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Competition

2024 WineMaker Competition Judges

Reed Antis

Reed started homebrewing in the 1980s and is a founding member of the Saratoga Thoroughbrews, his local homebrew club. As a certified mead and beer judge (E0539) he has helped over the years to run beer competitions and has had his own homebrew shop for the past 10 years. Reed has taught his customers how to make country wine, wine from grapes and juice, and using wine ingredient kits. 

Dave Barber

Dave is a long term member of the American Wine Society (American Wine Society) and is a graduate and Certified Wine Judge from the American Wine Society Wine Judge Training Program, within which he also instructs, mentors students, and administers the final examination. The American Wine Society has also recognized Dave as its ‘Outstanding Member’ in 2011. He is on the Board of the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association where he has chaired their annual Wine Competition for over ten years and has presented innumerable wine seminars or various topics Dave has judged in many wine competitions, as well as having written many articles that have been published in various wine magazines. He currently works with various Virginia wineries in their tasting rooms and also at various festivals.

Melissa Bartlett

Melissa’s passion for wine led her to seek to a career at Pearmund Cellars in Virginia.  She worked as one of the winery managers and as the winery sommelier.  She is a long-term member of the American Wine Society and served for three years as Chapter Chair for the John Marshall chapter in Virginia.  Melissa is a Certified Judge through the American Wine Society Wine Judge Certification Program and a Certified Sommelier through the International Wine Guild.  Melissa is a freelance wine consultant and educator. Melissa is a wine appreciation educator, consultant, winery manager and devotee. Her passion for wine took her from enthusiast to winery employee, Certified Sommelier and Certified Wine Judge to talented instructor. Her time spent managing and working in wineries made it possible for her to see the industry from vineyard to crush pad, winemaking to bottling, and from sales to public relations. She is a long-term and active member of the American Wine Society serving as a Chapter Chair, conference presenter, AWS Amateur Wine Competition Chair and Continuing Education Instructor. The judging experiences shared with colleagues and the desire to continually learn keep her striving for excellence. Having acquired a taste for all things wine, she plans to continue her certifications and wine education for as long as there are grapes to ferment. Melissa’s judging experience spans 9 years and includes but isn’t limited to: AWS Commercial and Amateur Wine Competition, WineMaker’s Magazine, Indy International (judge-in-training), Atlantic Seaboard, Lone Star International, Bottle Shock, Wines of the South, The Northeast Gold Wine, Cider and Perry, and many other local and regional competitions.

Jeanna Booth

Nicole is a WSET 3 graduate and a 3rd year student in the AWS wine Judging program.

Leigh Booth

Nicole is a WSET 3 graduate and a 3rd year student in the AWS wine Judging program.

Therise Collier

With the American Wine Society (AWS) for 17 years and an amateur winemaker for over 16 years, Therise has participated in several judging events all around the country, including the AWS Wine Judging Program to get her started. Therise is a member of the Alabama Winemakers and Grape Growers Association for over 16 years and proprietor of Creekside at Colliers End, a five-acre vineyard selling grapes to various wineries.

JoAnn Degaglia

JoAnn is a Certified Specialist of Wine as well as a Certified Advanced Sommelier earning both an American and Italian Wine Specialist Degree from the North American Sommelier Association with honors. As a Certificated Wine Judge she judges at numerous international, local and commercial competitions. Her experience in the Wine industry is vast as once a portfolio manager for Haro Imports, Wine Educator at the Westchester Wine School and began her Sommelier career working at the Tarry Lodge in Port Chester N.Y. Today she works part time at two of the Hudson Valley’s great wine destinations, the Wine Spectator’s award-winning Glenmere Mansion as the Head Sommelier in Chester New York and Brotherhood Americas Oldest Winery. She is a Regional Vice President for the Hudson Valley promoting the merits of wine appreciation and education for the AWS.

Dennis Fraley

Dennis resides in Florence, SC and works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) by day and wine and spirits resource by night. Through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Dennis completed the WSET Diploma of Wine and Spirits also gaining the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation, French Wine Scholar (FWS), and Sherry Wine Specialist (CSWS). He is currently working with The American Wine Society to become a Certified Wine Judge. His new venture is The Bottle Talk website (www.thebottletalk.com) and social media presence (@thebottletalk).

Laurent Gills

Laurent Gills has participated in several wine Judging events in the last four years such as the TVSO in Tennessee, The Alabama Amateur wine event, the Kentucky State Fair Amateurs’ wine event and the Indy International Wine at Perdue University. He also one of the the only two Third-Year Students to be invited at the Finger Lakes to assist with judging.

