Judges and Scientific Committee 2021

The wines participating in 5StarWines and Wine Without Walls will be tasted by a panel of highly qualified international experts, having been selected among Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, DipWSET, VIA experts and ambassadors, oenologists and journalists.

stevie-kim

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 NYU – Leonard N. Stern School of Business. 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.

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Stevie is always seeking innovative ways to communicate and celebrate Italian wine – with a strong creative emphasis on social media, digital communication, and educational platforms. In 2017, Stevie produced the Italian Wine Podcast, the first podcast in English dedicated exclusively to Italian wine and its personalities; and Italian Wine Unplugged Grape by Grape, a 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.

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GENERAL CHAIRMEN 2021

BELGIUM

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.

UK

Robert Joseph

Editor at Large, 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 his first book: The Wine Lists. He is the Chairman of the Wine Institute of Asia, and has chaired and launched wine competitions in several countries. Robert has been on the UK Who’s Who list 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 he is also regularly invited to lecture at the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust. Joseph is one of the trio behind Hugh Kevin & Robert Wines whose wines now sell over 2.5m bottles per year in 40 countries. His blog is The Joseph Report.

FRANCE

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.

ITALY

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).

ITALY

Gabriele Gorelli MW

Master of Wine, designer and sales and marketing consultant

Gabriele Gorelli was born in Montalcino in 1984. His grandfather used to be the smallest Brunello di Montalcino producer, accounting for a mere 0,46ha’s. That’s where he developed a real passion for wine. After completing his studies in Languages in 2004 he co-founded a wine-oriented advertising agency, Brookshaw&Gorelli. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to consult for many Italian wineries and Consortiums. In 2015, Gabriele started his studies at the ‘Institute of Masters of Wine’. He is now the sole Italian candidate at the final stage of the program.  During the same year, he co-founded KH Wines S.r.l., a company that helps European wineries in export markets. Nowadays, KH Wines holds a significant number of custom-made products designed from scratch, from the sensory profile end of the spectrum, to packaging, to storytelling.  Since 2019, he has been the ambassador for Italy at the ‘International Wine Challenge’ in London.

UK

Monty Waldin

Journalist at Decanter and author of 13 books on natural wines

Monty Waldin became the first wine writer to specialize in organic and biodynamic wines. He has worked in vineyards and wineries in both hemispheres, and was the subject of Chateau Monty, the first TV series to follow the making of a biodynamic wine from pruning to bottling for Britain’s Channel Four in 2008. He has written extensively about wine. His books include Biodynamic Wines, which was published in 2004 by Mitchell Beazley as part of its Classic Wine Library series. Monty Waldin’s Wines of South Africa won the 2004 “James Beard Foundation” award for best wine and spirits book. He also wrote the first comprehensive guide in Britain to organic and biodynamic wine, The Friends of the Earth Organic Wine Guide, which features more than 2,000 wines. He has been a regular contributor to The Ecologist, and writes the entries on organic, biodynamic and natural wine for the Oxford Companion to Wine (ed. Jancis Robinson MW OBE).

PANEL CHAIRMEN 2021

USA

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.

GERMANY

Thomas Curtius MW

Master of Wine, Written Communications Expert

The highest degree of expertise in wine together with his experience as international keynote-speaker and three decades in various sectors – the media, digital communications and senior management of the automotive sector. These are his biggest assets and the solid foundation for his 360-degree way of thinking. Tomas is a Master of Wine (MW) and a communications specialist. The trained TV-journalist applies his communication skills to the wine sector as a coach, lecturer, writer and judge. His accomplishments in wine include the Outstanding Achievement Award, Institute of Masters of Wine; the Scholarship for Languedoc-Roussillon, French Wine Society; the Best European Student WSET-Diploma in Wine and Spirits; the Top Student Award, Wine Academy Austria; the Esterházy-Award for Best Results in the Wine-Business.

