Judges 2018

The grand tasting for the valuation of the wines that will be featured in “5StarWines The Book 2018” will take place from April 11th to April 13th, 2018 in Verona, with the aim to give a valuable contribution to the world of Italian wine on an international scale. This unique wine guide will feature the wines that were given a score above or equal to 90/100 by a internationally well recognized panel of experts during this year’s Vinitaly 2018.

The dates were strategically chosen, right before the opening of the 52nd edition of VINITALY the International Wine and Spirits Exhibition (15th-18th April 2018, www.vinitaly.com) in order to immediately present the selected wines at the fair.

We would like to remind that all wine producing companies can be included in the “5StarWines The Book 2018”, not only wineries exhibiting at Vinitaly.



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.


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

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.



Andy Howard MW

Master of Wine, Director at Vinetrades Ltd and Decanter Contributing Editor

Andrew Howard became a Master of Wine in 2011. He worked as a buyer for Marks & Spencer in the UK for many years. He left Marks & Spencer in 2013 an now he runs his own wine business, Vinetrades Ltd., which is involved in education, consulting, buying and investment in wine. Andy is a very active wine judge: he is a Regional Chair for the Decanter World Wine, and also judges at The International Wine Challenge and Bacchus. His major focus is now on journalism: he is a Contributing Editor to Decanter magazine as well as writes for Jancis Robinson.


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).


Jeffrey Porter

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Beverage Operations Director at Batali & Bastianich

Originally from Texas, Jeffrey’s passion for wine started while at the University of Texas at Austin. He began his career at Central Market in Austin, Texas. After graduating Jeffrey moved to California where he worked as a sales person for a wholesaler in the Bay Area. His sommelier career began in Napa Valley working at Tra Vigne Ristorante in St. Helena, California. He joined the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in 2009 at Osteria Mozza. In 2011 he moved to New York to become the wine director for Del Posto and in 2014 Jeffrey became the Beverage Operations Director, overseeing the beverage programs for Babbo, Del Posto, Esca, Lupa, Otto, Babbo Pizzeria & Enoteca in Boston, MA, and the newest restaurant La Sirena at the Maritime Hotel.


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.


Michaela Morris

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Wine Writer and WSET Educator

Michaela Morris is an international wine writer, educator, judge and speaker based in Vancouver, Canada. She contributes regularly to Decanter and Meininger’s Wine Business International, as well as Canadian publications Quench and Taste. She educates about Italian wine across Canada and abroad. Besides judging Canadian wine shows like the Lieutenant Governor Wine Awards and Judgement of British Columbia, she participates in international competitions such as the Decanter World Wine Awards, the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show and Wines of Portugal Challenge. She holds the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma and is an Italian Wine Expert certified through Vinitaly International Academy (VIA).



Corinne Keddie

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Canada 365daysofwine, DipWSET, Architect

Corinne Keddie is based in Calgary, Canada, and is an Area Representative for Opimian, the largest private wine club/wine buying cooperative in Canada. She is responsible for member engagement, education, wine promotion and events, including yearly wine tours. She regularly hosts tastings, seminars and educational sessions for both corporate and private clients, and writes about wine for various publications. She also judges at international wine competitions and spends several months every year travelling to various wine regions around the world to further her wine knowledge. Corinne has taken courses through the International Sommelier Guild, holds a WSET Diploma and is a certified Italian Wine Expert through Vinitaly International Academy (VIA). She is also a registered architect and has designed award winning architectural and interior design projects both locally and internationally. 


Wai Xin Chan

Italian Wine Expert


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.


Gill Gordon Smith

VIA Italian Wine Expert, CEO and Owner at Fall from Grace

Gill Gordon-Smith is a Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Expert, a winemaker, wine merchant, writer, judge and educator based in Australia. Gill owns Fall from Grace, a specialist retail store and tasting bar that has a firm focus on Italian wines and direct imports from Italy. Passionate about Italian grapes and wine, she also produces Italian grape varieties in McLaren Vale. With Diplomas in Training Design and Development as well as Vocational Education and Training, she is a WSET Certified Educator and has worked with Qantas Airways developing the renowned Sommelier in the Sky program. She leads TAFE SA Wine & Spirit School and works with many industry clients developing educational programs for both professional and consumer markets. She is Wine Communicators Australia Educator and Wine Communicator of The Year for 2017.


