Christopher is co-founder and editor of VINES, a Canadian wine lifestyle magazine, and the national wine writer for Sun Media. His weekly column, Waters & Wine, appears in newspapers across the country. His work in VINES merited an Ontario Tourism Wine Journalism Award. An international wine judge and educator, Waters is also Wine Appreciation Coordinator at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.
Derek was born and raised in England, where he studied agriculture before immigrating to Ontario in the early 70s. Derek learned the art of winemaking while at Southbrook Winery, which ignited his passion, dedication and enthusiasm for producing the best VQA wines in Ontario. During his 15-year tenure as winemaker of Lailey Vineyard, Derek won numerous awards at Canadian and international competitions.
Marlize is a graduate of the Stellenbosch University Viticulture and Oenology program and have been a winegrower in Niagara for the past 11 years. She is the winemaker at Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery where she pursues her passion since 2010, working with her favourite varieties Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Previously winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars and 2013 recipient of the Ontario Winemaker of the Year Award, she continues her commitment to producing ultra premium wines on the Beamsville Bench.
Fred has spent 20 years overseeing the wine program at the Prince of Wales in Niagara-on-the-Lake. As Chef Sommelier, he has assembled an outstanding offering of varieties from around the world. Fred offers insight into the artful blending of food and wine, providing guests of Escabèche Restaurant with an unforgettable experience.
Emma Garner • Winemaker During her studies in the Oenology and Viticulture program at Brock University, Emma Garner travelled to Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and British Columbia. Her passion for wine and food grew with each trip. After working in vineyards and cellars in the Niagara region, Emma began working at Hillebrand Winery, where she made wine in various capacities until 2005 when she began working for Thirty Bench Wine Makers. In 2010 she garnered the desirable Thirty Bench winemaker position. Emma believes in allowing the vineyard to express itself by making wine with minimal intervention. She loves working with Rieslings and ferments them at low temperatures to retain as many aromatic compounds as possible resulting in wines bursting with complexity and intensity.
Courtney‘s passion for wine and wine education has established her as a fixture on the Canadian wine scene since 2006. As a CAPS certified sommelier she has served on numerous tasting panels for distinguished restaurants and competitions. Courtney currently works in wine marketing for a US based winery.
After working as a sommelier and manager at some of Toronto’s leading venues, Erin Henderson founded the wine events company, The Wine Sisters, specializing in customized wine tastings, party planning, and private wine tours.
Having also spent nearly a decade as a broadcast journalist, Erin launched WineTalk Radio in April 2015, a weekly live, call-in radio show focused on wine and entertaining. She also writes wine reviews for Vines magazine, and has been featured in theloop.ca, Huffington Post, Tonic Magazine and "Wine in Canada," a special Maclean's publication focusing on the Canadian wine industry.
Jay has dedicated himself to winemaking and viticulture in Ontario, specializing in small-lot, ultra premium wines from the Beamsville Bench. His passion for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Bordeaux varietals has given him an opportunity to work with some of the best producers in the region, including Hidden Bench Vineyards, Thirty Bench Winery, Le Clos Jordanne, Stratus Vineyards and Cave Spring Cellars, prior to taking on his new role as Winemaker at Flatrock Cellars. flatrockcellars.com
Lorie O'Sullivan • Sommelier • Writer
Based in Toronto, Canada, Lorie is the head Sommelier for TOCA, the signature restaurant at the highly acclaimed Ritz Carlton Hotel. She has also developed award-winning wine lists for restaurants like The Lakeview in Toronto and Touro Brazilian Steakhouse in Richmond Hill. A Niagara native who is currently working towards her Master Sommelier designation in the US.
David Paterson fills the shoes of Tantalus Vineyard’s GM/winemaker. He received his winemaking degree from Lincoln University NZ and following time spent working in the local NZ industry he travelled the wine world gaining experience at premium wineries in Oregon, France and Australia. He landed at Tantalus in 2009 and with seven successful vintages under his belt he took on the role of GM as well in 2016.
Rod Phillips • Wine Author • Historian • Journalist
An Ottawa-based wine historian, author, journalist, and judge, Rod Phillips is wine writer for NUVO Magazine, wine columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, and occasional contributor to Vines Magazine and The World of Fine Wine. His latest book is Alcohol: A History and his history of French wine will appear in October.
