National Tasting Panel
The Wine Access National Tasting Panel includes some of the best wine writers and palates from across Canada.
Rémy Charest has been writing about wine, food and other tasty stuff for over fifteen years, in publications like Le Devoir, Coup de Pouce, Châtelaine, Wine Access and several other magazines in both Canada and the United States. He is an editor and contributor to Palate Press, the online wine magazine. He also talks about wine and food on Montreal radio station CJAD and on Radio-Canada. When there is time left, he still tends a bit to his blogs on wine and food, The Wine Case and The Food Case, in English, and À chacun sa bouteille and À chacun sa fourchette in French.
Tom Firth is a freelance wine writer, consultant, judge and member of the National Tasting Panel reviewing wines for Wine Access. His work frequently appears in Wine Access, Calgary's City Palate, Culinaire Magazine and others. Along with his prolific online content at wineaccess.ca, avenuemagazine.ca and more, he tweets @cowtownwine.
DJ Kearney accumulates many frequent flyer miles toiling for the International Sommelier Guild throughout North America. She brings a professional culinary background and judging experience to the many students that she has instructed through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the International Sommelier Guild. DJ's credentials include a Professional Sommelier Diploma, the WSET Diploma, a black belt and a marathon or three.
Kurtis Kolt is a B.C.-based freelance wine director, judge, consultant and writer who was awarded the Sommelier of the Year Award at the 2010 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. He is certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
As the founding editor of Wine Access, David Lawrason still contributes wine reviews to the magazine and judges the Canadian Wine Awards. He is currently the wine columnist for Toronto Life, Ottawa Magazine and Grapevine magazine and vice president of wine for WineAlign.com. Based in Toronto, he writes in depth about Canadian wine and is the National Wine Advisor to the Gold Medal Plates Olympic fundraising program.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson fuelled/paid for two English degrees by hucking cases of wine around for the better part of a decade in Winnipeg. He’s the weekly wine columnist/blogger for the Winnipeg Free Press,
Rhys Pender, MW
Rhys is a wine educator, consultant, judge and freelance writer through his company Wine Plus+ and his website rhyspender.com. In 2010, Rhys became Canada’s youngest Master of Wine (MW). In 2008, Rhys was named as one of the “Top 40 Foodies Under 40” in Western Canada by Western Living magazine. His career plan is to wait for Robert Parker to retire so he can finally claim back his initials for wine reviews.
Craig Pinhey is a Nova Scotia born and raised writer and sommelier. Pinhey is wine writer for New Brunswick's provincial newspaper: The Telegraph-Journal, is CBC Radio New Brunswick's Friday Wine Guy, and writes beverage columns for East Coast Living, TAPS, Palate Press, KV Style, Halifax's The Coast and Progress. He also designs wine lists, does service training and educational tastings in the Atlantic region's restaurants and judges at wine and beer competitions. Find out more at frogspad.ca, including the meaning behind his company name and why he has a tattoo of a beer-drinking frog on his leg.
John Szabo is Canada's first master sommelier and a contributor to Wine Access. He also writes for WineAlign.com, Winefox.ca and the Toronto Standard and is wine editor and columnist for CityBites Magazine. He is currently consulting beverage director for the Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto and for Pearson International Airport. He has worked on staff training in over 250 restaurants across the world in the last decade. To round out his experience and get closer to the land, he also owns a small vineyard in Eger, Hungary, J&J Eger Wine Co. As a holder of a third degree black belt in karate, his grapes are well protected, too.
Steve Thurlow has contributed to Wine Access since 2001 when he established his wine education business, Wine for Life, SteveThurlow.com. He organizes overseas wine tours to Sicily, South Africa, Chile and Argentina and teaches consumer, restaurant and corporate groups about wine. He is a partner at WineAlign.com, which helps Ontarians find the right wine and is Education Director for the Independent Wine Education Guild.
Stuart Tobe is a regular Wine Access contributor and tasting panel member and is the Director of Tastings for Gismondi On Wine. He has a BSc in Biochemistry/Microbiology, a MSc. degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of California Davis. Stuart has been active in the wine industry for more than 30 years. He has worked as an assistant winemaker in several countries in addition to his work as a management consultant in the beverage industry worldwide. Stuart is also a past president of the Vancouver Australian Wine Appreciation Society and is a council member of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in Vancouver. He has been a judge in numerous wine competitions worldwide. Stuart continues to provide business valuation and planning, financing and investment research services, including wine industry clients, from his base in Vancouver.
Rick VanSickle is freelance wine writer who lives in Niagara with his family. He is the publisher of winesinniagara.com and is a wines and spirits contributor to several magazines. Rick also judges for various wine competitions, is a consultant for winesplash.ca, a member of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada and can be found on Twitter @rickwine.