Massimiliano Apollonio


CEO of Apollonio 1870.
President of Movimento Turismo del vino Puglia.
National Councillor Assoenologi.
Director of Salice Salentino Doc Consortium.
Director of Brindisi-Squinzano Doc Consortium.
National Councillor of Unione Imprese Storiche.
Associate Academician of the Georgofili
Academic of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine.
Academic of AEREC.
National member of the CIA wine committee.
Vice-Chairman of the DOC Chamber of Commerce Lecce Commission.
Member of Enasarco national assembly.


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.

Sarah Heller MW

Master of Wine, Proprietor of Heller Beverage Advisory

Sarah Heller is a wine communicator, designer and consultant based in Hong Kong and at 29 is the world’s youngest Master of Wine. Having graduated from Yale University with a degree in fine art, Sarah began her career in the New York and Hong Kong wine trades and wineries in France and Italy. She was Executive Director of events and education firm Meiburg Wine Media in Hong Kong for three years. Sarah currently writes for the South China Morning Post, Spirito di Vino
and #legend magazine; her educational wine videos on Chinese app ShowMuse have over a million views. She speaks and consults on Asian wine markets, with a special focus on Ecommerce. Her boutique design agency Radix & Folium works with clients in the F&B and wine industries to create market-appropriate packaging, branding and training materials. She recently tried her hand at F&B with a popup wine bar in central Hong Kong. Sarah also regularly judges wine competitions like the Cathay Pacific HKIWSC and China’s Wine100. In 2017, Sarah won the Villa Maria Prize for the Viticulture Paper, Errazuriz Award for the Business of Wine Paper, Robert Mondavi Winery Award for Theory, Austrian Wine Marketing Board Outstanding Achievement Award at the Master of Wine Graduation Ceremony. She was the Drinks Business’ Asian Awards Young Achiever of the Year and appeared in the Prestige Hong Kong 40 Under 40. In 2013, she won the Vintners’ Cup for achievement in the WSET Diploma. She is a SWE Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits and a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador. As well as English, Sarah speaks German, Italian and French with some proficiency in Chinese and Spanish.


Michael Garner

Author, Wine Writer

Michael Garner has worked in the wine business for 40 years and has specialised in Italian wine for more than 30. He is the co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses and his second book Amarone and the fine wines of Verona was published in December 2017. Michael is a regular contributor to Decanter, and taught for the WSET for many years. He has been a Decanter World Wine Awards judge for over a decade.


Gurvinder Bhatia

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Editor for Quench Magazine

Gurvinder is the wine Editor for Quench Magazine, Wine Columnist for Global Television, the Wine Director for Prestige Wines and Guru Restaurants and the President of Vinomania Consulting.  Gurvinder is certified as an Italian Wine Expert (IWE) and Italian Wine Educator by Vinitaly International Academy.  In addition to possessing a law degree (JD), Gurvinder also earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with honours.  In 2015, Gurvinder was named as one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People by Alberta Venture Magazine.


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.



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.


Janna Rijpma

Multiple Wine Book Author and Owner, Ennovision International Media Company

Wine writer and Consultant for over twenty years, Janna Rijpma is the Owner of NOMOH Wine Consulting Web Magazine. She has published five books for the series The Wine Guide for Business People. After a long career as an Executive Producer in Television, Janna Rijpma graduated as a Vinoloog in 1996 at the Dutch Wine Academy. After writing many articles and columns about wine and food in magazines and newspapers, she ‘delivered’ five books of The Wine Guide for Business People for Het Financieele Dagblad. She now mainly writes, consults and creates and is traveling to the wine fields all over the world, where especially upcoming wine areas have her full attention. She teaches often about her favorite wine subjects, burgundy, champagne and northern Italy. Since 2015, she is owner of www.nomoh.nl, the world of the senses that connects wine and food. Her activities includes NOMOH experience, NOMOH activities, NOMOH consultancy & NOMOH concepts. This year she will celebrate her 20 years in the wine business.


