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Professional Wine Competition
Sonoma County Harvest Fair is the largest regional wine competition in the United States. Any wine made with grapes grown in Sonoma County, with a Sonoma County designated AVA as the only region listed on the bottle is eligible for entry. If your wines meet these requirements, we invite you to enter and participate. Please check back for the 2017 Competition Pamphlet for all the information regarding rules, regulations and guidelines for this year's competition.
2016 Pro Wine Results
Sweepstakes Red Wine
Russian River Vineyards
2014 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Horse Ridge Vineyard
Giovanni Balistreri, Winemaker
Sweepstakes White Wine
J. Rickards Winery
2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Alexander Valley, Croft Vineyard
Blaine Brazil, Winemaker
Sweepstakes Specialty Wine
2007 Royal Cuvee, Carneros
Steve Urberg, Winemaker
Double Golds (unanimous gold by judges) are indicated with an *
Introducing our Professional 2017 Judges
The choice of judges for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Professional Wine competition is a critical step in creating a well-balanced panel of experts that will award Best of Class, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the over 1,000 wines that will be entered into the competition this year. Harvest Fair strives to recruit a range of experts representing all regions in the US. These include educators, enologists, trade, media and professionals in the hospitality industry.
Jessica, 27, is a leading online wine social media and video pioneer, traveling the world to spread the conversation about wine in a non-pretentious way. Ms. Altieri is the founder, CEO and Certified Sommelier for WineChannelTV and has worked with some of the world’s leading wine brands, governments and trade associations. She is the Wine Lifestyle Correspondent for ABC7 Chicago, Windy City Live and was selected as the 2012 “Wine with Walgreens” Up-Market Grand Opening and Lifestyle Experience promotional partner for in-store and online Social Media campaigns with a Facebook Fan reach of over 1 million fans and a retail store base of over 7000 stores. Jessica was also named as the Official Wine Ambassador for the Sears Kenmore Live Studio in Chicago (over 400,000 Facebook Fans), the Social Wine Ambassador for the world famous Saratoga Wine and Food & Fall Ferrari Festival and the as Social Wine Ambassador host for the Italian Trade Commission and Vino 2011 and 2010 events, which are the largest Italian Wine Festivals in the USA.
Jennifer Bishop Jespersen
Born and raised in Los Gatos, California, Jennifer Jespersen enjoyed early exposure to the world of food and wine courtesy of her parents, who are wine collectors and culinary enthusiasts. Currently the Lead Sommelier at the Michelin-starred Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, she oversees an extensive wine list with selections from around the world, as well as a comprehensive pairing program that draws from an international selection of wines to highlight the chef's cuisine. Jennifer studied Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, and is a Certified Wine Professional through the CIA, as well as a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. She is currently pursuing her Advanced Sommelier certification.
Carl is currently the President of the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association (ASWA) (formerly the Vinifera Wine Growers Association (VWGA)), a trade group that helps promote the wine industry. He has served as co-chairman of the July 2005-2011 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competitions sponsored by ASWA. Carl is also a past President/Chairman of the Washington, DC Chapter of the German Wine Society and currently serves on its Board of Directors. Carl is a longstanding member of the American Wine Society (AWS) and an AWS-certified wine judge. As the current AWS Regional Vice President for Virginia, he assists in the formation of new chapters and supports current chapters through educational seminars. Carl travels extensively to wine regions in the United States, and has visited wine areas in Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada. Carl is a 1964 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and holds Master Degrees in International Relations (American University-1970) and Public Administration (George Washington University-1973). He currently resides in Virginia.
Patrick "Chip" Cassidy
Chip Cassidy has been a judge at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair since 1994, always accepting the invitation to come to the wine country and judge at his favorite wine competition! In addition to the Harvest Fair, he has been a judge at the International Wine Review, Atlanta Wine Festival, West Coast Championships, Grand Harvest Awards, Chronicle Wine Competition and the American Fine wine Competition. He is an instructor at Florida International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, teaching students about all aspects of the wine trade, buyer or manager, the economics of buying and selling wine, proper way of storing, serving and managing a restaurant. While there he created the Wine & Spirits Certificate class. He is also the wine buyer and consultant for Crown Liquors of Broward, Inc. He has won numerous awards, achieving Retailer of the Year in 1988, 1990 and 1993. He has visited many wine regions through the United States, Europe and Australia. In addition, he is an accomplished writer, writing several articles for the Friends of Wine magazine, The Wine News, South Florida Gourmet, and published his own book in 2001 Chip Cassidy’s Wine Travels.
John Giannini is a winemaker and educator. He has served as a judge at numerous wine competitions throughout California, including the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. He holds a M.S. in Enology from California State University, Fresno, and has been an instructor and winemaker for Fresno State as well as an educator for Missouri State University. He is currently winemaker for Van Ruiten Family Winery.
