Konstantinos Lazarakis MW
BIWC Chairman, Greece
After studying jazz guitar and mechanical engineering on the National & Technical University of Athens, I became Sommelier of Jajazzo Restaurant in Athens - the first restaurant in Greece to hire a full time sommelier and the first to be awarded a Michelin star.
Now I work as an Imports Manager and Wine Buyer in AIOLOS ltd and the Managing Director of Wine and Spirits Professional Consultants that run WSET courses in Greece.
In the last two years I have been involved in wine writing and wine journalism and I now write for four Greek publications as well as having 'Wines of Greece' published as a part of the Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library in Sept. 2005. In addition, I consult for wine producers, hotels and restaurants.
Julia Harding, MW
Julia Harding passed the notoriously stiff Master of Wine exams at the first attempt in 2004, the top student of her year, and in 2007 she won the Institute's Communicator of the Year award. After reading French and German at Cambridge, she worked for many years as a book editor specialising in languages and linguistics before applying her keen brain and fine palate to wine. After five years with Waitrose, in the UK’s most respected supermarket wine-buying department, in 2005 she became full-time researcher, co-ordinator and associate palate for internationally acclaimed wine writer Jancis Robinson.
She played a major part in the most recent editions of The Oxford Companion to Wine and The World Atlas of Wine, contributes to and maintains the editorial standards of the award-winning www.JancisRobinson.com and has recently finished researching and writing, with Jancis and with Dr José Vouillamoz, Wine Grapes: a complete guide to 1,368 varieties including their origins and flavours (Allen Lane/Ecco, Oct 2012). She lectures and has judged in various leading wine competitions in the UK and in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In 2009 she won a Special Award in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards and was shortlisted for the online communicator award in 2014. Julia is highly respected as a Master of Wine mentor.
Rod Smith, MW
Rod Smith MW is a wine educator, marketer and salesman, based in the South of France. Currently with a client list that includes the world’s wealthiest, most discerning and demanding customers, Rod is the wine director of Vins Sans Frontières – the leading wine supplier to the superyacht industry.
Prior to this, Rod has worked in the UK for a variety of fine wine importers and retailers, as well as being an established WSET educator and occasional journalist. A Master of Wine since 2006, Rod has been extensively involved in judging wine competitions in London, Shanghai and Moscow.
Rod’s personal interests include cycling, running, travel, literature, card magic and film.
Yasen Zahariev covers California, Australia, and New Zealand on tastings of DiVino. His first participation in a wine campaign happens in 1999 in California. He has worked for several cellars in California and South Australia. In 2006 he was invited for the foundation of the Wine Spectator Club and participates in the regular monthly tastings up to the present moment. He also participates in the monthly tastings of the National Wine and Spirituous Beverages Research Institute, Wine Index. He has tasted for Bacchus Magazine, www.e-vestnik, etc. Yasen maintains his own wine blog since 2007. He also teaches philosophy in New Bulgarian University.
Paul Robert Blom
Paul Robert Blom first drunk Balkan wines on his hitchhiking trip through Austria and Yugoslavia in 1961. During three weeks on the coast in Bakarac tasting daily local wines, not realizing that was the beginning of a 50 year life in Balkan wines!
My company Schermer Wijnkopers (since 1782 Hoorn) started to import Yugoslav wines in 1969 with a small assortment bottled wines from Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. Every year I selected a wide range of exemplary wines from all Balkans Austria, Romania, Bulgaria and ex-Yugoslavia.
From 1977 until 2006 I was judging at the Vino Ljubljana and Festival Vin (20X) as the ‘outsider’ expert from a ‘non wine-producing country’. From this solid base I was traveling around the world to judge in Orange County, USA, Orange France, Mondial Brussels (3X), Urgüp Turkey (3X), Vinitaly Verona, Banca d’Assagio Torgiano, AWC Vienna (Final rounds) Zarcillo & Cinve Valladolid (5X) Vinistra Poreč (5X) Michelangelo Stellenbosch, Mundus Vini (15X) 4x as table president.
Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori
Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori lives in Rome and graduated in law with laude at Rome University. He works as a journalist under the Italian Order of Journalists of Rome. He is a graduate from the Italian Sommelier Association of Rome, and loves to write articles in magazines about food and wine, like La Cucina Italiana, Vitae, Papageno and others. He is a wine educator and teachs in wine events and wine seminar, works in tourism and the international wine competitions he judges.
Roberto often works with Network television on the themes of food, and wine and has produced and interpreted a documentary film on tourism and travel. At any given time you may find Roberto playing guitar, cooking for friends, reading classical Greek and Latin literature, traveling on his Harley Davidson, getting lost at sea on a sail boat, or drinking a good glass of wine with people he loves.