HONG KONG

Francesco Marchio IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Managing Director of VinoVeritas Asia Limited

Francesco has over 10 years of experience in the wine sector. In Italy he worked as a sommelier, and as a manager in a wine shop and in a luxury hotel. In 2009 he moved to the UK: he worked as a sommelier at the 2 Michelin star French Restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, then as a Sales Manager in Oxfordshire. In 2012 he relocated to Hong Kong as Business Development Manager at VinoVeritas Asia Limited, becoming Managing Director in 2018. He holds the WSET Diploma and he is the first and only VIA Italian Wine Expert in Hong Kong. He participated in Vinitaly’s selection 5StarWines as a Judge, and he was awarded “Best Italian Wine Ambassador in China” by D.E.S.A., Deutschland Sommelier Association, during Pro Wein Hong Kong 2019.

USA

Brandon Tebbe MS

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Master Sommelier, Found and Winemaker – Tebbe Wines, Wine & Beverage Director – Aspen Ski Co.

Brandon Tebbe is one of the Founders and Winemaker of Tebbe Wines, crafting Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from California, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling from Willamette Valley. He also works as Wine & Beverage Director for Aspen Ski Co. in Aspen/Snowmass, CO, overseeing fourteen restaurant beverage programs. Brandon is a Master Sommelier, and one of only fifteen people to have passed all three parts of this rigorous exam on his first attempt. He also holds the designations: WSET Advance with Merit, Advanced Sake Professional, Certified Wine Educator, Certified Spirits Specialist, Certified Beer Server and ISG level 1 & 2 with Distinction. He is also currently studying in the Master of Wine program. Brandon has an extensive background in the hospitality industry, and has worked the floor as a Sommelier or Wine Director for the past fifteen years.

SOUTH AFRICA

Richard Kershaw MW

Master of Wine, Founder and Winemaker of Richard Kershaw Wines

Born and raised in the UK, Richard travelled extensively 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. 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.

Japan

Isao Miyajima

Journalist

After graduating from The University of Tokyo, Isao Miyajima worked in Rome for a Japanese newspaper from 1983 to 1989. During his stay in Rome, he began to taste wines seriously. After his return to Japan, he began to write about food and wine, collaborating with various specialty wine magazines in Japan as well (Winart, The Wine Kingdom, WANDS etc.). In Italy he worked for Espresso Italian Wine Guide and Gambero Rosso Italian Restaurant Guide and today he is responsible for the Japanese edition of Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide. He was awarded Best International Journalist prize by Grandi Cru d’Italia 2013. In 2014 he was awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia by the Italian State President Giorgio Napolitano.

HONG KONG

JC Viens IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Deputy Wine Editor of Grande Passione

Jean-Charles (alias JC) Viens is a Certified WSET Educator, Vinitaly Academy Ambassador and the Franciacorta Ambassador in Greater China. He is also the CEO of Grande Passione Ltd, a marketing and events firm based in Hong Kong. JC is genuinely passionate about the human stories behind each label. Based in Hong Kong for 25 years, he has experienced the fascinating growth the region has sustained, first as an entrepreneur in the export sector and now as an expert in Wine Communications. He also focuses his activities on Marketing Strategies and Public Relation campaigns for Italian wines in Hong Kong and China. He recently received the honour of Cavaliere della Stella d’Italia for the work he has done on behalf of Italian wines in Hong Kong in the last ten years.

UK

Jinglin Zhang IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert

Jinglin Zhang, based in London and Beijing is the director of Grape Paradise, a boutique importer focusing on innovative family size producers in Italy. She found passion for raising region such as Sicily, Emilia Romagna and North Piedmont. She is Italian Wine Expert certified by VIA and currently a MW student. 

HUNGARY

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 5StarWinee 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.

ITALY

Vincenzo Donatiello

Head Sommielier, Piazza Duomo – Three Michelin Star Restaurant

Vincenzo Donatiello is Manager and Head Sommelier at Ristorante Piazza Duomo at Alba, a Michelin 3-star restaurant. Lucano, Sommelier, class of 1985, he grows professionally between Apulia, where he has attended the Istituto Alberghiero di Vieste, and Romagna, with his first experiences throughout the Adriatic coast. He has been the student of important sommeliers like Gianfranco Bolognesi, Best Sommelier in Italy in 1974, and Roberto Gardini, Best Sommelier in Italy in 1993. Nowadays he is the Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier of Ristorante Piazza Duomo in Alba, a Michelin 3-star and sixteenth in the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. He was awarded Best Junior Sommelier in Italy in 2004 and Best Sommelier in Romagna in 2010, Person of the Year 2013 for Italia a Tavola Magazine, Maître of the Year by the Guida Alberghi e Ristoranti del Touring Club 2016 and Maître of the Year in 2018 by the Guida ai Ristoranti d’Italia de L’Espresso.

