Seminars & Speakers

Please join us for the fifth Emerging Winemakers Competition and Symposium. This year’s Symposium will be both in-person and virtually on Saturday, April 15, 2023, followed by a Wine Competition Awards Ceremony and Roundtable Discussion between judges and wine competitors.

2023 Symposium Seminar Speakers and Topics

Matt Halldorson –
(Yavapai County Director, Associate Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Area Viticulture Agent-The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension)

Speaker Topic: A Year in the Life of a Washington State Vineyard

Seminar Description: An overview of wine growing with a Washington flavor, Matt will describe a calendar year in the vineyard.

Matt’s Bio: A long-time northern Arizona resident and plant biologist by training, Matt became a viticulturist in Washington state after being inspired by the success of the Verde Valley wine industry. After graduating from Yavapai College and Northern Arizona University, Matt went up to the Pacific Northwest to attend Washington State University, where he received his master’s degree in horticulture while studying under Chateau Ste Michelle Distinguished Professor of Viticulture Markus Keller.  After graduating from WSU, Matt worked as a viticulturist for Wyckoff Farms, one of Washington’s largest grape growers, Ste Michelle Wine Estates, the largest winery in the Pacific Northwest, and Kiona Vineyards, which resides on Washington’s premiere AVA, Red Mountain. In 2022, Matt was given the opportunity to come full circle, when he accepted the position of Yavapai County Extension Director and Ag and Natural Resources Agent with the University of Arizona. Due to his extensive experience in viticulture, Matt was also given area responsibilities in viticulture and is honored to serve Yavapai County and the state of Arizona in that capacity.


Jason McCluskey – Winemaker, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards

Speaker Topic: Making wine in less-than-ideal conditions

Seminar Description: Winemaking decisions (additions, blending, racking, etc.) when things aren’t going as planned.

Jason’s Bio: An Arizona native, Jason McCluskey entered the wine industry in 2008, working as a harvest intern for Arizona Stronghold Vineyards. From there, he hopped between hemispheres, working internships in Australia, New Zealand, and Oregon. He settled in Oregon for about 5 and a half years, eventually becoming the Cellar Master at Domaine Serene in the Willamette Valley. To pursue formal education, he moved to New Zealand in 2016 and studied at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay. After receiving a Graduate Diploma in Oenology, he stayed in New Zealand until 2019, working on both the North and South Islands. He moved back to the USA to work as Assistant Winemaker at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri. Finally, life took him full circle, and he returned to Arizona to work as Winemaker at Arizona Stronghold Vineyards in 2020.

Gary Spadafore

Gary Spadafore
CWE – Certified Wine Educator, Society of Wine Educators
CSS – Certified Specialist of Spirits, Society of Wine Educators
WSET – Level 3, Wine and Spirits Education Trust

Speaker Topic: Gary’s Irreverent Wine and Food Experience

Seminar Description: This seminar is a unique and irreverent exploration of the history and scientific aspects of pairing wine with food. You will be led through a tasting of different food items to determine how food can alter the taste of wine. Some foods will make a wine taste stronger; others will make the exact wine taste milder. Participants will discover how the “Tequila Trick” can help them balance food to allow the wine to taste as intended.

The primary tastes of wine and food will be discussed and experienced. Sweet, sour, salt, and bitter will be tasted as well as the officially recognized 5th taste – umami. Participants will learn how these tastes affect the structural components of wine. They will decide for themselves what “works” and what does not.

  • When did wine and food pairing begin?
  • Are there scientific principles behind the traditional wine and food pairings?
  • Is it okay to drink your favorite wine with whatever entrée you have ordered?
  • Does one’s personal preference influence a successful wine and food pairing?
  • Is there a “correct” reaction that will be perfect for everyone?
  • What is umami, and how does it affect wine and food?
  • Are people that enjoy White Zinfandel actually “super tasters”?
  • Is it possible to balance food to make it “work” with any wine?
  • Is it best to match the wine to the “diner”, not the “dinner”?
  • These questions and more will be discussed and answered in this fast-paced, fascinating presentation.