Marcia J. Hamm

VIA Italian Wine Expert, Owner of Joy of Wine

Marcia J. Hamm is relatively new to the industry having started taking night classes in 2010, this is when she began building a real curiosity for wine. Since then, she has completed the WSET Diploma, becoming an Italian Wine Expert through the Vinitaly International Academy. A recent internship to South Africa allowed Marcia to experience all facets of a harvest, and she hopes to do more harvests in different parts of the world over the next few years. With her company Joy of Wine, she runs various educational tastings in the store at Hicks Fine Wines, at corporate events and in private residences. Marcia is thrilled to be a judge for 5StarWines and hopes to do more international judging in the future!


Franco Bernabei

Oenologist at Enoproject Srl

Franco Bernabei, originally from Abano Terme, took his first steps into the world of wine alongside his father; importer/distributor of French and Italian wine, as well as hotelier and winemaker in the Euganean Hills. In 1978 Bernabei decided to freelance in the Chianti area within the region of Tuscany. He collaborated with various companies and made Sangiovese triumphant by interpreting the territory into the wine, helping to launch this vine to international stardom. In 1978 he began with the Fattoria di Selvapiana, from which a great Sangiovese, in purity, Bucerchiale, was born. In 1981, in collaboration with the Manetti family, through their winery Fontodi, Flaccianello della Pieve was launched on the market. Two years later, from the Fattoria di Felsina, Fontalloro was created.


Lorenzo Landi


Lorenzo Landi is a winemaker and wine consultant from Italy. Graduated in Agrarian Sciences and holding a Master in Oenology and a University Diploma in Oenology and Viticulture, he worked for ten years as a responsible oenologist for several companies in Tuscany and Umbria, among which Fattoria del CerroColpetrone and La Poderina. Since 2000, he works as a wine consultant across several regions of Italy, such as Tuscany, Umbria, Friuli and Sicily.



Abi Duhr

Leading Luxembourg Wine Writer, Wine Producer and Journalist for VINO (Luxembourg Wine Magazine)



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.


Maurizio Castelli




Massimo Claudio Comparini

Chairman, EarthLab Precision Agriculture and Viticulture (Head of the Best Italian Wines Guide)

Massimo Claudio Comparini is a sommellier and wine writer with more than 25 years of experience. He holds a Master degree in Electrical and Aerospace Engineering and he is graduated in Strategy at GSB Stanford University. Co-manager for many years of the International Wine Academy of Rome, today he is the Director of the Italy’s Best Wines Guide. He has a deep knowledge of Italian wines, French and new world wines and wine marketing, and he teaches technology, innovation management and wine business in many universities in Italy and abroad.


Barbara Tamburini


Barbara Tamburini graduated in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Pisa in 2002 after having already obtained a University Diploma in Food Technology (Viticulture & Oenology) in 2000. During her time at university she was able to undertake various apprenticeships with Tuscan wine producers and subsequently to initiate her working career as a freelance oenologist in 1999 with some important consultancies. Her consultancies, initially exclusively in Tuscany, have grown year on year to include others in Umbria, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Sicily. It was during her periods of study that she had the good fortune to meet Vittorio Fiore, a fellow oenologist of long experience and international repute who she came to consider as her ‘mentor’ and ‘teacher’. It was with him that she began a collaborative working arrangement which continues even today. Enlivened by an intense professional curiosity, she has been able to succeed in a multiplicity of directions passing from viticulture to oenology, from Sangiovese to Pinot Noir, from Merlot to Nebbiolo and Barbera, to Aleatico, from Vermentino to Pinot Blanc and to Ansonica, from Moscato Passito to Vinsanto. Whilst doing this, she pays constant attention to ensure that wines express the character of their provenance both in terms of the individual producer and the area of production whilst still aiming to achieve the highest possible quality and address the expectations of the consumer. Furthermore, she does not ignore market issues. Given her increasing notoriety, she has the advantage of being in regular contact with a wide network of leading experts both in Italy and, increasingly, abroad who have specific experience in the distribution and marketing of Italian wines in the world. As a result, the wine sector press comes increasingly to Barbara for news, for her views and for information considered to be of value and importance. Currently, Barbara Tamburini is consultant oenologist for more than 15 different wine producers and has been the subject of more than 100 interviews and articles.


