Warren Gibson was educated at Massey University, New Zealand, and at Roseworthy Agricultural College, South Australia. He began his winemaking career in New Zealand in 1987, subsequently travelling the world as a Flying Winemaker, including vintages in Australia, Italy, Hungary, France and California.
In 1997 with partner Lorraine Leheny, also a winemaker, they established their own brand, Bilancia. In Italian, Bilancia translates to balance and equilibrium. The la collina Syrah is now in its 17th vintage. The material for la collina (Italian for “The Little Hill”), is grown on the steep slopes of Roy’s Hill, near Hastings.
Warren has just completed his 22nd vintage at Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay, currently as Chief Winemaker as well as heading the viticultural team. Along with these roles he has recently expanded his work to include outside projects in a consultant role.
He has been a regular judge at all of his country's major wine shows plus a range of wine competitions in Australia. In 2016 Warren was Chairman of Judges for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards and was appointed Chairman of Judges for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in 2017.
In 2015, Warren spent time as visiting Winemaker on a Walter, Carew and Richard Reynell Fellowship as guest of the University of Adelaide mentoring the Hickinbotham Roseworthy Oenology students.
Deputy Chair of Judges
Marlborough born and bred Ben Glover is the owner/winemaker (The Janitor) for Glover Family Vineyards – Zephyr Wines – a family owned, single vineyard love affair found along the banks of the Opawa river Dillons Pt. Since chairing the Bragato Wine Awards since 2015 and changing its focus to promote single vineyard wines from the winegrower within the spectrum of Turangawewae he is stoked to be part of this new show as Deputy Chair alongside Chair Warren Gibson.
With over 20 years’ experience as a winemaker and an international wine judge and in particular the opportunity in 2001 to be an inaugural Len Evans scholar (before his hair started going grey and couldn’t grow a beard), is testimony to his dedication to the pursuit of wine quality – both as a winemaker and as an appreciative wine drinker.
Check out the rest of the team
Steve worked extensively as a chef in Europe, France in particular,. However, it was after working at Chateau du Bluizard in the Cote de Brouilly region of Beaujolais that Steve was inspired to become a winemaker.
On returning to Australia, Steve graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Wine Science) at Uni of Adel in 1993, whilst at the same time supporting his studies working as a Chef at Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm Restaurant in the Barossa Valley.
In 1994, having maintained his interest in and passion for cheese, Steve won a Queen’s Trust Scholarship to study farmhouse cheese making in France. On his return from France Steve spent 2 years working as a cheese maker at Milawa in North Eastern Victoria.
As a winemaker, Steve has made wine for Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River, WA (1999 – 2002) and the Hardy Wine Company at their Yarra Burn Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley (2002 – 2003).
Overseas, he has worked as a Flying Winemaker for Bottle Green Wines in the South of France, 2 vintages with Domaine Paul Blanck in Alsace and 5 vintages back at Chateau de Bluizard in the Cote de Brouilly.
Steve has been the chief Winemaker at Giant Steps since 2003. Evans Tutorial 2007; AWAC presenter in 2010.
Judging history includes 6 years at the Sydney International Top100, along with a number of regional and state wine shows in Australia and New Zealand along with a number of cheese shows.
In 2007 Steve was a finalist in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the year and in 2016 Steve was awarded the title of Winemaker of the Year.
Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. A certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, French wine scholar and instructor, and Sherry instructor, she is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard.
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. Focusing on wines of place and time, Treve been writing professionally since 2001.
Her work is regularly seen in numerous publications including World of Fine Wine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, Wine Anorak, Wine & Spirits, Sommelier Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, WineAlign, The Alchemist, Quench Magazine, Vitis, Lonely Planet Travel, and others. In addition to her role as executive editor and critic at Gismondi on Wine, she is an editor at large for Scout Magazine, and SIP Northwest Magazine. She tastes thousands of wines each year, and is an established wine judge in Canada, the UK, South Africa, and the United States. In 2012, she co-founded Cru Consultancy, a boutique wine education and consultation company. Though her travels take her all over the wine world, Treve has spent the last few years concentrating and researching sparkling wine globally.
