About the Academy

The World’s Best Vineyards Academy is the mechanism used to create The World’s Best Vineyards list.

The Academy comprises nearly 600 leading wine aficionados, sommeliers, and luxury travel correspondents from across the globe. Each has been selected for their expert opinion of the international wine and wine tourism scene.

To create the Academy, and give it a fair representation of the global wine scene, we divide the world into geographical regions. Each region has an acknowledged expert as its Academy Chair. Each Academy Chair is responsible for recruiting 36 wine and travel experts. They vote for 7 vineyards in preferential order.

There is no pre-determined checklist of criteria, except that the vineyard must be open to the general public. Each vote is a nomination for a vineyard experience that they deem to be the best in the world. The experience will take in all things connected with the visit – the tour, tasting, ambiance, wine, food, staff, view, value for money, reputation, accessibility. It’s everything that makes a vineyard visit a valuable and rewarding experience for visitors, and makes guests want to return or recommend a visit to their friends.

Meet our regional Academy Chairs

  • María Laura Ortiz

    Laura is a well-known sommelier and wine writer in Argentina and an international wine judge. She is a founder of Winifera, a company specialising in wine consulting, PR and marketing. Laura is also the co-founder of Club de Mujeres del Vino (Wine Women Club), a non-profit organisation for professional women in the Argentine wine industry. A former vice-president of the Argentine Sommelier Association and committee member at Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, Laura is a qualified sommelier and producer of Tim Atkin’s Argentine and Chilean reports and the Descorchados Argentina wine guide.

  • Richard Owens

    Richard’s life with wine started quite late – at the age of 30 – when one cold night, sitting in a farmhouse kitchen with the log fire in the background, one of his father’s friends started pouring him a glass of vintage Penfolds 707. “Don’t waste it on me, I don’t like wine” was Richard’s effort to stick to what he knew – beer – until his father’s friend replied: “That’s because you drink sh*t wine. Try this… it’ll change your life.” And it did. Richard went on to start his own software company, WithWine.com, which enables wineries to run “more profitable, customer centric and data driven businesses”.

  • Treve Ring

    Treve is a wine writer and editor, wine judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. A certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, French wine scholar and instructor, and Sherry instructor, she is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard. She tastes thousands of wines each year, and is an established wine judge in Canada, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and the USA. In 2012, she co-founded Cru Consultancy, a boutique wine education and consultation company.

  • Guillermo Crespo

    Guillermo is an international wine broker and consultant based in Chile’s Central Valley. He founded The Contact Global Consulting company and has supplied wines from different denominations of origin to clients in China, UK and USA. He has been an associate judge at the International Wine Challenge and their ambassador in Chile since 2010.

  • Rob Geddes

    Rob is a professional wine reviewer, author, judge and consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in the Australian and international wine industries. Admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine in 1992, Rob is the author of several wine books including Australian Wine Vintages (editions 26 to 33) and A Good Nose & Great Legs – the art of wine from the vine to the table. A farmer’s son, Rob was brought up in South Australia’s Clare Valley and worked for nearly a decade in marketing with Rosemount Estate. In 2017, Rob established his own company and wine studio in Shanghai.

  • Gabrielle Vizzavona

    Gabrielle is a wine writer, wine critic, TV host, international keynote speaker and teacher. After earning an economics degree from La Sorbonne in Paris, she pursued her passion for wine through four years of rigorous training, gaining the diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and the MSc from The International Wine Organization (OIV). As one of the biggest wine advocates in France, she gets to travel to wine regions all around the world and taste more than 4,000 wines each year.

  • Lotte Karolina Gabrovits

    Lotte is a judge at several global wine competitions, an educator and consultant as well as ‘grouplead’ in the buying department for Lidl Germany. She gained a BSc and double degree MSc in horticulture with a focus on viticulture and oenology at the TU Munich and a second MA in international wine marketing in Austria, at Eisenstadt. Since then, Lotte has travelled the globe, exploring wine regions from the classics like Burgundy and Champagne, to rising stars such as Santorini and lesser-known winegrowing regions such as Lebanon and Zimbabwe!

