2023 JUDGES TBC
CHIEF JUDGE: Simon Osicka: Winemaker, Paul Osicka Wines
Belinda Thomson: Winemaker, Crawford River Wines
Marcus Radny: Proprietor, Gonzo Vino
Joshua Cooper: Winemaker, Josh Cooper Wines
Victoria Soffer: Lead sourcing manager, Coles Liquor Group
Matt Harrop: Winemaker, Curly Flat
David Lawson: Winemaker, Black Wallaby Wines and Balgownie Wines
Takuya Kusuda (International Judge): Wine and Sake educator, judge and retailer
Tessa Brown: Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown
Tash Webster: Winemaker, Empire Wines
Matt Kilby: Winemaker, Michelini Wines
Tegan Clydesdale: Assistant winemaker, Fowles Wine
Ray Chen: Winemaker, Rongo Wines and Product Innovation Manager, Pinnacle Drinks, Endeavour Group
Winemaker, Paul Osicka Wines, Graytown
Simon is involved in running his small family winery and vineyard, Paul Osicka Wines, located at Graytown on the Eastern boundary of the Heathcote Wine Region. The vineyard was first established in 1955 by his grandparents and tended by his father for over 50 harvests.
He also operates another small wine business, The Bull Lane Wine Company. Previous to this, Simon was the Group Red Winemaker for the Hardy Wine Company and has worked numerous vintages overseas, mostly recently at Domaine J.L. Chave in the Northern Rhone Valley. Simon has completed the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course, is a former Len Evans Scholar and has judged at a number of wine shows. He recently planted a small bush vine Grenache vineyard, which is a prefect excuse to drink more Grenache.
"Marcus has a background as a sommelier having worked all around Australia. These days he can be found running Gonzo Vino, a boutique producer of modern, sustainably produced cask wines
Winemaker/Viticulturist, Crawford River Wines
Belinda is Chief Winemaker and Viticulturist at Crawford River Wines in South West Victoria. Working with her father in the winery from 2004-2011 and influencing the future direction of the vineyard, in 2012 she became the creative force behind the vineyard and wines, crafting sustainable, elegant, single site wines. With extensive international experience in both vineyards and wineries across a range of countries,
regions and varieties, Belinda brings an experienced palate and depth of knowledge.
In 2020 Belinda was a finalist for GT Winemaker of the Year and was a Young Gun of Wine Vineyard finalist.
Viticulturalist/winemaker, Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown, Beechworth
Tessa Brown is a qualified viticulturist and winemaker and is one half of Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown in Beechworth, north east Victoria where she and partner Jeremy specialise in high altitude, true cool climate
She completed AWAC in 2007, sat the LET in 2017 and has been judging in the Australian wine show system since 2012.
David Lawson is the owner and winemaker for his family owned and run business, Black Wallaby Wines. David is also one of the wine makers at the well renown Balgownie Estate Winery in Bendigo, and currently shares his time between the two establishments.
David formed a love and passion for Viticulture and Wine Making from his father Jim, from a young age, where he was involved in the establishment of the family's vineyard at Bridgewater in Victoria. It was from here that David decided to pursue a career in the profession and obtained a degree in Wine Science from CSU in Wagga Wagga in 2008.
An extensive career, spanning over 20 years, both abroad and on home soil, has assisted David to build a deep passion and love for the wine making profession. After spending four years living and working in Europe, David and his wife returned home to Victoria with the intention of taking on the family farm and wine business. Now with three young daughters in tow, David and his family continue to produce award winning wines from vine to table with passion and love.
Winemaker, Josh Cooper Wines, Macedon
Based on the Macedon Ranges, Josh produces a selection of single vineyard wines largely based around Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from unique sites within the region as well as it surrounds. A previous Len Evans Scholar and Capital wine show judge and Gourmet Traveller Wines Young Winemaker of The Year 2020.
Tash is the founder and winemaker of the Moorabool Valley based label Empire of dirt wines. She gained experience working in many wineries and vineyards across Geelong's three sub-regions (as well as her hometown of Orange, NSW) while completing her CSU winemaking degree as Dux and with distinction. Having failed with her first business attempt (always a good life lesson) she now makes boutique wines that represent the Geelong region. Tash was a finalist in the 2020 Young guns of wine awards.
Wine and Sake educator, judge and retailer
Takuya is a wine and sake educator (Academie du Vin, Tokyo and Osaka since 2002), judge
of wine and sake, and the owner of an internet wine shop, who lives in Tokyo, Japan. He is
the first certified Bourgogne Wine Educator in Japan, and has been the co-chair, Panel Chair
and judge of many wine/sake shows since2007, such as the International Wine Challenge
London (judge wine and sake since 2011, sake co-chair since 2015), International Wine &
Spirits Competition Hong Kong (2013-), Japan Wine Competition (2021-), to name a few. His
translation of Robert Parker Junior’s Bordeaux in 1988 was the first Parker’ book to be
published in Japanese. Needless to say, he is interested in wine, sake, beer and food, and
has visited more than fifty wine regions in the world many, many, times. He visits his
brother at Kusuda Wines in Martinborough, New Zealand every year for vintage, and
participates in harvesting and sorting grapes and wine making since 2002.
Winemaker, Curly Flat Vineyard
Matt is the winemaker at Curly Flat Vineyard, in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria. He attended the LET in 2003. Since then, he has judged at many regional and capital city wine shows and was the past chair of judges (2018-2021) at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards.
He lives on a small farm in the Macedon Ranges with his family, and grows Chardonnay for his own label Silent Way.
Winemaker, Michelini Wines
Matt's interest in wine began with his first job out of high school in liquor retail and was re-ignited many years later when he landed a vintage job at Dominion Wines in the Strathbogie Ranges. Shortly afterwards Matt started a 10 year stint at Mitchelton during which he completed the wine science degree at CSU and worked a vintage in the Mosel region of Germany.
Since 2018 Matt has been the winemaker at Michelini Wines, giving him the opportunity to gain a broad range of experience working with Italian varieties.
Victoria Soffer is a qualified winemaker with a passion for retail. From a young age she was involved in wine having grown up in Northeast Victoria in a winemaking family.
She has spent time working in wineries overseas as well as locally. Today she leads the wine sourcing program for Coles Liquor across global wine supply and is based in Melbourne.
Victoria completed the AWAC in 2019 and is excited to be involved in more wine shows across Australia.