Goffredo Agostini


Winemaker, freelancer. He started working in 1985 at the Ortona Winery in Abruzzo. In 1988 he moved to Cantina Tollo where he stayed working for 15 years and collaborated as the Technical Director. In 2004 he started work as a consultant at the Matura Group. Currently he works as  a Winemaker consultant for Central and Southern Italian Wineries as well as in foreign countries.


Tommaso Mascolo

Head Sommelier at One Michelin Star Indaco Restaurant



Stefano Chioccioli


Graduated in agricultural sciences in 1984, he defines himself as an agronomist before as a winemaker. During the first years of study at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Florence, he is attracted by the various disciplines of the world of agriculture. Then comes the shock for viticulture, and for oenology immediately after. He graduated with 110 with honors. Immediately employed as Production Manager by Ruffino, where he will remain for seven years, as first in the establishment of Pontassieve and then in the country to follow the proliferation of corporate ownership. Chioccioli himself defines these seven years as formidable years because they allow him to unravel the complex issues surrounding viticulture and winemaking that will prove to be crucial in his professional experience. Meanwhile, his sons Niccolò and Enrico, were born, today 31 and 27 years old, the first one graduated in viticulture and oenology in Florence in 2009, the second one graduated in law in Milan and Master Distiller. In 1992 Stefano Chioccioli starts to take its first steps alone as winemaker consultant.. It is an exciting period of renewal in the world of wine. He tries to turn the page, to renew the vineyards, to focus on a new approach that brings wealth, value and quality to an area rich in potential but for long time mortified. Since then, the escalation is unstoppable: new consulting and new successes in Italy and abroad, very new wine brands or old brands to be revaluated. Here comes the 1995, an important year, not only for the born of her daughter Ginevra, but also for the begin of new consultings, which still represents nowdays pillars of the italian wine. He has been working for more than 25 years for prestigious estates in Italy, France and Hungary. The wines he signed during his consulting activities have won many awards such as: over 100 wines with three glasses on Gambero Rosso guide, many 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 points in magazines like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocat, up to the 100/100 is awarded by Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. He is a member of numerous organizations dedicated to viticulture and oenology and various committees of tasting. He is regularly invited to give lectures at the most important universities of enology in Italy and he is a strong voice in the conferences and the events dedicated to the Wine world.



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.


Kara Maisano

VIA Wine Ambassador, Sommelier & Wine Director, Masani Italian Dining & Terrace

Kara Maisano is a Sommelier and Wine Director at Masani Italian Dining & Terrace in Melbourne. Established in 1983 by Chef & Restaurateur Richard Maisano, continues to serve regionally inspired Italian to compliment Kara’s award-wining wine list. Kara is a graduate of the WSET Diploma, Court of Master Sommeliers and a Vinitaly International Academy Wine Ambassador. Alongside serving she continues to strive within her profession by associate judging at local and international wine shows, and hosting wine tutorials for wine lovers in Melbourne. Recent accolades include finalist Gault & Millau Sommelier of the Year 2016, Vin de Champagne Awards 2016, Gourmet Traveller Wine Young Sommelier of the Year 2018. Stay on touch @KaraMaisano @MASANI_DINING


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


Matteo Bernabei

Oenologist at Enoproject Srl

He provides consultant activities for some wineries: Santa Maria alla Pieve Bertani and Villa Mosconi – Bertani, La Bioca, Malavasi, Lornano, Cherri e Ruffini, in addition he follows Enoproject in its activities of managing and coordinating all the other wineries professionals and associates. Enoproject consultancies not only offer assistance for what concerns oenology and viticulture, but also for what concerns marketing aspects and the development of a new productive chain. “ We believe that the strength of this consultant activity relies in the teamwork, that involves everybody, from the family to the analyst technicians of our staff, and that through its professionalism, it is able to spread love for the terroir and the vine.” Administrator of Società Riolite Vini Srl, society that selects and distributes italian wine in the world (Canada, USA, Europe, Russia and China).


Vanessa Green

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Director Crimson Wine, Wine Director at Apples and Pears Restaurant Group.

