2021 Competition Judges
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’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 7 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.
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.
Jane Duralia has been a member of the American Wine Society (AWS) since 1992 and has judged at various competitions around the country, annually; AWS Commercial and Amateur, Tasters’ Guild International, INDY International, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, New York State Fair, NC State Fair, Wines of the South, and Mid-Atlantic Region Competition to name a few. Jane is currently a wine consultant for the Lake Hickory Country Club, Hickory NC and provided wine descriptors and food pairing for the Double Gold recipients at the Tasters’ Guild Competition 2018.
Rege has been a member of the American Wine Society (AWS) since 1992. His judging career began in 2002 on Hilton Head Island for the Annual Wine Festival Judging. Joining the Tasters Guild, also in 2002 provided judging events that brought exposure to many wines from different growing and winemaking regions for Rege. He has visited wine growing regions of the world such as California, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Virginia, New York Finger Lakes, Ohio, Michigan, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Hungary, Croatia, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia, expanding his horizon of wine knowledge. He became a Certified Wine Judge in 2007 by successfully completing a three year course offered by the American Wine Society and was recertified in 2012 and 2018. I am also a wine consultant for the Lake Hickory Country Club, Hickory, NC.
Carrie Dykes has judged for the IWSC, Concours Mondial du Bruxelles, Concours Mondial Sauvignon, Northeast Gold Wine and Cider Competition, NY Wine Classic, and Saint Chinian Vins Virtuos.
Laurent Gills has participated in several wine Judging events in the last three 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.
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 and she stays active working with students from the Wine Judge Certification Program. Carole has completed Level 2 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. Carole enjoys judging amateur and commercial competitions. Her eight 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.
Tara Hardiman’s decades-long pursuit of wine and spirits expertise and appreciation took her on a path to complete the diploma in 2014, becoming an Associate of the Institute of Wine and Spirits, Wine and Spirits Education Trust, London. Furthering that education, she became a Certified Specialist of Spirits and Certified Specialist of Wines in 2015 through the Society of Wine Educators, Washington, DC. In 2018, Tara was inducted in as an American Wine Society Wine judge. While working for the U.S. Government by day, she continues her avid exploration of new and emerging wine trends, regions, and techniques through continuing education and travel.
In 1993 Sharyn was awarded one of the top five wine professionals for her Wine List by the International Fine Food and Beverage Organization. Over the past 10 years Sharyn has been the Wine Director for The Capital Grille in Philadelphia, PA and moved to the Cherry Hill, NJ location, earning the Wine Spectator “Best of” Award for both locations each year. Sharyn is also a member of the Dionysian Wine Society, The American Wine Society, and is a wine judge for professional and amateur competitions in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. She is in The American Wine Society Judging Program and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) advanced level 3 and Diploma Program. Sharyn is also a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) for the Society of Wine Educators and a Level 1 Sommelier for the Guild of Sommeliers.
Aimée Lasseigne is the NYC Brand Ambassador for Lieb Cellars, a 54 acre certified sustainable winery on the North Fork of Long Island, NY and their second label Bridge Lane Wine. She is a graduate of Louisiana Scholars’ College, recognized as a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and a Diploma Candidate of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). As a freelance wine and spirits judge, Aimée has served on panels both locally and internationally in Paris, Beijing, Spain, Bulgaria, and Switzerland in addition to having visited vineyards across New York, Napa, Portugal, Bordeaux, Italy, and the Republic of Georgia.
John Lee is a long time fermenter and a certified BJCP Beer Judge with Mead and Cider endorsements. John is a past president of the Saratoga Thoroughbrews homebrew club and currently an assistant BJCP representative for the Northeast region.
Maureen Macdonald is a University of Vermont graduate with 17 years professional experience in the beverage and wine industry. She has studied oenology and subjects pertaining thereof at Naugatuck Valley Community College, Penn State, Cornell University, and Uconn. Maureen holds 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, CT, where she makes 30 different wines, two of which winning double gold medals in competitions. She is also the recipient of Amenti Del Vino’s Chevalier Award for her service and dedication to the appreciation of wine. When she isn’t hard at work in the lab or winery, she is often judging commercial and amateur competitions or making hard cider and beer at home.
Donna Moore is a California transplant to Connecticut. She is co-owner of Sunset Hill Vineyard in Lyme, Ct. and partner in Bodega Wine Bar in CA. Donna’s love of wine started in 1991 while living in Australia.
Annemarie Morse has a Master’s Degree in Oenology from Cornell University and has worked as an assistant winemaker, retail wine consultant, wine writer and educator. She is a certified international OIV wine judge, taught classes for and managed a national wine judge certification program, is certified as a specialist in the Wine and Food of Central Italy through 3IC (Italian International Indigenous Wine and Food Studies Center), first level Sommelier, and currently studying for WSET 3. Through her company, Wine By Annemarie, LLC, provides consulting services to restaurants, hosts international wine tours, and provides wine and food seminars and/or classes for the community, private and corporate clients.
Bob Murray, Grape Ambassador for Mad Meadows Vineyard “from the heart of Vermont’s Mad River Valley” started making wine in 2009 using California grapes in his brother-in-law’s basement. In 2014 his family planted a 10 acre vineyard in Warren, Vermont with six cold climate cultivar grape varieties; Petit Pearl, Marquette, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Blanc and Brianna.
