The Seattle Wine Awards could not be possible without the essential and valued contributions of our distinguished group of Northwest wine professionals. See below for more about the members of our esteemed Tasting Panel.
Becoming one of the first two Americans to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination in 1990 on his second try, Butler fulfilled a goal that was several years in the making. He is President of the Institute of Masters of Wine, North America, Ltd., coordinates the annual North American seminar program and also is an instructor for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) courses offered at COPIA in Napa Valley and in Seattle, WA. He is currently a partner in WineKnow LLC, a wine education provider, and working on a book while doing some consulting.
Phillip Dunn, a native of the South, brings a flair of southern hospitality to Canlis Restaurant. After graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts, Phillip moved to Atlanta where he quickly fell in love with the world of food and wine.
In 2001, Phillip moved to Seattle, where his earnest pursuit of a career in wine began at the Four Star/Four Diamond Woodmark Hotel, and later Jak's Grill in Laurelhurst. Cross training in the wholesale industry for two years, he excelled at selling the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and California to top accounts in Seattle.
After passing the Advanced Sommelier Examination on his first attempt, Phillip will sit for the Master Sommelier exam in early 2010. He also holds the Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
In June 2008, Phillip was hired as Assistant Wine Director at Canlis. "I have the fortunate challenge of being involved with one of the greatest wine lists in the world. My dream job has become a reality."
Jeff Fournier is the main buyer for Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle, and has been there for more than 7 years. Jeff is a sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and has over 30 years of industry experience; he spent over 15 of those years in wine and spirits buying positions in numerous venues, including grocery, restaurant and one of the largest fine wine shops in the Northwest.
David LeClaire is a certified sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers and founder of WINE WORLD, the NW's largest wine store. He created the two largest wine clubs in the Northwest, Seattle Uncorked & Portland Uncorked, and is also a member of The International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Mr. LeClaire served as wine director at Seattle's prestigious Alexis Hotel (& Painted Table Restaurant) for ten years. David is an instructor at North Seattle Community College, and is also a free-lance writer for the Washington Tasting Room Magazine.
Amy Mumma has worked and taught in the international wine industry for more than 15 years. She is the Director and Founder of the Central Washington University Wine Program which offers the only four year accredited Global Wine Studies degree in the Untied States. She was awarded the Professional Wine Woman 2005 and 2006 title in Paris at the International Wine Women Awards and continues to serve as a judge for the International Wine Woman Awards.
Amy has a MBA in Wine Industry from the University of Bordeaux Business School, a Diploma of Tasting and Wine Studies from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, and the Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London. She has published numerous articles for the wine industry and written five books on wine ranging from viticulture and enology, wine regions, marketing, sensory analysis and wine faults.
A long-time Northwest wine professional, Tim has worked in the beverage world since 1988 and is currently the distinguished Wine Director & Sommelier for Salty's Restaurants. Tim has earned numerous Wne Enthusiast Awards as well as being honored many times; most notably by the Washington Wine Commission as the 2004 Walter Clore Honorarium recipient and the 2006 Washington Sommelier of The Year.
Andy serves as editor of Wine Press Northwest, a quarterly consumer magazine that focuses on the wine regions of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook (Sasquatch, 2003) and also has contributed to five other books on Northwest food, wine and travel. He co-authors a weekly wine column that appears in 17 daily and weekly newspapers, and he also is an international wine judge.
Lisa recently earned her Advanced Sommelier Certification from the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. She's worked at Scott Carsberg's Lampreia in Seattle, John Howie's Seastar in Bellevue, and was the Wine Director at the venerable Ray's Boathouse in Seattle and Sommelier at Puget Sound's renowned Herbfarm Restaurant. She is currently the lead Sommelier at Bellevue's John Howie Steak.