Saša Špiranec works in Vinart d.o.o., consultant company who publish wine and food editions, keep wine educations, freelance in different journals and magazines, organize leading Dalmatian wine event – Dalmacija Wine Expo, create different projects in wine marketing and organize wine events. Head of Vinolab d.o.o., laboratory for wine analyses.
Born 1970. In wine trade since 1995. Since 2005. Writing wine guides and books, appears regularly in daily Jutarnji List and several monthly magazines. Judging international wine competitions as IWC London (UK), Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Belgium), BIWC in Sofia (Bulgaria), IWCB Bucharest (Romania), VTV Belgrade (Serbia), and many local in Croatia. Keeps classes and masterclasses on wine with a focus on wine regions of Central and Eastern Europe.
Marinela Vasilica Ardelean
Native of Transylvania (Romania) and based in Italy, Marinela is genuine and approachable. She has an infectious enthusiasm about sharing and enjoying the pleasures of great food and wine.
After graduate studies in Economics and Law, an MBA program at MIB School of Management in Trieste, the Sommelier Diploma in Italy, studies in Bordeaux at l’Ecole du Vin, an important stage in Champagne, and travels in more than 50 countries around the world including study tours, she is well qualified as a professional sommelier.
Marinela is the Brand Manager of Foss Marai Spumanti and she is a teacher at ITALIAN CHEF ACADEMY in Rome. Marinela has also been a member of the jury in national and international wine-challenges, like “Grandi Champagne” and “Vinibuoni d'Italia”.
She won the title of “Best Sommelier of Romania” in 2014. She was also a finalist at “The Best Sommelier in the World” in 2013 ( London, UK) and the Italian finalist for the competition “Ambassadeur-du-Champagne” in 2013.
Igor Luković is a wine critic, writer and journalist from Serbia, who has worked with wine and wine culture since 2003. He is Editor in chief in “Wine & Fine” magazine, and associate of many other media dealing with wine and food culture.
At the same time, he is President of the Sommelier Association of Vojvodina and CEO of the Serbian Sommelier Association. Actively is engaged in wine education, trainings, consulting and event managing, and as a judge on the wine tastings. He works and lives between Belgrade and Novi Sad.
His beginnings in the wine business areas owner and Editor of “Gurman” and “Gastro Svet” magazines, and subsequently became General Manager of the company “Vinodrom”, engaged in importing and distributing wine.
Ivana Simjanovska is the co-author and publisher of the first Macedonian Wine Guide & since 2012is a wine judge at the Balkans International Wine Competition & from 2013 at The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. As of 2012 she’s been chasing her Master’s Degree in Enology at the Institute of Agriculture in Skopje.
For more than 5 years, she was a member of the board of the first Macedonian Wine Club, organizing wine tasting events and promoting wine culture in Macedonia. Ivana has an extensive knowledge in the Macedonian wine industry which she has been carefully studying for the past few yearswhile working as a consultant on Macedonian wines, wine industry and fairs.
In addition, she is one of the co-founders of CSV& Co, the first, London based, company to specialize in wine tourism in Macedonia, Chief-in-editor of vino.mk& writes wine articles for various magazines in the country.
Bruno Gaberšek is a Bachelor of science in food technology with Graduation in wine technology on University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical faculty.
Member of Berliner Wine trophy in last 6 years, Riesling du Mond (Strasbourg) last 3 years, Concours Mondial du Bruxelles last 2 years and Vinoforum in Central Europe.
Regular tasting team member and wine & food issues writer - contributor in SlovenianDolce Vita magazine - Wine advisor section for last 5 years.
Freelance wine & food writer also with Revija Vino. For third consecutive year the teacher at private college Erudio for Sustainable Tourism with Wine-Gastronomy-Culinary study subject.
Elissaveta Zaharieva is the first Bulgarian with a PhD degree in Wine Marketing and she holds a WSET Advanced Certificate. Elissaveta discovered the world of wine during her studies in Newcastle University, and then oriented herself towards the Bulgarian wine industry. In 2012 Elissaveta co-founded the “Catalogue of Bulgarian Wine”, which since then became the annual reference and independent source of information for the wine enthusiasts. In her career, she has worked for many Bulgarian companies, such as Domaine Boyar, Veritas Wines, Damianitza, Casavino and as project leader in wine and spirits for Euromonitor International. She is the professional correspondent for Bulgaria for Wine Business International and also contributes to international publications.
Tzveta Tanovska has a Master’s degree in Economics. Wine is her hobby and her passion. She attend- ed several specialized courses on wine and a number of educational programmes. Tzveta follows Bulgar- ian and international periodicals on wine. She has been a member of the jury for the only competition for Bulgarian wine of the year as well as member of wine juries of other wine competitions. She is a guest wine taster for Bacchus magazine. She has visited wine-cellars in all wine regions in the world.
For the third year she is the co-editor and co-author of the Catalog of Bulgarian wines - edition, which aims to include all Bulgarian wineries and wines on the market.