Terry O’Connor works for CT Distributors as a Fine Wine and Spirits Specialist. He is an AWS Certified Wine Judge and has my WSET level 2 in wine and spirits.
Kevin Ostrowski is an American Wine Society Certified Wine Judge, and judge instructor, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 3, and has a WSG Master Level Champagne Certificate. He is currently the AWS Western Pennsylvania Regional Vice President and Chapter Chair of the Beaver County, PA chapter. A home winemaker, he has won several medals from both AWS and WineMaker magazine.
Gary Pickard started his wine and spirits journey in a place where most do not – the library. Fascinated by the behind-the-scenes aspects of the industry, he earned his Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) certification from the Society of Wine Educators (SWE) and promptly began work as a Craft Spirits Specialist for New York-based distributor, Empire Merchants – working with Manhattan and Brooklyn’s most high-profile wine and spirits buyers and retail accounts. Along the way, Gary earned his Level 3 Award in Wine and Level 2 Award in Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and his Executive Bourbon Stewardship from Moonshine University. He has also been a core member of the rotating panel of judges for wine and spirits adjudication website The Fifty Best over the past 6 years. Gary’s travels to learn more about wine and spirits have taken him to Napa and Sonoma counties, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, The Netherlands, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the US Virgin Islands, among other places.
Tim Post works at Dr. Frank’s Winery in the Finger Lakes and he has a Master’s Degree in Enology. Tim has judged several state and international wine competitions.
Walter Rachele was a founding member (1988) of the Nation’s Capital Chapter of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine an international organization with chapters in the United States. He has been a long standing member of the American Wine Society(1984) where he graduated from the Wine Judge Certification Program(1994) and returned to it as an instructor where he continues to be active. Walt has served on the AWS Board of Directors as Treasurer. As current Board member of the AWS Educational Foundation his wine knowledge grows from communication with the graduate students being awarded scholarships. Recently elected to the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association, Board of Directors, Walt now has an excuse to visit more wineries. He has participated as a judge in several competitions such as MD, NJ and PA Governor’s Cup, Winemaker Amateur Competition as well in several local county festivals at both the commercial and amateur levels. He has traveled extensively to increase his wine knowledge and has visited Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, England, Hungary and Serbia. He currently resides in Northern Virginia.
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 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.
Liuqing Rowell is the co-owner of Ithaca Honey Works and Little Leaf Meadworks in Ithaca, New York along with her husband Mike. Their farm meadery uses estate honey from their apiaries as well as fruit they grow to produce session-style mead.
Hailing from Lancaster, New York, Mike has been keeping bees since he was an undergraduate at Cornell University in 2010 and became a Certified Master Beekeeper in 2018. He is the co-owner of Ithaca Honey Works in Ithaca, New York with local apiaries and also recently launched Little Leaf Meadworks, a farm meadery specializing in session-style mead made with his own estate honey and fruits from Ithaca Honey Works.
Bill Stefan is a wine judge, winemaker, writer and speaker with over 40 years of fermenting experience. In addition to being a certified judge from the American Wine Society, he is a certified Specialist of Wine and professional member of the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a Certified Sherry Wine Specialist by the Regulatory Council of Jerez-Xeres-Sherry Denomination of Origin. He has judged for WineMaker Magazine Wine Competition, the Tennessee Valley Wine Competition, Kentucky State Fair and at the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition. Bill has Fermented red, white and dessert wines, ports, and apple cider, since 1975 and has won awards in international and national competitions since 2015.
Mira Vojinovic began her career as a bartender and beverage manager as she was responsible for developing specialty drinks based on guest trends and seasonal considerations for four Livanos-owned restaurants in New York and Connecticut. Mira then followed her passion for wine and obtained the sommelier certification from the Sommelier Society of America, the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She held various positions that enabled her to explore the relationships between wines and food, while continuing to hone her skills in the hospitality industry, including sommelier for Lidia Bastianich’s flagship three-star restaurant, Felidia. Mira has worked with Ultimate Beverage Challenge since 2014. She founded her company, VinoGal Consulting, where she shares her love of wine, food and hospitality services by helping to organize educational dinners, parties and other group events, offering private classes, training staff and providing other concierge services. She is also the founder of the Westchester Wine Society, which holds tastings at venues throughout the Westchester, NY area. Mira is currently pursuing her Level 3 Advanced in wine from WSET and is a French Wine Scholar candidate with the Wine Scholar Guild.
Vincent Williams is an American Wine Society Certified Judge and as a wine educator, Mr. Williams enjoys sharing wine knowledge with retail customers and students. He holds certifications from the Society of Wine Educators and the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust. Additionally, he has completed the certificate program in winemaking from University of California-Davis, in an effort to improve his suggestions to winemakers.
Michael Wilson has completed and passed with merit Wine Spirit Education Trust level 3, passed Italian Wine Central Level 1, and passed Napa Valley Wine Expert. He is a provisional mead judge in the BJCP and has judged in mead and wine competitions; Mead Free or Die, Domras Cup, Texas Rodeo Uncorked, and Tennessee Viticulture Oenological Society, the Domras Cup Mead Competition, the Alabama Winemakers and Grape Growers Association amateur winemaking competition.