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.

ERIN SCALA, DWS For the better part of a decade, Erin worked in New York City at several Michelin star restaurants, notably JoJo, PUBLIC, and The Musket Room. In 2014, she returned to her home state of Virginia to run the wine programs at sister restaurants Fleurie and Petit Pois. She writes a wine blog, produces audio essays for the I’ll Drink to That wine podcast, and consults about wine privately and commercially through her company ThinkBev, Inc. At home, her precious young daughter is frequently blind tasted on the nuances between cranberry juice and OJ, usually paired with cheerios.

Her articles about wine have been published in The Washington Post, Wine & Spirits, and Knife & Fork. She also covers the Virginia wine scene in a monthly column for her local paper, The C-Ville Weekly. Named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 Under 40 wine professionals to watch, her wine list at Fleurie recently won a Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence.” In 2016, Erin received a James Beard Rhône Rangers Travel Study Grant to study Rhône varieties in California. This year, she competed in the Sommelier Scavenger Hunt held by Wine & Spirits Magazine to find delicious Pinot Noirs in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Certified with the WSET Diploma of Wines and Spirits and the Certified Sake Professional designation, she believes that fermented beverages are a unique and dynamic communion with time and place, and that often the best beverages come from small vineyards, orchards, and breweries using products farmed by passionate families who believe in minimal intervention.

FRANK MORGAN is a  Virginia native and works in the Legal and Data Privacy group of a global aerospace company by day. He is the author of the DrinkWhatYouLike wine blog, started seven years ago to chronicle his wine experiences from the perspective of an avid wine consumer and to share stories of the wines, wineries, and winegrowers of Virginia. His site was recently named one of the top wine news blogs by Millesima. Morgan is also a contributor for local public broadcasting station, the wine site Snooth, Savor Virginia Magazine, and is the Wine Editor of the Virginia Eats + Drinks magazine.
When not writing to raise awareness of the local wine industry or taking Wine & Spirit Education Trust classes, he can be found playing at the park with his daughter or reading his way through every published work of David Foster Wallace. He lives in Chesapeake, VA.

COURTNEY MAILEY founded Blue Bee Cider in downtown Richmond, Virginia in 2012. After working in economic development for 12 years, she left the corporate grind in 2010. Courtney attended cider school at Cornell University, apprenticed with Albemarle CiderWorks for one year, then starting getting Blue Bee Cider off the ground.