Virginia Governor's Cup

The Virginia Governor's Cup, one of the most stringent competitions in the US, is hosted by the Virginia Wineries Association, in partnership with the Virginia Wine Board and the Virginia Vineyards Association.

The Virginia Governor's Cup Gala will be from 6-9 pm on March 7th at Richmond's Main Street Station. 

The Competition

In 2024, world-class judges sampled over 750 of the best Virginia wines from across the Commonwealth. With 79 wineries receiving 137 Gold Medals, the highest 12 ranking red and white wines make up the Governor's Cup Case, with one bottle taking home the coveted Governor's Cup®.  The 2024 competition will be celebrated at Richmond's Main Street Station on March 7th.

Preliminary Round

Over the course of three days, each wine is tasted by 6 judges. This is a single-blind tasting, meaning that judges only know the grape or category of a wine, but the vintage, winery and name are hidden behind coded-glasses.

Finally, individual judges' scores of a wine are averaged into one score after the lowest score is dropped.

Final Round

Over the course of 3 days, 12 judges assess the highest ranking wines from the preliminary round. Unlike the preliminary round, each judge samples all of the Final Round wines.

Each wine in the Final Round receives a final average score after lowest is dropped. The 12 wines with the highest average score are identified as the "Governor's Cup Case."

The wine with the highest overall score is the Governor's Cup Winner.

Judging Criteria

Judges will use the 100 point scale, as used by Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and many others, to rate the most outstanding wines Virginia has to offer.

Tasting Notes

Our esteemed judges assemble tasting notes for each wine commenting on:

  • Appearance Clear or dull, color, intensity, any other visual observations
  • Aroma Descriptors as to clean or faulty aromatics, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Flavor Character of the alcohol, acidity, body, tannin, oak, fruit, floral, vegetal, spice, oak, chemical, animal, and intensity
  • Overall Quality
  • Commercial Suitability

Rating Scale

The numerical rating will be used to determine medal winners and advancement to subsequent round.

Classic Among The Best Wines In The World
Outstanding Superior Character And Style
Very Good A Wine With Special Qualities
Good A Well Made Wine Of Good Quality
Average A Drinkable Wine That May Have Minor Flaws
Not recommended(NR)/ No Score(NS)

The Awards

Once the judging is complete, the average wine score will be used to determine if it qualifies for a medal, and the highest 12 ranking red and white wines will become the Governor's Cup Case.

Best in Show Cider

Beginning in 2021, Virginia cider is judged in its own category. Judges are selected based on their passion, experience, and understanding of the cider category. Each cider is scored using a 100 point scale. After tasting through all the entries, the top six scoring ciders were identified. The judges then retasted (blind) and ranked their favorites from 1-6. The highest-rated cider will win the Best in Show Cider award.

The Judges

Meet this year's judges; a world-class panel with decades of experience.

Matthew Brown

Since graduating from the University of Virginia in 2010, Matthew has spent his entire career in the hospitality and wine trade. His diverse experience includes restaurant service and management, off-premise wine retail work, as well as winery marketing, branding, and administrative management. In 2017 he earned a Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit EducationTrust and enrolled the following year as a student of the
Institute of Masters of Wine which, like the WSET, is based in London. Matthew’s passion for food, wine, and unforgettable experiences has taken him around the world, adding the benefit of a global perspective to his work as a business and marketing consultant in the wine trade.

Nadine Brown

Sommelier Nadine Brown was born and raised in Jamaica and Puerto Rico and began her hospitality career at the host stand. 

Today Nadine is a twenty-five veteran of the Washington Area restaurant industry. She spent over 14 years at Charlie Palmer Steak as their Wine Director and Sommelier. She has also been a  managing partner, General Manager and hospitality consultant. She is a two-time winner of the Rammy’s Wine Program of the year for the region. Nadine is a board member of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan D.C as well as the nonprofit the Verasion Project.  She is a wine judge participating in competitions including the Monticello Cup and TexSom IWA. Nadine is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier D.C chapter and the Regarding Her organization. Nadine is a published author writing articles about wine and the wine industry for various publications. 

Her company, At Your Service, offers a range of services from hosting wine events, cellar management and wine promotions, staff training and hospitality consulting.. Nadine is a mentor to many young professionals in the business. Nadine strives to encourage more women to join and stay in the industry. for moms and dads. She is a mother of two, Estelle and Emerson.