Vanessa is based in Australia working across Asia Pacific as Managing Director of Crimson Wine and the Apples + Pears Restaurant Group, and Acting CEO of Cliftons Venues. She works as a commercial wine buyer and importer, wine director for the restaurant and venues group, and judges at wines shows in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Vanessa is a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, has professional accreditations from WSET and the Australian Wine Research Institute, and is a member of the Commanderie de Bordeaux and Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Current projects she is working on include running wine and beverage education and appreciation programs for consumers and trade in Australia and New Zealand, sourcing and importing wines to Australia and developing wine and beverage lists across Asia Pacific.


Fabio Ciarla

Journalist, Sommelier and Blogger, Corriere del Vino, Enoagricola

Born into a family of winemakers, he chose to break with tradition and become a journalist. Life, or fate, brought him back into the world of wine. He is a regular contributor to online newspapers like «Il Corriere del Vino», and he created «Enoagricola Blog», an innovative blog with Italian/English posts and downloadable podcasts. He is a certified sommelier and instructor for FISAR (Italian Sommeliers Federation), and an events and wine tastings planner. He’s come to the conclusion that in this world, after all, he feels at home.


Bernardo Pinto

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Technical Director at Zahil Importadora, Instructor at The Wine School, Owner of Prensa Enogastronomia

Bernardo Pinto ha studiato gastronomia in Brasile e ha frequentato una specialistica in Wines and Spirits a Londra. È stato la prima persona in America Latina ad ottenere il WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Technical Director al Zahil Wines a San Paolo, gestisce il portfolio della compagnia. Insegna anche ai corsi WSET e fa da consulente per compagnie e privati in Brasile. Bernardo è un Official Sherry Educator e un Vinitaly International Academy Ambassador, nonchè parte integrante del corpo studentesco dell’Institute of Masters of Wine dal 2012.

Jay Hutchinson

Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Advisor at Soutirage

A native of California’s Sonoma County, Jay has accepted roles across the United States over the course of his wine career. From founding a leading culinary events series in Boston, to serving as senior sommelier for Michelin-starred Ai Fiori in New York City, to his current role as private client consultant with Soutirage in Napa, he enjoys finding opportunities to be an advocate for Italian wines. While serving clients coast-to-coast, Jay is based in the Midwest, where he is preparing for the Master Sommelier examination and is a MBA candidate at Ohio University.

María Laura Ortiz

CEO di Winifera

María Laura Ortiz is a leading wine and spirits consultant based in Mendoza, Argentina. She founded Winifera in 2010, a company specialized on the reception of local and international press and wine critics, as well as coordinating rounds
of international businesses.
A graduate of the Argentine School of Sommeliers, Maria Laura holds the WSET’s Advanced Certification; is a Certified Sommelier of the Court of Master Sommeliers CMS; a qualified Sommelier and member of the Marketing Committee at the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI).
Maria Laura is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Argentine Association of Sommeliers (AAS). During her 3-year cycle as Vice President of this Association, she was the General Coordinator responsible for coordinating the World’s Best Sommelier Competition—Argentina 2016.
Ms. Ortiz is a regular columnist of Food Lovers, Wines of Argentina and a collaborator on graphic and online media, such as Master Wine, Caminos del Vino, Tiempo Argentino, Diario Los Andes, Clarín and AOL Brasil.
A jury member of prestigious international competitions, Maria Laura coordinates the tastings in Argentina for Guía Peñín, Palacio de Hierro and actively works with Tim Atkin MW.
She teaches Master Class at Consulates, Embassies and sommelier schools in Argentina, South America and Mexico.

Leonid Fadeev

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Executive Director at Cote Rocheuse

Leonid Fadeev began his meteoric wine career in March 2013 by receiving a job offer to run a vine growing and winemaking start-up, Cote Rocheuse, in the south of Russia, the town of Anapa, Krasnodar Region.
In 2014 having a thirst for wine knowledge Leonid committed to wine qualifications. He went to France to study at the World Sommelier Academy of Bordeaux (WorldSom). He successfully passed all 6 final exams, qualified as the Magister Sommelier (so far the only one from Russia) and became Commandeurs d’Honneur of the Commanderie du Bontemps de Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac.
After that he continued his wine journey with Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). In 2015 he fared well at WSET Level 2 and Level 3 at Bordeaux Wine Campus, France.
Leonid didn’t rest on his laurels. He enrolled for WSET Diploma International Program (Rust, Vienna, Florence) at Weinakademie Osterreich in Rust, Austria in May 2016. Studying hard he managed to complete the program strikingly fast. It took him 1 year and 3 months to cover all 7 Units, pass all exams at the first attempt and to receive a prestigious WSET Diploma and Weinakademiker qualifications.
The subject of his Thesis at Weinakademie Osterreich was “Brettanomyces in Wine, a Fault or Not” which he defended with distinction.