UK

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.

JAPAN

Irving So IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Instructor at Académie du Vin Tokyo

Irving So is a certified Italian Wine Expert (VIA), a DipWSET and a WSET Certified Educator teaching Level 2 and 3 courses based in Tokyo. He is also an Italian Wine Educator (VIA),  a Langhe Wines’ Ambassdor (Barolo & Barbaresco Academy), Valpolicella Wine Specialist (Consorzio Tutela Vini della Valpolicella), an Italian Wine Scholar (Highest Honor, Wine Scholar Guild), as well as a Wine MBA (Kedge) holder. He has conducted masterclasses for various Consortia including Valpolicella and Lugana, as well as several producer associations from Veneto. In addition to this, Irving works as a wine consultant, he helps Tokyo based wineries in exporting their wines.

USA

Hayley Black IWE

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Pacific NW Territory Manager,  LLS – Winebow Imports

Hayley believes a passion for wine paired with a desire to learn creates a never ending journey. After 10 years of working in restaurants she is now working in sales and distribution. She is responsible for guiding sales and education in all aspects of the upper end wine category for one of the largest family owned distribution companies in the Pacific Northwest. Her ability to inspire, educate and connect people through wine has been the driving force behind her career.

SWEDEN

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.    

JUDGES 2021

USA

Melissa M. Sutherland IWA

Senior Sales Advisor at Panebianco Wines

Melissa has devoted 11 years to the selling, promotion, and study of Italian wine. She has unique insight into the business due to her experience, from opening NYC’s first dual wine bar/wine shop, to rebranding NYC’s legendary Italian Wine Merchants; as well as becoming a buyer & marketer at one of NYC’s oldest and largest wine retailers. She was recruited by The Winebow Group as National Import Brand Manager, focusing on the premier Italian wines of Leonardo LoCascio Selections and most recently, she concluded two years of strategic advising for winery clients in Italy. In the fall of 2018, Melissa returned to NYC full-time, signing on with the importer/distributor Panebianco Wines as Senior Sales Advisor, representing some of the smaller wineries of Italy. Melissa’s work has been featured in many national publications and sites, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Civiltà del Bere, and Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews. Melissa is also the author of the forthcoming book, Bianchista Forever: Drinking and Appreciating Italy’s White Wines.

USA

Yannick Benjamin

Proprietor of Contento Restaurant in NYC

Yannick is the Head Sommelier for the University Club as well as the owner of Contento Restaurant in NYC. In 2003, a car accident left Benjamin paralyzed below the waist: he quickly adapted, equipping his wheelchair with a table that allows him to continue to work as a sommelier. Yannick was among the “Top 40 under 40” wine lovers and was named “Person of the Year” by New Mobility Magazine in 2017. He was the resident sommelier on the successful radio show: On The Town, and has made numerous appearances on ABC, NBC and CBS. Yannick created Wine on Wheels, a major wine event that brings together hundreds of esteemed sommeliers who volunteer to pour wine for charity. Yannick is also a para-athlete and participates in marathons to raise money for Wheeling Forward. 

UAE

Tushar Borah

Sommelier at Jumeirah Group of Hotels

Sommelier at Burj Al Arab, the world most luxurious Hotel, Jumeirah Group in Dubai. Taking care part of the beverage program for the hotel and service operation of the award winning fine dining restaurant ‘Al Mahara’ by Michelin Star Chef Nathan Outlaw from London. Prior to Dubai, I have worked with different wine markets in Hong Kong, Maldives, India under hotel chain of Shangri-La, Kempinski, Sheraton etc. My current wine list has over 1000 reference from around the globe and received Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellent consecutively for the last 3 years. I am currently pursuing diploma courses from WSET and Court of Master Sommelier.

