Wine Competition Judges
2022 Wine Competition Judges
New Competition Judges
Deborah Parker Wong
Wine Writer & Educator
Deborah Parker Wong, DipWSET was appointed National Editor, USA for the Slow Food Slow Wine Guide in 2020. As global wine editor for sister publications The SOMM Journal and The Tasting Panel magazines, she has been writing about the beverage alcohol industry for these and other outlets since 2004. Deborah teaches as an adjunct professor in the Wine Studies department at Santa Rosa Junior College and Cabrillo College and owns a Wine & Spirit Education Trust School offering Level 2 and Level 3 certifications. In addition to writing and speaking about wine, she consults to producer groups and judges wine competitions. Her motto is: To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach. A partial archive of her published work can be found at www.deborahparkerwong.com
James the Wine Guy – Wine Reviewer/Videographer
James Melendez is based in San Francisco, California. He received bachelor’s degree in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations and Group Politics from The University of New Mexico. And he has completed a graduate degree in Philanthropy and Development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
James has had an extensive background in wine. He has served as Food and Wine Marketing Manager at Cost Plus World Market a retail stores in 30 US states specializing in food, wine, and home goods—focusing chain’s wine program with an international focus and educating about wine through digital and traditional medias. He has been writing, reviewing, educating, judging and speaking about wine for the past 13 years. He has been creating videos for over 10 years with producing over 2,940 wine subject matter videos on his YouTube channel utilizing ‘James the Wine Guy’ name. His interest includes food, wine, travel, social media and how to weave them together to build and enhance a strong interest in the general public for wine. James has a large social media influence on wine, food and travel on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Dr. Liz Thach, WM
Master of Wine & Author
Dr. Liz Thach, MW is a freelance wine writer, wine market expert, researcher, educator and consultant based in Napa and Sonoma, California. She is an award-winning author and educator, specializing in wine business strategy, marketing, leadership/executive development, and wine lifestyle. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 50 countries. She has published over 200 articles and 9 books, including Call of the Vine, Best Practices in Global Wine Tourism and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes pinot noir wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011.
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 GuildSomm.com, daily.sevenfifty.com, SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, and FredSwan.wine. 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.
Wine Writer, Certified Sommelier
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 magazine, Great Northwest Wine, Wine Press Northwest, Michigan Uncorked, and Spirited magazine among other publications.
Ellen is a moderator for the highly acclaimed Vintner’s Holidays annual event at the Majestic (formerly Ahwahnee) Hotel in Yosemite, the American Wine Society annual conferences, and participates as a key speaker, moderator and panelist at various other wine events. For more than sixteen years, she and husband Ken co-owned award-winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ellen served as Wine Director and Sommelier. They sold their Inn to devote more time to the world of wine. Ellen was also a Sommelier at the Ritz Carlton for several years.
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 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, The Great American International Wine Competition, California State Fair Wine Competition, American Fine Wine Competition, North Coast Wine Challenge, Amador County Fair Wine Competition, Sonoma Harvest Fair Wine Competition, East Meets West Competition, Harvest Challenge International Wine Competition, The Cascadia Wine Competition, Savor Northwest Wine Competition, Dan Berger International Wine Competition, Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition, Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, Mendocino County Wine Competition, Wine Press Northwest Platinum Judging, Selections Mondiales des Vins Canada, Pacific Rim Wine Competition, and the Central Coast Wine Competition.
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.
Somm, Judge, Journalist, Public Speaker
Christopher Sawyer is an internationally-renowned sommelier, wine judge, consultant, wine journalist and public speaker. Voted Best Sommelier of Sonoma County 2019 by Bohemian Magazine for the sixth consecutive year, he is also a recipient of many more prestigious awards and industry honors. To follow his wine adventures follow his Blog The Sommelier Files and YouTube Channel featuring The Varietal Show!
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.
Wine Buyer Fred Meyer Stores
Cyndi has been a Wine Steward/Buyer for Fred Meyer Stores since 2008, and has become especially passionate for Oregon Pinot Noir during that time. She has achieved different levels of wine education including CSW and CMS 1, and also has her WSET I & II. Cyndi is returning to judge, having participated in the McMinnville Wine Classic Competition in 2014 and 2015. She has also judged the Salem State Fair winemakers’ competition in 2019. As a lover of Pinot Noir, she has participated in IPNC and Pinot Camp, and is known to get out of the store and into the local vineyards to help with harvest when time allows.
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.
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.
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.
PR & Media Relations,
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. ( www.CarlGiavantiConsulting.com/Media).
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