Judges and Scientific Committee 2022

All the wines participating to 5StarWines will be tasted by a panel of highly qualified, international experts, having been selected among Masters of Wine, Master Sommelier’s, WSET Diploma holders, VIA experts and ambassadors, oenologists and journalists.
The different geographical backgrounds, the variety of professional profiles of the judges and the blind tasting process guarantee objectivity to the selection.


Stevie Kim

CCO 5StarWines and Managing Director @ Vinitaly International

Stevie Kim was born in Korea and raised in the United States. Today she lives in Verona. At first, she attended the New York University – Leonard N. Stern School of Business, earning a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). After settling in Italy, she obtained an MBA at Bocconi University, School of Economics and Management. Later, she achieved a postgraduate specialization in Wealth Management at the University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School. As Managing Director of Vinitaly International, Stevie has launched and now coordinates a series of new initiatives connected to the Vinitaly brand. She is always seeking innovative ways to communicate and celebrate “Italian wine”, with a strong creative emphasis on social media and educational platforms. In 2017, Stevie launched Italian Wine Podcast, the first podcast in English dedicated exclusively to Italian wine and its personalities; and Italian Wine Unplugged Grape by Grape, a new reference book unpacking the hundreds of Italian native grapes in a visually compelling layout. She regularly travels around the world to spread the gospel of Italian wine, with particular attention to USA, Russia, and China.



Caro Maurer MW

Master of Wine, Educator

In 2011 Caro Maurer MW became the first female Master of Wine from the German speaking countries. Since more than 25 years Caro is working as a wine writer. Caro also works as a wine educator for WSET Diploma in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bordeaux, Paris, Tuscany and Norway. She is deeply involved in the education of MW students at the Institute of Masters of Wine where she is also chair of the Admission Committee and member of the Council.
Furthermore Caro is hosting educational seminars and tastings for numerous generic wine associations such as Wines of Alentejo, Wines of Greece or VDP. She is judging in international wine competitions, at Decanter WWA in London she is a panel chair.


Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Master of Wine

Pedro Ballesteros Torres is a Master of Wine. He got his Agrofood Engineer Degree and his Master Degree in Viticulture & Oenology at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. He also got the WSET Diploma, the Weinakademiker certificate, and he followed various other wine specialisation studies. He is columnist at Planeta Vino, Selectus Wineselmundovino.com (Spain), Libre BelgiqueDe MorgenDernière Heure (Belgium), writes regularly for Decanter (UK), and writes occasionally for magazines in Switzerland, Italy, France and USA. He was a co-Chair at Decanter World Wine Awards (UK), and a Chair and Senior judge at many international wine competitions. He was in the Governing Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine, of the Spanish Taster Union, of the International Federation of Wine Journalists, and in the Advisory Board of the Basque Culinary Centre. Expert at OIV for Spain, he has given several hundred lectures and tutored tastings all over the world in Spanish, English, French and Italian.


Robert Joseph

Editorial consultant for Meininger’s Wine Business International

Robert is a wine business consultant and an editorial consultant for Meininger’s Wine Business International, which he helped to launch in 2006. In 1983, after living in Burgundy for five years, he launched the Wine International magazine; set up the International Wine Challenge; became wine writer for the Sunday Telegraph and wrote The Wine Lists, the first of his 25 books. He has chaired and launched over 50 wine competitions in Asia, Europe and the UK. Robert has been in Who’s Who since 2013, and the awards he has received include the Jacob’s Creek ‘Golden Vine’; ‘the Best Wine Guide in the World’; the Glenfiddich (twice); The Wine Guild of the United Kingdom Premier; the Marques de Caceres. He regularly appears on television and radio and has lectured at the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust, Burgundy and Sonoma Wine Business Schools. Joseph is one of the trio behind Hugh Kevin & Robert Wines whose le Grand Noir range now sell over 3.8m bottles per year in over 60 countries. His website is winethinker.com.


Bernard Burtschy

Columnist at Le Figaro

Bernard Burtschy is a wine columnist for Le Figaro (a French newspaper and Internet site) and for several magazines in the French press (including Paris-Match, Vigneron, Amateur de Vins et Spiritueux) as well as outside his native France (such as Wands in Japan, Feinschmecker in Germany). He is also President of the French Wine Press and Permanent Member of the Grand Jury Européen, the European wine tasting group. His family has always produced wine, both red and white. Bernard has always been fascinated by wine; he started by taking tasting courses at the Académie du Vin in Paris in 1977, then quickly became a tasting teacher and, from the early 1980s, a main contributor to the Revue du Vin de France, then to Gault & Millau. He also wrote about a number of vintages for the Eponymous Wine guides. Outside the world of wine, Bernard Burtschy is a professor of statistics at the École Supérieure des Télécommunications in Paris.


Daniele Cernilli

Editor at Doctor Wine and Founder of Gambero Rosso

Daniele Cernilli is the Director of the online magazine Doctor Wine. After a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, he taught this discipline along with history and literature for a period but eventually he decided to move his career towards his passion, great food and wine. Daniele is a regular contributor to Italian newspapers, and trade and consumer publications; he has also written a number of technical books on wine and wine tasting. In 1986, he co-founded Gambero Rosso magazine which (together with Slow Food) began to publish an Italian Wine Guide annually; he oversaw this for more than 24 editions. Daniele often gives interviews to various Italian media outlets as a wine expert, and teaches professional courses at the “Città del Gusto” (Taste City). He got several awards for his contribution to food and wine culture, including the Gold Plaque from the “Associazione Enotecnici” and in 1999, Decanter listed Cernilli among the 50 most influential people in the wine world (2007-2008-2009).


Gabriele Gorelli MW

Master of Wine, brand ambassador, strategic consultant

Born in 1984, Gabriele Gorelli MW is one of Italy’s most esteemed wine experts.
Born and raised in Montalcino, Tuscany, in February 2021, he became the first Italian Master of Wine. His passion for wine was born thanks to his paternal grandfather, the smallest producer of Brunello di Montalcino.
After linguistic studies, he gained a long experience in the visual communication of wine. In 2015 he co-founded KH Wines, which deals with strategic product and communication consultancy for high-level brands. Gabriele speaks English, and French and has a basic knowledge of German.
Avid traveller, trail runner and Ashtanga Yoga practitioner.
Today Gabriele is Brand Ambassador of OENO Group for Italy, Worldwide Faculty Ambassador for Fondazione Banfi and Brand Ambassador for Vinventions.




Sarah Abbott MW

Master of Wine, founder and CEO of Swirl Wine Group

Sarah is the founder and CEO of Swirl Wine Group, a wine business strategy and communications company that helps wineries activate their brand and access markets in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Sarah judges at a senior level in wine competitions across the world, and is a member of the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Challenge) judging committee. She has worked in the wine trade for over 20 years. Her specialist areas are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy, and emerging regions, such as Georgia, Turkey and Japan. She also writes about wine. In 2021 she co-founded and launched The Old Vine Conference, a global non-profit for the protection and promotion of heritage vineyards around the world.


Hayley Black IWE

Fine Wine Specialist at Winebow Imports

Hayley believes that a passion for wine paired with a desire to learn creates a never-ending journey. After a decade of working in restaurants, she dove into the world of wine sales and distribution. Along the way, she found time to earn the highest level of qualification available through the WSET, in addition to the highest level of certification with the Vinitaly Wine Academy. Hayley understands what it means to pursue the pinnacle of quality in the wine industry. Her ability to inspire, educate and connect people through wine has been and continues to be the driving force behind her career.