Sean P. Sullivan is editor of Washington Wine Report – an independent blog focused exclusively on the wines of Washington State. The blog was founded in 2007 with the goal of providing consumers with wine ratings and information. He has written for Seattle Metropolitan, Vineyard & Winery Management, Washington State Wine Touring Guide, Edible Seattle, Wine Press Northwest, and Wine & Jazz. Sullivan resides in Seattle, Washington.
Born and raised in Seattle, Mark's interest in wine started while working in some of the city's finest restaurants in the late 1970s and early 80s. That experience guided him into the emerging Washington State wine industry. Mark is currently Director of Specialty Sales for Metropolitan Market. He is acknowledged locally and nationally for his work in the wine industry, and is devoted to philanthropy, lending his wine expertise to numerous local civic and charitable organizations.
Rina wanted to study wine for a long time and finally took the plunge with ISG in the summer of 2008. She continued through and passed the diploma program as well. Subsequently Rina started certification in the Court of Master Sommeliers, left Rover's Restaurant and started at Canlis to work with the wine team and learn from their wine program. Rina passed the Advanced exam on first try in October 2011. Currently mentoring, learning and actively studying for the Masters exam!
Mr. Wohlers holds a Diploma from the Wine, Spirit & Education Trust, is a first year Master of Wine student and Master Sommelier candidate. He began his career in restaurants in 1996. While attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign he was mentored by Thad Morrow, who encouraged him to learn more about food and wine. Subsequent time was spent in the Boston area at Upstairs on the Square, Formaggio Kitchen and Lower Falls Wine Company. In 2008 he was part of the wine team that earned Eleven Madison Park a James Beard Award for "Outstanding Wine Service". You can now find him pouring wine at RN74 in Seattle.
Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier brings an impressive blend of experience, expertise and enthusiasm to the world of wine and cuisine. He is the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide and assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs in his role as Director of Prestige Accounts for Beam Wine Estates. He is currently the President of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation.
Dame's ability to transmit his passionate interest in wine make him a natural teacher. One of just seventy-three Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier Examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers in 1986 and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout America since that time.
As Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years, Dame created a wine list which won the Wine Spectator Grand Award. With the many wine events held in the brick and wine lined Wine Cellar, Dame turned The Sardine Factory into a wine destination restaurant of world renown. He is also active in the culinary arts serving as an Honorary Trustee of The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of The American Culinary Federation. He was awarded the Antonin Careme Medal and was made a Supreme Knight of the Knights of the Vine in 2000. He has been elected to the prestigious National Restaurant Association College of Diplomates for 2004.
A sixth generation Californian, Dame graduated from Washington and Lee University with a degree in journalism and communications. A European trip after high school piqued his curiosity about wine and food. Since then, he has applied his considerable persuasive skills to the service and appreciation of fine wine.
Dawn is a longtime Seattle wine having worked at the venerable Canlis and creative Heavy Restaurant Group. She is a Certified Sommelier and member of the Guild of Sommeliers.
Cortney Lease is the Company Wine Director of the Wild Ginger locations and The Triple Door. Wild Ginger has a Grand Award winning list through Wine Spectator, and Cortney has been working in some form of the wine department since 2007. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Chemistry, and while she doesn't currently use her degree, plans to make wine with Washington fruit in the future.
Executive Director and Certified Sommelier Christopher Chan has over 25 years of Special Events and Food & Beverage experience in Seattle and Washington DC and currently serves as the Director of Wine & Spirits for Seattle's exclusive Rainier Club.
Christopher has earned the International Sommelier Guild Diploma and the Advanced Sommelier Degree through the Court of Master Sommeliers and plans to sit for the Master Sommelier Exam in fall 2014.
Christopher was bestowed the Washington Wine Commission's most prestigious legacy award as the 2009 Walter Clore Honorarium recipient in recognition of his tireless efforts in the promotion of Washington wine.
(*Executive Director Christopher Chan must ensure and maintain the highest professional integrity for the auspices of the Seattle Wine Awards and is therefore unable to participate as a member of the Tasting Panel.)