Year after year, the FLIWC draws a diverse panel of the highest quality judges from all over the world.

Judges for the Finger Lakes International Wine and Spirits Competition (FLIWC) are drawn from a wide set of qualified national (~ 75%) and international (~ 25%) wine and spirits professionals. They include Masters of Wine, Master Distillers, Sommeliers (CMS), Educators (SWE), journalists, winemakers, academicians, and other top internally certified judges, as well as WSET and MW students and graduates.

Judging Process

The FLIWC has earned great respect throughout the years. Those involved in the competition show consistent professionalism and altruism through the competition’s large monetary contribution to Camp Good Days and Special Times. The FLIWC has such a widely known reputation, we have evaluated up to 3,000 entries each year.

Judges are carefully selected and invited to apply. The competition typically involves 50 judges that are organized into panels of 3 or 4 that represent a mix of professions and geographic regions. Entries are judged ‘blind’ in flights by class with only non-specific information such as varietal, vintage residual sugar and % alcohol.

The FLIWC utilizes a ‘consensus’ judging process wherein each judge evaluates each wine or spirit independently. An experienced Panel Captain then conducts a discussion to arrive at a final determination for each entry.

Medals awarded include Bronze (commercially sound), Silver (meritoriously representative), Gold (exceptional in its class) and Double Gold (unanimously exceptional & remarkably distinctive). Panel decisions are not altered or adjusted in any manner.

Wine Best-In-Class Awards Include: Riesling, Chardonnay, Sparkling, Ice Wine, Fruit, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vinifera Red Blend and Rosé.

*NEW Best-In-Class Wine Awards added in 2022: Hybrid Red and Hybrid White!

Spirit Best-In-Class Awards Include: Brandy, Bourbon, Gin, Flavored Whiskey, Whiskey, Liqueur, Vodka, and Rum.

How We Judge Your Entries

  • Each entry is judged on its own merit — its presence, balance and varietal character - not by how it compares to other entries in the flight.
  • While it is common knowledge that wines and spirits go through various stages of quality development, each entry in the FLIWC is judged for what it is at the time of judging - not for what it might become in the future.
  • Entries are blind judged in flights, with each wine identified only by a computer generated code number.
  • Each glass is labeled with this code number and the judges are given a scoring sheet with the number and the variety of the entry.
  • All flights are staged in a separate back room and delivered to the judging room. Re-pours, when necessary, from a second unopened bottle are also staged in the back room and delivered to the judging room.
  • All entries are presented to the judges in professional crystal stemware.

2021 FLIWC Committee

The following people comprised the 2021 FLIWC Committee:

Bob Madill

Head Judge

Teresa Knapp

Flighting and Results

Greg Cutt

Set-up and Serving Captain

MaryLu Schoeneman

Judge Liason

Shelby Knapp

Re-pour Captain

Brandon Anderson

Cork and Bottles Captain

Eileen Hammond

Glasses Captain

Jamie Varble

Event Director

Karl Rudolfs

Entry Manager

Amanda Anderson

Volunteer Coordinator

2021 Wine Judges

The following wine judges participated in the 2021 competition:

Maureen Bayer

NY, United States
CWE, DipWSET, CS, Wine & Spirits Consultant at Opici Family Distributing

Peter Becraft

NY, United States
Head Winemaker of Anthony Road Wine Company
NY, United States
Head Winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards, Enologist, Lecturer

Paul Brady

NY, United States
Sommelier, Ambassador NYW&GF, Owner of Paul Brady Wine

Anna-Christina Cabrales

NY, United States
Sommelier, Education & Innovation Manager at Independence Wine & Spirits, Wine Instructor for The Sommelier Society of America, Inc

Julia Coney

DC, United States
Founder of Black Wine Professionals, WSET 2, Wine Journalist, Educator, Speaker, and Consultant

Byron Davis

NY, United States
DipWSET, MW Candidate
NY, United States
Certificated Advanced Sommelier, CSW, AWS CWJ

Tito Erb

NY, United States
WSET Level 2 with Merit, Award Winning Home Winemaker out of the FLX area, AWS Wine Judge

Stephanie Fenner

NY, United States
WSET 3, Managed Microclimate Wine Bar, Sales for Hosmer Winery

Bill Frank

NY, United States
International Wine Judge
KY, United States
AWS CWJ; Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2

Lorraine Hems

NY, United States
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at RIT, writer, CS, SWE - CWE, AWS CWJ, and Instructor for WSET

Holly Howell

NY, United States
Independent Wine and Spirits Professional, Wine Educator at "UNCORKED", Sommelier
NJ, United States
WSET 3, CSW, CWJ, Wine Director Capital Grille, NTP Chair, Sommelier
NY, United States
CSW, National Wine Judge and Wine Writer
NY, United States
Head Winemaker at Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery, Idol Ridge Winery, and Fossenvue Winery

Abby Stamp

NY, United States
Assistant Winemaker at Lakewood Vineyards

Laura Winter Falk

NY, United States
Co-owner and President of Experince! The Finger Lakes, Sommelier, Adjunct Professor of Wine, Author, CS, WSET 3, PhD in Food and Nutrition

2021 Spirit Judges

The following spirit judges participated in the 2021 competition:

Chris Carlsson

NY, United States
Professional Judge, Spirits Instructor, Wine and Spirits Writer

George Catallo

NY, United States
Freelance Spirits Writer & Consultant, National/International Spirits Judge, Certified Sherry Wine Specialist

Lorraine Hems

NY, United States
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at RIT, writer, CS, SWE - CWE, AWS CWJ, and Instructor for WSET

Michalis Kalampoukas

NY, United States
CS 3, Sommelier FLX Table

Chris Lindstrom

NY, United States
Owner of the Food About Town Podcast and Blog, Co-founder of Phrankly

Tony Menechella

KY, United States
Certified Specialist of Spirits, Spirits Judge