Richard Kershaw MW

Master of Wine, Founder and Winemaker of Richard Kershaw Wines

Born and raised in the UK, Richard travelled extensively, harvesting in California, Chile, Bordeaux, Hungary, and Germany before settling in South Africa in 1999 to make wine full-time.

He established Richard Kershaw Wines in January 2012 to create clonally selected, site-specific, cool climate wines in the Elgin Valley, and now has a stable of award-winning, much-in-demand wines. In addition to this, Richard was approached by Naked Wines UK in 2012 to make an exclusive range of wines under the Richard’s Label, which is now available to over 400,000 angels. He has recently launched a smaller selection of wines with Naked Wines USA.

One of only 10 Masters of Wine who actively make their own wines and South Africa’s only winemaking Master of Wine, Richard is much in demand when not in the vineyard or cellar. A wine judge for many prestigious competitions around the globe, he is also part of the educational panel for the Institute of Masters of Wine, lectures for the WSET in South Africa, and shares his knowledge with students and consumers via talks, tastings, and blogs. In 2021 he was elected as a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild, which brings together a select number of the top South African winemakers who have demonstrated excellence and innovation in winemaking.


Gurvinder Bhatia IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Editor for Quench Magazine

Gurvinder Bhatia is the editor-in-chief and publisher for Quench Magazine – North America’s longest-running and Canada’s most widely distributed wine and food publication. Although he has written for Quench for over two decades and been on the editorial team for the past 15 years, Gurvinder purchased the magazine in 2021, and is committed to the magazine’s evolution to be a much truer representation of our society. Gurvinder is also the wine columnist for Global Television Edmonton, an international wine judge and the president of Vinomania Consulting.  Gurvinder was the owner/founder of Vinomania wine boutique (opened in 1995, closed in 2016), which was named on numerous occasions among the 20 best wine stores in Canada.  In addition, Gurvinder was the wine columnist for CBC Radio for 11 years and is certified by Vinitaly International Academy as one of only 15 Italian Wine Experts in the world. Gurvinder is a recovering lawyer and in addition to his law degree (JD), he also earned his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with honours. In 2015, Gurvinder was named by Alberta Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People. He is actively involved in the community and has served in leadership with numerous community organizations including the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Alberta Social Enterprise Venture Fund, and the Edmonton Shift Lab initiative to reduce racism as it contributes to poverty. Gurvinder developed and moderated a roundtable on ‘The Media and Racism’ as part of the Centre for Race and Culture’s Challenging Discrimination through Community Conversations series.


Henry Davar IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Wine Educator

Henry Davar was born in Moscow and was raised in Queens, New York. After a five-year career in finance in New York City, Henry enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Education, and studied with the American Sommelier Association. He worked as Sommelier, Wine and Beverage Director, Business Development Manager, and Wine Educator. In April 2011, he went on sabbatical, traveling in Italy and working harvest at Vietti in Barolo. In April 2017, Henry became (at that time) the only candidate to be achieve the Expert level in Vinitaly International Academy’s Italian Wine Ambassador course on the first attempt. He joined the VIA Faculty where he helped develop the expanded VIA course curriculum which premiered in Hong Kong in November 2018 and continues to assist in its ongoing development and implementation.


Niklas Bergqvist IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Head Sommelier and Wine Educator Vinkällaren Grappe and Restaurangakademien

Niklas Bergqvist started out in the kitchens of various restaurants in Stockholm, Sweden. A deep interest in wine drove him to take a sommelier course to understand the concepts of matching wine and food.After a serious skiing accident that left him unable to walk due to a badly broken leg, he used his rehabilitation time focusing on the WSET Diploma; he finished the programme as the best Continental European student in 2012. Since then he has been working with wine full time as head sommelier in a private wine club for wine collectors. Bergqvist is also a WSET educator and Italian Wine Expert through the Vinitaly International Academy.


Paul Caputo IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, editor-in-chief of Vinorandum

Paul Caputo is a UK based wine writer, judge, critic and entrepreneur. He is a certified Italian Wine Ambassador of the VinItaly International Academy, and writes regularly for various publications. He previously ran an online wine merchant and successful pop up wine bar, located on Chester’s historic rows. He works mainly in the wine space where he combines his passion for travel, technology, sustainability, and marketing. He is now working on Vinorandum, a wine business startup. Vinorandum is a wine search engine and media platform bringing stories and opinion from the world of wine. In 2020 he won a Millesima Award for his writing.


Yannick Benjamin

Co-Founder of Beaupierre Wines & Spirits, Contento Restaurant and Wine on Wheels

Benjamin, a New York City-based sommelier, is the cofounder of Contento in East Harlem, which opened in 2021. He is also a co-founder and director of development for Wine on Wheels, an organization that helps recently disabled people. In 2003, a car accident left Benjamin paralyzed, but he pursued his dreams to attend college and become a sommelier. Having worked in his early years at Le Cirque, Jean-Georges, Felidia and Atelier at the Ritz Carlton, Benjamin went back to wine service at Le Dû’s Wines for more than seven years and became an accomplished athlete. Benjamin and partners opened Contento with the ethos and tagline “accessible for all”. It is a stunning example of quality hospitality designed with a broadly inclusive approach.

Yannick has been recognized among Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 under 40 and was named Person of the Year by New Mobility Magazine in 2017. He was the resident sommelier on the hit radio show “On The Town with Michael Riedel” on AM 970 The Answer, and has made multiple appearances on ABC, NBC, and CBS. In 2015, Yannick starred in “Uncorked,” a documentary series featuring sommeliers on Esquire TV. Jancis Robinson of the Financial Times calls Benjamin “the new star of New York’s gastronomic firmament”, and The Wine Spectator talks about Benjamin revealing a “kinder, gentler side of the profession”. The story of Yannick’s journey and the success of Wheeling Forward have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Wine Spectator, Financial Times, and Forbes. He was recognized by the Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards as Sommelier/ Wine Director of The Year for 2021.


Christopher Barnes

Founder and Publisher at Grape Collective

Christopher Barnes is currently Editor and Publisher of Grape Collective an online wine magazine that combines high quality wine journalism with a seamless eCommerce experience. Grape Collective has produced over 300 video interviews on location with winemakers around the world and features writing by some of wine journalism’s top stars including former Wall Street Journal wine critic Dorothy J. Gaiter. Prior to starting Grape Collective Barnes was President of The Observer Media Group, publisher of The New York Observer. Barnes was co-founder and Publisher of amNewYork newspaper, New York’s largest free daily newspaper which was eventually sold to the Tribune Company. Amongst other media start-ups he was also involved in the co-founding of the Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral Press weekly newspaper and The London Monthly magazine. He has an MBA from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.


Pietro Russo

Winemaker at Donnafugata

Born in 1985 in Marsala from a family long dedicated to winemaking, Pietro Russo graduated in Viticulture and Winemaking from Conegliano Veneto and holds a Master’s Degree from Bordeaux. His career includes working periods spent in Bordeaux and Languedoc, Andalusia, New Zealand, and Piedmont, where he has developed a long hands-on experience in winemaking and an insatiable passion for wine.

