The judges for the Best of New England Wine Competition are outstanding industry professionals (retailers, distributors, winemakers, and researchers).
A Durham, NC native, Mattie Beason is owner of the new Black Twig Cider House and Mattie’ B’s Public House, both located in Durham. Beason opened Black Twig Cider House in April 2016 – offering over ninety ciders on draft and bottled, making it the first cider house of its kind in the Southeast and only one of ten restaurants like it in the country. A certified cider expert, Beason was one of just eight cider instructors for the US Association of Cider Makers at the first Cider Certification in Portland, OR, in February 2016. Highlighted in Imbibe Magazine for their signature Black Twig Stone Fence cocktail, in Bon Appetit’s blog about “10 Ciders to turn Wine Snobs into Cider Snobs” with Beason’s commentary, and interviewed in The Local Palate with The Black Twig’s Txotx, the only restaurant in the country to have a Spanish cider barrel, Beason has garnered lots of media attention since his opening last spring.
King Family Vineyards (VA)
Matthieu was born in Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhône Valley of France. Coming from a family of viticulturists and wine lovers, Matthieu was predisposed to continue his family’s pursuit of making and enjoying wine. He first studied viticulture and oenology at Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy. After graduating in 1995, Matthieu worked in many different wine regions around France including Rhône Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and Jura. He then worked in Italy and South Africa to gain experience around the world before settling in Virginia. Since arriving in 2003, Matthieu has worked with wineries throughout the state. He enjoys working in the Monticello Appellation most because he likes the excitement of the region’s growth and being close to Charlottesville. Under Matthieu’s direction, King Family Vineyards won the 2018 Virginia Wine Governor’s Cup Competition with their 2014 Petit Verdot. When not at the winery, or with his lovely wife Erin, son Gabin and daughter Tessa, Matthieu likes to play rugby, snow board, rock climb, cook, and drink wine with friends.
Fruit Wine Specialist, Enologist
University of Western Maryland
Dr. Fiola is the Enologist for the commercial wine industry of Maryland, and has hybridized many new berry varieties and taught fruit wine enology to industry members. He is a Board member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Eastern Section and has given enology lectures at the Eastern Winery Exposition.
Founder & Head Meadmaker
Londonderry, New Hampshire
Michael is something of a celebrity in mead circles, and is highly sought-after for speaking on mead making and judging in mead competitions.
The Country Vintner
Ms. Iezzi has worked in the wine industry in distribution for 30 years. She began picking grapes at her father’s vineyard in King George Co., Virginia, then went right into wholesale after working at wineries and as a sommelier while at College of William and Mary. Living in Charlottesville , Christine works for the Country Vintner, part of The Winebow Group, where she manages on-premise sales and serves as an Adjunct Wine Educator for Virginia sales and office staff. Christine has tasted and evaluated Virginia wine since the 1980s.
Todd is a north country native, and lifelong inhabitant of the northeast. Growing up in the Mohawk river and Lake Champlain Valleys, then attending Binghamton University. Numerous relationships with folks in the wine and restaurant trades, provide an ongoing education about food and wine culture in the north country, which he shares through the Vermont Wine Media project. For ten years, Todd has kept his ear to the ground for any signs of wine growing in the far north. He is a volunteer and test winemaker at the Cornell Baker Farm, a cold-hardy hybrid trial vineyard, in Willsboro, NY, where his extended family resides. He home vinifies grapes harvested from the trial, as well as fruit acquired anywhere from Vermont to Chile. Author of Wines of Vermont: A History of Pioneer Fermentation, he lives and gardens with his wife, canine, feline, and donkey friends, at an old farmstead in Stockbridge, VT.