Wine Competition Awards Category Champions Sponsor

A – Z

Michael Apstein

Michael Apstein is a columnist and wine reviewer for and contributes to the wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle. As a free-lance writer, he wrote over 300 wine columns for The Boston Globe newspaper.

He received a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award in 2000 and was nominated again in 2004 and 2006. In 2008, he won the Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne Press Trophy for an article about Pouilly-Fuissé. In 2010, he was nominated for the prestigious Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards in the best drinks journalist category.

Dr. Apstein judges frequently at national and international wine competitions, including the Decanter World Wine Awards, the Left Bank Bordeaux Competition held at Château Lafite Rothschild (2013) and the Coupe des Cru Bourgeois du Médoc held in Bordeaux (2013). In 2012 he was the Chief Judge at the Challenge Millésime Bio (The Organic Wine Competition) held in Montpellier, France. He is a regular judge at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the Critics Challenge Wine Competition, and the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition. He has judged at the LA County Fair, The Riverside (California) International Wine Competition, The Old Ebbitt Grill International Wine for Oysters Competition, and the Concours St. Marc in Châteauneuf du Pape.

He has been a regular guest commentator on Whitley on Wine, a radio show based in San Diego and broadcast nationally.

He is a well-respected wine educator who taught at the Boston Center for Adult Education for 20 years. Bon Appetit magazine chose him as one of five instructors nationwide whose “focused classes closely examine a specific wine producing region or wine style.” He has conducted numerous tastings and seminars for organizations, including the Radisson Cruise Line, the Boston Wine Festival, the Nantucket Wine Festival, The Boston Wine Expo, The Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center at Boston University, The Providence Wine Festival, and the Society of Wine Educators.

Dr. Apstein is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Division of Gastroenterology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He lectures and writes frequently about wine and health.

His wine columns and reviews can be found on He can be followed on Twitter @MichaelApstein.

@MichaelApstein  back to top

Tony Aspler C.M.

Tony Aspler has been writing about wine for over 30 years. He was the wine columnist for The Toronto Star for 21 years and has authored seventeen books on wine and food, including ‘The Wine Atlas of Canada,’ ‘Vintage Canada,’ The Wine Lover’s Companion`, `The Wine Lover Cooks` and `Travels With My Corkscrew‘. Tony’s latest book is, ‘Canadian Wineries’.

In December 2007, Tony was awarded the Order of Canada.

In February 2001, Tony co-founded a charitable foundation with Arlene Willis. `Grapes for Humanity` raises money through the wine community for the victims of landmines and children with disabilities

Tony is the creator of the annual Ontario Wine Awards competition. He writes for a number of international wine magazines, including Decanter, Wine Spectator, Meininger’s Wine Business International, Quench, Post City Magazines, Lexpert, On the Go and Fine Wine & Liquor (China). Tony also writes fiction. He is the author of nine novels. His latest series is a collection of wine murder mysteries featuring the itinerant wine writer/detective Ezra Brant in `Blood Is Thicker Than Beaujolais`, `The Beast of Barbaresco`, and `Death On The Douro`.   He is currently working on `Nightmare In Napa.’

Tony Aspler’s website can be found at

@tonyaspler | back to top

Michael Bartier

One of the Canadian wine industry’s most recognized names, Michael Bartier is a consulting winemaker based in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. His background in wine is varied with roles in artisan wineries and large multinationals alike, ranging from sales, general management, viticulture, and winemaking; few people have such a complete perspective in the Canadian wine industry. With his brother Don, in 2009 they founded their own wine company, Bartier Bros. that has become an example of their own beliefs in the importance of sustainable farming, and the honest articulation of terroir and origin in wine. Throughout his career, so far, Michael has received countless accolades for his wines. He is considered one of British Columbia’s top winemakers and is a relentless advocate of the wines of his home, the Okanagan Valley.

@bartierbros | back to top

Stephen Brook

Born in London in 1947, Stephen Brook studied English and philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge. After many years as a publisher’s editor, in both the United States and Britain, he became a freelance writer in 1982, specialising in travel and wine. His Liquid Gold: Dessert Wines of the World won the Andre Simon Award in 1987 and Sauternes and the Other Sweet Wines of Bordeaux (1995) became the standard work on the subject. His other wine books include Pauillac, The Wines of California, Wine People, Bordeaux: People, Power and Politics, and The Wines of Germany. In 2007 his monumental work The Complete Bordeaux was published, and a new edition appeared in 2012. He has also completed two comprehensive revisions and updatings of the wine encyclopaedia, the Hugh Johnson Wine Companion. His current project, a book on the wines of Austria, will be published in early 2016.

He has won numerous awards, including the Wines of France award in 1995, the Bunch Award for wine writer of the year in 1996, the Glenfiddich, Lanson, and Veuve Clicquot awards for his book on The Wines of California (1999), and the Andre Simon Award in 2007. He is also in demand as a wine judge in North America, New Zealand, and Australia, and is co-chairman of the Bordeaux section of the Decanter World Wine Awards. His many travel books – including New York Days, New York Nights, The Double Eagle, and L.A.Lore – have won wide acclaim, and The Club: The Jews of Modern Britain was a bestseller. He has contributed travel articles to many newspapers and magazines and writes regularly on wine for Decanter, of which he is a Contributing Editor, Fine Wine Magazine, and Falstaff (Austria). He has a regular column in Livets Goda (Sweden). He has also written about food and restaurants for Food & Travel, The Cigar Aficionado, The Financial Times, and other publications.