Since 2010 Pietro has been working for Donnafugata, where he has the opportunity to produce wines from the most compelling appellations across Sicily, such as Etna, Pantelleria, Vittoria, and Contessa Entellina. In 2020, together with Gabriele Gorelli MW and Andrea Lonardi, Pietro revised the Italian chapter for the New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. He participates annually in several international wine competitions as a judge.

Pietro is also a candidate in the Master of Wine program, having passed the tasting part of the exam in 2019, and currently studying to achieve the famous two letters.


Andrea Lonardi

COO (Chief Operating Officer) Angelini Wines & Estate

Andrea Lonardi was born in 1974 in Valpolicella.  Lonardi’s education was an international one, with a degree in Agriculture from Bologna, a Master’s degree in management control for agro-industrial agencies from the Grande École of Montpellier (ENSAM), and an Internship with Washington State University. He also benefitted from training internships in Languedoc and Sonoma.

He returned to Italy in 2003 to begin a career in marketing and sales, in the Top Wine Division of Gruppo Italiano Vini. In 2005 he took on the exciting challenge of an ambitious project of reorganization of the viticultural part of a group. This role lead him to work as Group Viticultural Coordinator, in the most important Italian wine territories, covering 1,200 hectares of vineyards from Valtellina to Sicily. In 2008 he was entrusted with the management of two of the Group’s wineries and began a shared marketing and trade marketing collaboration in order to support the development of the product portfolio and image.

In 2012 he assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer within the newly born Bertani Domains, rebranded from December 2021 as Angelini Wine & Estate. For this project he took on production reorganization, the development of the group concept, the construction of the product portfolio and the development of the business in the main markets. He alternates his operations between vineyards, wineries and markets thanks to a dynamic and strongly style & product-oriented approach.

Andrea is a Master of Wine stage 3 student and is working on a final Research Paper on the long-standing issue of “Labor Shortage” in viticulture. The path with IMW is a unique experience for him, thanks to which he has been able to expand his international network, interest in trade-marketing and different methodological approaches of analysis, as well as maintain a continuous update on the world of Fine Wines and major world trends.

He lives the profession in an innovative way, with continuous training cycles and a deep sense of collaboration, belonging, and responsibility aimed at building a working, young, heterogeneous, and extremely dynamic team.

He is on the Board of UIV, collaborates with research centers, and serves as Vice President of the Valpolicella Consortium.

He lives with three beautiful women, namely his wife Alberta and their two little girls; he is an avid collector of Art Brut and an inveterate


Mark Cuff

Owner at The Living Vine Inc. Organic.Biodynamic.Natural Wines

Mark Cuff founded The Living Vine, a wine importer/agency based in Toronto (Canada), in 2006. This company represents only biodynamic, organic and natural wines, and started before cow horns were cool and organics became the new norm. The Living Vine’s mandate from the beginning was to introduce, educate and promote the sale of biodynamic, organic and natural wines. The Living Vine imports the largest selection of established biodynamic & organic estates. Over the last 14 years, Mark has seen the Canadian wine sector mature from a niche to a mainstream market and is looking forward to contributing his experience to Wine Without Walls, the section of 5StarWines dedicated to certified organic or biodynamic wine.




Marcia J. Hamm IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Owner of Joy of Wine

Marcia started Joy of Wine in 2013 bringing the Joy of wine to people through home wine tastings and corporate events. She holds the prestigious WSET diploma in Wines & Spirits and is one of only 15 Italian Wine Experts (IWE) in the world through the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA). These days you can find her at Everything Wine and More in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, where she manages the Fine Vintage room, is the floor wine manager and assists in purchasing.


Sue Tolson IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Managing Editor of WineSofa

Based in Budapest, Sue Tolson is a freelance writer, educator, translator and editor, specialising in wine (especially Italian and Hungarian), food and travel. She holds the WSET diploma as well as being a Wein Akademiker and Vinitaly Italian Wine Expert and is currently studying on the Master of Wine programme. She judges at various international wine competitions including IWC, Berlin Wine Trophy and 5StarWines and is also a member of the prestigious Circle of Wine Writers and the Managing Editor of WineSofa – an online magazine focussing mainly on the wines and culture of Central and Eastern Europe. She is also author of The Italian Wine Job and Budapest Wine Snob blogs.


Corinne Keddie IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, DipWSET, Architect

Corinne Keddie is a VIA Italian Wine Expert and educator, WSET Level 4 Diploma holder, and Stage 2 Masters of Wine Student. She has her own wine consulting company 365 days of wine, and regularly hosts wine tastings, seminars and educational sessions, leads wine tours, writes about food, travel, wine and design, and is just about to launch her own wine club. She also judges at various international wine competitions and typically spends several months every year traveling to various wine regions around the world to further her wine knowledge. When not busy drinking wine, she works as an architect and has designed award winning architectural and interior design projects both locally and internationally.



Elise Vandenberg IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Fine Wine Specialist at Vin Sauvage

Elise Vandenberg is an Italian Wine Ambassador and Certified Sommelier based in Reno, Nevada, USA. Elise enjoys wine from around the world but is particularly passionate about wines made from native Italian grapes. Elise works in fine wine distribution with Vin Sauvage. She writes about Italian wine at elisevino.wordpress.com.


Valeria Tenison IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, wine educator, wine blogger and journalist

Russian-born, Valeria has lived and worked in eight countries of Europe and Asia. She started her career in wine in 2009, having obtained a sommelier diploma in Saint-Petersburg, later adding to that a ASI Gold certificate, a WSET Diploma and a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador title. She was the winner of the 2018 Best Female Sommelier of Russia and a runner-up in Ruinart Sommelier Challenge France 2019. Based now in Bordeaux, she writes for several wine magazines in Russia and France, judges wine competitions and organizes wine tastings, educational activities and tours for private clients.


Laura Donadoni IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Founder of La Com Wine Agency, journalist and wine educator

Laura Donadoni is an Italian wine writer, published author and journalist based in California, where she founded years ago “The Italian Wine Girl” blog and online community (today counting more than 60.000 followers) and La Com Wine Agency, a strategic P.R. and Communications firm focused on the wine industry. She is a contributor for the Slow Wine Guide America, a columnist for SommJournal and Tasting Panel Magazines, the only Italian woman member of the International Circle of Wine Writers and of the Los Angeles Wine Writers Association and the Director of the Wine Education Program at the Pacific National Food and Beverage Museum in L.A. She is a certified wine educator, a professional wine judge in national and international competitions such as the historic San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, she is a Vinitaly International Ambassador, a certified Sommelier with merit with the North American Sommelier Association and the World Sommelier Association, a WSET advanced sommelier. In her book “Come il vino ti cambia la vita” meaning “How wine can change your life” (published by Il Cairo), she includes her story and the stories of inspiration, courage, and rebirth of six Italian wine producers. Her first book was awarded with the Premio Bruno Lunelli for the wine literature. The book was translated into English and published in the USA by Prima Living publisher. After the success of the first edition, Laura has worked on a second, ambitious project: “Custodi del vino”, the stories of a resilient and rebirthing Italy, published by Slow Food Editore, one of the top seller wine books on Amazon and at bookshops in 2021.


