Welcome to all of the judges, stewards and volunteers for the 2017 Cider Competition!

Bob Peak
Head Judge. Owner, Peak Fermentation Consulting
Bob holds a degree in Chemistry, is a certified judge of beer and wine, an award-winning home brewer. He makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay yearly. As General Manager at Vinquiry, was trained on the Davis 20-point wine judging scale and approved for TCA cork sensory analysis. Now retired from ownership of The Beverage People in Santa Rosa, he is an independent consultant and teacher regarding fermentation of cider, wine, beer, charcuterie, cheese, and more.
Adam Padilla
Manager of Public Wine & Beverage Operations
Adam is a manager of Public Wine & Beverage programs at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. This year he is curating and organizing the CIA's first Ciderfest at their newest facility in downtown Napa - CIA at Copia. Adam has extensive experience buying cider, beer, wine, and spirits from New York to California. His experience encompasses consumer education, beverage sales, hospitality, event operations, marketing, and public relations.
Amanda Lathrop
Associate Professor Food Science, Cal Poly
Amanda has been a hobby cider maker for many years, and over the last few years she has taught students at Cal Poly how to make cider. The students harvest apples from a CP ranch, then juice and ferment the cider in their pilot plant. Amanda has made ciders that have won national and international awards. She has also taken the cider course given by Peter Mitchell.
Christian Miller
Proprietor, Full Glass Research
Christian is the proprietor of Full Glass Research, a market research and consulting company in the food and beverage industries. He also co-directs the annual OIV Wine Marketing course at UC Davis and is currently developing a Craft Beer sensory and market research course for them. He has a particular interest in cider as an emerging category, as an avid consumer, and as someone who is married to a cider lover from Normandy, one of the great producing regions.
Christophe Smith
Robert Parker Wine Advocate
Christophe has an extensive background in the wine industry, from sales and education to his current role in business development at Robert Parker Wine Advocate, the leading wine publication influencing serious wine buyers around the globe for 34 years, The Wine Advocate gives its readers invaluable information on the world of wine as well as a wealth of reviews from unbiased experts.
David Sandri
Wine Educator and Advisor
David has been in various parts of the wine and alcohol business for over 25 years, from retail in tasting rooms to production and compliance. He has judged at competitions throughout the country, including the California State Fair, Finger Lakes International, International Wine Challenge (UK), and many others. At College of Marin he teaches classes on tasting, regions, and production, and he also gives lectures through the Wine Business program at Sonoma State University.
David Schwoegler
Food and Beverage Writer
A food writer since 1970 and member of the San Francisco Professional Food Society, David is a food and beverage columnist for Telegraph Media: OAKLAND MAGAZINE, ALAMEDA MAGAZINE, and THE EAST BAY MONTHLY. He is single and lives in the Oakland hills.
Debra Del Fiorentino
Owner and Manager of Wine Competitions Management
Debra has been judging wine and spirits for 16 years and over 150 wine and spirit competitions. She runs eight International Wine Competitions, one Spirit Competition, and Dan Berger's Cider Competition. As a sommelier and the founder and owner of Spirited Magazine, her partners are the Press Democrat, and Sonoma Media.
Dennis Yardroff
Chef and Home-Brewer
Dennis worked in wine-heavy restaurants as a bartender and server in Chicago in the 2000’s. After a brief stint in corporate show business and move to Oakland, he went into the kitchen and spent most of 2011 working first in NYC, then in Berkeley. He opened Lost And Found in the spring of 2014 and curated a diverse, accessible and locally crafted cider, wine, and beer list. He has now left The Hog’s Apothecary in Oakland to join forces with Ol’ Republic Brewing in Nevada City, CA.
Dianne Boate
Food and Wine Writer
Dianne has traveled and tasted extensively through wine and cider regions of the world. Her evaluations, reviews and insights are regularly published in food and wine columns in partnership with her husband. She has been a professional baker for 35 years, photographer for 28 years, custom hat maker for 20 years, columnist for 4 years, and now have invested 8 years into becoming a botanical illustration artist in pen, ink, and watercolor.
Gayle Keck
Freelance Writer Specializing in Travel and Food
Gayle has judged numerous competitions, including the International Chocolate Salon, the Taste Awards, the Bay Area BBQ Championship, and the California Cider Competition. She has written for Gourmet, the Washington Post, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, and many other publications.
Jack Crispin Ian Cain
Owner and Master Distiller for Low Gap Whiskey
Jack is a distiller and President of American Craft Whiskey Distillery. He has been working in the wine and spirits industry for 34 years, most notably at Hidden Cellars Winery during the mid 1980's, and at the Germain-Robin Distillery starting in 1989. In 2005 he and his partner, Tamar Kaye, founded Greenway Distillers, Inc., and in 2008 they started a second venture American Craft Whiskey Distillery where he continues to serve as President and Senior Distiller.
Jim Brown
UC Davis
James A. Brown, Ph.D., is the UC Davis Extension director of fermentation science at the University of California, Davis. With degrees in fermentation science and microbiology, his graduate research at UC Davis focused on the functional genomics of yeast and fermentation stress. He expanded on yeast responses to environmental stress as a research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has taught microbiology of wine and beer since 1994.
John Cesano
Executive Director of Anderson Valley Winegrowers
John is a local wine guy, the Executive Director of Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association, and wrote a weekly newspaper wine column. He has previous experience in wine competitions and is returning for his second year of cider competition judging with us in the valley he is proud to both work in and work to support.
Maël Renault
Mael was born Brittany, the cider region of France. After his education in sommellerie, he gained experience in multiple high end restaraunts through out France, Canada, and the French Caribbean. He currently resides in the beautiful Napa Valley with his Californian wife Sarah. He is interested to taste and compare ciders from around the world and specific to California. When he is not drinking cider, his focus is on photography.
Michal Clements
Food and Beverage Consultant and Writer
Michal is a food and beverage industry consultant and the writer of the blog “The Market Strategist” on Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Now website. She is also the managing principal of Insight to Action and the co-author of Tuning into Mom: Understanding America’s Most Powerful Consumer. In the past she has worked with AB-InBev, the world's largest brewery, as well as Gatorade (non alcoholic) and Silk Soy Milk. She’s very excited to join our panel of judges for the first time this year.
Robert Meyer
Owner of International Grape Vine
Robert has promoted cider in both the US and Europe, importing and exporting while also serving as a marketing and promotions consultant. During communism he opened the first international wine tasting operation in Moscow and exported California wines to Russia. He owns International Grape Vine, which has been in existence for over 40 years, and is now a partner in Drunken Dragon, which exports to China. In his free time, he writes about wine.
Tim Bray
Tim has been making cider for over a decade. His focus on regional terroir, and fruit forward expression of the apple garnered one of only two Double Gold medals the 2015 competition. Tim is a hydrogeologist, farmer and furniture maker. He as an abiding interest in fermentation and brewing, and is an avid birder.
Tom Allman
Tom has been an enthusiast cidermaker for many years and is excited about someday offering his ciders to the public. In the meantime he continues to develop his palate, refine his recipes, and experiment with apple orcharding. His day job as Sheriff of Mendocino County keeps him busy the rest of the time.

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