Emerging Winemakers Competition and Symposium

The Judges

Since 2018, we’ve hosted some amazing nationally recognized judges. A few of these incredible judges have traveled across this great country and have given educational presentations in grape growing and winemaking practices, winemaking styles and marketing of wine in our seminar series.

Meet the Judges

During the Competition all wines are judged in blind tasting by the judges led by our very own Head Master Judge, Paula Woolsey, CSW, who has more than 20 years in the Arizona wine industry. Competitors each receive confidential feedback on their wine(s).

2022 Wine Competition Judges

Paula Woolsey

Paula Woolsey

EWC&S: Head Master Judge

Paula Woolsey, CSW – (Cellar Door Unhinged), a member of the Society of Wine Educators since 1998, she became a Certified Specialist of Wine in 2000, Italian Wine Specialist certified in 2004 and Gallo Wine Academy certified in 2007. She has also been Cellar Master Certified by the Master Court of Sommeliers since 2001. Paula has sat on the Board of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium since its inception in 2008 and for the past 11 years she has been an instructor at Yavapai College in the Viticulture program.

James Callahan

James Callahan

Rune Wines

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. 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.

Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS

Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS

Wasatch Academy of Wine

Sheral Schowe is the founder and owner of Wasatch Academy of Wine, Utah’s first and largest wine school, established in 1991. She is the affiliate provider of post-nominal certification courses on the wines of France, Italy, and Spain for the Wine Scholar Guild and Adjunct Professor of Wine Studies for the Culinary Institute of Salt Lake Community College and University of Utah Lifelong Learning. Sheral has been a wine judge for the annual Utah Winemaker’s Competition. She is a certified French and Spanish Wine Scholar with Master’s level certification.

Danusia Szumowski

Danusia Szumowski

Winemaker

Much later in life than most, Danusia took a sabbatical from her consulting career in Silicon Valley and discovered her passion for wine. She started studying viticulture and enology at UC and then became the vigneronne at Portola Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California where she was the assistant winemaker as well as the vineyard manager.  Her next move was to Napa Valley where she worked with numerous wineries on Howell Mountain, including Piedra Hill. Working with award-winning winemakers in Napa was an invaluable experience and added a critical facet to her understanding of the wine industry from the ground up.

 

Julia Dixon

Julia Dixon

Head Winemaker for Four Tails Vineyard

Julia Dixon is the Head Winemaker for Four Tails Vineyard. Julia graduated from the Viticulture and Enology Program at Yavapai College in 2016 and came to FTV in the summer of 2017.  Jules has been an integral part of Four Tails family and is now the Head Winemaker. She shares her time managing her own vineyard at 1764 Vineyards with her husband, and heads their winemaking duties too! Founded in 2017 with their first wine release 2018 Deep Thought Syrah, a Silver Medal Winner at the 2020 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition.

 

Gary Spadafore

Gary Spadafore

Spada4Solutions

Gary Spadafore – 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.

Ron Brumley

Ron Brumley

Winemaker/ Vineyard Manager for Alcantara Vineyard and Winery

Arizona Native. Retired from Technology/Internet. Started in the Arizona wine industry in 2012. Currently Winemaker/ Vineyard Manager for Alcantara Vineyard and Winery in Camp Verde. I have lived in the Verde Valley for 11 years. Hobbies include fishing, SUP, NASCAR, baseball and restoring old Chevy trucks. I worked with the Sedona & Telluride Wine Festivals and served on several committees within the Arizona wine community. 

2021 Competition Judges

Paula Woolsey

Paula Woolsey

EWC&S: Head Master Judge

Paula Woolsey, CSW – (Cellar Door Unhinged), a member of the Society of Wine Educators since 1998, she became a Certified Specialist of Wine in 2000, Italian Wine Specialist certified in 2004 and Gallo Wine Academy certified in 2007. She has also been Cellar Master Certified by the Master Court of Sommeliers since 2001. Paula has sat on the Board of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium since its inception in 2008 and for the past 11 years she has been an instructor at Yavapai College in the Viticulture program.

