Wine Competition Judges

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2019 Wine Competition Judges

New to competition Judges


Eric Degerman

President & CEO of Great Northwest Wine

Eric Degerman was born in Portland, Ore., raised in Spokane, Wash., and graduated from the University of Washington prior to sinking roots in the Columbia Valley and the Pacific Northwest wine industry.

While earning his history degree, he worked in the sports department at The Seattle Times, which set him up for 25 years as an editor and award-winning sports writer at the Tri-City (Wash.) Herald. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest, becoming a food writer and wine judge. In 2013, he became president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning journalism site he co-founded with wine writer Andy Perdue.

Along the way, they launched a weekly wine column that is syndicated in 22 newspapers and has a potential print and online audience of more than 5 million readers. Eric also is the wine columnist for Portrait of Portland/Seattle magazine and contributes to the Idaho Statesman.

Eric co-owns and operates the Pacific Northwest’s two largest international wine competitions — the Cascadia International and the Great Northwest Invitational — as well as the Washington State Wine Competition and the Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition, which are fundraisers for the viticulture and enology programs at Yakima Valley College and Walla Walla Community College, respectively. He also organizes the Platinum Judging on behalf of Wine Press Northwest.

His judging history includes the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Oregon Wine Competition, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo International Wine Competition, Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, Grand Harvest Awards, Long Beach Grand Cru, Riverside International Wine Competition, Northwest Wine Summit, British Columbia Wine Awards, Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, Washington State Wine Competition, Savor Northwest Wine Awards, Tri-Cities Wine Festival, Idaho Wine Competition, Oregon’s Greatest of the Grape, the Wenatchee Wine and Food Festival Wine Competition and the Capital Food & Wine Festival Wine Competition.

He lives in Washington wine country with Traci, his wife of 26 years, and felines Anakin, Hondo and Pinky.


Otto Han

Corporate Wine Buyer, New Seasons Market

Otto Han is a Wine, Beer & Spirits Ambassador with the better part of two decades of purchasing and program management experience in diverse locations for companies including Whole Foods Market, Andronico’s Community Markets, Cost Plus World Market. He is currently the Wine & Beer Program Manager for New Seasons Market corporate based in Portland, OR.

michael alberty

Michael Alberty

Wine Editor, The Oregonian

Michael Alberty writes about wine for The Oregonian, the oldest continuously published newspaper on the west coast. Alberty also publishes a monthly column in the Oregon Wine Press. His words also appear – or are about to appear – in Decanter, Sunset, Terre, Pipette and Wine & Spirits.


Hoke Harden

Wine Educator, Judge & Writer

An enthusiastic lover of wine and spirits, Hoke Harden left a career in academia to follow his other muse for the last 35 years, trekking around the world to the great producing regions. Recently referred to as a veritable walking omnibus of wine and spirits knowledge, he has experienced every possible facet of the world of wine and spirits as a retailer, restaurateur, bartender, buyer, wholesaler, supplier, marketer, critic, writer, competition judge and an educator.

He is currently with Elixir Vitae Wine & Spirits Consultants, the Taste & Compare Academy of Wine, Spirits and Food in Portland OR, a writer and blogger, a member of the Society of Wine Educators, CSE, CSW, Wine & Spirits Instructor at Mt. Hood Community College, a Master Instructor with the French Wine Academy, a B.N.I.C. Certified Cognac Educator, and Pineau des Charentes Ambassador.


Christine Havens

Wine Writer & TV Personality

In 2012 Christine Havens left a ten-year stint in production to write about wine full-time, her background in winegrowing and winemaking have endowed her with technical knowledge and a deep appreciation for the process. In addition to the reviews and features she posts on her website, she’s a contributing writer at SOMM Journal, Tasting Panel Magazine, and The Clever Root, as well as a member of The Circle of Wine Writers. She has been quoted by various publications including Jancis Robinson, Wine Business International, Nomacorc’s wine industry blog, and Wine Press Northwest and has been a guest on Portland’s NBC-affiliate station KGW and, as well as Vin Village Radio and the Wine Two Five podcast. She’s also received an Editor’s Choice Fellowship to attend the 2017 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers; additionally, she’s twice been nominated as a Millésima Wine Blog Awards finalist and is currently pursuing an Award in Wines & Spirits Educational Trust Level 3 Advanced Certificate.

Coupled with her writing, Ms. Havens is the Marketing Director at Cascadia Fine Wines, a US-Canadian marketing firm representing select premium Pacific Northwest brands across Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand.


Erin James

Editor-in-Chief, Sip Publishing & Sip NW Magazine

Erin James is a seasoned writer and editor in the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on drink, food and travel writing. Outside of her desk as editor-in-chief of Sip Publishing — makers of Sip Northwest, CIDERCRAFT and Sip’s Wine Guide: British Columbia magazines — James has been published in more than a dozen regional and national publications like WINO Magazine, Seattle Weekly, Washington Wine and more. Most recently, she is the author of “Tasting Cider: The CIDERCRAFT Guide to the Distinctive Flavors of North American Hard Cider,” published by Storey Publishing in 2017. When not tasting and scribbling notes, James can be found eating her weight in cheese and loving her dog, Josie, a little too much.


