Competition Judges

The judges for the Drink Outside the Grape competition are industry professionals (retailers, distributors, winemakers, and researchers).

DR. JOSEPH FIOLA is Small Fruit Specialist and Extension Enologist at the University of Western Maryland. He has patented several varieties of briar fruits, is a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, Eastern Section, and has given many presentations on the special issues of winemaking with non-grape fruits.

DOUG HOTZ has been proprietor of the Rio Hill Wine and Beer in Charlottesville VA since 1999, and worked in the wine wholesale trade for eleven years prior. Doug has judged numerous Virginia Governor’s Cup Wine Competition’s, Virginia Monticello Cup Wine Competitions and is the current director of Virginia’s Monticello Cup Wine Competition. In addition, Doug is also passionate about food and has hosted numerous wine dinners and special events working closely with many of the area’s top restaurants and chefs.

CHRISTINE IEZZI has been involved with grapes, and later wine, since she helped her father manage his vineyard on Virginia’s Northern Neck in her childhood. She has been Western Virginia Zone Leader for the Country Vintner, a Mid-Atlantic fine wine distributor for which she has worked for over 25 years. She was Virginia wine portfolio manager until the category grew so much it didn’t need one. She was conference chair for the American Wine Society annual conference in 1991, and has spoken at that event in 2015 on “The Future of Virginia Wine” and at many other wine-oriented events.

TIINA KUULER a journalist by education and experience, is a winemaker and sommelier from Estonia. She wrote and published two books on winemaking: ABCs of Fruit and Berry Wine Making and Cider And Sparkling Winemaking. Since 2011 she is the main organizer of the Estonian Country Wine contest. She’s a board member of the Estonian Craft Beer/Wine Union and Grape Growers and Wine Makers Union. She teaches winemaking techniques at Estonian Sommelier School. One of her companies sells wine making equipment and the other produces fruit and berry wines.

ANDREW STOVER is Founder and Chief Wino of Vino50: The Grape American Road Trip from 2009 – present in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. Vino50™ is both a wine brand and wholesale portfolio that celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wineregions. Vino50™ encourages consumers to explore local and regional wines-supporting America’s up and coming and established winemakers. By contracting with small, boutique wineries, Vino50™ brings to market unique wines that not only have a sense of place but also showcase unknown varietals and regions of the United States such as Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Texas, Virginia and beyond. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Stover is known for his promotion of local and regional wines in his restaurant wine programs. Stover’s work has been recognized with the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

DOMINIC RIVARD has, for the past 20 years, pioneered the development of fruit wines across the world. Author of The Ultimate Fruit Winemaker’s Guide, he has been running wine production and exportation projects with producers across North America, Europe and the Far East. He is a recognized authority on fruit wine production and marketing, a qualified sommelier, award winning commercial wine maker, distributor, exporter and author. Passionate about wine and wine innovation, he provides consulting services to producers to drive innovation and change.