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). The newly added Platinum medal is awarded to the entry that holds extraordinary distinction during the "Best in Class" evaluation. Panel decisions are not altered or adjusted in any manner.

Wine Best-In-Class Awards Include: Riesling (Dry/Non Dry), Chardonnay (Oaked/Unoaked), Sparkling, Ice Wine, Fruit, Hybrid White, Hybrid Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vinifera Red Blend and Rosé.

*NEW Best-In-Class Wine Awards in 2023: Pinot Noir and Mead

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.

2022 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

2022 Wine Judges


Peter Becraft

New York
Head Winemaker of Anthony Road Wine Company

Peter Bell

New York
Head Winemaker of Fox Run Vineyards, Enologist, Lecturer

Kler-Yann Bouteiller

Wine writer, Sommelier CMS 3

Brian Butterfield

New York
Bar manager at Kindred Fare

Jean Pierre Colas

Winemaker at 13th Street Winery

Byron Davis

New York
WSET Diploma, MW candidate, Director of Sale and Consumer Relations at Trestle 31

August Deimel

New York
Winemaker at E&J Gallo Winery

Nick Dovel

General Manager at Pollak Vineyards

Tito Erb

New York
AWS Wine Judge, WSET2 with Merit

Stephanie Fenner

New York
WSET3, Brand Ambassador for Hosmer Winery

Morten Hallgren

New York
Owner and Winemaker at Ravines Wine Cellars

Holly Howell

New York
Sommelier, Independent Wine & Spirits Professional, Wine Educator at "UNCORKED"

Maiah Johnson Dunn

New York
Writer, Beverage Education Manager at New York Kitchen

Aimée Lasseigne New

Long Island
NYC Brand Ambassador for Lieb Cellars, WSET Diploma

Rhianna Millay Bangs

New York
Territory Manager at Winebow

Phil Plummer

New York
Head Winemaker at Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery, Idol Ridge Winery, and Fossenvue Winery

Gina Certa Shay

Sales Representative at Cadus North America, Marketing Director at Michigan Wine Cooperative

Shelly Wilfong

Wine Educator, Writer, Texas Wine Podcast host

Abby Wilkens

New York
Assistant Winemaker at Lakewood Vineyards

Laura Winter Falk

New York
Co-owner and President of Experience the Finger Lakes, Sommelier, Adjumct Professor of Wine, Author, CS, WSET3, phD in Food and Nutrition

Kayla Young

New York City
New York Regional Manager at Demeine Estates

2022 Spirit Judges


Samantha Burr

New York
Fine Wine & Spirits Consultanat at Independence Wine & Spirits

Chris Carlsson

New York
Professional Judge, Spirits Instructor, Wine & Spirits Writer

George Catallo

New York
Freelance Spirits Writer & Consultant, International Spirits Judge, Certified Sherry Wine Specialist

Chris Lindstrom

New York
Owner of the Food About Town Podcast and Blog, Co-founder of Phrankly

Jacob Rakovan

New York
Mixologist, Owner of The Spirit Room

Matt Wyant

Spirits Judge, Former Distiller