USA

Hugh Preece IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Operating Partner at Salt Creek Grille

Restaurant leader and owner with 30 years of restaurant management, community leadership and philanthropic experience. During his college years he worked in a bar, and the owner took him under his wing educating him on wine and the restaurant industry: it was his influence that determined his career. Later in his life he formally studied wine with Court of Master Sommeliers and Vinitaly International Academy, becoming an Italian Wine Ambassador. He has been featured on WPST 94.3 Radio, ABC NY, ESPN Television, NY Daily News, Buck’s Life Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Univision.com and US News and World Report. Recipient of the Walt Disney Delivering the Difference Award, Operator of the Year, Most Profitable Region of the Year, Culinary Operations of the Year.

FRANCE

Luiz André Batistello IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador,  Sommelier at Wine Tours Paris

Luiz Batistello is a 39 year old former Lawyer from Brazil. His professional conversion in the wine industry started in 2007. He holds a WSET Diploma, IWA – VIA, currently a judge for 6 wine contests in France and two in the UK, IWC and IWSC, marker for WSET level 3 in 4 languages. In the past, he has worked as a Sommelier in restaurants and hotels in the UK, Spain and Italy. I’ve worked as head Sommelier for one of the biggest wine importers in Brazil for 2 years, and as Brand Ambassadors for important Italian wine producers. In 2014 I moved to France, where I now run a Wine Tour Company specialized in Burgundy and Champagne, also running wine tastings of French and Italian Wines.

 

ITALY

Tara-Maria Jabbour IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassadors, Export Manager at Agriment Italia

Lebanese sommelier Tara-Maria started her career in 2011 with her master’s degree in Marketing and Management of Wine Industry from the University of Florence and her certification as a sommelier from the Associazione Italiana Sommelier. Inspired to bring her experience back home to Lebanon, Tara launched her first wine training program, L’Angolo di Vino, and worked with several Lebanese wineries on establishing their market name and presence. Tara’s cultural curiosity and ambition led her to Dubai in 2015, where she joined the team of Michelin Star chef Heinz Beck at the Waldorf Astoria as Head Sommelier, and then as Beverage Manager for the Renaissance Hotel. In 2019, after she became an Italian Wine Ambassador (VIA) she decided to move back to Italy, to promote Italian wine around the world.

FRANCE

Jingjing Sui IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, sales manager at Bi-sin Trading Co., Ltd

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 is undertaking a Wine and Sprit master course and the WSET Diploma. She has been working for Bi-Sin Trading Co., Ltd in Beijing as sales manager since 2019. Bi-Sin imports and distributes wine and sprits from Europe to the Chinese market, mainly from Italy.

AUSTRIA

Luzia Schrampf IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Writer for Der Standard et. al. and Wine Educator

Luzia Schrampf is an Austrian journalist and wine educator for Wine Academy Austria (Rust). She passed the Diploma WSET in 2003. Since December 2015 she is Italian Wine Ambassador of Vinitaly International Academy, Verona. Her articles appear in wine publications in Austria and Germany, but also internationally in „Civiltà del Bere“ or „Decanter“.  From 2007 to 2015 she was wine columnist for the Austrian quality daily „Der Standard“. She is author of several books, her latest „111 österreichischer Weine, die man getrunken haben muss“ (emons Verlag, Cologne) co-written with Austrian wine writer Daniela Dejnega, was published in October 2019.  She was technical consultant for a TV programme on Austrian wine (2012) and she also reports on Austria for Jancis Robinson’s World Atlas of Wine, 7th & 8th edition.

DENMARK

Jennifer Russo Delaloca IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

Restaurateur, wine promoter and educator, VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, wine and lifestyle blogger at Blogly.dk & Bloggersdelight.dk

FRANCE

Rodrigo Sepúlveda Schulz

Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Expon Capital

Rodrigo is a co-founder and Managing Partner at Expon Capital. After earning his Computer Science Engineering degree at EPITA in Paris in Systems – Networks – Security, he started his career working with industrial, banking, retail and media clients. In 2002 after receiving two MBAs (the Sorbonne & INSEAD) he co-founded, then ran Glowria, a video-rental and VOD service. In 2005, he also co-founded and ran vpod.tv, a multi-media content management software aimed at Fortune 500. In 2009, he became an active business angel and startup mentor and later co-founded Expon Capital in 2015, a venture capital firm. An international speaker at events and lecturer, he is also a regular jury member at startup competitions. Rodrigo has also participated in 300+ podcasts in the past 10 years, focusing on business in technology.