Dr. Barry H. Gump
Dr. Barry H. Gump is the first holder of the Harvey R. Chaplin Eminent Scholar’s Chair in Beverage Management at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. In this position Dr. Gump is developing new classes and programs to expand the offerings of the Beverage Management curriculum. Dr. Gump is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and Emeritus Adjunct Professor of Enology at California State University, Fresno, where he taught courses in chemistry, brewing, and wine analysis for almost 40 years. He has also instructed a “Wine Components” class and “Wine Analysis” classes for the wine education program housed at Santa Rosa Junior College (Santa Rosa, CA), and on-line wine chemistry/analysis classes for Grayson Community College (Dennison, TX), and Harrisburg Community College (Harrisburg, PA). He also gives workshops, seminars, and lectures to grape and wine industry groups. Dr. Gump has had a long association (over thirty years) with the wine industry, conducting research in analytical methodology applied to grapes, juices, and wines. He has led fifty-nine Masters Degree graduate research committees, and served on many more. Dr. Gump reviews technical manuscripts for a number of national, international, and trade publications. He has been a professional wine judge for many years at a number of major wine competitions.
Barry has more than three decades of experience in the wine industry, ranging from sommelier and wine shop owner to high-level retail and private cellar acquisitions. He was raised in Southern California, where he earned his stripes in some of LA’s most celebrated restaurants, among them Chinois on Main and Osteria Angelini. Most recently, Barry was General Manager of the Rare Wine Company in Sonoma, as well as working with Soutirage and Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits in Napa Valley. Currently, he is the wine buyer for Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA, a 15,000 square foot superstore and arguably has the largest and finest selection of fine wines north of San Francisco. Barry blames a bottle of 1980 Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux for having sent him down the rabbit hole many years ago. Today, he lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife, two children and Australian Shepherd, Elvis, to whom he happily dedicates every spare moment outside of work.
Ellen is a published Wine Writer, Certified Sommelier, Certified Wine Specialist, Wine Educator and Professional Wine Judge. She is the author of the blog EllenOnWine.com and writes for the AWS Wine Journal (AmericanWineSociety.org) among other publications. Ellen is a moderator for the highly acclaimed Vintner’s Holidays annual event at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and participates as a key speaker, moderator and panelist at various other wine events. For the past sixteen plus years, she and husband Ken co-owned award winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ellen served as Wine Director and Sommelier. In addition to an MBA, Ellen’s wine education includes UC Davis viticulture course work, CSW certification from the Society of Wine Educators program, and holds the credential of Certified Sommelier (CS) from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Ellen serves as a judge at numerous national and international wine competitions.
Tony “Winechef” Lawrence
Owner of A Chef For You, LLC, Tony Lawrence specializes in writing/promoting truth in pairings. Advocates globally that wine is a lifestyle by sharing its history, artistry, science, terrior, sense of culture, which weds wine to food. He designs wine pairing programs for the global wine trade, associations, college culinary/wine programs and wine festivals. He writes for retail wine shops for in-house wine pairing point of sale/newsletters…like Napa Rock Pairings or Lodi Rules Pairings. He also writes for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Taste Magazine’s “Ask The Wine Expert A Question”.
Tony’s journey started at the age of 13, cooking at a summer camp, to restaurants and wineries in Maryland, then attended a vocational culinary school. He earned a BS from Widener University Hotel/Restaurant program on a full scholarship, interned& trained at the Hotel Krone Assmannshausen - Rudeshiem, Germany. He graduated in the first class of CIA Pro-Chef program in1998 (Culinary Institute of America-Greystone. In 2000, Tony completed the Wine & Food Pairing for Chefs program, CIA-Greystone. Graduated in 2010 from the Certified Wine Educator/Napa Valley Wine Academy. Tony is a Red Zinfandel Specialist and a Riesling Specialist. Tony ‘s Wine Judge certification is from UC- Davis 2001.
Professional International Wine and Spirits Judge | Napa, CA Napa Valley resident, Ann Littlefield fell in love with wine during college years in Europe. A longtime international industry veteran and professional international wine and spirits judge, she specializes in new market development. Pioneering various facets of the international wine business, Ann’s diverse focus includes marketing, buying, selling and teaching in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America. Ann launched and developed a successful company to market and sell wines of the world to the international airline industry. She went on to create global wine sourcing and corporate wine programs for the leading Internet wine retailers. Ann judges in many prestigious wine and spirits competitions, including Los Angeles International, San Francisco International Wine, San Francisco International Spirits, Riverside International, Dallas Morning News International, San Francisco Chronicle, Long Beach International, New World International, Pacific Rim International, San Diego International, The New York Wine Classic, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Central Coast Wine Competition, Mendocino County, Monterey International, Best of the Bay & Zin Challenge and Tri Cities,Washington State.
