The Judges

Chief Judge

Russell Cody | Calabria Wines Russell Cody | Calabria Wines

Panel Chairs

Sophie Otton | Independent Wine Consultatnt Sophie Otton | Independent Wine Consultatnt Andrew Higgins | Tamburlaine Wines Andrew Higgins | Tamburlaine Wines


Chris Carpenter | Lark Hill Wines Chris Carpenter | Lark Hill Wines Nadja Wallington | Chalou Wines Nadja Wallington | Chalou Wines Jaden Hall | Mount Pleasant Wines Jaden Hall | Mount Pleasant Wines Geoff Alexander | Brown Brothers Geoff Alexander | Brown Brothers

Associate Judges

Chrissie Smith | Intrepidus Wines Chrissie Smith | Intrepidus Wines Leah Mottin | Domaine Chandon Leah Mottin | Domaine Chandon

RUSSELL CODY | Calabria Family Wines & 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.
Also a winemaker with a clear philosophy, he states ‘great wines are made in the vineyard’. 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’.



SOPHIE OTTON | Independent Wine Consultant

… Bio coming soon …

ANDREW HIGGINS | Tamburlaine Wines

Andrew Higgins, formally McWilliams, has joined Tamburlaine as Head of Winemaking for the Orange Region. Andrew forms part of a growing crew of winemaking talent at Tamburlaine. Following the recent sale of McWilliams, so ended Andrew’s admirable 18-year career commitment. Over that time, he progressed through the ranks to Chief Winemaker and has been a quiet achiever who accumulated all the technical skills supplemented with international experience in France and the US.


Chris grew up on the family vineyard, Lark Hill. With the exception of vintages at Penfolds and Seppeltsfield, that’s where he has remained, working with Lark Hill’s two estate-owned Vineyards as well as purchasing fruit around Canberra, Gundagai and Hilltops. The certified biodynamic Lark Hill wines are elegant expressions of varieties ideally suited to their sites, and show the diversity of terroirs in the Canberra Region. Chris has a broad spectrum of judging experience from small and focused wine shows like the Canberra Regional and International Riesling Challenge, through to the National Wine Show. Chris was a Young Gun of Wine finalist in 2017, and Young Gun of Wine Trophy Winner in 2018.

GEOFF ALEXANDER | Brown Brothers

A former Pharmacist, Geoff saw the opportunity to transfer his skills to the wine industry and began studying winemaking at the University of Adelaide in 2002. He successfully graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) (Oenology) in 2004, along the way collecting the Brokenwood Wines Prize (top second year student) and a University Medal for outstanding academic achievement.

Having completed the 2004 vintage at Brokenwood Wines in the Hunter Valley, Geoff joined the Brown Family Wine Group as Assistant Winemaker for the 2005 vintage. Initially a 3 month position, at the completion of vintage the company decided to expand its winemaking team and the position was made permanent.

In October 2007, Geoff was promoted to the position of Winemaker and is now responsible for a portfolio of red, white, sparkling and fortified wines at a range of price points including the Innocent Bystander brand from the Yarra Valley. He is particularly interested in the development of new varieties and wine styles, something for which the Brown Family Wine Group is rightly famous.

Geoff has judged at numerous wine shows including Rutherglen, Swan Hill, Cairns, The Australian Small Winemakers Show and the Australian Cool Climate wine show.


… Bio coming soon …

JADEN HALL | Mount Pleasant Wines

The Hunter Valley has been Jaden’s home for 26 years. Working in a small bottle shop where the owner loved classic Hunter Valley wines sparked his enthusiasm for the industry. His generosity allowed Jaden to experience some of the best wines from this region, which inspired him to study winemaking.

Through his passion and drive, he was able to secure a vintage job with Tyrrell’s wines in 2017. Since then, he has worked full-time within the wine industry and continues to push himself in every aspect of production. He has worked at Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Hart & Hunter, and Mount Pleasant Wines since mid-2020, where he has since been promoted to winemaker. Currently, he is pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Charles Sturt University in Wine science. As a winemaker, Jaden excels and is passionate about what he does.


Chrissie Smith | Intrepidus Wines

Owner, vineyard manager and wine maker of Intrepidus Wines. Also Vineyard manager at Jeir Creek Wines, previously working  at Clonakilla and Collector wines in Canberra. Young gun of wine finalist for 2023. Have completed AWAC and WSET 2. On the committee for Canberra Wine Show and Associate judging positions at shows such as NSW Wine Awards and Riverina: Open GI, Tumbarumba GI, Italian Varieties and Sweet Wine challenge.

Leah Mottin | Domaine Chandon