s Frei Winery two harvests ago. Wine and wine culture is a life style for Jenn. When she isn’t working directly with wine you’ll find her at home in West county with her young family enjoying her dairy goats, geese, chickens, and llamas.” 

CABELL Coursey

WINEMAKER, Coursey Graves 

Cabell’s love for winemaking began in Burgundy where he worked his first harvest during an undergraduate semester abroad. Post grad, he returned for additional vintages picking grapes, scrubbing tanks and barrels, and learning traditional winegrowing methods passed down through generations. His desire for knowledge took him next to harvest in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and later to Christchurch, New Zealand where he earned graduate degrees in Enology and Viticulture from Lincoln University. It was there he developed the passion for cool climate wines that guides his style today. Before starting Coursey Graves in 2017 with partner John Graves, Cabell made wine for Alder Springs Vineyard, Dumol, Flanagan, and Kosta Browne. 

CHRISTIAN Clements

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. 

MATILDA Schroeter

Brewer and Enology Student | Seattle, WA

Matilda grew up in the winery, with fond memories of raking grapes out of trucks on the crush pad, tasting fermenting juice, and checking tanks and barrels with her dad, Mick. She comes from a two-generation winemaking family, all veterans of Penfolds Winery. Matilda first fell in love with fermentation during college. She went to Seattle University for an Environmental Studies degree and developed a passion for fermentation projects ranging from kombucha, cider, beer, wine and pickles, most of which were found bubbling away in her dorm room closet. After graduation, she worked wine harvests at Holdredge Winery in Healdsburg and Yalumba in the Barossa Valley, Australia. Matilda currently works full time as a brewer at Hale’s Ales Brewery in Seattle while earning her AAS in Enology at Seattle’s NW Wine Academy. She hopes to become the third generation of winemakers in her family and carry on their successful legacy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

QUESTIONS?

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