Dale Sparks

Dale Sparks

Advanced Sommelier

Dale Sparks, was the founder, owner and C.E.O. of Arizona wholesaler Quench Fine Wines from 2003- 2010 and before that the Founder and Managing Director of Arizona wholesaler, Boutique Wines, 1998-2002. He served as Cellarmaster at the Phoenician Resort 1997-1998 and began his wine career as the sommelier at Anthony’s in the Catalina’s in Tucson, Arizona from 1989-1997. He holds an Advanced Sommelier Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

T. Scott Stephens

T. Scott Stephens

Annual Judge AWGA

Stephens travels extensively to wine regions all over the globe to explore the culture of wine and the diversity of its people and places. He is a sommelier and an annual judge for the Arizona Wine Growers Association’s (AWGA) wine competition presented by Arizona Republic/ azcentral and serves as a member of the AWGA Board of Directors.

He is co-owner of Beckett’s Table and co-owner of Southern Rail in Phoenix. Both restaurants are multiple winners of Wine Spectators Award of Excellence for their wine program.

Wes Schemmer

Wes Schemmer

Vino di Sedona

Wes Schemmer – (Owner, Vino di Sedona), started in the wine business at the age of 16. He has run and operated several multi-million dollar retail wine and liquor stores, has worked in the wholesale wine industry representing some the best wineries in the world. Along with his wife Rebecca, Wes opened Vino di Sedona in 2014. Vino is Northern Arizona’s largest wine bar and wine retailer. With over 60 wines by-the-glass and a selection of about 1000 varieties of wine available from around the world. At Vino Di Sedona Wes has offered educational wine tastings and opportunities for consumers to expand their knowledge and palates.

Julia Dixon

Julia Dixon

Head Winemaker for Four Tails Vineyard

Julia Dixon is the Head Winemaker for Four Tails Vineyard. Julia graduated from the Viticulture and Enology Program at Yavapai College in 2016 and came to FTV in the summer of 2017.  Jules has been an integral part of Four Tails family and is now the Head Winemaker. She shares her time managing her own vineyard at 1764 Vineyards with her husband, and heads their winemaking duties too! Founded in 2017 with their first wine release 2018 Deep Thought Syrah, a Silver Medal Winner at the 2020 azcentral.com Arizona Wine Competition.

 

Gary Spadafore

Gary Spadafore

Spada4Solutions

Gary Spadafore – 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. 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.

Ron Brumley

Ron Brumley

Winemaker/ Vineyard Manager for Alcantara Vineyard and Winery

Arizona Native. Retired from Technology/Internet. Started in the Arizona wine industry in 2012. Currently Winemaker/ Vineyard Manager for Alcantara Vineyard and Winery in Camp Verde. I have lived in the Verde Valley for 11 years. Hobbies include fishing, SUP, NASCAR, baseball and restoring old Chevy trucks. I worked with the Sedona & Telluride Wine Festivals and served on several committees within the Arizona wine community. 

2020 Competition Judges

Our third annual 2020 Competition and Symposium was cancelled in light of COVID-19

Paula Woolsey

Paula Woolsey

EWC&S: Head Master Judge

Eric Glomski

Eric Glomski

Page Springs Cellars

Jennifer Montgomery

Jennifer Montgomery

Executive Director of AWGA

Sam Pillsbury

Sam Pillsbury

Pillsbury Wine Company

Aaron Weiss

Aaron Weiss

Oddity Wine Collective

Gary Spadafore

Gary Spadafore

Spada4Solutions

Wes Schemmer

Wes Schemmer

Vino di Sedona

Assisting this year’s judges are Dean Pefanis and Andrew Stover

2019 Competition Judges

Paula Woolsey

Paula Woolsey

EWC&S: Head Master Judge

T. Scott Stephens

T. Scott Stephens

Annual Judge AWGA

Eric Glomski

Eric Glomski

Page Springs Cellars

Andrew Stover

Andrew Stover

Vino50

Jennifer Montgomery

Jennifer Montgomery

Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners

Matt Raica

Matt Raica

Arizona Stronghold

Sam Pillsbury

Sam Pillsbury

Pillsbury Wine Company

2018 Competition Judges

Paula Woolsey

Paula Woolsey

Head Judge

Susie Selby

Susie Selby

Selby Winery

Dale Sparks

Dale Sparks

Advanced Sommelier

Matt Raica

Matt Raica

Arizona Stronghold

Kevin Maguier

Kevin Maguier

Chaine des Rotisseurs, Sedona Bailliage

Jim O'Meally

Jim O'Meally

Sommelier, Up the Creek Bistro

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