Media Contact: Carl Giavanti Consulting, , 971.221.4212


Influential Judging Panel unveiled for 2021 McMinnville Wine & Food Classic

Professional wine buyers, somms, educators and wine writers will score the competition

New venue arena is announced to facilitate safe-distancing for judges

Competition opens to ALL Oregon wineries for the first time since inception


Portland, OR, November 17th, 2020:  The McMinnville Wine & Food Classic has unveiled the final roster of judges for the 28th anniversary event’s wine competition, which will take place January 9, 2020.

The judging panel continues to represent the full spectrum of the wine industry, including wine buyers, sommeliers, wine writers from local, regional and national media outlets, wine educators, and professional judges from industry titans like Fred Meyer Stores, Made in Oregon, The Oregonian, Great Northwest Wine, the Oregon Wine Press, Wine Press Northwest and The San Francisco Wine School.

“The McMinnville Wine Competition has been acknowledged as one of the preeminent competitions in the state of Oregon, and so have our judging panels”, says Rolland Toevs, wine competition organizer. “This year we’re moving the competition to a much larger venue – Abbey Road Farm event center in Carlton – to ensure a safe-distancing environment for our judges, in addition to accommodating more wines to taste, as we’re opening the competition to all Oregon wineries on a first-come, first serve basis.”

The full panel of judges for 2021 is as follows. Full bios:


Christopher Sawyer, Somm, Judge, Journalist, Public Speaker and Educator

Brianne Cohen, Certified Sommelier & Wine Writer/Educator

Timothy Nishimoto, Certified Sommelier and Wine Buyer, Made in Oregon

Michael Cervin, Book Author, Wine Writer, Bonfort’s, Drink Me Magazine, Tasting Panel, Pro Judge

James Melendez, James the Wine Guy. Wine Reviewer and Videographer

Cyndi Gierok, Wine Buyer Fred Meyer Stores


Michael Alberty, Senior wine editor, The Oregonian Newspapers and Oregon Wine Press

Eric Degerman,, The Seattle Times, international wine competition judge

Fred Swan, Wine writer, judge, speaker, educator at the San Francisco Wine School. Founder WWET

Ellen Landis, Journalist, Certified Somm, Wine Specialist, Wine Educator and International Wine Judge

Chris Czarnecki, Owner/Chef/Wine Buyer of the esteemed Joel Palmer House Restaurant in Dayton, Ore

Ken Robertson, Senior editor Wine Press Northwest and contributor Tri City Herald newspapers

Patrick McElligott, Chemeketa tasting instructor, and sales and marketing manager for Sineann Winery

Hoke Harden, veteran wine consultant, wine writer, educator and wine critic

Andria Shirk, Winemaker/Founder Laelaps Winery

Maxine Borcherding, Certified Sommelier, Wine Educator, food and wine tour operator

Carl Giavanti, winery publicist and media relations


The wine competition will be open to all Oregon wineries in 2021. Oregon wineries have been notified of the details and requirements for submitting their wines, and can access additional information and registration here:

Winners will be announced on January 9, 2021 at the conclusion of the judging. For more information on the 2020 judges and past winners, visit


This weekend food & wine festival is a dedicated fundraiser for McMinnville’s St. James Catholic School that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for programs benefiting the school’s children. Organized and staffed entirely by volunteers, the Classic is one of the largest community events of the year in McMinnville, and one of the largest and most beloved indoor food and wine festivals in Oregon. For more information, visit

The public festival McMinnville Wine & Food Classic is held in March annually at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville. The 2021 festival committee is considering options for a modified event due to coronavirus concerns. The event hosts craft producers of Oregon wine, beer, spirits, food, and art for three days of tasting, toasting, and fundraising for St. James School in McMinnville. Approximately 170 vendors set up among the space age artifacts – jets, missiles, and displays from outer space missions. Competition winners receive medals and digital badges representing their achievements.


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