Jane Skilton MW
Jane Skilton began her wine career in London and passed her Master of Wine examination in 1993. She moved to New Zealand in 2000 and founded the NZ School of Wines and Spirits, teaching the Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualifications and general wine courses to trade and consumers in New Zealand, Fiji and China.
She is an experienced wine show judge and has been asked to judge both national and international (London, Rutherglen, Brisbane, Margaret River, Hobart, Limestone Coast, Cowra, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Tokyo). Jane contributes regularly to wine publications in NZ and overseas.
Phil Brodie Te Mata Estate Winery –Senior Winemaker.
Phil has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Wine Science.
Phil joined Te Mata Estate in 1992 and has had vintage experiences for Domaine F & L Saier in Mercurey and Clos des Lombrays in Morey St Denis, Burgundy and Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux. Phil’s passion for making classical and age worthy wines has led to research trips throughout Europe, California, Australia and South Africa
He is married to Leanne and has two children Benjamin and Hannah and enjoys mountain biking, tramping and sharing food and wine with family and friends.
Jane Cooper has 27 years experience winemaking in New Zealand and overseas. Her career has taken her to roles throughout New Zealand and to Chile, the Hunter Valley in Australia, and Italy.
In New Zealand, Jane has made wine for a range of producers – beginning in Nelson making wine for Seifried Estate, Te Mania, Kaimira and Richmond Plains, before moving to the Wairarapa where she held the role of General Manager and Chief Winemaker at Matahiwi Estate for more than a decade. Jane currently consults to Ohau Wines on the Kapiti Coast as well as under her own Greytown based label, Alexia.
Jane has previously judged at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, the New World Wine Awards, The International Aromatic Competition and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Nick is Villa Maria's Group Chief Winemaker, and has been in and around the Villa Maria Group for more than twenty years. While he continues to directly oversee Villa Maria’s North Island winemaking, he also works closely across the Villa Maria Family’s portfolio of Wines.
Beginning as a teenager at Esk Valley Estate, Nick’s natural ability and passion for winemaking were quickly recognised. Since then Nick has made wine from the majority of New Zealand’s key winegrowing regions, and has completed several harvests abroad in Italy and the United States.
Career highlights for Nick include being made the NZ recipient of the Yalumba Len Evans tutorial scholarship in 2004 which helped initiate his presence in wine judging, which he has now had involvement in for the last 15 years. Nick has had the honour of been named winner of NZ ‘Winemaker of the Year/Show’ on eight occasions over the last eight years including being named The Wine Society Australasian Young Winemaker of the Year in 2012.
He was the first New Zealander to receive this prestigious accolade.
He is based in his home province of Hawkes Bay with his wife Mandy and three children Gemma, Hayden and Millie
Anna Flowerday is co-Winemaker/Proprietor at Te Whare Ra Wines in Marlborough and is a mother to two sets of twins. Anna and her husband purchased this historic estate in 2003 and have spent the last 16 years bringing it back to life, and converting it to certified organic production. She is hands-on in every aspect of their business, joking that her official title should be COE for Chief of Everything! Marlborough maybe her adopted home, but she is a huge advocate for the region and all that is great about it.
Anna grew up in South Australia and is the 5th generation of her family to be involved in winegrowing. She studied Oenology at the University of Adelaide and then worked for as a winemaker for Hardy’s for 7 years before moving to NZ. Anna is a senior judge and panel leader at many NZ wine competitions and has also judged for the Cuisine Magazine Tasting panel. In her spare time, Anna has also contributed to local industry organisations; including 8 years on the Wine Marlborough Board, plus contributions to Organic Winegrowers of NZ and is a founding member of MANA Winegrowers.