Gary’s Bio: For his entire career, Gary Spadafore has been active in the adult beverage trade, both on a business and personal level. He has traveled extensively through the wine and spirit regions of Europe, New Zealand, South America, and North America to enhance his knowledge. He has spent over 35 years in the adult beverage trade. After retiring as Director of Education for a major wine and spirits wholesaler in Phoenix, AZ, he founded Spada4Solutions LLC. He completely understands that for education to be effective, it must also be entertaining.

2022 Symposium Seminar Speakers and Topics

James Callahan –
(Owner, Rune Wines and Head Winemaker)

Keynote Speaker: Controlled Chaos: Wild Yeast in Winemaking
Winemaker James Callahan began his journey into the world of wine in 2007. An Arizona native, Callahan was intrigued by the young wine industry right under his nose. He began making wine with PurVine Winery in Tempe, Arizona where he spent three years working with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Subsequent harvests were spent with Waters Winery in Walla Walla, Washington, Paddy Borthwick Vineyards in New Zealand, and Kosta Browne in Sebastopol, California. In 2012, Callahan returned to his Arizona roots, relocating to Willcox, Arizona as Winemaker with Aridus Wine Company, and later Pillsbury Wine Company. In 2013, Callahan founded his own label – Rune Wines. Rune Wines has now completed its 9th vintage, and has been recognized for its pioneering utilization of native yeasts and unique expression of Arizona terroir.  Today, in addition to continuously expanding Rune Wines and its sister brand Brigand Wines, Callahan is also a consulting winemaker for Deep Sky Vineyards and Autumn Sage Vineyards.

Seminar Description: Winemaker James Callahan of Rune Wines has been a pioneering proponent of wild yeast fermentation in Arizona. In this presentation, James will discuss the use of wild yeast, including its benefits, challenges, and methodologies.

Mike Stump –
(Sales Manager, Lafitte Cork + Capsule)

Seminar II: Cork Technologies
Mike Stump has worked as a Sales Representative of Lafitte Cork and Capsule for 11 years. His career in Golf, Logistics, and Wine have spanned 30 years of servicing customers and catering to their needs. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Service Sector Management from California State University, San Marcos. When he’s not on the road, he resides in Southern California.

Lafitte Cork and Capsule is a founding member of the Cork Quality Council (CQC), which sets stringent standards on corks to be sold in the North American market. Since 1995, Lafitte California has operated a state-of-the-art QC laboratory with an ozone-infused moisturizing room to aid in ensuring cork sterility, the first of its kind in the U.S.

Seminar Description: How the cork makes its way from the forest to your bottle.

Randy Caparoso –
(Editor-at-Large, The SOMM Journal)

Seminar III: Redefining the Definition of Balanced Wine
Randy Caparoso is a freelance wine journalist and photographer who lives Lodi, California. He is the author of Lodi!, The Definitive Guide and History of America’s Largest Winegrowing Region (2021, Kitchen Cinco Press). To put bread (and wine) on the table, he serves as Editor-at-Large, Bottom Line columnist and SOMM Camp director for The SOMM Journal (since 2008), while blogging and doing the social media work for the Lodi Winegrape Commission (since 2010). In a prior incarnation, he was a founding partner of the Roy’s family of restaurants, serving as VP/Corporate Wine Director for 13 years. While at Roy’s, he was named Santé’s first Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year (1988) and Restaurant Wine’s Wine Marketer of the Year (1992 & 1998). He has also owned and operated his own wine production company, Caparoso Wines LLC (2000 to 2006), and bylined a long-running biweekly wine column for his hometown newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser (1981 to 2002). You may contact him at, or through and

Seminar Topic: Talking about “balanced wine” used to be perfectly acceptable—until about ten years ago, when the term suddenly became politicized. Randy will be talking about why this whole “balance” argument was always a crock.

