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.


COMPETITION CONTACT: Sheila Quince (sheila@sonomacountyfair.com)


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
Gloria Ferrer
2007 Royal Cuvee, Carneros
Steve Urberg, Winemaker

Double Golds (unanimous gold by judges) are indicated with an *

2016 Professional Wine Competition Results (PDF - by Medal)

2016 Professional Wine Competition Results (PDF - by Varietal)

Thank you to our 2016 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 Altieri

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 WineChannelTVand 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.

Jusden Aumand

Jusden received invaluable wine-pairing/tasting techniques from appointed Master Sommeliers in Michelin Star restaurants and 5-star luxury hotels while touring Europe with Lenny Kravitz. Jusden has over 6 years of retail buying background and over 10 years of retail sales management experience. He is currently an Assistant Category Manager for wine and is overseeing and developing the Exclusive/Private Label wine portfolio for Bevmo! as well as the sake and vermouth categories.  Additionally, Jusden was the assistant winemaker for El Sol Winery in Livermore Valley CA for more than 4 years. This experience was supplemented with various Oenology courses at UC Davis. Last year Jusden received the title of Certified Sake Professional with merit. Recently, Jusden has been appointed to the Bevmo! Wine Tasting Panel and was a wine judge at the 2016 SF Chronicle Wine Competition. Jusden resides in Castro Valley, CA with his wife and 3 year old daughter. In his free time he collects/plays vintage drums from the 1920’s, enjoys rock climbing, and contemplates when to open bottles from his large Bordeaux wine collection.

Carl Brandhorst

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. 

Debra Del Fiorentino

Debra Del Fiorentino, President and Founder of Wine Competitions and Management, has been judging wines for over 15 years throughout the state of California as well as other regions in the US.  She is a certified Sommelier and CSW.  She is also a restaurant consultant and the current director of over 8 wine competitions including the East/West, Grand Harvest, North Coast Wine Challenge and Women's Wine competition.   She is also the founder and President of Libation Logistics.

Martha Dunne

I am proud to arrive at the judging table as an enduring, eager oenophile. That's it. I'm not a winemaker, a sommelier or an educator. I'm neither a retailer nor a wine writer. I am a critical consumer. For fifty years, Vino has been the welcome third party in the marriage of my husband, Mike and I. I have been blessed to evaluate wine from the tiny Fiddletown competition to the mega San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition. My palate is poised for the next challenge. When not tasting and sharing notes about wine, I promote autism awareness and appreciation through my book, "Wait, What Do You Mean?" Asperger's Tell and Show. And, as an independent interior designer, remain available at Design Services.

Mike Dunne

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.

 

John Giannini

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.

Ellen Landis

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.

 

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

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

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.

Nadia Pavlevska

Nadia Pavlevska serves as a professional wine consultant and wine educator working with private and corporate clients, non-profits, and restaurants to create wine events, educational seminars and wine programs. She is also the wine director for Darren’s Restaurant in Manhattan Beach, CA, responsible for all things wine-related, including building the restaurant’s boutique selection of California and international wines. Nadia is a Certified Sommelier (CS) with the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) with the American Society of Wine Educators. In addition, she is a French Wine Scholar (FWS) with the French Wine Society and an Italian Wine Specialist (IWS) with the North American Sommelier Association, N.A.S.A. Nadia also attended the Washington School of Protocol to become a Certified International Etiquette and Business Protocol Consultant.  She is a member of of the Guild of Master Sommeliers, the French Wine Society and N.A.S.A.

 

Ron Rawlinson

Ron Rawlinson began his wine industry career in San Diego as a sales rep for America’s largest wine wholesaler before moving to Arroyo Grande to open The Wine Guy in 1994. Since then, he has made wine, taught many courses at Cal Poly University, judged scores of major wine competitions, sommed at Savor and 18 Hospice du Rhone events, directed one of America’s largest wine clubs, consulted for several other boutique wineries and managed sales and distribution for Riedel crystal.

 

Christopher Sawyer

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.

Brandon Schrey

Born in San Francisco, and raised in Santa Rosa, Brandon has watched Sonoma County blossom into one of the most important wine regions in the world. He has over five years of experience in the wine industry, growing from assistant wine director at Mayacama Golf Club to his current role as Wine and Beverage Manager/Certified Sommelier at John Ash & Co.

Jeff Slankard

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.

Spreti Valente

Spreti Valente, Certified Sommelier, is the senior wine buyer and sommelier for Anne’s Boutique Wines in Costa Mesa, California. Spreti serves as a wine judge for several prestigious wine competitions, including the Los Angeles International, the Pacific Rim International , the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and now the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Additionally, Spreti consults with restaurants and event planners, and participates as a speaker, panelist and event planner for various wine events, including private wine tastings, food and wine pairing dinners, and regional wine presentations. Spreti is currently pursuing an Advanced Sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Bill Ward

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.

Past Wine Competition Winners >>