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.

Ján Špener

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Head Sommelier, Import & Distribution Manager at Vinimka

Ján Špener studied Marketing Communication at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia. In 2016, he passed the Diploma of Wine and Spirit Education Trust at the Wine Academy of Rust, in Austria. Year later he passed the final Weinakademiker exam. During his university studies he already worked as sommelier in Michelin starred restaurants in France and leading Slovak restaurants. Currently he is Head Sommelier at Vinimka winebar in Bratislava, Slovakia as well as Import and Distribution Manager. In November 2017 he passed the exam for Italian Wine Ambassador of the Vinitaly Internationl Academy. He is also Certified Sommelier by Court of Masters Sommeliers, Certified Sake Sommelier and Certified Sherry Educator.

Brie Dema

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Director at The Bruce Hotel

Brie Dema is a Professional Sommelier, Wine Director for The Bruce Hotel, VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, and WSET Educator.

Stephanie Guth

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Sommelier

After completing an H.B.Comm with a focus in Hospitality Management she attended culinary school and spent years working in kitchens before making the jump to front-of-house. Upon completing the CMS certification she moved to London in 2012 to work as assistant sommelier at Michelin-stared restaurant Pied a Terre. After a few years working back home in Toronto helping develop and manage beverage programs she decided her travels weren’t over and moved to Auckland in 2017 where she is currently working as Sommelier at The French Café. She is currently working on her WSET Diploma and is enrolled in the INSEEC MBA Wine Marketing and Management program at the University of Bordeaux in the Fall. Until then she’s having fun discovering all that New Zealand has to offer.

Jessica Tan

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Journalist at Singapoured LLP

Jessica Anne Tan is an independent wine journalist, founder of Singapoured.com., and contributing editor to www.ChngPohTiong.com. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Italian Wine Ambassador by the Vinitaly International Academy, and had received her Napa Valley Wine Specialist certification.
Jessica has represented Singapore in international and local wine judging competitions. She is also a brand Ambassador for Schott Zwiesel in Singapore.


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.


Nikolay Chashchinov IWA

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Director at Millesime Wine School

Nikolay Chashchinov is a professional wine educator and representative of the wine trade industry, who has been in the wine business for 16 years. Nikolay Chashchinov worked as a sommelier in a 5* hotel from 2005 to 2006, thereafter, he won the Saint Petersburg Sommelier Contest for two consecutive years; 2006 and 2007. In 2007 Chashchinov also began working in wine imports, all the while, together with some friends, he opened a sommelier wine school in 2010. Already a WSET Diploma holder, he also tackled and successfully completed the Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Ambassador Course in 2015 in addition to becoming a Weinakademiker in 2018.

Sarah Dewar

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Cocktail and wine bar co-owner/sommelier

Snezhana Revchuk

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Import Director at Diletant.wine, Sommelier at Molto Buono Restaurant

I am WSET Diploma student and VinItaly Ambassador 2017. I had a chance to open my own wine restaurant in 2014 in Saint-Petersburg. And in 2017 i with my partners open the wine trading company Diletant. I have a strong passion for wine and I am eager to learn as much as possible about the wine world. My enthusiasm and initiative have allowed me to get some knowledge through self-education, completing training courses (e.g. Viti Agro Lycee in Beaune, France – CFPPA). Also my other passion is  organizing wine and gastronomy tours to Italy, France, Germany.


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.


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.

Robert Miller

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Sales, Sommelier

Rob Miller has over twenty years experience in the beverage industry. A certified Sommelier with the International Sommelier Guild, Miller also holds accreditation with The Wine & Spirits Education Trust in the UK, the American- based Society of Wine Educators and the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as a Certificate in Oenology & Viticulture from the University of Guelph. Rob has also completed the rigorous Vinitaly International Academy Ambassador certification. He currently works with wine distributor The Vine Agency, as well as working the floor as Sommelier at Canada’s finest restaurants including Langdon Hall, George and Alo.

