Wine Competition Judges

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2020 Wine Competition Judges

New Competition Judges


Michelle Williams

Wine, Food & Travel Writer

Based in Dallas, Michelle Williams is an award-wining freelance writer of wine, food, and travel. She is one of the 15 Most Influential People in Wine, and globally acknowledged as one of the 10 Best Wine Accounts to Follow.

Her work appears in numerous publications, including Forbes, Snooth, The Daily Meal, and USA Today’s 10Best Eat, Sip, Trip, Hook & Barrel Magazine, Plano Profile Magazine, and Basil & Salt Magazine.

As a passionate wine lover, Michelle travels extensively to wine regions around the globe in search of the story inside the glass.

ellen landis

Ellen Landis

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 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.

Allison Levine

Allison Levine

Owner, Please the Palate

Allison Levine is owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry. She also holds a WSET Level 3 Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), an Italian Wine Specialist Diploma from the North American Sommelier Association, a Certified Meeting Professional Certificate (CMP), and is BarSmarts Wired certified.

Allison is a freelance writer, and columnist for the Napa Valley Register, as well as a regular contributor to California Winery Advisor. She is the host of the podcast WineSoundtrack USA, interviewing winemakers and winery owners who share their stories, insights and some humorous anecdotes. Her work has also appeared in Wine Industry Advisor, ATOD Magazine, Drizly, WineTouristMagazine, Thrillist, LA Weekly, LAPALME Magazine, BIN (Beverage Industry News), FoodableTV, Drink Me Mag,, Wine Country This Week and The Tasting Panel. You can follow Allison on Facebook and Twitter, and read her stories on her blog.

david holstrom

David Holstrom

President / Owner, Guy du Vin

David Holstrom owns a restaurant wine program consulting business, Guy du Vin, LLC. He has a wide range of clients and restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the United States. Clients past and present have included McCormick and Schmick’s Management Group, Restaurants Unlimited, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Old Spaghetti Factory, The Grand America Hotels and Resorts, Bruce Carey Restaurants, North Pacific Management, Southpark Seafood Grill and Wine Bar, Nel Centro, Altabira, Tanner Creek Tavern and Vindalho.
He developed a passion for wine after living and studying (M.A in 19th Century Russian Intellectual History) in Central Europe and then travelling extensively throughout France, Italy, Austria and Germany. This lead to a long career in the restaurant business, developing and managing wine programs all over the United States.
David Holstrom has won a number of awards for wine programs over the years, including multiple Santé and Monterey Wine Festival awards for Southpark Seafood Grill and Wine Bar. In addition, he was won awards for Lauro Mediterranean Kitchen, Bluehour, and Nel Centro. His clients have also received accolades from Bon Appetit, Food Arts, Restaurant Hospitality, Food and Wine, and Nation’s Restaurant News for their food & wine programs.
He teaches wine classes in Portland, Oregon and has also created an innovative online retail program focused on value-based, often esoteric wines via an email newsletter and the internet. In December of 2002, he launched
He judges at many wine competitions including the Best of Riesling Competition in Bingen, Germany; The Great Northwest Wine Invitational; the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition and the Oregon Wine Awards Competition in Portland Oregon among others. He has been a speaker at the Chilean Sommelier Symposium in 2008 and has served on the Advisory Board for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Holstrom is a Certified Specialist of Wine and is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

JoAnn Actis Grande

JoAnn Actis-Grande

Wine Editor, Taste of the Seacoast Magazine

For over 10 years, JoAnn Actis-Grande is Wine Editor for Taste of the Seacoast Magazine. She writes a weekly column “Let’s Talk Wine” for Seacoast Newspapers. Her work also appears on The Fifty, Local Wine and in Coastal Home Magazine.

JoAnn is a judge at the annual American Fine Wine Competition (AFWC), conducts video interviews with legendary winemakers, and instructs wine tastings on a windjammer in Maine. She has received a Fellowship to The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley and awarded Wine Writer of the Year by the New Hampshire Winery Association.

A lover of wine, JoAnn has traveled to wine regions from Napa Valley to Cyprus and currently guides intimate groups to wineries and destinations in Italy and beyond. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when not traveling. She can be reached through her website –

andria shirk

Andria Shirk

Winemaker/Founder Laelaps Wines

After retiring from an illustrious career in show business, Andria pursued a second career in the wine industry. She worked at Oregon’s renowned Shea Wine Cellars from 2006 to 2010. She then started her own label, Laelaps in 2012 and now makes premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Riesling at the Southeast Wine Collective in Portland, Oregon.

She studied enology and viticulture at Northwest Viticulture Center in the Willamette Valley and holds an Advanced Certificate from WSET.  In addition, she runs several wine competitions and judges domestic and international wine competitions. She is also part owner of an online retail wine shop called and Portland Wine Storage.

Jim Gullo

Jim Gullo

Author, Journalist, Pastryologist

Jim Gullo is a journalist and the author of 10 books on food, travel and historical fiction. Based in McMinnville since 2008, he has covered the Oregon wine industry for the Alaska Airlines Magazine, Oregon Wine Press, Portland Monthly and, a website that he created and published for several years. He has also written historical articles for Ken Wright Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyards and others, and contributed to the Slow Wine Guide.

Returning Judges

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.

hilary berg

Hilary Berg

Editor, Oregon Wine Press

Born and raised in Kansas, Hilary Berg moved to Oregon in 2000 after graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. She has been editor of Oregon Wine Press since 2006 and owns Roots Wine Co. with her husband, Chris — their first vintage was 2002.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.



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. (

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