Ant Mackenzie was born in the grape growing region of Gisborne, but grew up and did his first vintages in Hawke’s Bay. Ants formal education includes studies in biochemistry, economics and finally a specialization in enology-the science of winemaking.
Beginning with harvests in Hawke’s Bay-and extending to spells in California, Spain, Australia and recently China-it was however Marlborough where his early winemaking career was focused. Ant worked for Framingham, Spy Valley and Mudhouse Wine Group over a 15 year period in Marlborough. A mid-career change of region in 2009 saw him return to live in Hawke’s Bay to take on the position of General Manager/ Winemaker at Te Awa and Dry River in Martinborough.
Following the sale of the Te Awa Vineyards and Winery to Villa Maria Estate, Ant has become an industry consultant helping winemaking clients optimize wine quality and market outcomes.
In 2015 Ant lanched his own brands onto the market. These wines are the culmination of 20+ years of experience in the vineyards and wineries of both New Zealand and other regions around the world where he has worked. Some of the fruit for these wines is grown on his own property ‘Craft Farm’ just outside Havelock North. Along with the single vineyard ‘Craft Farm’ wines, we have a regional range called ‘Theory & Practice’, a blended range using the Bordeaux varietals called ‘ Alluviale’ and a Spanish varietal range called ‘Toño’.
Ant describes himself as a technical winemaker with one eye on consumer tastes the other eye on the market. He sees his job as understanding what tastes people want in a wine and being able to deliver those tastes to the glass through his knowledge and experience both in the vineyard and the winery.
Natalie is the Chief Winemaker at Yealands Estate in Marlborough. She came to winemaking after completing a Masters of Science First Class Hons at Canterbury University, as well as a Bachelor of Music. She began in the industry in 2006 at Saint Clair Family Estate. During this time she studied winemaking at EIT in Hawke's Bay, where she completed a graduate diploma in oenology.
After Saint Clair, Natalie worked as winemaker for Matahiwi in the Wairarapa, and then worked in Rías Baixas in Galicia, Spain making Albariño. Natalie has a keen interest in the global wine industry and has judged at the International Wine Challenge in London. She is a massive Pinot Noir fan and is on the organising committee of Pinot Noir NZ 2021.
In March 2018 she was named one of the most influential women in wine in the world by UK publication The Drinks Business. Natalie has a love of colourful pants, and enjoys spending time with her elderly cat Baa, and her two chickens Ellen and Portia.
Matt grew up in the King Country on a sheep and beef farm and after studying at Canterbury and Lincoln universities embarked on a career in Wine Industry 19 years ago. Time was spent winemaking in California and Spain as well as several years in the Hawkes Bay before settling with his wife Amy in Marlborough where they lead the Mount Riley Wines team. Matt loves Marlborough for both the winemaking opportunities and the ability to get out and explore the great outdoors via Mountain Biking, Tramping and Diving. Matt’s looking forward to his and Amy’s four kids getting big enough to get amongst some outdoor adventures!
James Millton has worked all his life in winegrowing and in 1984, together with his wife Annie established Millton Vineyards & Winery in Gisborne. He is considered one of the global pioneers in the field of biodynamic winegrowing. All wines are produced from estate grown dry farmed fruit and bottled on the property. He was instrumental in establishing Organic Winegrowers of New Zealand (OWNZ). In 2012 he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the organic and wine industries.
Millton are members of the international bio-dynamic winegrowing group La Renaissance des Appellations and the New Zealand collaboration The Family of Twelve.
Liz Wheadon has a background in hospitality; initially interested in a career in the culinary area she quickly found herself drawn to wine, which soon became her passion and ultimately her career. In late 1994, Liz started working for Glengarry Wines, in 2000 she moved from the shop floor and is now General Manager for Glengarry Wines. Liz believes in retail as a valuable rewarding career and is currently on the Board of Retail NZ.