Kenny Bumbaco

Kenny Bumbaco is a passionate supporter of the Virginia wine industry with 15 years of experience working with specialty food and wine. He holds the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation from the Society of Wine Educators and has previously served as a judge for the Monticello Wine Trail and Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail wine competitions. Kenny first became interested in Virginia wine while working in retail management for Smithfield Specialty Foods Group, where he was asked to create a local wine program for two retail locations. He spent the next several years visiting wineries and discovering the terroir and varietals found in the Commonwealth. Kenny joined The Williamsburg Winery as Tasting Room Manager in 2010. He was later promoted to Vice President of Direct Wine Sales and served in that role until 2022. Kenny expanded the winery’s Wine Club program and e-commerce offerings. He also enjoyed traveling the state for wine festivals and special events and leading the winery’s wine education programs, including the Wine Discovery Seminar, a monthly series of international and themed wine tastings. From 2019 to 2022, he served the industry as a member of the Virginia Wineries Association Board of Directors. In 2022, Kenny joined La Tienda, an e-commerce retailer specializing in specialty food and cookware from Spain. On the weekends, he continues to travel the vineyards of Virginia seeking out new wine producers and returning to visit old favorites. He enjoys sharing his passion for Virginia wine with others both at special events and on social media.

Richard Carson

Richard Carson began his interest in fine wine while in hotel management in Washington, DC. After a 2008 visit to Sonoma, California wineries, he took a part-time tasting room position at Hillsborough Winery Loudoun County, VA. This eventually led to a full-time position managing Paradise Springs Winery and thereafter selling winery equipment and supplies to the Virginia and Maryland wine industries.  His next position was for a well-established Arlington retailer where he was the buyer for Virginia wines and created a virtual tasting program with winemakers from Virginia and beyond. Richard is now  with a Richmond based importer and distributor with a focus on European and American wines. His portfolio represents small family-owned wineries that strive to practice organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking.

Claudia Chamberlain

Claudia Chamberlain is a Regional Manager covering the Mid-Atlantic for Jackson FamilyWines based in the Washington DC area. Claudia started her career in wine by spending 4years in the E&J Gallo sales program, working in both on and off premise winedistributionsales in North Carolina and DC. She then switched gears to work for the large spirits supplier Heaven Hill, covering Virginia. In addition to working for Jackson Family, she is a WSETCertified Educator and can be found teaching wine & spirits courses for Capital Wine School in DC. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines, WSET Level 3 in Spirits, CWE and CSE from the Society of Wine Educators, and Certified Sommelier titles. Claudia is currently a student in the Master of Wine program.

Sarita Cheaves

Sarita Cheaves, WSET (Wine Spirits Education Trust) certified, is a proud Washington, DC native with a passion for food and wine. She is the founder of VineMeUp Media, producer, and host of The Swirl Suite Podcast. Sarita is the author of VineMeUp: An Activity Book Celebrating Melanated Wine Enthusiasts.

As a wine professional dedicated to storytelling, Sarita explores diverse wines and experiments with food. Whether creating vivid recipes, pairing food with a wide range of wines, or interviewing winemakers or chefs, Sarita is committed to sharing new experiences and stories with the VineMeUp Media and The Swirl Suite Podcast communities.  She has served as a judge for the Maryland Governor’s Cup Wine Competition.

Quynh Cohen

Sommelier and Chief of the Virginia Wine Experience at The Omni Homestead, Quynh Cohen enjoys bringing high-end Virginia Wine tasting to her guests. She is also a certified advanced yoga instructor, where she has embraced the many sustainable, bio-dynamic and lower alcoholic wines Virginia offers and pairs them with her classes. She began her career many years ago in several of the Orange County, VA vineyards and later went on to work as Sommelier at Fiola in Miami. After enhancing her skills working with one of the largest import and export companies in Florida, Quynh was ready to return to her roots in hospitality. Quynh earned her Sommelier and Diploma in Wine & Management through Le Cordon Bleu and the Wine Culture Heritage and Tourism University Diploma awarded by the Georges Chappaz Wine and Vine Institute in Champagne (University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne), when they still collaborated with the Le Cordon Bleu in Austin Texas.  She has worked in the wine and hospitality industry for over 20 plus years, but sometimes feels she is just getting started. 

Alicia Cypress

Alicia Cypress is a journalist who spent most of her career at The Washington Post and NPR. She’s now managing editor for the World Resources Institute. Her curiosity in wine led her to a WSET certification and a side hustle as a wine writer, where she’s contributed wine stories to NPR, the USA Today Network, Seven Fifty Daily, the Napa Valley Wine Academy and her own website ( She also serves as a judge for the James Beard Foundation and as an auction committee member for the annual Heart’s Delight Wine Auction in Washington, D.C. benefiting the American Heart Association. 

Emmanuel Dabney

Emmanuel Dabney is a historian, resident of southside Virginia, and an avid consumer of wine and cider and Virginia made spirits. Emmanuel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and completed a Master’s degree in Public History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He’s a member of several Virginia beverage makers’ clubs and has given a presentation on the relationship between enslaved people and fruit orchards in antebellum Virginia among a host of other topics related to slavery, freedom, emancipation, and the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup is Emmanuel’s first time participating.