Jingjing Sui IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Commercial director

Jingjing Sui is a Marketing and Sales Professional. She was born in China, but she moved to Italy when she was a teenager. She first graduated in Language and Literature, in Rome. Then, by chance, she discovered the world of wine and she took a detour in oenology and viticulture studies. She got her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Milan in 2018. She is living in Bordeaux, where she got a Master in Wine and Sprits and the WSET Diploma. She has been working for Bi-Sin Trading Co., Ltd in Beijing as senior buyer since 2019. Bi-Sin imports and distributes wines and spirits from Europe to the Chinese market, mainly from Italy. In Rome she started her own company, focusing on the organization of private and corporate events, wine tastings and wine tourism.


Julianne Farricker IWA

Co-owner of The Italian Cellar

Julianne is a Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador and a co-owner of The Italian Cellar, a wine shop that exclusively sells Italian wines. She has also traveled to all 20 regions of Italy and her next goal is to try every DOCG/DOC/IGT wine. When she is not keeping track of that list or educating customers about the beauty of Italian wine and gastronomy, she is also a secondary English and social studies teacher specializing in European history.


Stephanie Guth IWA

Portfolio Manager at The Living Vine

Stephanie is a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador and CMS certified sommelier, who has worked as a sommelier in Canada, the UK and New Zealand. She completed an MBA in Wine Marketing and Management in Bordeaux before moving back to Toronto to work as the Portfolio Manager at The Living Vine, Ontario’s leading wine agency for organic, biodynamic and natural wines. She also holds her WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits. This is the second time judging at 5StarWines & Wine Without Walls.


Alessandra Fedi

DipWSET, wine educator

Alessandra Fedi is an Italian sommelier and WSET certified teacher. She travels between Milan and London, where she earned a Diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Experienced professor and speaker, Alessandra organizes seminars and tastings at exclusive locations, theaters and fairs and has expanded her business in the field of consulting to collectors, wineries and consortia through her website (www.alessandrafedi.com). She is the co-author of a TV format – Winery Masters, a game that features three Italian wineries with their respective Masters – where she aims to make the world of wine more iconic and fun.


Rose Thomas Bannister IWA


Rose Thomas Bannister was the top scoring Italian Wine Ambassador for New York in 2019. She holds certifications with the Sommelier Society of America and the Court of Master Sommeliers. Rose Thomas has worked in wine writing, distribution, fine dining, retail and mixology in New York City, where she founded her own tasting group and throws fantastic dinner parties. Her greatest devotion in wine is the endless discovery of Italy’s native grapes. She also performs as a singer-songwriter.


Alberto Martinez Interiano IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Journalist

Alberto is a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, wine educator, and writer based in Seattle, WA. He currently works as an instructor at The Cellar Muse Wine School in Seattle, and also teaches Italian and Spanish wine courses at the Wine & Spirit Archive in Portland, OR. His passion for wine started when he lived in Tuscany as a student, where he fell in love with Chianti and rustic Italian food. After being bitten by the wine bug, his curiosity led him to read all the wine books he could get his hands on, join multiple tasting groups, and later pursue a formal wine education in San Francisco and Seattle. Alberto is a big fan of Italian wines, in particular old-school Barolo & Barbaresco, Etna (Rosso & Bianco), and Campanian whites. He’s traveled extensively throughout Northern and Central Italy and next on his travel wish list are trips to Sicily and Sardinia. He holds the WSET Diploma and has an MBA in Marketing and International Business. He speaks Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese and is now working on his French. He writes for his blog www.vinointeriano.com and is a contributing blogger at the Vintner Project: www.vintnerproject.com


Dongmyung Hong IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, CEO of Vinovino co., ltd

Hong Dongmyung runs Vinovino, a company that imports only Italian wines to South Korea. This company was established in 2002 as a family business. Now, Hong is the CEO and works with over 50 producers from Italy. After graduating from the Korea National University of Arts, he immediately joined the family business. Hong has also owned an Italian restaurant, and so discovered early on that he can communicate with wine people. Hong has garnered certifications such as the WSET advanced and VIA Italian Wine Ambassador. After many years of dedication to the wine industry, a desire to express his experience and teaching about Italian wine developed and He joined a wine school to share his knowledge with other professionals.


Matthew Landry IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Sommelier, Wine Educator

Matthew Landry is the founder of Tannin Management, a Vancouver-based wine consulting company. He is a CMS Certified Sommelier, Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador, and winner of British Columbia’s Best Sommelier 2019. In 2021, Matthew placed 2nd in the Best Sommelier of Canada competition. This is his second time judging at 5StarWines & Wine Without Walls.


Erin DeMara IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, District Manager at 1821 Fine Wine & Spirits

Erin DeMara is a twenty-nine-year professional of the wine and restaurant industries. Currently in his seventh year with 1821 Fine Wine and Spirits, an Italian-focused importer, he manages the portfolio of 100+ wines and spirits within Florida, USA. Erin is a Certified Wine Educator by the Society of Wine Educators and an Italian Wine Ambassador and Educator by VinItaly International Academy – the only wine professional in America to hold both titles. He is also a Certified Spirits Specialist, a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, and an awarded member of the Guild of Sommeliers.


Gianluca Queiroli IWA

Owner of Wine Empire

After being an international tax consultant for almost 20 years, Gianluca made a career switch and joined the wine industry 5 years ago. Originally from Italy, he is now based in the Boston area where he owns and runs Wine Empire, a fine wine retailer. Gianluca holds a law degree, a Master in Accounting & International Tax, and speaks fluently three languages. He also dedicated himself to many aspects of the wine world: tasting events, writing, wine education. He became an Italian Wine Ambassador & Educator (through Vinitaly International Academy) in 2019 and is a certified French Wine Scholar, American Wine Expert, Bordeaux & Burgundy Specialist, Sherry Wine Specialist, holds the WSET Diploma & currently a MW candidate. In 2021, he launched in the U.S. the Italian Wine Maestro Certification.


Ciro Pirone IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Director of Italian Wines at Horizon Beverage Company

Ciro Pirone, Director of Italian Wines for Horizon Beverage Company, is a graduate of the Istituto Alberghiero (Hotel and Restaurant Management school) of Salerno, Italy and an Italian Wine Ambassador by the Vinitaly International Academy. Traveling and working in Italy, England and the US, Ciro developed an incredible passion for wine, food and culture. After all, growing up in Italy, wine was always a very important part of his family’s lifestyle and traditions. In 1999, Ciro moved to the US permanently. He landed in Boston, where he continued his wine studies at Boston University, the International Sommelier Guild, the London – based Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET), as well as he completed and passed with Honors the Italian Wine Specialist Certification by the North American Sommelier Association (part of the worldwide recognized Italian Sommelier Association). In June 2017 (and again in 2019) he completed the Vinitaly International Academy certification course and received the Italian Wine Ambassador title. In 2019 he also passed with Honors the Italian Wine Scholar program by the Wine Scholar Guild. In 2007, Ciro accepted the position of Italian Wine Specialist at Horizon Beverage. After successful growth at HBC, Ciro accepted on a new challenge as the US Brand Manager for the Arnaldo Caprai Winery of Montefalco (Umbria), the top producer of worldwide recognized Sagrantino di Montefalco. In June 2011, Ciro returned to Horizon Beverage with a new position of Director of Italian Wines in support of their expanding presence in the New England marketplace. Ciro is happy to share his passion for Italian wine and culture in the effort to give the American wine consumer a better understanding and appreciation for Italian wine!