Charles F. Mara
A nationally recognized wine judge, winery producer/owner and wine merchant, Charles F. Mara is a force within the wine industry. Having traveled to many of the world's most prestigious wine regions, he is a well respected and knowledgeable wine guru who brings to table a love of wine. Wine judge for numerous prestigious wine tastings, as well as serving on several wine tasting panels, Professor of Oenology and member of the Society of Wine Educators, he has also appeared on local TV and Radio shows, was appointed as the Consumer Representative by the Governor of New York to the State Wine Grape Marketing Order Advisory Board, and has been a "Tastemaster" for monthly wine tasting events designed to increase wine awareness and appreciation by consumers. His knowledge has also led him to be a consultant to many restaurateurs and retailers. Charles is also noticed, not once but twice, in the Guinness Book of World Records. One listing is "most paid for a single bottle of wine," - an 1806 Lafite-Rothschild for $28,000 (1978) - and the other is "most paid for a bottle case of American wine" - 1979 Opus I for $24,000 (1981).
Tim McNally is the host of WGSO AM "The dine, Wine and Spirits Show" in New Orleans, LA. He is also the wine and spirits editor and feature writer at New Orleans Magazine. He has been a wine judge for over 12 years, judging wine competitions including the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, as well as competitions in Indiana, Florida, Michigan. He has also judged as far away as the Vinho Verde Wine Competition in Oporto, Portugal. Tim holds a BA in Journalism, as had been a radio talk show host for 14 years.
Kristi Mohar started in the grocery business in 1982. She has been the wine buyer for family owned Pacific Markets in Sonoma County for the past 16 years. She is very passionate about wine and is always willing to help and learn. During her tenure in the wine industry Kristi has judged numerous wine competitions and served on esteemed panels. Some of Kristi’s credentials include San Francisco Wine Competition, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Press Democrat “wine of the week” panel member, wine consultant to local wineries and retailers, and coordinator of the Pacific Market Wine Tent at the Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival.
Deborah Parker Wong
Deborah Parker Wong, DWSET is a global palate and journalist who specializes in the convergence of technology in viticulture and winemaking. Deborah contributes to industry publications including Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine, Spirited and SOMM Journal. As the Director of Education for Discover Wine and Spirits Academy, she teaches Wine & Spirits Education Trust certification courses and in the wine studies program at Santa Rosa Junior College. In addition to writing and speaking about wine, she judges wine competitions and scores wine for Planet Grape Wine Review.
Christopher Sawyer is a sommelier, wine journalist, consultant, critic and public speaker, and travels the world following trends in wine and participating as a judge in international wine competitions. He was named the 2009 Best Sommelier in Sonoma County by The Wine Tasting Panel Magazine, and is the recipient of many prestigious awards and industry honors. As the world's first and only Film Festival Sommelier, Sawyer conceived and curated the wine experience throughout the Sonoma Valley Film Festival, including creatively pairing wine and food with films throughout the festival and at celebrity tributes. He is currently sommelier-in-residence at the Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar at The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa, where he has received numerous awards for his wine list spotlighting wines from Sonoma Valley and Carneros.
Jeff Slankard is the Wine Director of Barons Market, a chain of specialty food stores located in San Diego and Riverside counties. He has been in the retail wine business in San Diego for over 30 years. He has judged at numerous wine competitions including the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the Grand Harvest Awards, the Central Coast Wine Competition and the Toast of the Coast Wine Competition. He is also a member of the California Grapevine tasting panel. Jeff lives in North County San Diego with his wife and two sons.
Dr. Liz Thach, MW (pronounced “tosh”) is a management and wine business professor at Sonoma State University in the Wine Business Institute where she teaches in both the undergraduate and Wine MBA programs. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 35 countries. In addition, she is an award winning author who has published over 100 articles and 5 wine textbooks, including Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes garagiste wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011.
President, New York Wine & Grape Foundation - James (Jim) Trezise has been President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since its creation in 1985, and has been involved with the industry since 1982. The Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization which sponsors research and conducts promotion programs in support of New York grapes, grape juice and wine. The Foundation's research and promotion programs have received international recognition, as has its close and productive partnership with the State of New York. Jim is also widely recognized for his leadership in the American wine industry, having received three national awards for his many contributions: the Wine Integrity Award in 2006 from the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission; the first-ever “Distinguished Service Award” in 2001 from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (Eastern Section); and the Perpetual Monteith Trophy (Thomas Jefferson Cup) in 1995 from the Vinifera Winegrowers Association. He was also named by "Wines & Vines" magazine as one of the top 50 "movers and shakers" in the United States wine industry.
Bill Ward is a features reporter | Lifestyle | Entertainment | Wine for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Bill looks for stories off the well-trod path, covers baby boomer issues, and writes about wine in his Liquid Assets column.
Wilfred Wong is the Chief Storyteller for Wine.com. He researches, taste and talks about wine. His stories include the wine’s history and purpose. Wilfred has been a retailer for more than 40 years (he started young). Additionally, he blogs and provides photography for the company. He is also active on social media (facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr and others). Wilfred currently resides in San Francisco with his wife, Alice and dog, Cody.