Maria Denton

Maria E. Denton, CSS CSW CWE, is the Beverage Director for the two highest-grossing restaurants in Washington, DC--Old Ebbitt Grill and The Hamilton. She brings over 25 years of experience to this role, having started her wines and spirits career in the restaurant industry, working her way from server to General Manager along the way. Maria has also worked in the beverage wholesale business, as a wines and spirits instructor, and as a lead sommelier for several international wine events. Always an advocate of wines and spirits education, Maria is a mentor to several DC-area sommeliers, and she served on the Society of Wine Educators Board of Directors from 2008 to 2014.

David Denton

David is the only American faculty member of the Wine Academy of Spain in Madrid and is a sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, DC. He holds all three certifications from the Society of Wine Educators–the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), the Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS), and the Certified Wine Educator (CWE), and holds the Official Sherry Educator title from the Consejo Regulador of Sherry. In addition, David has passed the Advanced Sommelier exam held by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a Certified Bordeaux Educator through the L'Ecole du Vin Bordeaux. He is the head sommelier for many prestigious events including Robert Parker's master tasting in Logrono, Spain; Staglin Family Vineyards' annual Music Festival in Napa Valley; the Society of Wine Educators' annual conferences in Monterey, CA, Washington, DC, New Orleans, LA, and Sacramento, CA; and the Vinoble Fortified and Dessert Wine Festival in Jerez, Spain; among others. He resides in Arlington, VA, with his wife Maria.

Amie Fields

Amie is a co-founder and partner at Botanist and Barrel Winery & Cidery in central North Carolina. After a lifelong career in wine, sourcing, importing and distributing, Amie realized that the winemakers have all the fun. She wanted to make the type of wild and raw ciders that she and her husband enjoyed drinking and couldn't find in the US, so she teamed up with her husband Lyndon Smith and sister-in-law Kether Smith in 2017 and Botanist and Barrel Cidery and Winery was born. 
Amie is one of a select few people awarded the Pommelier certification from the American Cider Association. She is also certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers, has judged at the Great Lakes International Wine and Perry competition and has been a panelist speaker at Cidercon. Amie’s expertise in tasting, evaluating and finding balance is invaluable in creating new and exciting ciders and wines. At Botanist and Barrel, she loves focusing on minimal intervention winemaking in order to showcase a living product’s terroir. These days you can find her in Asheville's new Botanist and Barrel tasting bar and bottle shop tirelessly working on changing the way people think about natural cider and wine.

Jerry Gibson

Jerry Gibson has been involved with wine since the mid-80s when he became a member of the American Wine Society. He branched out from there working with various Virginia Wineries helping in their tasting rooms, at festivals, and during harvests. In 2019, he became a certified wine judge through the American Wine Society Certified Wine Judge Program, a three-year endeavor. He has judged for the Indy International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Competition, the American Wine Society both in the Amateur and Commercial competitions, and the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition.

Titus Green

Titus Green is a graduate of Virginian Military Institute. He is accredited as court of masters sommelier and currently ad Advanced level candidate.  He reigns from Washington DC with one of the best wine list in the city; multiple acclaimed Wine Spectators best award of excellence.  His background includes decades of upper level management in hospitatlity, fine dining wine director and education, leadership in sales through our the DMV as well as an International and local wine judge.  Titus has collaborations with top well known Wine brands and has been named by top Wine Enthusiast, other magazines and internet sources as a top sommelier to follow.   Currently the Vice President of sales Maryland/Montgomery county at Constantine wines.  You can usually fine him singing about wine as he etches a niche in the music.

Booth Hardy

Booth Hardy fell in love with wine working the 2005 harvest at Carneros Creek in California. After three years working production on the North Coast and in Santa Cruz, he returned to Virginia to take a job at the award winning Barrel Thief wine store in Richmond. In 2011, he became a partner and took over operations and purchasing. During his ongoing tenure there, he completed the WSET Advanced Certification with merit, became a Certified Specialist of Wine and Level 2 Sommelier, judged wine competitions around the state, and led the Barrel Thief team to receive many awards including Richmond’s Elby Award for Best Wine Program. In 2023, he took over as full owner of Barrel Thief. In his free time, his passion for wine takes him around the world to visit the producers he loves. 

Megan Hereford

Megan Hereford is a wine enthusiast, cork dork, and sometimes cellar rat. After receiving a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Food Microbiology from Virginia Tech she realized she probably should have decided to become a winemaker. Instead, she pursued a career in the biotech industry before hearing the sirens call of the world of sales. Since 2010 she has sold all the things that winemakers use to make wine and has become a complete nerd about fermentation, clean wines, and wine closures. 

Her chosen career path means that Megan has had a chance to taste wines from all over the United States and she loves to see how the industry has grown outside of the west coast. A lover of clean, bright, and lively wines, she holds a WSET level 3 certification and is a writer for The Wine Guild of Charlottesville as well as an occasional wine judge for a few Virginia wine competitions.  