Andrey Batkilin IWA

Owner of “Prosecco & Lambrusco” wine club, wine writer

In 2018 he obtained the WSET Level II certification, in 2019 he became an Italian Wine Scholar at the Wine Scholar Guild, and in 2021 he became an Italian Wine Ambassador of the Vinitaly International Academy.


Kevin Di Lucente IWA

Wine Consultant with Winebow

A Western New York native, he began his 13+ year career in wine at a boutique wine shop, where his love for wine took root. Eventually he would find his way into the wholesale side, and for the past 10 years has worked in distribution, representing producers from all over the world, and sharing their stories. He has also been a repeat featured guest among world renowned winemakers, sommeliers, celebrities and wine enthusiasts on the locally celebrated Spiel the Wine television series, broadcast in parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada. His passion to learn has never ceased, and his credentials to date include Certified Specialist of Wine, Italian Wine Ambassador, and Italian Wine Professional. In addition, he’s also an ongoing student of the Italian language. When it comes to wine, those of Italy, and their native grapes are his number one fascination, and the fuel for his continued passion. If he’s not going on about Italian wine, you can find him exploring his many other interests, including music, comedic improv, cycling and many others.


Tinashe Nyamudoka

Founder and Director of Kumusha Wines

Hailing from Zimbabwe, I began my hospitality career at The Roundhouse Restaurant in Camps Bay, Cape Town before furthering my sommelier career at several iconic hotels and restaurants across South Africa including The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, Nobu at One&Only Cape Town and the multi award winning The Test Kitchen by Chef Patron Luke Dale Roberts. I hold a Cape Wine Diploma, WSET Level 3, Wine Judging Certificate from Micheal Fridjhon Academy and a Certificate in Wine Business Management from UCT GSB. I am the founder of Kumusha Wines as well as Somm On Call, an online wine shop. I am an independent wine judge as well as a wine consultant mainly to the restaurant trade.


Rodrigo Sepúlveda Schulz

Founding Partner at Expon Capital and President at Sepulveda Capital

Rodrigo is a serial entrepreneur and investor, having founded or co-founded 5 companies. Currently, he is a Founding Partner at Expon Capital (HQ in Luxembourg) and President at Sepulveda Capital (HQ in Paris), focused on impact investing at growth-stage. He’s invested early in 3 unicorns (GetAround, Glovo, Spire), and expects at least 4 more from his current portfolios. After earning his Computer Science Engineering degree at EPITA in Paris, France in Systems – Networks – Security, he started his career working with industrial, banking, retail and media clients for two large consultancies co-creating the Internet security, Internet strategy and online marketplaces practices. In the following 10 years, Rodrigo also led a number of digital strategy assignments as a free-lance consultant for public multi-billion revenue companies working closely with both Boards and CEOs. He also gained operational experience at large technology companies such as Intel, Novell and AOL. He became an entrepreneur after getting two MBAs (from the IAE at the Sorbonne University, and later at INSEAD with an exchange term at The Wharton School). He’s also a graduate of the Singularity University executive program (Summer 2015), and of the INSEAD International Directors Programme (IDP28). Rodrigo is an avid traveler, B&W photographer, genealogist, wine enthusiast (WSET Diploma in 2019) and enjoys jazz, opera, fine dining, biking and snowboarding.


Tomislav Tuđen

Executive Director of Miva & Mohor Trgovina
Tomislav Tuđen comes from Zagreb, he works as the executive director of Miva & Mohor Trgovina, the leading wine distributor company in Croatia. Always keen to improve his education, he is currently attending WSET Diploma classes. In the wine business for the last 18 years, his goal is to promote and present Croatian wines to the world. Since 2016 he has been officially designated as Riedel’s ambassador.


Angelo Sabbadin

Sommelier at Ferrowine

Angelo Sabbadin was born and raised in Padua. After years of working in well-known restaurants in the city, in 2006 he started working at the three-starred restaurant Le Calandre (Rubano) as a sommelier and purchasing manager. This experience, which lasted 7 years, allowed Angelo to taste the excellence of food and wine. In 2010 he was in charge of renewing Le Calandre’s wine list, and organised it based on grape variety rather than region as well as presenting it on iPad rather than paper.  In 2011 he was awarded Sommelier of the Year for the Guida de l’Espresso. Since 2012, he has been on the jury of the Decanter World Wine Award, a competition organised by Decanter magazine involving 220 judges from 20 different countries. For 4 years Angelo collaborated with the Ian d’Agata/Comparini Wine Guide and for the last 4 years he has been part of the Guida de l’Espresso Vini as regional delegate for Veneto and Friuli. In 2019, he was a judge at WOW, an Italian wine competition organised by Civiltà del Bere magazine. Currently, Angelo is a professional ASPI sommelier and works at Ferrowine (Castelfranco Veneto) as a sommelier and selector. For Angelo, wine is an articulate and complex subject, a passion, a captivating element. Before telling about wine, according to him, it is necessary to listen to it and understand it, in order to convey emotions.


Filippo Magnani

DipWSET, Founder and CEO of Fufluns

Born and raised in Suvereto, a beautiful, unspoilt medieval village on the coast of Tuscany, Italy, in 1996, he graduated with a degree in Hotel and Tourism management at the University of Economics in Florence, followed by an MBA in Hospitality Management at Brighton University (UK). During his studies and after graduation, he worked as an F&B manager in several luxury hotel chains including Westin Hotels, Relais & Chateaux, and Kempinski Hotels in the United States, England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy. He began his career in the world of wine in 1999 when, at the age of 26, he founded Fufluns, a travel boutique company specialized in customized wine tours in Tuscany and other regions of Italy for both wine professional and wine enthusiasts. After a period of long, intense studies between Tuscany and London, he completed the WSET Diploma in 2006 and started teaching private or corporate courses in partnership with different Approved Program Provider all throughout Italy. He has judged in wine contests such as the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Mondial des Vins Extrêmes. As an independent wine writer, he has developed partnerships with various wine magazines.


Brad Horne

Founder of WineTimeLondon

Founder of WineTimeLondon, a Social Media platform to educate, inform and engage with wine and the people in the industry. Brad is a Wine Communicator, Educator, Presenter & Host of #winesocial Live on IGTV. Working with winery’s and wine boards to showcase the very best of a region and its wines to both trade and consumers.
He is also a Judge at the IWSC (@theIWSC), IEWA(@theIEWA) & 5StarWines – the Book (@5starwines) and also presents shows for IWSC, Davys, and other wine outlets.




Ashlee Howell IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Italian Wine Importer at Ashlee Brianne Selections and freelance writer

Ashlee Howell is a Vancouver based wine professional with 10 years serving many roles in the wine trade; from sommelier to consultant to buyer. She holds the DipWSET qualification, French and Italian Wine Scholar certifications, and is a Vinitaly Academy Italian Wine Ambassador. After spending half of 2019 in Italy, fully submerged in the culture, vineyards, language, wine and way of life, she returned to Vancouver to share the best kept secrets among Italy’s high quality niche producers. As an Italian wine importer, she shares the stories of hard working, family run cantinas with a high respect for honoring tradition and serving the land. As a freelance writer, she spends half her year abroad sourcing new wines and new experiences.


