Our Judges

Our judges are what set us apart from other international beverage competitions. We select the best and brightest beverage professionals in the New York Metropolitan area, including restauranteurs, sommeliers, retail buyers, importers, and distributors to participate, so that our entrants get the chance to make an impression on the people who will have the biggest impact on their sales. Our judges have daily contact with wine consumers and up-to-the-second knowledge of what's selling and what's trending -- Don't miss the opportunity to have your wine tasted by these industry-leading buyers.

Christiano Andrade

General Manager/Buyer for the wine shop Sea Grapes Wine Shops in the West Village of New York City

Terri Baldwin

Wine Director/Sommelier for Bernards Inn One of the most acclaimed restaurants in New Jersey for its food and wine list.

Alex Berlingeri

President of Import and Distribution company Wine Sources

Member of Sommelier Society of America and Chaine des Rotiss

Laurent Cherrie

Buyer for Columbus Circle Wine & Spirits

Laurent Cherrier was raised in Burgundy, France where he was introduced to wine very naturally at an early age. Later on he discovered other European and African wine regions during his travels and finally expended to the new the world when he came to the United States as an IT Engineer. After a few years trying to make sense of acronyms such as ISDN-BRI and ITU-T G.hn DLL he decided to go work in a field he truly had a passion for; the world of wines and spirits. He first took the Sommelier Society of America Certificate Course and went on to obtain the WSET’s Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits and Professional Certificate in Spirits. He joined the staff of Columbus Circle Wines & Spirits as a buyer in 2007 and continues his studies at the WSET with the goal of becoming a Master of Wine.

Jim Clarke

Wine Director for Megu Restaurants

Jim is responsible for all aspects of the wine program: designing the list, buying, inventory, staff training, etc. When Jim is managing his approximate 400 bottle wine selection he is writing on wine for the NY Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Imbibe, Forbes and other publications.

Ellisa Cooper

Director of Education and Events at The Barterhouse, an importer and distributor specializing in wines from Europe and US and in the rare and collectible wine. She also part of the selection committee, choosing new wines and working to expand distribution into new markets. Ellisa has also been instrumental in creating retail stores in New York where she developed their wine portfolios.

Ellisa is also a regular guest on the Martha Stewart Living Radio weekly feature, Winesday with Mario Bosquez.

Edwin J. Davila

Sommelier at Gordon Ramsey At The London

Edwin is a Certified Sommelier at the Court of Master Sommelier and has years of experience building wine portfolios. He enjoys visiting wineries overseas to discover new wines to bring to the US.

Debra Desepoli

Operations and Client/Supplier Relations with Domaine Select Wine Estates.  Debra is also American Sommelier Association , French Wine Society and Guild Of Sommeliers.  Currently pursuing a Master Level Certification (French Wine Scholar / BIVB) - Burgundy Wine Region.

Ian Dorin

Wine Director at the world famous Wine Library co-owned by Gary Vanderchuk in Springfield NJ.

 Gary Fisch

Gary Fisch is an accomplished wine retailer and owner of Gary Wines & Marketplace with three locations in New Jersey. You can check out his blog here

Raphael Ginsburg

Sommelier at Ai Fiori

Ben Hagan

Wine Buyer at Slope Cellars in Brooklyn

Alex Joerger

Alex is the Director of Wine, Beer & Spirits for venerable northeast-based food & beverage retailer A&P, which currently operates stores in eight states under the banners A&P, Waldbaums, Pathmark, SuperFresh, Food Emporium and Food Basics as well as Best Cellars which was named 2009 Wine Retailer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Alex is responsible for all aspects of the Company's beverage alcohol operations, including marketing, merchandising and product selection and directly oversees the wine program in the Company's 35 licensed locations as well as the beer program in the Company's 160 New York supermarkets. Alex is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds an Advanced Certificate from the London-based Wine & Spirits Education Trust.

Chris McPherson

Sommelier at Saxon and Parole 

Costas Mouzouras

Wine buyer for Gotham Wines & Liquors

Thierry Pradines

Director of Wine and Spirits for Restaurant Associates

Restaurant Associates is one of the premier restaurant groups in the United States with over 150 locations. Thierry is responsible for beer/wine & cocktail lists for the locations along with product selections.

Cliff Rames

Sommelier at Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at The Plaza Hotel

Orr Reches

Sommelier at Veritas Restaurant

Tom Reissman

Wine buyer at the world famous Wine Library co-owned by Gary Vanderchuk in Springfield NJ

Nick Robinson

Wine Director at Tocqueville Restaurant/15 East Restaurant

Scott Rosenbaum

Wine Buyer at Vino Fine Wine & Spirits

Karen Rozansky

Karen Rozansky began her training at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC where she studied both culinary arts and restaurant management. Upon graduation, she spent several years working in New York City restaurants before turning her focus to wine. She joined Best Cellars in 2005 as General Manager of the flagship location in Manhattan. In 2007, Karen left for California, where she completed an enology and viticulture internship under winemaker Zach Rasmusson at Goldeneye Winery. Back in New York City, and once again with Best Cellars, she continues to teach, taste, live and love, all that the vine has to offer. Karen holds an advanced certificate in wines and spirits from the WSET and is a current diploma candidate. She has served as a tasting panelist for Wines & Spirits Magazine, and a guest lecturer at the Artisanal Cheese Center.

Francis Schott

Francis Schott is co-founder and beverage director of Stage Left Restaurant and Catherine Lombardi Restaurants in New Brunswick, NJ.  He has been an early champion of estate-bottled wines from small producers since Stage Left opened in 1992. Both restaurants boast an extremely well curated list of nearly a thousand selections.  He has hosted more than 250 collaborative dinners with a star-studded list of the finest winemakers in the world. He has taught consumer classes since 1989, which have been praised by many publications, including The New York Times.

Francis also manages the restaurant extensive spirits collections. He writes about spirits regularly for the innovative Spirits Project at Catherine Lombardi.  With the help of Dale DeGroff, he established Stage Left’s craft cocktail program in 1993, which Francis will point out, is about 10 years before anyone gave a damn.  It was NJ's first craft cocktail program, and in the opinion of many (including Francis' mom, remains its best).

In addition to his own restaurant operations, Francis consults on fun projects here and abroad.  He co-hosted The Restaurant Guys Radio program (www.RestaurantGuysRadio.com) and is in demand as a public speaker.  His TEDx talk on restaurants and community can be found online.

Francis was an early graduate of the B.A.R. 5-Day program and still classifies himself primarily as a bartender that knows a thing or two about wine and running restaurants.

Francis, his partners and his restaurants have been featured in The New York Times, Cheers, Food Arts, The Star Ledger, The Food Network, Eater, FoodBelfast and The Irish Echo...

Taylor Senatore

Co-Owner of California Wine Merchants and cast member of PBS Television Series, "The Wine Makers"

Sharon Sevrens

Sharon is the proprietor of Amanti Vino a artisanal wine shop in Northern New Jersey.

Kasi Shelton

Sommelier at Michael's New York  and  is currently a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers pursuing her Advanced Certification, a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators, a diploma student at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and holds her Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.

Before joining the team at Michael's, she was Wine Director for Vero Restaurant and Wine Bars here in NYC.  She taught wine classes at both Vero and Brasserie Julien

Matthew Smith

Director of Wine for Allied Beverage

Wendy Tait

Managing Director/Sommelier of Park Avenue Club

Gabrio Tosti di Valminuta

Wine consultant and owner of wine boutique De-Vino