Sam Connew (Chief of Judges)
A highly experienced and respected winemaker, Samantha Connew launched her Tasmanian solo project, Stargazer, in 2013. Prior to establishing this and her consulting company, Compass Wine Consulting, she was employed working in applied research, development and extension for the AWRI as Manager of the Hunter Valley Node. Before this she was the Winemaker/Manager of boutique Hunter Valley winery, Tower Restate, after working in McLaren Vale for ten years as the Senior winemaker at Wirra Wirra vineyards.
Amongst her many achievements, in 2007 she was awarded International Red Winemaker of the Year at the prestigious International Wine Challenge in London, and in 2008 she was a South Australian finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s awards. She has served on the boards of several regional associations, the ASVO and was a founding advisory board member of the Australian Women in Wine Awards.
She is a highly respected wine show judge and has been a panel chair at many regional and capital city wine shows, having completed both the AWAC and LET. In 2014 she was appointed Chair of Judges at the Sydney Royal Wine Show, the first female and the youngest judge in that position.
In 2016 she acquired a small vineyard and olive grove in the Coal River Valley outside of Hobart and is busy planting more vines and learning to drive a tractor.
Sam Kim (International Judge)
Sam has been involved for the past 30 years in New Zealand hospitality, wine retail, importing and distribution, as well as running wine courses and master classes.
Sam holds a Certificate in Winemaking from EIT (Hawke’s Bay), and has been judging wine for the last 20 years at various wine competitions and magazines, including The Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Cowra Wine Show, Decanter Asia Wine Awards, The Marlborough Wine Show, New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition, The New Zealand International Wine Show, The New World Wine Awards, The Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, The Spiegelau International Wine Competition, and Cuisine Magazine.
He publishes online wine review magazine, Wine Orbit (www.wineorbit.co.nz), and lives in Auckland, New Zealand
Julian Langworthy (Judge)
A Jimmy Watson Award winner, Ray Jordan’s 2017 Winemaker of the Year and a Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year nominee, Julian is now regarded as one of the most talented winemakers in Australia. His impressive career has included vintages in France and Canada, as well as senior winemaking roles in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Coonawarra. Passionate about pork and producing regionally distinctive wine, Julian joined the Deep Woods team at Margaret River in 2011. Under his leadership, the winemaking team has continued to refine and explore the Deep Woods style, culminating is 25 trophies and in excess of 70 gold medals awarded across major national and international wine shows.
Emma Norbiato (Judge)
Emma Norbiato is Chief Winemaker for Calabria Family Wines.
After spending time working with Penfolds, Lindemans, Casella Wines, and time in Italy with the Frescobaldi group, Emma commenced working with Calabria Family Wines in 2010.
Emma is passionate about alternate varieties, has an increasing interest in viticulture and helping the region reach its full potential.
In 2016 Emma was awarded AWIWA’s Female Winemaker of the Year.
Jeni Port (Judge)
Jeni Port is a Melbourne-based wine writer, author and wine judge.
She is the longest-running wine writer at The Age newspaper from 1986-2016 – 30 years.
She is the longest-running correspondent at Winestate magazine.
She also writes for Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine, James Halliday Wine magazine, Wine Selector magazine, Wine Enthusiast (news website) and Menninger’s Wine Business International magazine.
She is the author of three wine books: Choosing Australian Wines (1997, 2000); Crushed By Women: Women and Wine (2000) and the Australasian editor for Dorling Kindersley’s Wines of the World (2006).
She sits on the advisory board for the Australian Women In Wine Awards and is the deputy-chair of the China Wine List of the Year Awards and the Australian Wine List of the Year Awards.
She was named a legend of Melbourne food and wine at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, 2014.
She was also named 2014 Wine Communicator of the Year.
She has judged at wine shows across Australia, New Zealand and Italy and Germany (Mundus Vini), China (Concours Mondial de Bruxelles).
General Manager Fine Wine
With over twenty three years’ experience in the wine industry, Travis still sees every day as a new learning experience. “Just when you think you have your head around a region or producer the new vintage comes and you start all over again!”
He was invited to the Len Evans Tutorial in 2007 (often described as the most exclusive wine school in the world) by Len himself after winning the Inaugural Greg Doyle Medal for best Associate judge at the Royal Sydney Wine Show. Travis is also a senior wine show judge, judging across Australia and the world including panel chair at Royal Sydney and the Hunter Valley wine show, judge at the National Wine Show in Canberra for seven years as well as stints at the Victorian wine show.
This year sees his ninth as one of the Australian judges for Mundus Vini, the worlds largest wine show held twice each year in Germany.
In his spare time Travis was the Marketing Manager for Hardys wines responsible for the global development of one of Australia’s largest wine brands named the Most Powerful Australian Wine Brand in the world in 2014 and is now responsible for all of Accolades immense premium wine portfolio.
Patrick White (Judge)
Sommelier, Bocca di Lupo, McLaren Vale
Patrick White is a hospitality professional with a career spanning over 25 years, including 14 years working full time as Sommelier for some of Sydney’s finest dining establishments.
He is currently Restaurant Manager & Sommelier for the recently opened Mitolo Wines Cellar Door Restaurant, Bocca di Lupo in South Australia’s McLaren Vale.