Ellen Jakobsmeier

Exporter & Importer at Genuine Wines

Ellen Jakobsmeier is a Canadian-born export director at Genuine Wines, based in France. Her start in the wine industry began with three years of traveling and making wine in McLaren Vale Australia, and Marlborough New Zealand. Ellen returned to her hometown of Toronto Canada for sommelier studies, and received her certifications with the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, and enrolled as a WSET Diploma student. She worked in Toronto’s fine dining restaurants for a number of years where her deep passion for Italian wines developed. Her next chapter of formal education took her to Dijon, to commence her studies at the Burgundy School of Business where she received her Masters degree in Wine Business. Since graduation, Ellen has been working with a group of Italian family-owned wineries in the France import and international export markets for the past five years.


Hoby Wedler

Entrepreneur, Chemist, Visionary, Teacher

Dr. Hoby Wedler is an insightful, disarming, and passionate thinker who loves to bring people together to help them see new possibilities. With the heart of a teacher, Hoby helps turn your dreams into realities. Hoby has been completely blind since birth. He is a scientist, an entrepreneur, a sensory expert, and is driven by his passion for innovative, creative, and insightful thinking. Hoby is remarkably tuned into his surroundings and has frequently chosen to walk the unbeaten paths in life over known territories. In 2016, Hoby earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from UC Davis. His fearlessness is infectious, and he has actively paved the way for others to join him in his quest to follow passions regardless of the challenges that lie ahead. In 2011, Hoby founded a non-profit organization to lead annual chemistry camps for blind and visually impaired students throughout North America. In the same year, he began opening doors to the world of wine aromas by developing Tasting in the Dark, a truly blindfolded wine experience, in collaboration with the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. He has since expanded the program to a global market in a variety of industries and special projects. Over the years, Hoby has become a motivational speaker, a mentor, and an educator. He is also committed to making the world an inclusive, equitable, and accessible place for everyone. In his work, you will find a unique trilogy between sensory awareness, scientific knowledge, and a love for sharing his insights. Numerous people and organizations have recognized Hoby’s work over the years. To name a few, President Barack Obama recognized Hoby by naming him a Champion of Change for enhancing employment and education opportunities for people with disabilities. Also, Forbes Media named Hoby as a leader in food and drink in their 30 under 30 annual publication. Hoby’s dedicated to impacting everyone he works with by unlocking doors, overcoming challenges, increasing awareness, and expanding their horizons.


Wanda Wann

East Coast Editor, The SOMM Journal and Founder, Wine With Wanda

Wanda Mann has been writing about wine for more than a decade. She joined The SOMM Journal in 2020 and was promoted to East Coast Editor in 2021. She is also the New York Editor for Tasting Panel. Her Wine With Wanda website provides consumers with engaging and educational wine information.  Wanda’s energetic and insightful Instagram Live interviews with winemakers and other industry professionals have developed a loyal following. In January 2022, Wanda moderated the keynote discussion for the 10th annual Women in Wine Leadership Symposium. She has been invited to speak at prestigious industry events, including the digital iteration of The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley and the International Riesling Expo in the Finger Lakes. She has led virtual wine tastings for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and private clients. The daughter of a professional chef, Wanda has always been captivated by the world of food and wine. Still, it wasn’t until studying in Spain for two years that she began to understand wine’s cultural significance. Wanda has traveled to several Old and New World wine regions, most frequently to Italy, where she has visited 10 of 20 regions; her goal is to visit them all! Wanda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Pomona College, and in 2015 she earned the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) credential from the Society of Wine Educators. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Les Dames d’Escoffier, New York.


Noell Dorsey

Cellar Manager and Fine Wine Specialist at Skinner Auctions, Wine Educator

Noell Dorsey is a wine professional who has worked in the wine and hospitality industry for twenty years. She was part of the opening team at Island Creek Oyster Bar working in various roles before taking over as Wine Director in 2015. She has worked in Nantucket as a sommelier at Afterhouse Wine Bar and helped open and curate the new beverage program at acclaimed Moona Restaurant in Cambridge, MA. She is currently Cellar Manager and Fine Wine Specialist at Skinner Auctions. She also is a Wine Educator at Commonwealth Wine School teaching various course levels as well as private tastings. She is a certified sommelier and holds a Level 4 certificate from Boston University’s Elizabeth Bishop Wine School.


Renée Sferrazza

CEO and Founder of Wine by Renée, Sommelier, wine writer, content creator, and advisor

An active Certified Sommelier with a growing network at home and around the world, she has brought her love of wine into everything she does. From working as a wine communicator online as @wine.by.renee as well as in her work as a wine consultant, social marketing advisor to her hosting and writing work as the Host of Think You Know Wine by WineAlign, the Wine Expert on CityLine, wine writer of The Wine Effect in the Distillery District Magazine, Feature Writer in Monarch. Wine and featured in Holr Magazine.


Duygu Çelik

Wine Consultant & Enthusiast

Duygu Çelik is a New York City based wine enthusiast with a particular obsession for Italian wines. Her wine journey started when her father took her to a local winery in Cappadocia Turkey when she was 19. Her curiosity turned into a passion when she moved to Italy and observed the fascinating connection between people, wine, language, food, and culture for 10 years. She passed level 1 and 2 in wine from Wine and Spirit Education Trust and currently enrolled in level 3 and is a candidate of Vinitaly Academy to become an Italian Wine Ambassador. She has been to many wine regions, both in old and new world, and her ‘what to see’ list in a travel destination must involve a visit to a local vineyard. Duygu is a Turkish citizen and has lived and worked in Africa, the Middle East and Europe before moving to the United States. She is fluent in Turkish, Italian, English and speaks some Spanish, especially after 2 glasses of Rioja. In addition to be a wine enthusiast, she works at United Nations.


Sławomir Komiński IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Owner & General Manager of MineWine.pl

Sławek Komiński is a wine lover, with a special passion for Italian wine, and he is determined to convert his dedication to wine and business into a success. A formidable communicator, he has excellent interpersonal skills and an entrepreneurial spirit. He is a wine expert with a deep knowledge of the wine business, including warehousing, logistics, customer service and marketing. He has gained various work experience with cross-functional teams, acquiring a dynamic and result-oriented management style, with a problem-solving attitude. He is always looking to optimize processes and identify opportunities for growth. Sławek has an in-depth knowledge of digital media and online marketing tools, as well as advanced business negotiation skills and a natural aptitude that helps him establish and maintain long-term relationships with business partners. For 12 years, Sławek Komiński has been the founder, owner, and general manager of MineWine.pl, which operates in the Polish wine retail market.


Sunny Chopra

Director of Operations & Hospitality Consultant at Avatar Hospitality

Passionate F&B Leader, developing world class exceptional operations by creating growth mindset, systems, strong financial results & inspiring leadership with dynamic work culture. Skilled in menu engineering, cost management, brand standard implementation, union bargaining, POS integrations. Experienced working in India & Canada with luxury hotels, casinos, racetracks, convention center pre openings, renovations while developing strong leaders for the industry.
Born & brought up in India in North Region. Went for Hospitality Management Degree in Hotel & Restaurants Management from best schools in the country. Worked with World’s best luxury companies including Oberoi Hotels, JW Marriott, Fairmont & Grand Hyatt in different Capacities & roles.
Also, was lucky enough to get experience in Restaurant Chains & Casino in Canada. Certified Wine Professional & Sommelier as well.
Italian Wines have very special place in his heart, having worked with Worlds best Italian Bars & Restaurants.