In 2021 she was lured into the world of starting her own farm winery with longtime friend, travel and drinking buddy Jocelyn. Sometimes helping in the cellar and always having input on the styles of wines and ciders means she can live out all her winemaking fantasies while still steering the sales and marketing side of the business. She can’t wait to share all the things she and Jocelyn create with you. Cheers! 

Erica Jeter

Erica Jeter is a cidermaker and cider enthusiast, who finds great joy in fine cider’s current revival. She is a member of the American Cider Association, a Cider Convolunteer, and has studied cidermaking, sensory analysis, and orcharding through workshops at Blue Bee Cider, Albemarle CiderWorks, Penn State Extension, the American Cider Association, and the CiderInstitute of North America. She is one of the organizers of The Cider Exchange (TCE) community on Facebook, and loves sharing and exchanging orchard-based ciders and perries with friends across many cider regions. As a cidermaker, her quest for rare and exceptional apples has led her to orchards throughout central and southwest Virginia, including the highly revered Foggy Ridge Cider orchard. As an avid fan of nature and the outdoors, she enjoys traveling in her microcamper to orchard-based cideries to experience what she refers to as “full terroir immersion”: sleeping under the stars in orchards, cooking and dining al fresco with the farm and cidery families, and tasting ciders among the trees and land that produced them. Erica lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and teenage son, who wonder how long it will take for her cider making equipment to take over every floor of their home.

Robert Jones

Robert Jones is a Master Sommelier and National Sales Manager for Kysela Père et Fils. Prior to joining Kysela in 2001, he worked for 14 years in restaurants, hotels and private clubs in Roanoke and Roanoke, VA, Charlotte NC, Martha’s Vineyard MA, and Atlanta GA.

Under Robert’s tenure as the sommelier and assistant front of house manager for the Dining Room the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta, GA (1996 – 1999) the restaurant earned the Mobil 5 Star award, becoming one of 14 restaurants in the country to achieve that distinction. 

In October 1999 Robert passed the service and blind tasting components of the Master Sommelier exam, and in March 2001 he passed the theoretical component of the Master Sommelier exam, becoming the country’s 50th Master Sommelier.

Robert enjoys all types and styles of wine; among his favorite regions are Champagne, the Mosel valley, Burgundy, the Loire valley, Alsace, the Rhone valley, Rioja, South Africa and Madeira. Rum is his spirit of choice and Belgian ales are his favorite category of beer.

Robert is the father of a daughter and son and lives with his wife in Richmond.  He enjoys traveling, cooking, tending to his garden, hiking the mountains of southwest VA, bicycling around the lake in his neighborhood, and driving twisty back roads.

Frank Morgan - Director of Judging

Judging Director
Frank Morgan is a data privacy regulatory professional, traveler and writer based in coastal Virginia. He has been writing about the wines, wineries and winemakers of Virginia for 15 years. He writes a syndicated wine column that appears in newspapers including The Daily Press, The Boston Herald, The Virginian-Pilot, and The Orlando Sentinel. Morgan is also a contributor for Virginia Living Magazine and Wine & Country Life magazine.  He has managed the Monticello Cup Wine Competition and the Shenandoah Valley Wine Competition for the past five years.  He served as a judge for the Virginia Governor’s Cup for 10 years before assuming the role of Director of Judging. He lives on the coast of Virginia with his wife, daughter, dog and bird.

Michael Kaiser

Michael is the main voice of WineAmerica on Capitol Hill, taking WineAmerica’s message to Members of Congress and their staff. Michael is also the main point of contact between the organization and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and handles general regulatory concerns for WineAmerica members. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Free the Grapes. Michael is a regular fixture at industry trade shows and conferences throughout the country. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, USA Today, Wine Business and Wine Spectator. Michael has also judged statewide wine competitions in Colorado and Maryland, as well as in the 2023 Monticello Cup. Prior to joining WineAmerica, Michael provided research and logistical support to two DC based lobbying firms. He also handled compliance issues with a major political party. Michael earned his BA in American Studies and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and a MA in Political Science from American University in Washington, DC.

Cassandra Kessman

Cassandra has been in the food and beverage industry since 2006. Over the past 5 years she has become a passionate oenophile as Wine Director of the Blacksburg Wine Lab, while gaining certificates with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust levels I & II (WSET) as well as taking the Intro Exam for the Guild of Court Master Sommeliers. She has aspirations to continue her studies by completing WSET level III. She enjoys expanding guests palates by hosting a variety of educational wine tastings, including her favorite, the monthly wine themed book club. Originally from New York, Cassandra has called southwest Virginia her home the past decade and has fallen in love with the region and it’s wine. She feels her degree in Environmental Studies helps her have a greater appreciation and understanding of Terroir.

