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, Rosé, 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.

2024 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

Jamie Varble

Event Director

Karl Rudolfs

Entry Manager

Amanda Anderson

Volunteer Coordinator

2023 Wine Judges


Maureen Bayer

DipWSET, CWE, CS, Owner Bayer Beverage, Representative Opici Family Distributing

Peter Becraft

Head Winemaker at Anthony Road Wine Company

Peter Bell

Head Winemaker at Fox Run Vineyards, Enologist, Lecturer

Kelly Burnett

WSET 2, Marketing Manager & Wine Club Director at Buttonwood Grove Winery

Josh Carlsen

Advanced Sommelier CMS, Americas, FLX Hospitality

Byron Davis

DipWSET, MW Candidate, Partner at Trestle Thirty One

JoAnn DeGaglia

CSW, Certified Advanced Sommelier, Wine Educator

Carlo DeVito

Author, Publisher, Blogger, Winemaker Unionville Vineyards

Steve DiMora

Sommelier, Owner of Canadian Wine Ambassador LLC, Director & Manager at Vieni Estates

Emily Dockery

Executive Director of Michigan Wine Collaborative

Lorraine Hems

Senior Lecturer, Dept of Hospitality and Tourism Management at RIT, WSET 3, CWE, CS

Holly Howell

CSW, WSET 3, Wine Educator and Consultant

Sharyn  Kervyn

DipWSET, Founder KdV Wine Services

Aimée  Lasseigne New

CS, WSET 3, Brand Ambassador at Lieb Cellars

Dave McIntyre

Wine Columnist For The Washington Post and Dave McIntyre's WineLine

Phil Plummer

Head Winemaker at Montezuma Winery, Idol Ridge Winery & Alder Creek Distillery, and Fossenvue Winery

Brandon Thomas

WSET Diploma, Certified Sherry Wine Specialist, Owner of Cultivate FLX, and Brand Manager at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Sarah Trubnick

CSW, CSWS, DipWSET, Founder of Northest Wine Company

Shelly Wilfong

WSET 3, CSW, Wine Educator, Writer, Texas Wine Podcast Host

Laura Winter Falk

CS, WSET 3, President & Co-owner, Experience! The Finger Lakes

2023 Spirit Judges


Chris  Carlsson

Professional Judge, Spirits Instructor, Wine & Spirits Writer

George Catallo

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

Lorraine Hems

Senior Lecturer, Dept of Hosptality and Tourism Management at RIT, WSET 3, CWE, CS

Chris Lindstrom

Owner of the Food About Town Podcast and Blog, Co-found of Phrankly

Tony Menechella

Certified Specialist of Spirits, Whiskey and Spirits Blog Writer

Alexander Riola

Sommelier, General Manager at Apogee Wine Bar