Michael Snodgrass

President & Partner at West Coast Beverages

Michael Snodgrass was born in Anaheim, California but moved to Las Vegas over 20 years ago. Prior to becoming a partner at West Coast Beverages, an Importer/Distributor based in Las Vegas, he has had 15 years of experience on the Las Vegas Strip. He worked in a variety of capacities in notable restaurants in Las Vegas. He managed the wine department as a sommelier at OTTO inside the Venetian before opening Eataly at Park MGM and training 250+ employees in beverage education, sales and operations. From there, he went into sales for the fine wine division of Breakthru Beverage. He is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. He passed levels 1, 2 and 3 in wine from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust including levels 2 and 3 with distinction, the highest score you can achieve.


Christopher Sachs

Sales Representative at Skurnik Wines and Spirits NJ/NY

Christopher is a wine and spirits professional based in Central New Jersey. He was classically trained in Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America where he took a short course in the study of wine. His love of food and wine really blossomed and, shortly after graduation, he worked in the restaurant industry at Ninety Acres in Peapack/Gladstone, NJ and End of Elm in Morristown, NJ. After his last stint in restaurants, he began studying with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) at the International Wine Center in NYC and has since completed the Advanced Course in Wines and Spirits, as well as the coveted Diploma of Wines and Spirits. He is also a Certified Sherry Wine Specialist (CSWS) with the Wine Scholar Guild. Currently a Sales Representative with Skurnik Wines and Spirits in the NJ/NY area and consulting with various retail and restaurant partners on a daily basis, he finds joy in exploring the world by way of wine, spirits, sake, and cider. Travel by Wine is his philosophy: a great bottle of wine can transport you around the world.


Erik Schneider

Partner & Sommelier at L’enoteca

Erik was born in Sweden, to a Swedish mother and German father. He grew up in Germany and France, moved to Sweden at the age of 9. He was a self-described ski-bum in the Alps for 4 years and studied chemistry, Italian and Spanish.  He lived in Italy from 1992-1996. He became a wine agent in 1994 and qualified as a sommelier in 2001. He was a sales rep selling top wines to HoReCa in Sweden 2000-2011. In 2012 he began selling wine through e-commerce and organizing wine fairs. In 2015 he founded the wine bar Lenoteca in Malmö and in 2017 was named Sommelier of the Year in Sweden. In 2020 he started wine bar “Lenoteket” in Lund and “L’Enoteque” in Helsingborg.


Jesús Díez Sánchez

Owner and teacher at the Jesús Díez-Vinicultura School of wines and spirits

An enthusiastic researcher on the culture of wine and spirits in Mexico, he has developed his career in the education of the industry. Viticolture, wine, spirits and gastronomy consultant, as well as the developer of new products, he contributes to the growth of these industries with projects on brand positioning. He owns the Jesús Díez-Vinicultura School of wines and spirits where he is an educator. The school aims to raise awareness on moderate wine consumption, a source of gourmet and beneficial experiences for health.


Alessandro Rossi

Partesa National Category Manager – Wine

Alessandro Rossi is Partesa’s National Category Manager – Wine: bon vivant, scholar and connoisseur of the wine world. He loves to interact with the most authoritative exponents of the wine and the gastronomic industry, and has written numerous publications and books on the subject.




Massimiliano Apollonio

Amministratore di Apollonio Casa Vinicola S.r.l.

Massimiliano Apollonio is the chief technical guide of the Apollonio company.  After studying oenology he expanded his professional experience with internships at major Italian, French and Spanish companies. He is in charge of the quality of the wine and all the production operations: the cultivation of the vine, the grape harvest, the vinification and the bottling take place under his supervision, thanks to a level of ability and experience that allow him to to create innovative and superior quality wines. A former delegate of ONAV, former President of Assoenologi for Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria for two terms, today Massimiliano is a member of the Presidential Committee and of the National Council of Assoenologi, as well as an aggregate member of the Georgofili Academy and the Italian Academy of Vine and of wine. Massimiliano is also among the promoters of the chair of Oenology and Viticulture recently established at the University of Salento. He is also a juror in numerous international wine competitions, including the 5StarWines, the Mundus Vini and the Michelangelo Award and current President of the Puglia Wine Tourism Movement.


Francesca Arquint


Francesca Arquint was born in Forte dei Marmi, in Tuscany. She attended the university of Pisa gaining a degree in “Alimentary Tecnolog”and a second degree in “Viticulture and Oenology”. She earned a Master’s degree in “Applied Technologies for the Wine Company”at the University of Siena. She later specialized in Marketing and Digital Communication at 24ORE Business School in Milan. Her first vintage was in 1996 at the Avignonesi winery (Montepulciano).  She worked at the Agro-Forestale agency GBC of Venturina in Valdicornia and, in 1998, she began work as winemaker and analyst at Azienda Agricola Castello di Camigliano in Montalcino. In 2001 she moved to England where she worked for the wine distributor “Lay & Wheeler” while she attending language school to improve her knowledge of English.  Back in Italy she worked for Frescobaldi in the Castelgiocondo winery in Montalcino, the Santa Maria winery in Maremma and the Luce della Vite winery in Montalcino. She worked for Frescobaldi from 2001 to the end of 2003. including a stint in South Africa in Stellembosch, at the Meerlust winery. One of her most significant experiences was in Australia in 2004, working as winemaker at Rosemount Estate. In July 2004 Francesca came back to Italy to work for Caparzo (Montalcino), La Doga (Maremma) and Borgo Scopeto (Chianti). In January 2007 she began a new job with Angelo Gaja, where she runs the production in Tuscany   of Pieve Santa Restituta (Montalcino) and Cà Marcanda in Castagneto Carducci (Bolgheri). Her collaboration with Angelo Gaja became full time in November 2009, at Pieve Santa Restituta. Since September 2012 Francesca has been a consultant winemaker for various wineries in the Montalcino Area. She also serves as a Commissary for the Tuscan wine appellations (DOCG and DOC approval tasting).


Cristina Meloni


Cristina Meloni was born in Cagliari. Graduated in Chemistry, she began working as a research fellow at the Department of Chemical Sciences of the University of Cagliari and had the opportunity to stay in France at the Biochemistry Service of the CEA nuclear research center. Back in Italy, she began working in the historic family company, Meloni Vini, as Head of the Oenological Analysis Laboratory and research projects. In 1991 she attended and obtained a Master’s in Oenology at the Catholic University of Piacenza and the Chamber of Commerce of Siena. She oversaw the transition of the family business to organic farming, converting all 200 hectares of vineyards in only a few years. In 2009 she replaced her father Gian Pietro in the role of Chief Oenologist until 2018, when she left the company to devote herself to teaching Chemistry. Since 2010 she has been a member of the Assoenologi Sardinia Section Committee, in which she holds the role of Secretary. She has participated as a judge in national and international competitions such as the Concours National Les Vinalies in 1991, the Vinitaly International Wine Competition in 2015, Le Grenaches du Monde in 2017 and the Vermentino International Wine Competition in 2020.