PORTUGAL

André Ribeirinho

Co-Founder, CEO and Digital Strategist of Adegga and WineSpots

André Ribeirinho wears many hats, he is an award-winning food, wine and travel entrepreneur, a Portuguese wine expert and a Certified Port Educator. As a wine writer André contributes to Decanter Magazine and the Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. Often known as a Digital Strategist, André is also known as a marketing specialist, a businessman, an ambassador, an evangelist, an influencer, a traveler, a contributor and a (Port) Knight. Furthermore, he is a wine judge at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Co-founder and CEO at Adegga, Reiberinho is also the head pilot at innovative projects like WineSpots, SmartWineGlass, Portugal Wine Week and Fine Portugal.

SWEDEN

Tommasella Perniciaro IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Director/ Wine Educator at The Good Wine Habit

Tommasella was born in Italy, but her career took her to Spain and Sweden, where she currently lives. After taking the WSET Diploma in 2015 and the French Wine Scholar in 2016, she became WSET Certified Educator and founded The Good Wine Habit school in Gothenburg, where she runs the WSET Levels 1-3 courses. Moreover, she teaches the online WSET Diploma in Wine for the WSET London School. Tommasella is VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, VIA Italian Wine Educator and Valpolicella Wine Specialist for the Swedish market, where she organizes masterclasses and tastings about Italian wines for the trade and wine lovers. She is regularly invited to judge at international wine competitions such as the International Wine Challenge (UK), Mundus Vini (Germany), AWC (Austria), International Wine City Challenge and WOW (Italy).
UK

Emilia Marinig IWED

Italian Wine Educator, VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Head of Marketing at Agricola Querciabella

Emilia is a wine professional with a consolidated international experience in brand marketing and communications. She is intrigued by how advancement in technology can transform the wine industry, but also aware that nothing compares to personal interactions. Born in Friuli, she spent half her life abroad, the past 15 years in London. After a long freelancing career, she found a professional ‘home’ in Greve in Chianti where he accepted the role of Head of Marketing at Querciabella. She firmly believes that sustainable farming, in tune with the land and natural environment, is the foundation of great wines, that the lack of faults alone does not make a wine interesting but that faults are in no way substitutes for lack of personality. She is a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador and Educator.

RUSSIA

Alexandra Alexandrova IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Deputy Managing Director at Gourmet Alliance Group

Alexandra Alexandrova works in Moscow in the restaurant business. She began her career as a sommelier, and now she is the Deputy Managing Director at Gourmet Alliance Group, being responsible for the wine selection of the restaurant chain. She holds a WSET Diploma and a Weinakademiker title, and in 2018 she became a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador. The title of her Thesis on The Austrian Wine academy  was The Slow Revolution of Soave. Latterly as a Stage 2 student of the Institute of Masters of Wines, she spends several months every year travelling to various wine regions around the world to further her wine knowledge.

HUNGARY

David Furka IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Freelance Wine Consultant and Wine Journalist

David Furka is an Hungarian freelance wine consultant and wine journalist. He has arrived to the wine world from the construction industry, and he worked for more than thirteen years as project manager and department head. He managed various high value investments, as well as teams and employees. He is holding MA in Economics, and BSc in Engineering. The initial enthusiasm towards wines turned to serious professional engagement. He acquired the WSET Diploma, the Weinakademiker title, and became a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador in 2018. Now he writes articles about wine, wine events, and main wine attractions. He works as a judge in wine competitions, and consults with restaurants and supermarkets about wine acquisitions, reliable vendors or suppliers, prices and contracts, and wine lists.
RUSSIA

Valeria Tenison IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine blogger and journalist for Winegossips.com

Valeria Tenison, a sommelier, a wine blogger and a wine journalist from Saint Petersburg, Russia, is now based in Bordeaux, France. Valeria has been working in the hospitality industry for more than 10 years, steadily growing in the food and beverage department, reaching the Food & Beverage Manager position in Marriott hotels. Having completed the WSET Level 3 course and obtained an ASI Gold Certification, she participates in several professional competitions, which culminates in winning the Russian Female Sommelier Competition in August 2018. At the peak of her career, Valeria turns a new page and moves to Bordeaux to continue her wine education with a WSET DIploma course.