Anna Kietzerow

Currently a Ph.D. student, Anna Kietzerow has been actively involved in the wine industry for the past 6 years.  She started by working at a small estate winery in Michigan and brought her passion for local wine with her when she moved to Virginia.  Presently, she works with the Wine Guild of Charlottesville writing wine offers and notes, developing wine classes, and curating wines for individuals for any time or occasion.  She holds a Wine and Spirits Education (WSET) Level 3 award and is currently working on the WSET Diploma.  She recently served as a judge for the Shenandoah Valley Wine Competition.  

Michael Kimball

Michael Kimball is a partner at Consociate Media, a recognized thought leader and a passionate advocate for the Virginia wine industry. Prior to joining Consociate, Kimball served as Vice President of Marketing at the Williamsburg Winery, where he participated in numerous industry organizations. He served as Vice President of the Virginia Wineries Association, Chairman of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, was a Board Member of the Colonial Virginia Wine Trail and the Virginia Oyster Trail Management Team. He also served on the marketing advisory group for the Williamsburg Area Destination Marketing Committee. Kimball created and hosted the “Cellar Sessions Podcast,” one of the first Virginia wine-centric podcasts. He was among CoVa BIZ Magazine’s Millennials on the Move in 2016, a special feature recognizing the area’s best and brightest young professionals. More recently, Kimball has enjoyed serving as a judge for several prominent Virginia wine competitions including the Shenandoah Valley Wine Competition and the Monticello Cup.

Jocelyn Kuzelka

Jocelyn Kuzelka is a winemaker, cidermaker, and technical consultant. Since 2003, Jocelyn has followed her love of fermentation and enology all around the world with experience working wine grape harvests in the U.S., Italy, Australia, and New Zealand. Her education includes a B.S. in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech and a M.S. in Oenology from the University of Adelaide in South Australia. 

Jocelyn has been serving as a consultant to winemakers and cidermakers across the country, as well as creating small batch wines and ciders for producers in Virginia since 2008.  Jocelyn’s company Panacea Wine Consulting has helped producers build successful, thriving wine and cider companies; working with many different producers over the years has given her a high level of mastery and proficiency in the field.  

Jocelyn also serves as the Cider Specialist for the Virginia Winemakers Research Exchange, a non-profit organization of Virginia producers pursuing quality improvement through practical experimentation in vineyards, orchards, wineries, and cideries.  The organization supports wine and cider makers to refine ideas or questions through experimental design, protocol design, funding laboratory analysis,  and finally conducting sensory and statistical evaluation.  It is super science geeky and super fun! 

In 2021, Jocelyn and longtime friend Megan Hereford started Daring Wine Company, a vision that grew from grapes without a home, a winery with space, and a lot of courage.  Producing only small batch, high quality wines and ciders from southwestern and central Virginia and honoring the brave and bold people that have inspired us along the way. Saluté! 

Lance Lemon

Lance, a Virginia native and a 2011 graduate of the University of Virginia, is an accomplished actor and a connoisseur of the grape. Double majoring in acting and studio art with a focus in cinematography, Lance brings a creative flair to the world of wine. Alongside his acting pursuits, he holds a WSET Level 2 Certification, underscoring his deep understanding of the nuances in the vast world of wine.

In 2020, Lance showcased his entrepreneurial spirit by opening RichWine RVA, an online local delivery service. His return to Richmond began a new chapter, where he immersed himself in the local wine scene. Lance further enriched his wine journey by opening Penny's Wine Shop and Wine Bar in Jackson Ward, Richmond, Virginia, in February 2023. Penny's has earned numerous awards and recognitions since its opening, From Forbes "Forget canceled and delayed flight, plan an end of summer road trip to Richmond instead", to Wine Enthusiast "Top 25 Wine Shops", to Vine Pair "Retailer of the Year", to Top 25 restaurants in Richmond from Richmond Magazine and most recently Richmond's dining all-stars of 2023 from Richmond Times Dispatch.

Working alongside winemakers and brothers Ben Jordan and Tim Jordan at their family farm in Shenandoah, Lance honed his craft. Additionally, he served as a Cellar Assistant at Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison County.

A true advocate for Virginia wine, Lance proudly holds the title of Virginia Wine Ambassador with The Virginia Wine Marketing office. Further demonstrating his commitment to the craft, Lance is making his first wine in collaboration with Reggie Leonard at Common Wealth Crush. They are the first to be part of this exciting inaugural incubator program. Their wine is titled The Parallax Project, which focuses on exploring the juxtaposition between the traditional Vitis Vinifera Grape and the new wave of grape growing in Virginia with Hybrids.  Lance's journey in wine is about appreciation and active participation, making his mark on the industry from vine to bottle.