Carole Hackett

With a background in healthcare, Carole’s undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry has been valuable in her wine studies.  Her interest in wine has led her to seek further education.   Carole is a certified wine judge with the American Wine Society.  She stays active working with students from the Wine Judge Certification Program.  Carole has completed Level 3 of WSET program with Merit.  She is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.  Carole serves as the Regional Vice President for Eastern Kentucky for the American Wine Society as well as Chapter Chair of the local chapter in Frankfort KY. Her nine years of judging experience have taken her through much of the USA. She enjoys judging county fairs, regional festival events, state fair amateur competitions and international competitions.

Gary Lum

Since 2018, Gary Lum has been the Chair and Founder, AOC East Bay Chapter, American Wine Society and is currently enrolled in the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma Program, WSET’s highest level of certification. In addition to achieving the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist Intermediate Course, Gary has judged at different competitions since 2019. From 1999-2001, Gary Lum completed courses in Small Vineyard Management, Wine Analysis and Winemaking at UC-Davis and is currently the Regional VP of Northern California, with his role to oversee and to provide support for the AWS Chapters in the region. In 2018, he founded the local Chapter of the American Wine Society and in addition to participating in several judging opportunities, Gary conducts monthly wine tasting events with a strong emphasis on wine education and evaluation.

Maureen Macdonald

Maureen is a University of Vermont graduate with 20 years professional experience in the beverage and wine industry. She has experience in both viticulture and oenology as a Field Manager and Head Winemaker for commercial vineyards. After years of working as a consultant to many vineyards, she now is the Head Winemaker for Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown, Connecticut, where she annually makes 30 different wines. She has authored many feature stories in WineMaker magazine and in 2024 began writing the “Varietal Focus” column in every issue. When she isn’t writing or in the lab or winery, she is often judging commercial and amateur competitions or making hard cider and beer at home.

Angel Martinez

Angel, WSET II, has been the chapter chair for the local American Wine Society (AWS) Meadowlands chapter since 2015 and offers wine education and participates as a wine judge at various events such as: New York State fair: Syracuse, NY, New Jersey State Fair: Sussex County fairgrounds, and Corrado’s Amateur Wine competition: Clifton, NJ. He’s also judged American Wine Society Commercial and Amateur wine competitions in Pennsylvania and Florida.

Donna Moore

Donna Moore lives in Connecticut, previously from California and is the co-owner of Sunset Hill Vineyard in Lyme, Ct. She is also a partner in Bodega Wine Bar in California. Donna’s love of wine started in 1991 while living in Australia.

Timothy Morse

Timothy Morse is a highly knowledgeable wine professional with regional expertise and hands-on vineyard management, winemaking, and wine-judging experiences. Since 2007, Tim provides structured wine tastings for small group oenophiles and enthusiasts in the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area as a chef educator, facilitating wine tastings and educational seminars. In 2019, he became the founder and educator for the AWS Skyline Uncorked Chapter in Virginia. In 2018 he completed the UC-Davis Winemaking Certificate program and also became a certified sommelier in 2017. Tim earned his WSET Level 4 diploma in 2012 and has designed, planted and managed a personal 300 vine lieu-dit vineyard.

Ron Natalie

Ron Natalie is a graduate of the American Wine Society Wine Judge Certification Program and holds certifications from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and the Parker/Zraly Wine Academy. He is currently serving as the Secretary of the American Wine Society and lives in North Carolina with his equally wine-loving wife.

Kevin Norris

Kevin Norris has been a certified wine judge for the AWS since 2018 and earned his WSET Award in Wine Level 2 July 2021. In addition to judging in the states of Washington, Alabama, Vermont and Tennessee, Tim has been a speaker for different wine clubs and festivals. Since 2017, he is currently the chapter chair for the AWS Downtown Huntsville Chapter.

John Obrist

John holds a Diploma in Wine (DipWSET) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London and works an Educator for the American Wine School. In addition, John serves as the Wine Expert for the Vineyards at Pine Lake in Columbiana, Ohio.

Terry O’Connor

Terry O’Connor works for Connecticut Distributors as a Fine Wine and Spirits Specialist.  He is an AWS Certified Wine Judge and has his WSET Level 2 in wine and spirits. 

Kevin Ostrowski

Kevin Ostrowski is a Certified Wine Judge with the American Wine Society (AWS), a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and WSET level 3 (with merit) certified. He is a wine judge instructor as part of the AWS Wine judge program. Additionally, Kevin has completed the Champagne Master Level with the Wine Scholar Guild and also the Introductory Sommelier level with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has judged several local and regional wine competitions. Kevin resides in Beaver, PA. 

