- Things To Do
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.
Ferrari-Carano - 2017 Fume Blanc - Sonoma County - Winemaker: Sarah Quider, Healdsburg
Sweepstakes Winning White Wine
Buena Vista - 2016 Bela’s Selection Pinot Noir - Russian River Valley - Winemaker: Brian Maloney, Calistoga
Sweepstakes Winning Red Wine
Breathless - 2012 Brut - Sonoma County - Winemaker: Penelope Gadd-Coster, Healdsburg
Sweepstakes Winning Specialty Wine
Double Golds (unanimous gold by judges) are indicated with an *
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.
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.
After fifteen years in the restaurant industry, Sean relocated to Sonoma County from his native New England to pursue his passion for wine. Managing the hospitality/guest services department at a premier Alexander Valley winery over the course of nine years gave him a unique opportunity to acquire a broad and comprehensive knowledge of viticulture, production, sales and marketing first hand. In early 2017, Sean returned to the restaurant world, taking the role of Sommelier/Wine & Beverage Manager at John Ash & Co. where he oversees an award-winning wine list comprised almost exclusively of Sonoma Counties finest wines.
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.
International Wine Judge, Sommelier, Certified Wine Professional and Certified Specialist of Wine, Debra Del Fiorentino is a consummate wine professional who brings a dynamic energy and expertise to every endeavor she undertakes. Debra is a familiar face at numerous prestigious wine competitions. She currently holds the esteemed position of Director of Wine Competitions for Wine Competitions Management + Productions, a producer of wine competitions for eight unique craft beverage competitions. Born and raised in San Francisco, Debra is a second generation Italian from a large family that originally settled in the Napa Valley. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of California at Berkeley, Debra opened two gourmet food stores in Marin before venturing into the wine industry. Debra also serves as an independent wine educator and partner at Russian River Vineyards.
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 such as Gambero Rosso 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 Youtube channel, spreading wine education and wine culture.
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 Advanced Level 3 WSET sommelier, 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 wine judge for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and California State Wine Competition, a member of the Los Angeles Wine Writers Association and an official Zipkick influencer.Laura Donadoni is also U.S. Brand Ambassador for Franciacorta, Italy's most prestigious sparkling wine region and other Italian wine regions, 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.
Martha is a piggyback wine enthusiast who practices wine evaluation nightly with her husband, Mike Dunne. In addition to her wine interests, she is an autism advocate and author of “Wait, What Do You Mean?” Aspergers Tell and Show. Plus……she is a professional interior designer.
Freelance Wine Writer, A Year in Wine, Sacramento, CA
Mike Dunne is a freelance wine writer and consultant who divides his time between Sacramento and San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur. The former food editor, wine columnist and restaurant critic of The Sacramento Bee, he continues to contribute a weekly wine column to The Bee and its online platforms, including www.sacbee.com and www.sacwineregion.com. His blog - A Year in Wine - also is a partner in The Bee's online community of Northern California bloggers, Sacramento Connect. Mike contributed the Inland California and Mexico chapters to the recently published book "Opus Vino," and is at work on a spinoff about outstanding everyday value wines.
Bob Foster is the Assistant Editor of the California Grapevine wine newsletter, he has been a wine judge for over 25 years in California, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia and even Baja California. He is the Director of the Mid-American Wine Competition (held in Iowa and open only to the wines of the Midwest), Director of the Monterey Wine Competition, and Chief Judge of the Central Coast Wine Competition in Paso Robles. He judges over a dozen other wine competitions each year including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine competition, the California State Fair wine competition, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat's North Coast Challenge, the West Coast Wine Competition, the Jefferson Cup in Kansas City, and the Missouri State Fair. Bob is also a retired prosecutor, retiring after 33 years of service with the California Attorney General's Office. During his career he twice argued (and won) cases at the Supreme Court of the United States.
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.
Bill Hayes is the Wine Category Manager the growing BevMo! Retail chain of 163 Stores throughout California, Arizona and Washington. With over 33 years of career experience in the Wine Retail industry, Bill has developed key relationships with winery Owners, Winemakers, Growers as well as other industry partners that have cultivated his vast knowledge of and passion for Wines around the world.Bill’s career in the Wine business began as a Buyer with the Liquor Barn stores. Bill was also a part of the Kendall-Jackson Family Wine organization where he managed the Distributor portfolio that included Kendall-Jackson, La Crema, Cambria and Stonestreet Wines. In 1994 Bill joined BevMo! as one of its very first employees as the Corporate Wine Buyer. He has played key roles in the development, launching and fostering of BevMo!’s iconic 5₵ Wine Sale that has grown from one Wine to now over two-hundred. As part of the BevMo! Private Label/Exclusive Wine program, Bill has traveled throughout Europe and South America to work with Wineries and industry partners to blend and bottle Import Wines such as Zolo and Tapiz, and has blended and developed varietal extensions of the Unruly , Shiloh Road and Stateland Cellars brands. Bill’s current focus with BevMo! is sourcing and developing the premium selection of wines from around the world and promote the local brands for the next-generation BevMo! Consumer. If you know Bill, you have been fortunate enough to share in a great bottle of Wine along with a story that truly captures the spirit of the Wine, its origins and the people who made it.
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.
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.
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.
For the past sixteen plus years, he and wife Ellen co-owned award winning Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn where Ken served as Chef and COO. They recently sold their Inn to devote more time to the world of food and wine. He has traveled many wine regions throughout North America and Canada; international wine regions including Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, Rhone, Tuscany as well as throughout Australia, Chile, Argentina, Spain and Portugal.
Joe LaVilla brings a diverse background to his hospitality experience. Joe’s hospitality career spans fine dining at Windows on the World–and its famed Cellar in the Sky–in New York City; working with Wolfgang Puck at Spago-Las Vegas; opening a brewpub; to catering the Phoenix Open, NASCAR races and The Tradition golf tournament; and casual dining for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. In academia, Joe has taught restaurant operations, management and front of house service at the Art Institute of Phoenix, where he eventually became academic department director of the culinary program. He has written numerous articles on food science, food and wine pairing and wine tasting for magazines and internet publications. He has led seminars in Italian wines, pairing international cuisines with wine and wine education for retail salespeople. He is the author of The Wine, Beer and Spirits Handbook: A Guide to Styles and Service (Wiley). He is a certified wine educator and former certified executive chef. His professional blog, DrinkatJoe’s, is a site for wine tasting notes, trip suggestions and more in the Northern California area. Joe earned his Ph.D. and B.A. (cum laude) in organic chemistry from the University of Rochester and Cornell University, respectively. He holds an A.O.S. with honors from The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park. Joe is also a sommelier pin holder from the International Sommelier Guild.
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.
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.
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.
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.