Rob worked for 10 years as a sommelier in Toronto before moving to Niagara with his wife to study at Brock University's Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI). After graduation, he immediately joined Creekside as assistant winemaker, becoming head winemaker shortly thereafter. Voted Winemaker of the Year in 2008, Rob also teaches WSET courses at Brock University
Will Predhomme is a Canadian professional sommelier based in Toronto Ontario Canada and the managing director of Predhomme Market Insights Inc. Will’s current projects of note include the The North Shore Project, a terroir-driven wine business, as well providing WSET programming. Will previously has operated as Senior Sommelier for Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants Canoe Restaurant & Bar, managed the development of Harrah's Casino's International Beverage Program, a Product Consultant for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, & Sommelier with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
Sue-Ann Staff • Winemaker
Sue-Ann Staff is a 5th generation international winemaking star from the Niagara region, winning some of the most respected wine competitions in the world, producing wines at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery in Jordan, ON. Sue-Ann also serves as president of the Twenty Valley Tourism Association and director for the WCO.
Zoltan Szabo is one of the most recognizable personalities of the Canadian Sommelier scene. For over twenty years in the industry and three continents – wide resume, he has garnered international recognition. Clients include the Tokaj Renaissance, Wine Council of Ontario, Skyline Boutique Hotels & Resorts and Trump International Hotel, just to mention a few. With TV, radio and video blog appearances by the dozen throughout the years, Szabo had become a mainstay character of the global wine trade. He consults, writes, educates and judges for some of the most elite organizations, competitions and media forums. Member of the Canadian Wine Writers’ Circle, Zoltan also voices his opinion about wine and the finer aspects of life over social media outlets.
Lydia has served as head winemaker at Hernder Estate Wines and Harvest Estate Wines since 2006. A graduate of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University and a recent recipient of an Alumni of Distinction Award, Tomek is also an award-winning winemaker who worked at Hillebrand Estates and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate prior to joining Hernder and Harvest. She was named as one of the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 Under 30.
James is the sommelier-owner of Treadwell Farm-to-Table Cuisine in Port Dalhousie – considered by many to have Canada’s finest selection of Ontario wines. Before opening the restaurant, James worked as sommelier at the Relais & Chateaux, Michelin star-rated Chewton Glen Hotel in England and Queen’s Landing Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He has travelled to the wine regions of France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Daenna is a Vancouver-based wine writer, international wine judge, accredited sommelier, speaker and the publisher of WineDiva.ca and WineScores.ca. She is a regular contributor to VINESMagazine as well as TASTE Magazine. Daenna can also be heard weekly on the Tasting Room Radio (on stations throughout B.C. and Alberta) and she has been published in numerous local and internationally distributed publications.
Martin Werner, who is winemaker and vineyard manager at Ravine Vineyard in St. Davids, Ont., ploughed his way into the wine industry with his tireless work ethic and boundless enthusiasm. Having grown up on his family’s farm located on the shore of Lake Ontario, a short drive from Old Town Niagara-on-the-Lake, Werner credits mentors like Thomas Bachelder, Darryl Brooker and Brian Bicknell, from New Zealand’s Mahi Wines, for helping him find his way.
Avi White graduated with honours from Niagara College’s Wine and Viticulture Technician Program in 2014. Upon graduation, Avi stepped into her current role, Director of Wine and Spirits at The Aberdeen Tavern. Her passion for wine and hospitality is apparent in her carefully curated wine list and seasonal signature cocktails.
Jennifer is a CAPS certified sommelier, holds WSET and Prud’homme credentials and is an instructor and advisor within the wine and hospitality programs at Niagara College and sommelier at the Mark Picone Culinary Studio. She is the recipient of several awards recognizing her dedication to the Ontario wine industry; including Top 40 Under 40, Brock University’s Promote the Promoters Awards and a Lieutenant Governor volunteer and dedication award for her contributions.
Scott is the Senior Sommelier for Icon Legacy Hospitality, overseeing the wine programs for NAO Steakhouse, Patria, Byblos Toronto, Weslodge, Citta, and most recently Byblos Miami. Previously, Scott was the Wine Director at the Trump International Hotel, and was Sommelier of Auberge du Pommier for Oliver & Bonacini Restuarants.