Walt Rachele

Walt Rachele is a founding member (1988) of the Nation’s Capital Chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine, an international wine organization with chapters in the United States. A long-standing member of the American Wine Society (1984), he graduated from the Wine Judge Certification Program (1994) and remains active as an instructor. Walt served on the AWS Board of Directors as Treasurer.  Currently a board member of the AWS Educational Foundation, his wine knowledge grows from communication with the graduate students being awarded scholarships. Walt has completed WSET2 with Distinction, and Wines of Portugal Level 3-Advanced. Elected to the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, Board of Directors (2016), Walt now has an excuse to visit more wineries, and is active with the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival.  He has participated as a judge in many competitions such as MD, NJ and PA Governor’s Cup, Winemaker Amateur Competition, AWS Amateur and Commercial Competitions, Wines of the South, the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Georgia Trustee Wine & Spirits Competition, and several local events. He has traveled extensively to increase his wine knowledge visiting many states (43), and countries including Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, England, Hungary, Italy, Germany, North Macedonia, South Africa, and Serbia. He currently resides in Loudoun County, Virginia home to over 45 wineries.

Ivan Riggle

Ivan Riggle is a certified wine judge and part of the American Wine Society with 14 years judging experience both local, regional, national and international commercial and amateur wine competitions. Ivan is very familiar with the “back room” activities of wine competitions, as well as being a past Co-Instructor for wine judge training classes. Ivan is currently active as a wine presenter at wine dinners and coordinator for a local wine competition and numerous wine events. A home winemaker, Ivan has won awards locally, regionally and nationally. He has presented classes on wine judging to local American Wine Society members as well. 

Mary Agnes Riggle

Mary Agnes Riggle is a certified wine judge and part of the American Wine Society with 14 years judging experience both local, regional, national and international commercial and amateur wine competitions. She is the past chairperson of the AWS National Amateur Competition and Wine Experience. Mary is very familiar with the “back room” activities of wine competitions, as well as being the past Co-Instructor for wine judge training classes. She is currently active as a wine presenter at wine dinners and coordinator for a local wine competition and numerous wine events. Mary is the chapter chair for Laurel Highlands American Wine Society chapter and a home wine and meadmaker, winning awards locally, regionally and nationally. She has presented classes on wine judging to local American Wine Society members as well. 

Brian Rodonets

Brian has been making wine for 20 years, both in New England and the Pacific Northwest.  He has also trained with the Wine Guild of Judges in British Columbia, and is qualified in 5 categories.

Michelle Schreck

Michelle Schreck is certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust L2 and graduated with Merit.  Having worked in the beverage industry for 28 years, her experience includes the general manager of Platinum Package a ten thousand square foot retail store, marketing and sales for a Georgia distributor Hemispheres, and owner of a restaurant Grapes and Hops that specialized in wine events, tastings, and food parings. Michelle started with Atlanta Improvement Company in April 2011 and her duties include: organizing logistics, compliance, and presenting wines throughout the Southeast. She travels throughout Europe and South America sourcing new wineries and regularly attends trade shows as a buyer. Michelle started judging 2011 in the NorthWest Wine Summit and became the head of the Backroom in 2012 and became the head judge for the Vino Challenge International 2016-2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Most currently, Michelle has judged for the Georgia Trustee Wine and Spirits competition from 2015-2022. 

Carissa Shaffer

Carissa Shaffer, AWS member, has won numerous awards for her home winemaking and graduated year two of the AWS Wine Judging Program in 2023. She has judged other wine events as well as earned her Sensory Evaluation Workshop Certification from VESTA.

Leah Stafford

Leigh has worked in the wine industry on and off since 1990 and has been a wine educator since 1996.  She became a wine judge in 2018 through the UCDavis program. Leah is a certified specialist of wine, Certified American Wine Expert, WSET3, Sommelier and grow her own grapes, making wine with her husband.

Leanne Wheeler

Leanne is a Level 1 Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Graduate of the American Wine Society (AWS) Wine Judge Certification program and has achieved WSET Level 2 (with distinction).   Leanne has served as an instructor for wine courses at the Manchester Community College as well as an instructor and co-creator for Level 1 of the AWS Super Tasting Series (now WineSmarts).  She is an active wine judge, participating in a variety of commercial and amateur competitions across the east coast. 

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