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 Oenologists, Certified wine judges, Sommeliers CMS), Educators (SWE), Winemakers, Distillers, mixologists, and Academicians, 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 that roughly 3,000 entries are submitted 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 it’s 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, and Merlot.

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

*NEW Best-In-Class Awards added in 2021: Vinifera Red Blend and Rose!

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.

2020 FLIWC Committee

The following people comprised the 2020 FLIWC Committee (click on any committee member's name to read their bio):

Bob Madill

Head Judge

Teresa Knapp

Flighting and Results

Curt Balch

Backroom Manager

Greg Cutt

Set-up and Serving Captain

Shane Gurnee

Backroom Assistant

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

2020 Wine Judges

The following wine judges participated in the 2020 competition (click on any judges name to read their bio):

Peter Becraft

NY, United States
Head Winemaker, Anthony Road
NY, United States
Winemaker, Fox Run Vineyards; Enologist; Lecturer

Vanessa Blackmer

NY, United States

Paul Brady

NY, United States
Sommelier, Ambassador NYW&GF
NY, United States
Certified Advanced Sommelier (CS); Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Steve DiFrancesco

NY, United States
Winemaker Glenora Wine Cellars

Lynne Fahy

NY, United States
Assistant Winemaker, Anthony Road
KY, United States
AWS CWJ; Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2

Morten Hallgren

NY, United States
Winemaker & Co-owner Ravines Wine Cellars

Holly Howell

NY, United States
Wine Educator
NY, United States
Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW); Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) level 2

Sharyn Kervyn

PA, United States
WSET3, CSW, CWJ, Wine Director Capital Grille, VP AWs
NY, United States
National Wine Judge and Wine Writer
NY, United States
Winemaker, judged in 2017 and earlier

Abby Stamp

NY, United States
Assistant Winemaker, Lakewood Vineyards Finger Lakes

Lindsey Vankeuren

NY, United States
Assistant Winemaker Fox Run Vineyards

Laura Winter Falk

NY, United States
Co-owner & President Experience the Finger Lakes

2020 Spirit Judges

The following spirit judges are slated to participate in the 2020 competition (click on any judges name to read their bio):

Vanessa Blackmer

NY, United States

Sarah Brown

NY, United States
Brand Ambassador, Honeyoe Falls Distillery

Michalis Kalampoukas

NY, United States
Sommelier FLX Table

Tony Menechella

KY, United States
Central Kentucky Spirits Society

Daniel Pendleton

NY, United States
Sommelier FLX Table

Drew Westcott

NY, United States
Master Distiller, Iron Smoke Distillery