Mike Madaio

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Journalist

Mike Madaio is a wine journalist and Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Ambassador. He currently serves on the editorial board for Palate Press, and his writing has appeared in publications such as Wine Enthusiast, Undiscovered Italy and Edible Philly.

Daphne Feng

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Financial & Business Analyst

Daphne Feng is an Italian Wine Ambassador and a Stage 2 Master of Wine candidate. She works at US importer Folio Fine Wine Partners where she delights in optimizes any manner of measurable metrics as a Business & Financial Analyst. She holds a WSET Diploma and teaches at the Napa Valley Wine Academy.


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.

Rose Johnson

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Sommelier

I grew up in a small town outside Las Vegas called Boulder City. I fell in love with wine during college after studying abroad in Spain. My love for Italian wine grew from working as a sommelier at an Italian restaurant.

Li Xiang

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Educator at Ease Scent

Xiang Li was graduated from Lincoln University New Zealand in 2007 and successfully completed bachelor degree in viticulture & oenology. He then worked in the wine industry for 5 years across different regions in New Zealand, Australia, USA.
Coming back home in 2012, he then worked for Grace Vineyard in Shanxi Provence as vintage assistant winemaker. In 2013, he joined Ruby Red Fine Wine as sales manager based in Beijing, he suceesfully helped create Ruby Red Beijing Branch. During this period, he completed WSET diploma. In May 2015, he joined Ease Scent and quickly became one of the most sought-after educators in China. Xiang Li is currently pursuing Master of Wine Title. His favorite subjects include wine, food, travel, culture & history.

Shelly Lee

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador

Shelly Lee is a Shanghai-based wine educator and trainer. She completed her WSET Diploma in Vancouver in 2013 and had a solid background in marketing before entering wine trade. She is currently a WSET Certified Educator and has hosted hundreds of presentations throughout her wine career.

Sabina Yang

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Wine Education Director – SIPPERS Wine & Spirit Academy

杨平 Sabina, PING YANG
MW Candidate
WSET Certified Educator & Assessor
VIA Italian Wine Ambassador
FWS Highest Honors
Wine Judge

Liu Jia

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Blogger

LIU Jia, aka Freddo, has been a wine enthusiast since almost 20 years ago.
Four years ago, he started his own project to visit Italian wine regions annually, and now he has measured some of the most interesting regions by foot.
On his first attempt on the VIA exam, he finally got recognized as one of the Italian Wine Ambassador by Vinitaly in 2017.


Luca Di Vita

Sommelier and Co-owner of the Osteria alle Testiere

He’s born, lives and works in Venice. Co-owner of the Osteria alle Testiere of Venice since 1997 (The World’s 50 Best Restaurants according to the magazine Restaurant and Top 100 Restaurants Worldwide according to Foodie guide). Professional Sommelier (Italian Association Sommelier awarded). Master of Food beer, olive oil and cheese, courses held by Slow Food Italy. Author of Venice, food and wine (A table, à Venise) published by Lineadacqua. He has contributed to numerous articles and radio broadcasts made by journalists of: The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Sunday Times, Etoile, The New York Times, Der Feinschmecker, Saveur, Gourmet, Travel Telegraph, The Guardian, Sphere, Louis Vuitton City Gude, InTime Magazine, Radio France Culture. Winemaker for passion, leads a tiny vineyard property in Valdobbiadene (TV) and obtains’s Vineyard Ada, 1000 bottles of Prosecco “sur lie”, an honest wine.


Ramona Ragaini

Maître at Ristorante Andreina Loreto

Since 2009 Ramona Ragaini is maître at Ristorante Andreina Loreto and chef Errico Recanati’s wife. Her passion is born by chance in a very crowded Sunday when she proposed to lend a hand to serve. Her desire to know the world of wine grows and she attended 3 AIS courses and since then, every day, she looks for more new territories and “new emotions that you can give with a chalice.” In fact, besides to welcome guests, she takes care of the wine list Andreina Restaurant and she is Marche delegate at “Noi di Sala”.