Reggie Leonard

Reggie Leonard has made a notable entry into the industry, primarily through his co-founding of Oenoverse, a dynamic addition to the Virginia wine scene. Affectionately dubbed as the "Virginia Wine Hype Man" by VinePair, Reggie's authentic approach and gregarious personality have earned him a well-deserved reputation. In his role as a Virginia wineambassador, Reggie partners with the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, championing the state's diverse winemaking scene. Serving as a judge for regional and statewide wine competitions (Shenandoah Cup, Monticello Cup, and the current Virginia Governor’s Cup) have been formative recent experiences in his journey. His influence extends beyond Virginia, as he is an award recipient and alumni ambassador for Wine Unify, an organization dedicated to fostering inclusivity in the wine industry. Reggie's notable presence in esteemed publications like SommTV, VinePair, Punch, and the Boston Globe underscores his rising influence in the industry. Being named part of the '23 class of The VinePair 50 further solidifies his status as a rising star in the wineworld. In addition to events throughout "the Oenoverse," you can catch Reggie at the 2024 Charleston Wine & Food festival, speaking on a panel, hosting a Virginia wine dinner, and pouring VA wines throughout the event.

Dave McIntyre

Dave McIntyre has written the weekly wine column for The Washington Post since October 2008. His writings focus on the cultural and historical context of wine in our modern lives, while always trying to point readers to some really good vino. He has also been published in Wine Enthusiast and The San Francisco Chronicle, and his Washington Post column is widely syndicated throughout the United States. He has contributed to Lonely Planet Wine Trails of the United States & Canada (2018), the World Atlas of Wine, 8th Edition (2019), the Oxford Companion to Wine, 5th Edition (2023) as well as other books. He has twice been honored by the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association for his contributions to consumer awareness of the wines of the Eastern United States, and is a frequent judge for the Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition.

Sujata Mehta

A Virginia native and long-time food and wine enthusiast, Sujata started her journey of wine exploration in Virginia Wine country. She began formalizing her wine knowledge in 2018 with the Wine Spirit and Education Trust (WSET). She currently holds the Level 2 and Level 3 Awards with WSET, an Introductory Sommelier Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and is currently a WSET Diploma Candidate.

An extrovert to her core, Sujata has a passion for wine education, teaching, and inclusion. She entered the wine industry in 2020 by holding virtual wine tastings and seminars and continues to cater to private events and clients. She is most excited when showcasing excellent wine at any price, with a special place in her heart for women and BIPOC winemakers. She is integrated in the DMV wine community, leading the DMV Wine Tasting Group, and serving as a finance committee member of the Vin.Vitalité: Women of Wine DC Non-Profit.

Outside of the wine world, Sujata is a graduate of George Mason University, holds a degree in Finance, and works for a large government contractor as a Financial Operations Senior Manager. She is the founder and lead of the DC Women in Finance within her organization and is heavily involved in Inclusion and Diversity Initiatives.

Lindsey Parris

Business economist, author, and retired AF colonel, distinguished graduate of the USAF Academy with advanced degrees from and teaching experience at FSU and Harvard and a long-time love of wines during careers in the private and public sectors. He has judged and worked with the Virginia Governor's wine competition the past eleven years, judged for Virginia’s Monticello Trail wine competition, has moderated panels for the Eastern Winery Exposition, and is a senior wine and spirits instructor at the Capital Wine School and Adventure Wine. He holds the Diploma in Wine and Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Wines & Spirits (AIWS).  In addition to the WSET Diploma, he has teaching certifications in wine and spirits from the Society of Wine Educators, Italian Wine Central (Italian Wine Professional), Burgundy and Provence; is a certified instructor for the French, Spanish, and Italian Wine Scholar programs of the Wine Scholar Guild;  and a BNIC-Accredited Cognac Educator who represents the BNIC on Cognac Day for Cognac's US sister city and conducts Master-level Cognac seminars at institutions such as the Miami Culinary Institute. He is a co-founder of Spanish-American Wine Merchants; served on the board of Spirits Acquisitions, an incubator company for developing emerging wine and spirits brands, including Clyde May's whiskey; and is now a board member for vodka and tequila start-ups Monkey in Paradise and Blue Nectar. He works with marketing and strategic business issues in the wine and spirits industry, and he instructs and lectures on wine topics in a variety of venues.

Tassie Pippert

Tassie Pippert is a Certified Chef and a Certified Specialist of Wine. She also holds Level 2 wine certification with Wine and Spirit Educators Trust.  Tassie is retired from the Hart School of Hospitality at James Madison University in Harrisonburg Virginia, where she served as professor of food and beverage education.  In her faculty role, she has taught food and wine programs in Virginia, Napa and Sonoma California, Florence Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, and throughout France.  Additionally, Tassie is the Emmy-winning host and producer of Un-Wine’d on PBS.