GERMANY

Kevin Gagnon IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Chief Editor and Content Manager at SnarkyWine.com

Kevin’s passion for wine started with Grenache in 2007. Since then, annually, he has spent months in the vineyards of Europe. A popular competition judge and presenter, he has made a name for himself as a passionate representative of indigenous grapes, championing smaller producers and lesser-known regions from across Europe. He holds the WSET Diploma and is the first Canadian to have received the prestigious “Weinakademiker” title from Austria’s Weinakademie. He became a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador in 2017, and was awarded the title of “Valpolicella Wine Specialist” just two months later. In addition to collaboration with the editorial board of Vinum, Kevin maintains a blog at SnarkyWine.com and a consultancy specialising in European wines for the markets of western and northern Europe, as well as North America.

RUSSIA

Anna Baranova IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Educator at Millesime School

Anna Baranova is from St. Petersburg, Russia. She graduated as a Human Resources Manager from the Higher School of Business Administration; this is when she realised her love of wine, she especially identified with the phrase “in vino veritas”. She dove into the wine business in 2005, working as both a sommelier and a wine-seller in different companies within St. Petersburg. In 2018 Baranova finished her studies at the Weinakademie Österreich earning her WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits. Now she is a Weinakademiker (wine academic) and WSET Diploma holder. Baranova also attended and completed the Vinitaly International Academy, Italian Wine Ambassador course twice, in 2017 and in 2018. Her website can be viewed at www.winecode.ru. Currently she is lecturing at wine schools’ “Millesime” and “Marine Express”. She is also the chief-sommelier at “Caffe Italia”, an authentic Italian restaurant in St. Petersburg.

USA

Laura Donadoni IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Communicator, winexine.sg

Hailing from Bergamo, Italy, Laura Donadoni was born and bred on classic Italian wine and creative cuisine. Her career started as a columnist and wine and food reporter for several prestigious Italian magazines and anchor woman on the radio news for local and national radio networks; she also had her own food and wine show on the Italian broadcasting network Mediapason (second largest private tv network in Italy). Upon moving to the U.S., she translated her passion into The Italian Wine Girl blog and Instagram channel, spreading wine education and wine culture and becoming one of the most trusted Italian wine influencer in the US. She founded LA COM Wine Agency, a strategic P.R. and communications firm focused on wine and food industry. Laura is a certified professional journalist and editor with a summa cum laude PhD in Communication Sciences, a professional speaker, a certified Sommelier with merit with the North American Sommelier Association and the World Sommelier Association; she is one of the few Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassadors a certified wine educator and wine taster; a certified Italian and Spanish Wine Specialist; an official judge at the largest American wines competition, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition; a member of the Los Angeles Wine Writers Association and an official Zipkick influencer. Most recently Laura Donadoni is U.S. Brand Ambassador for Franciacorta and an honorable Knight of the Order of the Truffle and the Wines of Alba , a prestigious historic order of ambassadors of authentic Piedmont typical products and wines in the world.

USA

Catherine Stratton IWA

Educator 

Catherine Stratton was raised in her family’s restaurant business, in Los Angeles. A first trip to Italy in 2001 led to her moving there at age 19 to pursue a degree in Art Restoration in Florence. He got a Certificate in Wine Education and Management from UCLA; she is also an Italian Wine Specialist from the North American Sommelier Association and a certified Yoga Instructor. She founded two companies. Vino and Vinyasa Tours (2016) is a boutique travel company focused solely on Italy with winery visits and personal yoga instruction. CS Selections (2018) is a wine brokerage working with several small importers in Southern California. In 2019 she finished second in her course at the Vinitaly International Academy in Los Angeles, becoming Italian Wine Ambassador.

USA

Elise Vandenberg IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

Elise Vandenberg is an Italian Wine Ambassador and a Certified Sommelier. She is the Lead Sommelier at Estiatorio Milos in the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, NV. Elise enjoys wine from around the world, but is particularly passionate about wines made from native Italian grapes. She writes about Italian wine at elisevino.wordpress.com

USA

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.

SWEDEN

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.    