Liz is an experienced taster having judged for Metro Magazine, Gourmet Traveller, Gisborne Wine Awards, Dish Magazine, Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Bragato Wine Awards, in London at the International Wine Challenge and this year at the Japan Wine Challenge
With Australian DNA and a New Zealand accent, Murray began working in the vineyards of Central Otago during the winter of 2003 while pursuing his other interest, snow sports. It was there, despite frigid temperatures that his interest in wine as a career was solidified. From there, it was off to the Australia’s Yarra Valley where he worked in the winery at Yering Station for 5 years whilst studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University. It was during this time at Yering Station that he was able to work abroad in Champagne and Burgundy. In 2008 he moved to Marlborough, to work as a winemaker at Villa Maria Estate before starting with Dog Point Vineyard in late 2013.
Even though she grew up in the middle of Marlborough’s wine country, it took a while for Lauren to decide she wanted to pursue a career in the industry. Her parents had an apple orchard in the Awatere Valley, but in 2003 they decided to pull it out and plant sauvignon blanc grapes instead, and she spent her summers working in the vineyards.
Lauren worked at various wineries in Marlborough, including Clos Henri and Oyster Bay, before heading to the Hawke’s Bay to study a Bachelor of Wine Science and Diploma of Wine Marketing at the Eastern Institute of Technology.
Lauren joined Ash Ridge Winery after graduating in late 2012 and had only been there a few months when she was asked to help build a new winery – and to become the head winemaker. From that point onwards she’s been responsible for nearly every step in the process.
After the 2013 harvest was in, Lauren headed to California to soak up as much experience as she could. This experience paid off, as Lauren was named New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2015 following a three-day contest that pitted her against the winners of regional contests in central Otago and Marlborough.
Following the Young Winemaker win, she headed to France for a six-week working holiday in the Rhone region. Long-term, she’s keen to stay in the industry and find new ways to use her skills, with ambitions to be a consultant, or have a few of her own brands.
I’m an Australian that moved across the ditch in 2015 with his my young family to take up the winemaking role at Clearview Estate in Hawke’s Bay. The lure of Hawke’s Bay with its abundant sunshine, good surf and friendly people was too good to pass up. The wines of Hawkes Bay are world class and the unique patch of dirt that Clearview Estate is situated on has been a pleasure to make wine from.
Before embarking on a career in wine I originally studied marine biology, and I am also a qualified Chef. Once I decided to pursue my love of wine, I studied at Latrobe in Melbourne and had a little vineyard in the Yarra Valley producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
I have worked in many countries during my winemaking career, including Australia, China, France (Burgundy), Austria, the United States and now here in New Zealand. I have developed a real passion for the wines of the world, and have judging experience at The Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Clare Valley, and Royal Adelaide shows, as well as the Air New Zealand wine awards.
Vanessa is winemaker for Maude Wines in Wanaka, Central Otago. Originally from Adelaide, she spent her family holidays visiting various wine regions and as a result an interest in the industry was sparked from a young age.
She completed an Honours Degree in Oenology at the University of Adelaide, graduating dux of her year. After a few years winemaking in Australia, with a strong focus and love of Clare Valley Riesling, she jetted off to complete vintages in America, Italy and Germany.
Vanessa finally made it to New Zealand shores in 2013 to work vintage at Maude Wines, progressing into a winemaking role the following year. She feels fortunate enough to be able to combine her love for making cool climate aromatics and Pinot Noirs, with her enjoyment of the outdoors and all things Wanaka life has to offer.
Chloe Somerset Cablebay Vineyards Winemaker
With 16 vintages under her belt, Chloe’s experience in the winery spans continents, including Canada, United States, Greece, France, Australia and New Zealand. After completing her first vintage at Sacred Hill in Hawkes Bay, Chloe embarked upon a quest to gain international experience in boutique vineyards where wine quality was inspiring, and commitment to caring for their land was paramount. In 2013, Chloe returned to New Zealand to join Cable Bay Vineyards.