Antonio Circelli

Responsabile Tecnico di Casa Vinicola Roxan

Dopo aver conseguito la Laurea in Scienze Agrarie ed aver maturato esperienze in diverse aziende viticole- enologiche è assunto da Casa Vinicola Roxan, in Abruzzo, dove segue l’aspetto agronomico. Successivamente, con il conseguimento della seconda Laurea in Enologia, assume la direzione tecnica della cantina, occupandosi della filiera produttiva, raccolta, vinificazione e confezionamento. Impegnato in un miglioramento continuativo della qualità del prodotto finalizzato alla valorizzazione dell’azienda e del territorio, ottenendo vini confacenti alle richieste di mercato, senza tralasciare la tradizione territoriale. Oggi è membro del consiglio direttivo di Assoenologi – sezione Abruzzo – e della commissione di degustazione presso Agroqualità.


Piergiorgio Cane

Owner of Az. Agr. Marcalberto

He started his career in 1972 in the cellar crushing Moscato grapes at the Martini e Rossi plant. From 1973 to 1976 he worked in the oenology office at the Cinzano plant for the collection of moscato grapes. From 1977 to 1978 he carried out technical distillation activities at the Icardi Distillery in Santo Stefano Belbo. From 1979 to 1997 he was oenologist at the Santero 958 winery, contributing to the growth in these years from an initial production of 2 million bottles to 20 million. From 1997 to 2008 he worked as technical director at F.lli Gancia, a producer of both still and sparkling wines. From 2008 to 2014 he was wine consultant at the Abrau-Durso winery, the oldest winery in Russia, founded in 1870 by Alexander II Romanov, a great wine lover (Louis Roederer created the famous Cristal in his honour). During the same period, he was a consultant for Gancia, known for its wine history. From 2014 to 2018 he was Technical Director of the new Gancia purchased by Roustam Tariko, the current owner. Today, in addition to continuing his consulting activities, he takes care of his winery “Marcalberto” together with his sons Marco and Alberto. Founded in 1993, they produce Metodo Classico sparkling wine.


Luciano Bandini


Luciano Bandini was born in Certaldo, Tuscany where he continues to live and work, and where his family were already producing and bottling wine. After graduating from Conegliano Veneto, he attended several refresher courses at the universities of Bordeaux and Montpellier. He combined study with work in the family business and gained experience in various important companies in Tuscany. Since 1988 he has devoted himself completely to the profession, first collaborating with renowned oenologists, and later on his own. In 2006 he collaborated with the University of Florence for the sensorial identification project of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and in 2010 he became Qualified Judge at the Taster Study Center in Brescia. He continues his activity as a consultant and updating technology, dedicating his life to the qualitative growth of various production companies, especially in Tuscany. He focuses on technical assistance to farms along the entire production chain, from planting the vineyard to bottling.


Michele Leone

Oenologist at Tenuta Bocca di Lupo

Michele Leone was born in Puglia. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Pisa and then a Master’s Degree from the tri-university group of the Universities of Conegliano, Verona and Udine. His work experiences both in Italy and abroad have allowed him to consolidate the knowledge he gained during his studies. Fundamental to his career was the experience in the spin-off of Prof. Roberto Ferrarini, university professor and innovative winemaker. Over the years he has worked as an oenologist in wineries in California, Argentina, Romania and Italy. Since 2016 he has been the winemaker of Marchesi Antinori and is currently the Production Manager at the Bocca di Lupo estate in Puglia.


Roberto di Meo

Co-owner of Azienda Agricola Di Meo

President of Assoenologi Campania, member of the Board of Assoenologi and the Presidential Committee, wine consultant. In 1986 he and his brothers founded the Di Meo winery in Salza Irpina, in the production area of Fiano di Avellino, where he is both winemaker and commercial director. Since the early 2000s he has undertaken an experimental project on the refinement of Irpinia white grape varieties, the Riserve della Linea Tempo. For almost twenty years, along with his brother Generoso, he has been the Ambassador of “Art and Wine” in Campania, also thanks to the “Di Meo Calendar”, a unique editorial work of its kind.


Sandro Cavicchioli


Sandro Cavicchioli is the technical director of Cavicchioli Winery, Italian Wine Group, San Prospero, Modena. In 1990 he founded the Azienda Agricola Castelfaglia in Calino di Cazzago San Martino in Franciacorta, where he is currently the technical director, as well as the owner. Since 2004 he has been the technical director and owner of the Francesco Bellei company in Bomporto (Modena) which produces exclusively wines made with the classic method and the traditional bottle fermentation method. For six years he was a member of the Appeal Commission of the Designations of Origin of Northern Italy, at the Ministry of Agriculture. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for the Protection of Lambrusco and the Board of Directors of the Consorzio Marchio Storico dei Lambruschi Modenesi.


Luca Meldolesi

Oenologist at Vinicola Filippi

Luca Meldolesi was born in Ravenna. After completing his studies in Environmental Sciences with flying colors in 1999, he undertook further studies in Oenology and Viticulture, moved by a passion for wine and fascinated by its culture. Graduating with full marks in 2002, he also completed the AIS course as a sommelier. He is an oenologist who has always been focused on environmental issues, with experience in various sectors of the wine industry, and regions from Romagna to Friuli and from Puglia to New Zealand.


Gabriele Valota


Gabriele Valota is an oenologist, with a degree in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Milan. He began his professional career by collaborating with the Consortium for the Protection of Franciacorta, the University of Milan and various prestigious wineries on a project aimed at contrasting the effects of climate change, focused on the recovery of the native grape Erbamat from the Brescia region. For several years he has been a member of the Technical Taster of DOC and DOCG wines of the Lombardy Region and participates as a member of the jury in various national and international wine competitions. He is a professor of ONAV and viticulture at the Symposium Academy. Since 2019 he is the Coordinator of Young Assoenologi Lombardy Liguria Section and National Secretary of Young Assoenologi. He works as an oenologist consultant throughout Italy and Switzerland, primarily with sparkling wine made in the classic method, organic viticulture and varieties resistant to fungal diseases (PIWI).


Andreino Addis

Director and oenologist at Cantina Gallura

Andreino Addis is the director and oenologist at Cantina Gallura. He is also President of the commission for the evaluation of the suitability of DOC and DOCG wines at the Sassari Chamber of Commerce. From 2010 to 2019 he was President of Assoenologi – Sardinia Section.


Poser Celestino

Oenologist and Director of the Enochemical Laboratory

Celestino Poser is the Director of the Enochemical Laboratory for Former Students of the Conegliano Enological School. Since 2012 he has held the position of President of Assoenologi for the Veneto-Central Eastern Section. He is also a member of the Technical Committee of Veneto Agriculture for Assoenologi, the body responsible for the development and promotion of agricultural activities in the Veneto Region. A frequent speaker on topics of tasting courses, oenological practical events, and analytical techniques, he holds webinars and conferences organized by companies, organizations, and associations. He was appointed as an expert witness for the technical assessment activities for the wine sector in the Courts of Treviso and Trento.


Enzo Mecella

Owner of Cantine Enzo Mecella

Enzo Mecella is the owner of Cantine Enzo Mecella and a member of several commissions and wine competitions: Torgiano, Pramaggiore, Selection of Tuscan Wines, Selection of Fish Wines, Selection of Veneto Wines, Douja D’or. He is also a member of the DO wine tasting commission at Valoritalia (Marche Region).


5StarWines 2019 edition
5StarWines 2018 edition
5StarWines 2017 edition