RUSSIA

Veronika Denisova IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Deputy Director and Educator of Enotria Wine School

Veronika Denisova graduated from Timiryazev Moscow Agricultural Academy in 2000, she received a Diploma in Agronomy, Viticulture and Winemaking Basics. Veronika practiced as a winemaker’s assistant at Vinselekt Michlovský, in the Czech Republic, in 1999 and at La Biòca Winery, Piedmont in 2016. Since 2006, she’s been a Member of the Russian Association of Sommeliers (RAS). Veronika has also been working as a wine educator and a freelance journalist for the past 12 years.

 

RUSSIA

Vladislav Markin IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

USA

Carrie Wong IWA

GERMANY

Stefan Metzner IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Owner at Seminare & Beratung

Stefan Metzner was born and raised in Munich and started his working carreer in hospitality where he soon became fascinated of the wines of the world. The first decade of his career in wine, Stefan Metzner worked as a Sommelier. He then went to work in the trade, import, retail and wholesale for 10 years and now he is focused on education, running a WSET wine school in Munich. He’s doing masterclasses and consults for restaurants in wine business and staff training. He holds a WSET Diploma and is a “Certified WSET Educator“. With the Vinitaly International Academy he became an Italian Wine Ambassador in 2015 and managed to become a Certified Italian Wine Educator in 2019.

HONG KONG

Alice Wong IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

USA

Jermaine Stone

Founder of Cru Luv
Cru Luv Wine’s Founder, Jermaine Stone, was raised worlds away from wine country with plans to become a rapper. By age 19, he had already made appearances on XM Radio and BET. A temporary job at Zachys Wine Auctions quickly turned him into a lover of fine wine. In his nine years there, he became an auctioneer and member of Zachys senior leadership before becoming one of the founding directors of Wally’s Wine Auctions in 2013 in partnership with Los Angeles’ top wine merchant. He now runs Cru Luv Wine, a New York-based firm dedicated to blending the best elements of wine and hip hop culture.

USA

Kirk Peterson IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Freelance Journalist and Wine Consultant at Whetstone LLC

Kirk Peterson is an experienced wine and food professional, wine educator, and award-winning writer and Symposium for Professional Wine Writers fellowship recipient who enjoys a life and career dedicated to food, wine, and hospitality. Peterson is often seen and heard on Las Vegas’ ABC-affiliate daytime television talk show, FOX5 Las Vegas, KNPR Nevada Public Radio in addition to being a regular contributor to The Tasting Panel, Vegas Seven, and David Magazine.

 

CROATIA

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.

ITALY

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.

ITALY

Giuseppe Rosati

Owner and CEO of G&Partners

Born 1969 ( a bad vintage!) in Italy. Grown in a family restaurant in Gubbio (Umbria). In 1997 open a his own restaurant and after 5 years was one of the top wine list in Italy. In 2010 moved to NYC invited by Lidia Bastianich to manage the wine list of her flagship restaurant Felidia. In 2015 began Vinitaly International Ambassador, same year began his current role with Falesco- Famiglia Cotarella as Brand Ambassador. Owner of G&Partners a NYC based company for market strategy and brand positioning. Spent 6 months in Italy traveling in a vineyard and 6 months in USA traveling the country. 80 domestic flights a year between hotels, restaurants, sales office and Starbucks. Wine columnist for Lidia’s magazine and Accademia del Tartufo. Keep Calm and Drink Italian.

ITALY

Pietro Russo

Winemaker at Donnafugata

Pietro Russo35 y.o., born in Marsala from a family dedicated to wine for a long time, both my grandfathers had their own vineyards and used to make base wine for Marsala.
I graduated in viticulture and winemaking at the University of Conegliano Veneto,then I perceived a European Master Vigne et Vin in Bordeaux.
This year I’m approaching my 20th harvest, with a career including working periods spent in France (Bordeaux and Languedoc), Spain (Andalusia) and New Zealand (Marlborough), where I’ve developed a long hand experience and an insatiable passion for wine. I’ve been working for Donnafugata as a winemaker since 2010, and today I have the chance to produce wines from the most compelling appellations of Sicily, from the island of Pantelleria to the Mt Etna, from the inland terroirs of Contessa Entellina to the drying South Eastern corners of Vittoria. Last year, together with Andrea and Gabriele we have entirely revised the Italy chapter for the new edition of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. In the meanwhile I’m involved in the program of the Institute of Masters of Wine, I’ve passed the tasting part of the exams in 2019 and I study to reach the famous two letters MW.