As Winemaker at Cable Bay, Chloe’s passion lies in the evocative power of wine to capture a memory and to tell the story of its origin. Her approach to making wine is to nurture its true personality, revealing the complete journey from grape to glass, and boldly bottling the terroir’s thumbprint to make it distinctively expressive.
Greg grew up in Adelaide, South Australia into a wine loving family. Pruning vineyards in school holidays, and raiding his grandpa’s cellar turned into a passion for wine. After graduating as Dux of the Oenology degree at Adelaide University, Greg took off to do vintages around Australia, Italy, USA, France and a two in New Zealand.
Greg worked as a winemaker for Shaw and Smith in the Adelaide Hills for 5 years before realising his goal to return to the pure, cool climate wines of New Zealand. Greg took up a role as winemaker for Foley Family Wines, based at Grove Mill in Marlborough in 2017. In 2018 Greg was award the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young NZ Winemaker of the Year.
Jannine Rickards has been working in the wine industry since her first vintage in 2003 in Hawkes Bay. She has worked in France, South Africa, the United States and Australia. Having got the bug for Pinot Noir while working at Ata Rangi in Martinborough from 2006 -2012 she studied online and completed a Post Graduate Degree in Oenology in 2011. After spending the growing season with Thibault Liger Belair in Nuits St George and Beaujolais in 2012 she moved to North Canterbury and spent three years at Pegasus Bay before jumping the ditch to make sparkling wines at Deviation Road in the Adelaide hills.
In 2017 Jannine returned to the Wairarapa where she is now the winemaker at Urlar in the sub region of Gladstone. Urlar is a 30ha organically certified vineyard and winery where she is lucky enough to have the flexibility of making a small amount of wine for her own recently launched wine brand Huntress.
JP has had a 20 year career in the hospitality industry. It starting pouring pints in the raucous pubs of the Coromandel (he can definitely remember pouring wines out of cardboard boxes). Developing a love for wine while working in Restaurants in London and beyond, he returned to NZ in 2007 and became the Restaurant Manager at Martin Bosley’s Yacht Club Restaurant, taking on the wine program. Next came a Role as Sales Rep for Wellington institution Regional wines, under the guidance of Alistair Morris. Then in 2015 along with his partner & head chef Amy Gillies opened Salty Pidgin a neighbourhood Bistro in Wellingtons inner city suburb of Brooklyn. The wine list at Salty Pidgin is constantly evolving and has a strong emphasis on Organic, Biodynamic and single vineyard wines. A year later they were also founding members of Wellingtons esteemed Noble Rot wine bar.
A young female winemaker with a desire to make a positive impact on the world traded in her football boots at 18 for a life of foot stomping. Currently with a full time job at Westbrook Winery as the Assistant Winemaker, as well as running her own brand - Moi Wines.
Renée launched her brand – Moi (“mwah” - pronounced like a kiss)– or “Moment of Impact Wines” in 2012.
Moi Wines stems from her ethos that “wine should provide an impact on the palate upon first sip”, but it also reflects her strong philosophy on making a positive impact on the world around loved ones and our communities. Renée loves supporting fundraising events that align with her values and Moi Wines is a way of connecting and giving back in the best way she can.
It’s always been important to Renée to keep things real and getting her hands dirty is part of her creative expression. Renée’s wines are elegant with a feminine touch made with the intention of aging and pairing with the thing she loves most – good company and delicious food.
Maciej is a vastly experienced wine professional with over 15 years in the hospitality industry. His journey began in his native Poland where he graduated from a 5 year Masters Degree in Hospitality & Management. He spent time in Italy working in restaurants before his travels led him to Sydney, Australia. There he took up a position as a Sommelier at the renowned Aria Restaurant in Circular Quay.