He is an Alumni of the Len Evans Tutorial; Winner of the 2011 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine New Wine Writer Award; National Nominee in 2017 for Gourmet Traveller Magazine’s annual Restaurant Awards for both categories of Sommelier of The Year & Wine List of the Year; An Internationally accredited Sommelier, having attained the Advanced Certificate offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers; and a Level 2 Certified WSET Lecturer, as well as being a well seasoned Judge on the Australian Wine Show Circuit, having judged at the Royal Sydney, Royal Adelaide, Margaret River, Australian Alternate Varietals & Limestone Coast Wine Shows.
Sue Hodder (Judge)
Sue Hodder is winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate. She and fellow Wynns Winemaker were jointly awarded the ASVO Winemaker of the Year for their work on “Setting Cabernet for the Future” Sue has been a wine judge for over 25 years including 3 years as Chief Judge of the Adelaide Show from 2012.
In July of 2018 she presented the findings from the historic vertical “60 years of Wynns Black Label Cabernet” to the Australian Cabernet Symposium. She has collaborated on a number Australian and international wine projects and was guest speaker at the International Cabernet Symposium in Napa in 2012. Sue is an enthusiastic promoter of Wynns, Coonawarra and Australian wine.
Sue and Wynns viticulturist, Allen Jenkins were awarded the Gourmet Traveller Wine, Winemaker of the Year in 2010.
Luke Tocaciu (Judge)
Growing up in the Barossa Valley, then moving to Coonawarra when he was 5, meant that the wine industry was in his blood. Luke studied at the University of Adelaide and graduated in 2007 with a degree Oenology. He has since completed vintages in the Clare Valley, the Barossa Valley, Limestone Coast and the USA’s Sonoma Valley, before returning to Coonawarra to join the family business Patrick of Coonawarra.
Luke is now the Winemaker and Director of Patrick of Coonawarra, a role he suddenly found himself in after his father, Patrick, sadly passed away in 2013. He has embraced the challenges that this has brought and is proud to be carrying on the family tradition. Luke has already made his mark on the company, securing several trophies, medals and praise from both critics and consumers.
Anna Hooper (Judge)
Anna Hooper is the Chief Executive Officer of Australian Vignerons, the representative organisation for winegrape growers across Australia. In her previous role as Head Winemaker and General Manager of Cape Jaffa Wines in Mount Benson, she produced a range of wines from across the Limestone Coast. Anna continues to take on a number of winemaking projects and consultancy roles in both France and Australia with her focus remaining close to home, in the Limestone Coast. Following the completion of a degree in Agricultural Science, Anna travelled and worked extensively in wineries overseas, including Georgia, France, and South Africa and has enjoyed working with a wide range of wine styles throughout her career.
Anna is an experienced wine show judge and has spent a number of years judging at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, as well as Perth Wine Show, The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show and The Great Australian Red Challenge. Anna is also a graduate of the Advanced Wine Assessment Course.
She has served on a number of State and National Boards and was President of the Mount Benson Vignerons Association for seven years. She currently sits on the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Industry Council as well as the South East Water Conservation and Drainage Board. She has a Masters degree in Agribusiness, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the recipient of the S.A. Rural Women’s’ Award in 2013.
Lauren Hansen (Associate Judge)
A local of the Limestone Coast, it was a desire to “drink wine, travel, and be outdoors” that gave Lauren the idea of pursuing a career in the wine industry. Graduating from the University of Adelaide in 2012, dux of the Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology course, Lauren gained experience across a number of International and Australian wine regions before returning home to the Limestone Coast to join the Balnaves of Coonawarra team as assistant winemaker. A few years down the track, Lauren has recently joined the Penley Estate winemaking team, and is excited about the opportunities ahead. Around the winery, Lauren is closely followed by her Instagram famous Labrador, Morrie – who is very much enjoying the life of a winery dog.
Alyson Tannenbaum (Associate Judge)
Alyson began her career in the wine industry in 2013, leaving her corporate job as an Engineer for a taste of vintage in the McLaren Vale. She discovered her love of wine production (in addition to wine drinking) and went on to complete postgraduate study in Oenology at The University of Adelaide. Following study she completed another vintage in the McLaren Vale before jetting off to see how some other places do it with Australian vintages in the Yarra Valley and Barossa Valley, and overseas vintages in the Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and Waipara Valley. Ready to sink her teeth into a Winemaking role, Alyson commenced with Cape Jaffa Wines in 2017. She is passionate about individual and interesting wines that make her think.
Luke Trotter (Associate Judge)
Spending his high school years in Mount Gambier, Luke has had a love of Coonawarra wine since the early 90s. His passion for these wines lead to the purchase of the Blok Estate Coonawarra with his family in 2005. In the time in between Luke attended Sydney University and graduated with a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering. This saw him travel around Australia and the world increasing his appreciation of wine and the different experiences that it brings. Since the purchase of the Blok Estate, Luke completed a Masters in Oenology at Adelaide University. Luke is excited about further building the Blok Estate brand and adding his style of winemaking to the region.
Michael Marcus (Associate Judge)
Michael Marcus is a winemaker with Majella Wines in Coonawarra, where he has been working both part and full time for 10 years. Growing up in Penola on a farm, his schooling was local but he made the decision for further study and having graduated from Charles Sturt University with a degree in Oenology in 2004.
With 26 years industry experience previously working at Wynns Coonawarra Estate, Katnook Estate and Lindemans Wines in Mildura, working in both large and small wineries producing premium to volume wines gave Michael experience in many and varied wine styles.
Having been a steward at the Limestone Coast Wine Show he looks forward to a position of Associate Judge.
Matthew Lance (Associate Judge)
Sommelier, The Royal Mail
Nikki Friedli (Associate Judge)