The Judges

Image judge process


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.
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’.

ADRIAN SPARKS | Mount Pleasant Wines

Chief Winemaker and General Manager of Mount Pleasant Wines, Adrian is the 5th person to hold the post in Mount Pleasant’s 98-year history, following in the footsteps of legendary winemaker, Maurice O’Shea.  He carries the experience of over 20 vintages and is a highly respected and acclaimed Australian winemaker. Adrian has a strong focus on quality and his dedication to crafting premium wines over the years, has resulted in many accolades, including the 2018 NSW Wine of the Year for the Mount Pleasant 2017 Old Paddock & Old Hill Shiraz at the NSW Wine Awards, most recently 2019 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year.

JACOB STEIN | Robert Stein Wines

Mudgee based with a speciality and love for Riesling. Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year for 2012, Jacob has been at the helm of Robert Stein Wines, with his Riesling known as one of NSW best examples of this varietal. Jacob and the Robert Stein Winery experienced a successful 2019 Mudgee Wine Show – winning eight trophies, plus an additional four trophies awarded to wines they produce for the Mudgee region. With a solid history of Riesling entries at the NCCWS we look forward to hearing Jacobs’ feedback from this class!

MONICA GRAY | Tamburlaine Wines

Based at Tamburlaine’s new cool climate Orange winery acquisition hailed as the ‘Organic Winemaking Capital’. Here Monica is sculpting the Tamburlaine concept of contemporary organics with best practice in vineyard and winery, with the lowest environmental pollution and carbon footprint and without pesticide residue.

ANNABEL HOLLAND | First Creek Wines

Annabel’s career has thrived over the past few years, having won the 2013 Alasdair Sutherland Scholarship. The award granted Annabel entry to the intensive, four-day Australian Wine Research Institute Advanced Wine Assessment Course, allowed her to be an Associate Judge at the 2012 Royal Sydney Wine Show. More recently in 2017, Annabel was a finalist for ‘Rising Star of the Year’ at the Hunter Valley Legends Awards.

DEB LAURITZ | Robert Oatley Wines

As a cultured, cool-climate specialist, Debbie has spent multiple vintages in top spots at the celebrated Cumulus and Robert Oatley wineries.
Debbie’s winemaking endeavours have taken her around the world from France and New Zealand to Canada and eventually, the idyllic Central Ranges and Orange regions of New South Wales, with the variety of long-standing winemaking traditions honing her skills along the way.


Stephanie Lucas | Casella Wines
Thomas Dunstan | Bunnamagoo Wines