2021 Virtual Symposium Seminar Speakers and Topics

Jennifer Montgomery –
(Executive Director of AWGA)

Keynote Speaker: Different Beginnings, Same Destination.
Jennifer is the former Governmental & Grassroots Advocacy Manager ASET – The Neurodiagnostic Society. A native of Blacksburg, Virginia, Jennifer earned her B.A. in Journalism from Radford University. Jennifer became the Executive Director, Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners, after serving for two years as the first full-time Director for the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association.

Jennifer Montgomery's Keynote Presentation

Lisa Francioni-Hai –
(California Sustainable Winegrowers Alliance)

Seminar A: Sustainability – Grape to Glass
Lisa Francioni – Hai is Program Director for the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2003 by Wine Institute and the California Association of Winegrape Growers to promote environmental stewardship and social responsibility in the state’s wine community. She has been integral in implementing the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program, a voluntary educational program for California wineries and vineyards, since February 2005 and oversees the third-party certification program, Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. Lisa has served as the project manager on numerous federal and state grant projects, and has assisted with the implementation of over a dozen grant projects during her fifteen years with CSWA. Her role at CSWA also includes overseeing project budgets, completing financial reports, managing consultants, and evaluating and reporting progress of projects to funding organizations. She helps to build partnerships and collaborations with winegrowers, wineries, winegrower associations, and agricultural professionals. She leads the development of educational workshops and events and works closely with expert partners to develop tools and educational resources, including an online self-assessment and reporting system.

Lisa Francioni-Hai's Seminar Presentation

Philippe Coderey –
(Biodynamic Viticulture)

Seminar B: Biodynamic Viticulture
Philippe comes from a very long line of Vignerons in Europe, Philippe has been inclined to research and study many ancient forms of viticulture. During the course of his career, it has become obvious that biodynamic farming has been and is inspired by those empirical practices and farming principles coming from the past. Being aware of the difficulty to understand biodynamic farming, it has become a necessity for Philippe to demystify it but also explain it through those long–forgotten principles and practices acquired throughout centuries of farming. Merging the past and the present is the key to unlock the true potential and uniqueness of a land under a particular climate and planted with a given grape varietal and to express this potential in a glass of wine.

Philippe Coderey's Seminar Presentation

Wine Competition Awards Presentation and Roundtable Discussion

Our third annual 2020 Competition and Symposium was cancelled in light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation

Keynote: Different Beginnings, Same Destination

Jennifer Montgomery, Executive Director of the Arizona Wine Growers Association



Sustainability from Grapes to Glass

by Lisa Francioni-Hai 

California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance


Sustainable Best Practices – Practical Applications in Viticulture + Enology

Eric Glomski

Page Spring Cellars


Fining and Filtration

Maria Peterson

Scott Laboratories


Wine Flaws & Faults
How to Prevent them in the Bottle

Wine Microbiology Overview
From Crush to Bottle

Dr. Richard DeScenzo

ETS Laboratories


Biodynamic Viticulture

by Philippe Coderey


2019 Symposium Seminar Speakers and Topics

Keynote Speaker

Eric Glomski

Page Spring Cellars


Volatile Acidity:
Friend or Foe?

by Scott Laboratories


Is Your Wine Ready
for Prime Time?

by Andrew Stover


Volatile Acidity:
Friend or Foe?

by ETS Laboratories


Beyond the Traditional
to the Non-Traditional

by Jennifer Montgomery


2018 Symposium Seminar Speakers and Topics

Keynote Speaker

 Tom Messier

Emerging Winemaker

Yavapai College Student


Wine Yeast Selections

by Susie Selby


Wine Faults & Flaws

by Matt Raica


Grapevine: Varietals
& Rootstocks

by Emil Molin


Post Emergent

by Bree Nation


Have a Question,
want to be a sponsor
or get involved?

If you have any questions about the Symposium, sponsorship or volunteering, please contact us.

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