Winn Roberton

Winn Roberton began his restaurant career in 2000 bussing tables full of tacos while studying music at Penn State University. With years of passion for food & cooking already under his belt, it was no surprise he caught the wine bug with relative ease. Life then took Winn to Las Vegas where he cut his teeth on many different restaurant positions in restaurants such as Nobhill, Craftsteak, and Carnevino.

After a stint of wine study in California, Winn returned to his native Washington, DC to open Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak DC in 2008. There he works with a world-wide wine list featuring affordable finds up to aged first-growth Bordeaux. With a passion for teaching, Winn looks forward to staff training at Bourbon Steak as well as outside engagements.

Lenn Thompson

Lenn Thompson has written about North American wines not from the West Coast for two decades in various media outlets, including Wine Enthusiast (when they cared about local wine), Beverage Media, Wildsam Field Guides, Lonely Planet, and Edible Communities publications. Winner of the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association's Birchenall Award in 2018, he's the founder of TasteCamp, a conference that immerses writers and buyers in new-to-them wine regions and is co-founder of #openlocalwine, an event designed to support wineries during the COVID pandemic. He's judged wine competitions up and down the East Coast, though he thinks many of them are poorly run and are largely meaningless for consumers. Lenn now mostly writes for himself at

Dr. Paul Ting

While Paul did not grow up in a culture of wine, he fell in love with wine over three decades ago, when he was stationed near Napa Valley with the United States Air Force. A lover of Burgundy, age-able white wines, and Champagne, he is always seeking wine with elegance and depth. In addition to enjoying wine, Paul has assisted his wife Joy, a professional winemaker, in the winery and holds a Certificate in Winemaking from the University of California, Davis. A lifelong student, Paul is WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 3 certified and a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW). His interests extend to other fermented beverages as well, and he has obtained certifications as a Sake Professional, Sake Scholar, Shochu Advisor, and Cider Professional

Pat Valas

In 1983 Patricia joined the American Wine Society in 1985.  She graduated from the AWS Wine Judge Training Program in 1997 and began to judge at a variety of venues including the American Wine Society Commercial and Amateur Competitions , the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Competition and Winemaker Magazine’s Amateur competition, as well as several county and state fairs in the Mid Atlantic region. She has been an instructor in the AWS Wine Judge Certification Program since 2009, also the year she and her husband started the NoLoCo (Northern Loudoun County)AWS chapter in Lovettsville VA. Patricia has completed the WSET level 2 course with merit in 2020.

Carlo De Vito

Carlo DeVito is a recipient of the Birchenall Award From Award Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association for providing insight into the wines of the East Coast wine industry. He is the editor/publisher of the successful blog EAST COAST WINERIES which has drawn more than 1,5 million visitors.  He is the author of such wine, beers, and spirits titles as DRINK THE NORTHEAST, LIFE BY THE GLASS: A Wine Lover's Journal, THE NEW SINGLE MALT WHISKEY, BIG WHISKEY, and THE SPIRIT OF RYE. BIG WHISKEY (which has sold more than 50,000 copies across two editions)). THE SPIRIT OF RYE was named one of the Top 10 Spirits Books of the Year by Tales of the Cocktail. He is currently working on a 400+ page book about the distilleries of Tennessee entitled TENNESEE WHISKEY, and a social history of New York State through beer for SUNY Press (with a staff of four other local historians). Carlo DeVito has more than 20 years experience as a publishing executive. His authors include Kevin Zraly, Oz Clarke, Matt Kramer, Tom Stevenson, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jensen, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, and many others. His food authors include Gordon Ramsey, the Beekman Boys, Good Housekeeping, and many others. He has worked with such spirits writers as Clay Risen, Lew Bryson, Clay Risen, James Meehan, Michael Jackson, James Rodewald, Gary Reagan, Salvatore Calabrese, Wine Spectator and the New York Times.  His past authors have also included Stephen Hawking, Dan Rather, EO Wilson, Michael Lewis, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., James McPherson, Gilbert King, Stanley Crouch, David Margolick, and many others. He was also the founder of Hudson-Chatham Winery, and was recently interim winemaker at Unionville Vineyards. 

Neal Wavra

Neal Wavra is the Chef Owner/Sommelier of Field & Main Restaurant in Marshall, VA.  He also provides consulting services, creates customized wine and food events and presents about hospitality, wine and food through his company FABLE Hospitality.  Wavra was the host and sommelier at The Riverstead, a sixteen-seat restaurant located in Chilhowie, Virginia run by Michelin starred chefs John Shields and Karen Urie.  Wavra was the former General Manager and Sommelier for The Ashby Inn & Restaurant in Paris, VA.  In addition, Wavra is the present director for the Loudoun County Wine Competition.  
Prior to working in Virginia, Wavra was the Dining Room Manager at Charlie Trotters in Chicago and the Dining Room and Farmstead Manager at Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN.  He holds degrees from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California; and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.  Wavra is the recipient of the Commanderie de Bordeaux Wine Scholarship and the Kopf Foundation Wine Excellence Scholarship.