After 2 years service & learning at Aria, he made the move to Wellington, NZ. Maciej began the role of Assistant Manager & Sommelier at Hippopotamus Restaurant at the Museum Hotel, and soon became Restaurant Manager & Head Sommelier. In 2012, Maciej had recently completed the WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits and he took the opportunity to enrol in the gruelling WSET Level 4 Diploma. This 2 year Diploma is considered the pathway to becoming a Master Of Wine and takes a high level of focus and dedication to successfully complete.
After working through and passing the WSET Level 4 Diploma, Maciej decided to further his wine education and sat the Court Of Master Sommelier Exam & entered the New Zealand Sommelier Of The Year Competition. Maciej not only passed his exam with top honours, he also won the NZ Sommelier Of The Year Competition and took out the 2015 title.
In June 2016, Maciej finally realised his dream of owning his own business and, along with his partners, opened Noble Rot Wine Bar in Wellington. Noble Rot has gone on to win the 2017 Best Wine Experience in New Zealand at the Cuisine Restaurant Awards, a 1 Chefs Hat Rating at the same awards & also the Wellington Felix Award for Best Wine Experience 2017.
Maciej lives his life around wine and has a passion that is not rivalled by many in his industry. His experience and dedication make him the perfect person to offer his professional wine services to you as a client.
Originally from South Africa Pierre completed his Bachelor degree in winemaking from the University of Stellenbosch. He began his winemaking career in 2005 in South Africa and did vintages in France and New Zealand, before moving to NZ permanently in 2011, to join the team at Wairau River Wines as a winemaker.
Pierre is currently the winemaker at The Coterie in Marlborough. Pierre loves all things wine and loved being involved in judging as an Associate judge at the Marlborough Wine Show in 2016 & 2017.
I fell in love with New Zealand as soon as I stepped off the plane from California; the wine called me to stay.
My favorite thing about the New Zealand wine industry is easily the people, especially the community here in Marlborough. I have been fortunate to meet and work with some incredible winemakers along my journey thus far, each making an impact and impression to help shape who I am as a winemaker.
My next favorite thing would have to be Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most special and pronounced brands in and of itself on the world wine stage. It’s a unique expression of sub-region, complex sulfide chemistry and ability to put forth such intense aromatics present an enticing challenge to all innovative winemakers.
I am honored to be an Associate Judge here at the New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards. I am here as a result of winning the Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year title in 2017. I am even more honored to be part of an industry that is dedicated to supporting and opening doors for next-generation winemakers. I strive to give back to the community and industry that has given so much to me.
Michael began working for Glengarry Wines part-time at the age of 18 while studying Commerce at Auckland University, and quickly (and accidentally) discovered a passion for wine. Three years later, approaching graduation, and faced with the prospect of spending the rest of his life as an accountant, Michael enquired about a full-time position at Glengarry. A decade later, he’s still there! Michael has moved through a range of roles since his foray into part-time retail wine sales; from retail store management, to distribution, to purchasing, to his current role in trade sales, managing Glengarry Wines’ extensive selection of imports in restaurants and bars.
Glengarry Wines has provided excellent exposure to a broad selection of wine, both local and international. Currently in the final stages of completing his WSET Diploma, Michael has been involved in stewarding for previous years of the awards, and this is his first year at the judging table.
Initially graduating with a BSc, majoring in Geography, I spent a few years working and travelling and not knowing what I wanted to do. After returning from my OE in the UK, I fell on my feet with my first vintage in Marlborough and caught the wine bug. I went back to study a post-graduate diploma in Oenology through EIT in the Hawke’s Bay.
Short stints in Central Otago and Waipara, along with a vintage in The Great Southern Region in Western Australia, lead me to the Barossa Valley.
I lived and worked in the Barossa for nearly 7 years, before once again returning to Marlborough. Surviving 18 months in the corporate winemaking world before taking up the opportunity to work with Larry and the fantastic Eacarpment wines. I have worked as an Associate Judge in a number of major Australian and New Zealand wineshows and was the dux of the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course in 2015.