TIM KNAPPSTEIN | Riposte Wines | Chief Judge
Tim Knappstein stands tall among Australia’s elite winemakers – a third generation vigneron with 40 years experience producing wines of finesse and excellence. In 1981 an unrequited passion for cool climate wines led Tim to the Adelaide Hills where he planted the first vineyard in the cool climate Lenswood district. In 1995 he moved from the Clare wine region to live on the vineyard in Lenswood. In 2006 as a counterpoint to the world of mass produced big company wines Tim founded Riposte, a selection of the finest wines made from cool climate Adelaide Hills fruit.
LESTER JESBERG | Winewise Editor | Panel Chair
Lester is editor and founding director of Winewise Magazine as well as wine show judge and chairman of long standing. He loves good wine, whatever its origin but is definitely not a wine “geek” or traditionalist. He’s still more focused on the future than the past and constantly travels the wine regions of Australia and the world at large.
LEIGH RATZMER | Wicks Estate | Winemaker
Leigh leads the winemaking team at Wicks Estate located in the Adelaide Hills. Leigh graduated from Oenology at Adelaide University and gained experience working with premium producers in Austria and the Barossa Valley prior to joining the Wicks Estate team in 2004, crafting classy, cool climate wines.
RUSSELL CODY | McWilliams Wines | Senior Commercial & Export Winemaker
‘Be prepared for hard work as it is not all beer and skittles. Fine wine takes time and lots of hard yakka!’
Russell speaks with some authority. He started his winemaking career in 1989 and joined the celebrated McWilliam’s team back in 1995. Twenty odd years on, Russell is a senior winemaker, wine judge and one of the most respected wine experts in the industry.
He is also a winemaker with a clear philosophy ‘great wines are made in the vineyard’ he states. Russell places strong emphasis on good vineyard management practices, and to sourcing the most appropriate, high-quality fruit available. This philosophy marries with Russell’s continuing passion for the Australian wine industry, as he says ‘we are still in an exciting early phase of making great table wine in Australia as we continue to pioneer the best varieties in each region that suits them’.
SIMON NUNNS | Coopers Creek Vineyard | Winemaker
Simon returns to the NCCWS after 8 years. Simo is a sought after wine judge, educator and speaker. He’s been winemaker at Coopers Creek Vineyard Ltd since 1998 and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University and has worked harvests in Oregon, Bordeaux and Burgundy. Simon judges in a number of wine competitions both in New Zealand and Australia. Apart from wine, his interests include food, art, architecture, history, music and most especially, road cycling.
PETER KELLY | Thorn Clarke Wines | Senior Winemaker
Peter returns to Thorn-Clarke with a wealth of knowledge after working as an assistant winemaker up until 2010. Since graduating from the University of Adelaide with a winemaking degree Peter has worked for wineries of all sizes including; Haselgrove, d’Arenberg, Rolf-Binder and Peter Lehmann. In 2009 whilst working with Thorn-Clarke Peter won the Wine Society ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ award, then in 2010 he was awarded Dux of the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course. More recently Peter has been a regular judge on the wine show circuit.
CYNTHEA SEMMENS | Beautiful Isle Wines | Winemaker
Cynthea Semmens has been making wine for 23 years. She started at a young age… 5 to be exact when her parents moved from San Francisco to Tassie and purchased a plot of land where she helped to plant the vines in 1980.
It was a natural evolution to work in wine and Cynthea studied winemaking and wine marketing, starting up her own wine brand Beautiful Isle Wines in 2010 in Tasmania and taking over her family vineyard this year.
Cynthea has judged at the Royal Hobart wine show for the past 6 years, Royal Perth wine show, Cowra wine show, International Cool Climate wine show, and Rutherglen wine show. She completed AWRI’s Advanced wine assessment course and has done vintages in Oregon, California, Chile and worked for the Hardy Wine Company before returning to Tasmania where she currently lives with Winemaker husband and family.