Eric West

Eric is the director of the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, the world's largest cider judging. He has judged cider at the Royal Bath & West Show in England, the Australian Cider Awards, and other prestigious competitions. Eric is a past recipient of a Significant Contribution to the Cider Industry award from the American Cider Association, and is a current member of ACA's Data Quality Initiative. He served as Interim Director of the Certified Cider Professional program and has written a number of educational features for the print version of Cidercraft Magazine.
In addition to his cider credentials, Eric is a Certified Cicerone and a recognized judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program. He holds a master's degree in Geography from Virginia Tech and lives in Roanoke.

Kathy Wiedemann

Kathy Wiedemann considers herself an enthusiastic advocate for Virginia wine both in the real and social media worlds. She has actively participated in many online wine tastings for #vawinechat, #winestudio, and others. She has spent the last ten years studying wine from the ground up and, in those pursuits, has earned great respect for Virginia’s place in the wine world. She has 7 years of experience working weekends in VA tasting rooms educating customers across the tasting bar and through wine classes that she designed and taught. In 2018, she was awarded the Loudoun County Wine Ambassador of the Year by the Loudoun Wine Awards.
For the past 3 years, Kathy has served as a board member of the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association assisting with expansion of the association’s social media presence in promoting east coast wine. In addition, during the same 3 years, she has written a weekly wine blog for wine shop City Vino located in Fredericksburg, VA. 
She holds the WSET advanced certification (WSET III), Certified Sherry Wine Specialist, and Wines of Portugal ‘Academia do Vinho’ Level 3 Advanced Certification. She is active in a local American Wine Society chapter, attends many educational wine conferences, and continues her wine studies through tastings and classes at Capital Wine School and Guild Somm among others. She hopes to teach in the future.

David Wray

David Wray became a passionate advocate and explorer of Virginia Wine in 2005 while working for the Williamsburg Winery at their hotel, Wedmore Place. Since that time, he has been a Director of Wine Education, worked for the Virginia ABC, and worked as a sales representative for a wine distribution company. In addition, he earned his Wine & Spirit’s Education Trust Certification, and is actively working towards additional educational opportunities in the industry. David Wray is the current Regional Director for Chain Retail Sales covering the Tidewater area for Winebow Fine Wines & Spirits. In his non-working hours, he visits Virginia’s wine regions, as well as attends festivals and tasting experiences for the multitudes of Virginia’s wine, beer, and spirits industries.

Doug Zerbst

Doug Zerbst has been in the wine business for a long while now… When he first started, the job of wine steward was granted to him not because of his keen wine knowledge or discerning palate, but rather his breathtakingly authentic pronunciation of French wine labels.  In his years in and around wine, he has worked as a chef, sommelier, hotel manager, and as a wine wholesaler.  In his current role as VP of Fine Wine for Republic National Distributing Co of Virginia in Richmond, Doug works with a highly wine-educated sales team that feels there is nothing more fun than stumping the boss with arcane wine questions and obscure blind tastings.

Doug has close involvement with hundreds of domestic and international suppliers and wineries.  He also has a passion for supporting the Virginia wine industry, and has been serving on the board of the Virginia Wine Distribution Co for several years.  Each winter, he enjoys the interaction with the other judges on the Governor’s Cup panel, which he has proudly served on for over 10 years.
When he is not working, he loves spending time with his wife Petra and his English Shepherd poring over his collection of capsules de Champagne.  His love of food, wine, restaurants, and European travel has him achingly close to the milestone of accumulating 100 Michelin stars.

Lauren Y. Zimmerman

Lauren Zimmerman has 20 years experience working in all areas of the wine business from vineyard, winemaking, marketing, and sales. She started working in vineyards while in high school in Prince Edward County, Ontario, then moved to Niagara Falls, Canada, to study and graduate with a degree in Enology and Viticulture in 2006. She has worked with wineries around North America and New Zealand gaining experience from top players in the industry. Lauren purchased land and planted 5 acres of Sauv Blanc and Pinot Noir in Ontario, making her the youngest professional vintner and vineyard owner in Ontario. She then met her husband and moved to Maryland in 2012. Since starting at Port of Leonardtown Winery, the winery has brought home numerous prestigious awards including the coveted Best in Show Governor’s Cup twice! (2018 and 2020), Best in Show Jack Aellen Trophy (2020), and Best in Show Comptroller’s Cup (2021). She has worked as a Board member for the Maryland Grape Growers Association, and Maryland Winery Association, as well as worked with Maryland Tourism. She is a big advocate for local tourism and is an ongoing ambassador for the local craft beverage industries.  


The Governor's Cup Case Winners

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