Ken Robertson

Retired Editor, Tri-City Herald & Wine Press Northwest Columnist

Ken Robertson has been sipping and writing about Northwest wines since 1978. The retired editor of the Tri-City Herald, he has been a columnist for Wine Press Northwest magazine since 1998, and works as a wine judge in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, as a wine tour guide and as a wine industry consultant.

steve sinkler

Steve Sinkler

Owner, Winemaker, Wine Shack Cannon Beach, Oregon

Steven Sinkler is the Owner of The Wine Shack, in Cannon Beach, ORE. In January 2016, The Wine Shack was voted “Best Wine Shop” by Coast Weekend’s Reader’s Choice Awards, and in Spring 2014, noted wine writer “Wine Julia” named The Wine Shack “the best wine shop on the Oregon Coast”. Additionally, The Wine Shack was named one of the Top Wine Stores in America by GQ Magazine.

Steven also owns Puffin Wines and has earned a WSET Level 3 Award in Wine.


Fred Swan

SF Bay Area-Based Writer, Educator, Judge and Speaker

Fred is an SF Bay Area-based writer, educator, judge and speaker on wine and spirits. Among the places his writing appears are,, SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, and He’s been an instructor at the San Francisco Wine School since 2012. Classes he teaches for trade and consumers include CSW, CWAS, FWS, Wine & Beverage Program Management, and Somm Essentials.

Fred’s certifications include WSET Diploma, Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Professional, Sud de France Wine Master, Certified Napa Valley Wine Educator, WSET Level 3 Sake, Certified Sherry Wine Specialist and Level 3 WSET Educator. He has twice been awarded fellowships by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.

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Returning Judges

l.m. archer

Lyn Archer

Professional Wine Writer,
FWS, Bourgogne + Champagne ML

L.M. Archer is a fine wine writer specializing in Burgundy, bubbles and emerging wine regions. Her works appear in numerous domestic and international publications, including SevenFifty Daily, Meininger Wine Business International, Wines and Vines Magazine, South Bay Accent Magazine, Oregon Wine Press, Palate Press, France Today, and She is also a former video correspondent for Foodable Network.

A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, TASTE Awards’ Academy of Media Tastemakers, and International Wine Writers Alliance, she received a prestigious 2017 Professional Wine Writers Symposium Fellowship, and holds designation in French Wine, Bourgogne and Champagne Master Level from the rigorous Wine Scholar Guild. You can find her @lmarcherml on Instagram/Twitter, and at



Chef, Somm, Educator, Wine Scholar

Maxine Borcherding is a chef, sommelier, lover of wine, fine food, and good whiskey; travel enthusiast, writer and passionate educator, and the  founder of the Taste and Compare Academy of Wine, Spirits and Food. Recently retired from 16 years as Lead Chef Instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute, she is happily spending her “retirement” teaching consumer and professional level classes in wine and food, is the Oregon and SW Washington provider of the  French Wine Scholar Study and Certification Program for the Wine Study Guild,  provides operational consulting and staff training for hospitality venues,  promotes the wines of France, Italy, Spain, and the Pacific Northwest,  and leads food and wine  tours to the great wine and culinary regions of France and Spain.


Maxine’s professional certifications include Sommelier (International Sommelier Guild), French Wine Scholar (Wine Study Guild), Spanish Wine Educator (Wine Academy of Spain), and Wine Location Specialist (Center for Wine.Origins). She also serves on the Boards  of the  Oregon Wine Education Center  and the Oregon Truffle Festival.


CHRIS Czarnecki

Owner & Chef,
Joel Palmer House

Christopher Czarnecki is 4th generation chef and restaurateur. He has been operating The Joel Palmer House Restaurant for the last 10 years. Chris has been involved with the family business since grade school and spent most of his 20’s working, traveling, and cooking, including a 3 year term of service in the US Army. In 2004 he deployed to Iraq and married his high school sweetheart, Mary in 2008. They have 2 boys, 3 and 5 years old, both of whom have already gotten a chance to go out mushroom hunting in the woods with dad and Poppop!



Owner & Winery Publicist, Carl Giavanti Consulting

Carl Giavanti is a Winery Publicist with a DTC Marketing background. He’s going on his 9th year of winery consulting. Carl has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25 years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now as a winery media relations consultant. Clients are or have been in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, and the Columbia Gorge. (



Wine Judge, Educator and Quality Control Consultant

Patrick is a 5th generation native Oregonian. He became a member of the Oregon wine industry in 1980. For 28 years, he managed the Oregon Wine Tasting Room, which received numerous accolades in such publications as The LA Times, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and British Vogue. In 1999, he became a tasting instructor in the Winemaking and Viticultural Program at Chemeketa Community College, where he continues to serve as the only original faculty member. He was one of two faculty members who served on the building design committee for the Eola Center winery and classroom building. He currently works in Sales and Marketing for Sineann Winery – where he has been employed since 2007. In addition, he has been a wine judge and quality control consultant for most of his tenure in the Oregon Wine industry.

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