Additional interests have enabled him to compile three anthologies: The Oxford Book of Dreams, The Penguin Book of Infidelities, and Opera: A Penguin Anthology. He has also written a book on the perennial British obsession with Class, and, for good measure, a study of the Salvation Army, God’s Army. In what spare time is left he enjoys travel, opera and theatre going, and looking at buildings, ancient and modern.

@stephenpbrook | back to top

W. Blake Gray

W. Blake Gray is publisher of The Gray Report and California Editor for Wine Searcher. In 2013 he won the Roederer Award for Best Online Wine Writer in the world. He lives in San Francisco.

@wblakegray | back to top

Susan Giacomin

Susan Giacomin has been tasting wine for most of her life. Her first opportunity to work with wine came when she started for a national wine agency which operated throughout Canada. Next step was founding an importing wine agency with her sister which now operates through western Canada. Susan understands that wine is a life long learning endeavour and has her Certification from the Wine & Spirit Education trust. Who could have guessed that the exposure she had as a child to great food, Nonni’s awesome wines and her Nonna’s delectable grappa, in Italy, would lead to over 20 years in the beverages industry.

@winequestcellarxplr | back to top

Paul Gregutt

Paul Gregutt is the best-known, full-time, independent journalist covering the wines, wineries and wine country destinations of the Pacific Northwest. Over the past 25 years, he has written thousands of articles and reviews for newspapers, magazines and trade journals, as well as an award-winning blog.
He is frequently sought after for contributions to the Northwest pages of wine books, most recently to the 7th edition of Jancis Robinson/Hugh Johnson’s ‘The World Atlas of Wine’, Jancis Robinson’s ‘Oxford Companion to Wine’ (4th edition), and Food & Wine’s ‘2015 Wine Guide’. He is also the sole author of two critically-acclaimed editions of ‘Washington Wines & Wineries – The Essential Guide’, published by the University of California Press.

Since 1998 Gregutt has been the Northwest editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine, and a founding member of the magazine’s Tasting Panel. For the past two years he has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People In the Wine Business. He lives with his wife Karen and his rescue dog Cookie – a terrier/chihuahua (a genuine terr-hua!) – in Waitsburg, Washington. In his spare time he writes songs, plays guitar and sings in his band, Hat No Hat.

@paulgwine | back to top

Kurtis Kolt

Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based freelance wine consultant, presenter and writer who received the Sommelier of the Year award from the 2010 Vancouver International Wine Festival. Certified by London’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust and having credit in the winemaking program at UC Davis, Kolt’s enthusiasm and experience have resulted in many high-profile appearances, from being the subject of a Wine Enthusiast profile and appearing at New York’s James Beard House, to leading wine festival seminars and beyond. Catch his wine column every week in Vancouver’s Georgia Straight, Canada’s largest urban weekly! He can be found at or by following him on Twitter at @KurtisKolt.

@KurtisKolt | back to top

Paul Pender

Winemaker, Paul Pender, joined the Tawse team in 2005 and took on the role as head winemaker in 2006. Paul is a firm believer in ‘terroir’ and that great wine starts in the vineyard. Paul has seen Tawse through the process of Ecocert Organic and Demeter biodynamic certification, and in 2011 was named Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards.

@Paul_Pender | back to top

Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine journalist, editor, judge, consultant, educator and certified sommelier based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie’s in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine. She is the national managing editor and a national judge at WineAlign, editor at Gismondi On Wine, contributing editor for MONTECRISTO Magazine, DRINK editor for EAT Magazine, BC regional editor and senior travel correspondent for SIP Northwest Magazine, wine editor for Scout Magazine, senior columnist for CIDERCRAFT Magazine and co-­‐founder of Cru Consultancy. Treve also is a committee member and key judge for the Vancouver International Wine Festival and a restaurant awards judge for Vancouver Magazine.

She received her Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild, and Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Along the way she became a French Wine Scholar through the French Wine Academy, a certified Sherry Educator through the Sherry Academy in Jerez, a Wine Location Specialist (Champagne and Port) with the Center of Wine Origins, and is completing certification with the Society of Wine Educators.

Treve is a contributing author for the award-­‐winning book, “Island Wineries of British Columbia“, published in 2011 (revised 2013) and one of the consulting contributors to Maclean’s Wine In Canada annual (2013).

She is currently working her way through visiting every wine growing region worldwide – a seemingly (and fortuitously) endless goal.

@treve_ring | back to top

Bill St. John

Bill St. John has written and taught about wine for more than 40 years. He currently writes for the Chicago Tribune on wine and on wine and food pairing. He teaches several times a month on the same subjects at his wine school, St. John on Wine, headquartered in Chicago. And he lectures once a week on history, food, wine and religion for students from the University of Chicago Graham School. He hails from Denver, where he was a newspaper and magazine journalist, television reporter and college professor. He now lives in Chicago.

@stjohnbill | back to top

Grant Stanley

Grant Stanley is a dual citizen of Canada and New Zealand, where he began his career working in the vineyards of Marlborough. Equipped with diplomas in viticulture and winemaking from Nelson Marlborough Institute of technology he moved to the North island where he became a willing and humble slave to the high priests of Pinot Noir in Martinborough. His A-type personality soon led him to become compulsive, obsessive and devoted to Pinot Noir. In 2003, after 15 vintages with prestigious wineries in New Zealand and Oregon’s Willamette valley he was attracted to the incredible potential for growing and making high quality Pinot Noir in the Okanagan Valley. Grant left his New Zealand home and became the head of the viticulture and winemaking team at Quails Gate Winery for a decade of excellent and award-winning vintages. In May 2013, Grant joined 50th Parallel Estate as a partner and Director of Viticulture & Winemaking, making wine with a passionate heart. back to top