Simone Romano

Restaurant Manager, Tordomatto

David Way

Wine Qualifications Developer

David Way entered the world of wine through wine tourism and offering informal courses to consumers interested in learning more about wine. He created and writes for www.winefriend.org with a focus on the wines of Italy and France. With a background in adult education, he then studied at WSET in London and latterly as a Master of Wine student, currently Stage 2. He now works for the WSET where he is engaged, with colleagues, on writing new student study guides for the WSET Level 4 Diploma.

Claire Kyunghwa Nam

Owner Director of GARAM

Claire Kyunghwa Nam joined the wine trade in 2005 from PR. Since then, she has worked on various sides of business from buying and selling to marketing and education in Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, France and the UK. She worked as a Wine Consultant at Berry Bros & Rudd Hong Kong and a freelancer for the Decanter Tasting Team. Claire set up a micro-négociant GARAM in Bordeaux and has been producing a micro-cuvée Graves Blanc ‘Les Trois Mains’ since 2016 while continuing to consult, write and judge at wine competitions. Claire holds a Master’s degree in Wine Business from the University of Adelaide, Australia, a Certificat de Spécialisation Commerce des Vins from the CFPPA, France, as well as a WSET Diploma. Currently, Claire is pursuing the Master of Wine studies, and passed the practical part of the exam in 2015 at her first attempt.


Livia Merlo

Freelance Wine Writer

Susan Gordon

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Freelance Writer

Susan H. Gordon is a VIA Italian Wine Ambassador and WSET Diploma student with an MFA in Writing from The New School in New York City. She has written about wine for ForbesLife, Eater, The Daily Meal, and Wine Advocate online.

Ying Guo

VIA Italian Wine Ambassador, Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall

Ying Guo just had joined the sommelier team at 67 Pall Mall London.She was the Senior Sommelier of Luxury Four Seasons Hotel Group China. As a native Chinese sommelier, Ying has organized numerous wine tastings, from the first growth Chateau Margaux to the smallest champagne growers. In addition to these tasting events, she has been involved in other high-profile events, including Robert Parker’s Grand World Tour, Dinner in the sky. Ying has been a Decanter Asia Wine Awards Judge since 2013, and Decanter World Wine Awards since this year, and many other wine awards and sommelier competitions. Ying is a Advanced Sommelier by Court of Master Sommeliers, the very few Chinese Master Sommelier candidate. Ying’ many accolades include winner of the China National Sommelier Competition 2012, Champion of China’s best Sommelier of French Wine 2011, and 4th place at the World’s Best Young Sommelier competition 2013, also Champion of China Youth Sommelier Team Service Competition. China’s Best Hotel Wine List 2014 by China Wine List Award.


Cristiano Morini



Regine Lee MW

Master of Wine, National Account Manager at Liberty Wines

Regine Lee is currently working as Customer Services Head of Operations at Liberty Wines, a leading UK importer / distributor to the on and off-trade which specialises in Italian wine. She has had roles at Liberty Wines in trade marketing, education, and sales analytics, and at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in Asian market development. Regine is also a co-founder of Women in Wine London, a wine trade networking group with over 600 members which launches initiatives to develop women professionally and provide a forum for discussing key topics in the industry. She achieved her Master of Wine in 2018, and wrote her research paper on the commercial effectiveness of relationship building through customer trips.



Andreino Addis



Sandro Cavicchioli



Federico Defilippi



Vincenza Folgheretti

Winemaker and Wine consultant

Sicilian by birth, Tuscan by adoption, she graduated from the University of Pisa in Viticulture and Oenology and furthered her scientific knowledge by obtaining two master’s degrees, one on “High Quality Management in the Wine Production Chain” and one on “Financial Statements and Company Administration”. Before embarking on his career as a Consultant Oenologist, she worked for important companies in the sector, both in Italy and abroad, reaching as far as New Zealand. She has acquired a wealth of experience and knowledge that she now puts at the service of companies. Today she has numerous collaborations, from Friuli to Sicily, passing through Tuscany.


Pierluigi Zama



Alberto Lazzarino



Patrizia Marenco



Josef Romen



Goffredo Pasolli



Faustini Andrea



Mattia Filippi



Valerio Fuson



Leonardo Palumbo


Poser Celestino



Rocco Vallorani


Vendrame Gino



Thomas Mayr


Martinico Salvina



Marcello Vaona


Valetti Stefano


Jennifer Carraro