USA

Ciro Pirone IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Director of Italian Wines for 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 a Vinitaly Wine Ambassador (Vinitaly Wine 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 of 2017 (and again in 2019) he completed the Vinitaly Wine Academy and received the prestigious Vinitaly Wine Ambassador certification. In 2019 also passed with Honors the Italian Wine Scholar program by the Wine Scholar Guild. In 2007, Ciro accepted the position of Italian Wine Specialist for 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 an effort to give the American wine consumer a better understanding and appreciation for Italian wine!

SOUTH KOREA

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.

KAZAKHSTAN

Artem Lebedev IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

Artem Lebedev is a 30 year old wine professional who has been working in the wine industry for over 8 years now. Born in St.Petersburg, he worked in Europe for two years before settling down in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Artem is an ASI certified sommelier, a WSET Diploma student, a Sherry ambassador, a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, the President of the Kazakhstan Sommelier Association, CEO of the annual contest of the best sommelier of Kazakhstan, co-owner and main lecturer at the sommelier school in Almaty.

USA

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.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE 2021

USA

Jodie Hellman

Regional Sales Manager – Western Region at The Sorting Table, LLC

Jodie started her career in wine on the hospitality end of things. In Las Vegas, she began as a Floor Captain and worked her way up to Sommelier. She formed part of some of the top teams in the restaurant community, working with world renowned chefs such as Tom Collichio, Bobby Flay, Paul Bartolotta, Charlie Palmer and Daniel Boulud. Looking to broaden her knowledge base in the world of wine, she moved to the distribution side. Jodie began to sell wine and spirits to/from the local buyers, as well as participated in educational events for consumers. She eventually found herself working for an importer, learning about another fascinating side of the business; you can still find her there today, covering 9 states in the western part of the USA.

USA

Patti Robison

Sales Representative at Lyra Wine

Patti started her career in wine from the restaurant side of the industry, starting as a cellar master and working her way up to Beverage Manager for a number of great chefs and restaurateurs such as Danny Meyer, Charlie Palmer, Walter Manzke and Evan Funke. She chose to focus on Italian wine and soon after took steps to take Vinitaly International Academy’s Italian Wine Ambassador Course. She made the decision to move into the sales side of the wine industry; working for an Italian importer-distributor on the East side of Los Angeles. Patti loves to travel and soak up Italian culture, she particularly enjoys the museums and art history. 

CILE

Cecilia Alarcón Salinas

Cecilia Alarcón Salinas is a Chilean geographer, with experience of projects for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Chilean wine sector. Her passion for the wine world and travelling led her to move to Italy in 1999, where she continued her studies in International Economy at the Tor Vergata University, and also graduated as Sommelier (AIS) in 2004. Cecilia works in Wine Tourism and is an enthusiastic leader and organizer of wine & food study tours for professionals & wine lovers, mainly in Italy and Chile. As juror in international wine contests, including Les Mondial des Vins Blancs (Strasbourg), VINARIUM (Bucharest), International Wine City Challenge (Italy), and designated Chilean Wine Ambassador, she bridges the wine sectors in Chile and Europe. Cecilia is also member of the International Network Associations for Women and Wine, Le Donne del Vino in Italy & Mujeres del Vino in Chile (MUV).

AUSTRIA

Jochen Erler

Freelance Wine Writer

Jochen Erler was born in Dresden, Germany. He spent 12 years in Academia and 20 years in the international civil service (UN, OECD in Paris, ECMWF in UK). Since 1989 he has been a freelance writer on wine and spirts, collaborating with Harpers, Spirits Int’l, Weinwirtschaft. He is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers, of FIJEV and of Tiroler Sommelierverin. For 15 years he has been a foreign correspondent for the Austrian wine journal Weinbau. Since 2010 he has been a speaker at the annual International Wine Conference, and since 2014 a wine lecturer on cruise ships. From 1991 to 2013 he was a permanent member of the jury for wine & spirits at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in England, for 15 years he participated as a jury member at the Austrian Wine Challenge (AWC) and for more than 25 years he has intermittently been a jury member in other contests.

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