  • Irina Sofranova

    Irina is a consultant for international companies, wineries, and institutions in the fields of wine marketing, PR, strategic communications, training, and coaching. Irina is also a wine taster, organiser of seminars, corporate workshops and team-building events as well as thematic wine trips to selected Balkan countries. After living abroad for more than 15 years, working for large corporations and NGOs as a strategic communication consultant, Irina returned to her Bulgarian roots in 2015. “My mission is to spread the word about Balkan wines,” she says.

  • Magandeep Singh

    Magan is India’s first French-certified sommelier. He is also a TV show host, author and lifestyle columnist. With his team at Wi-Not, the largest educational institute for beverages in the subcontinent, Magan has helped to bring a drinking culture to the world’s largest democracy, India. Magan is also the founder of the Society of Sommeliers and the Indian Sommelier Championship. When not judging, tasting or educating, Magan likes to write about his travels and conquests, and has also authored two books on beverages – ‘Wine Wisdom’ and ‘The Indian Spirit’.

  • Chiara Giorleo

    Chiara Giorleo DipWSET is a bilingual wine blogger (www.chiaragiorleo.com/en), freelance wine journalist with publications in Italy, USA and Russia and judge for the International Wine Challenge. Chiara is also a panel member of Italian national wine guides, wine educator and translator in the wine&food field, as well as working in the wine tourism sector as consultant and wine leader for Italian and international tour operators. Previously she has worked in the wine marketing and communication sector for the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Toronto (Canada) and for Mastroberardino winery (Italy).

  • Motohiro Okoshi

    Motohiro Okoshi is a restaurateur, sommelier, wine consultant and senior judge for the International Wine Challenge and International Sake Challenge. He works as a wine director and educator at restaurants from casual to Michelin 2 stars, and runs his own Vietnamese restaurant, An Di, in Tokyo. Additionally, Motohiro is a wine advisor for Japan Airlines and various importers and distributors.

  • Claudia Melo

    Based in São Paulo, Brazil, Claudia is a certified sommelier, holds a WSET level 3 certification and a MSc in wine tourism innovation. She has lived in Catalunya, Bordeaux, Porto and Uruguay, working and learning from the best wine producers. Since 2018 she is committed to foster and disseminate the wine culture in South America through her company, Claudia Melo Wines. She consults on wine education, events and wine tourism. Before starting her wine career in 2015, Claudia dedicated 12 years to the banking and insurance sector

  • Nicolas Angelina

    Nicolas is a consultant who started his career in hospitality in Paris. There, he met the owners of Noura Restaurants and joined Nader Bou Antoun for Noura’s London venture. In the UK, Nicolas developed his wine tasting skills and became a wine judge for competitions such as the International Wine Challenge, eventually becoming the IWC ambassador for Macedonia and Lebanon. Nicolas also advises wineries on entering different markets and introduces them to relevant importers. As well as helping with wine blends, he also travels to the Caribbean to help blend cigars!

  • Peter McCombie MW

    Peter McCombie is a Master of Wine. Having started out in his native New Zealand as a sommelier and worked in sales in the UK, his long experience in the wine industry gives him a unique perspective that encompasses the buyer and the seller, the consumer and the professional. He consults on and selects wines for a range of companies and sectors. Peter also judges wines and wine competitions around the world but always comes back to the world’s most rigorous wine competition, the International Wine Challenge, for which he is one of the co-chairs.

  • Pedro Nelson Dias

    Based in Porto, Portugal, Pedro holds a joint degree in viticulture and oenology from the University of Porto & School of Agronomy in Lisbon. He also achieved a master’s degree in wine tourism from the Universities of Bordeaux & Rovira i Virgili (Spain) and a communications degree from Perth College in Scotland. He works for a Dutch food and wine company and is a consultant for Portugal Wine Experience – a wine school. Pedro, who loves to share his knowledge about wine and viniculture, is also a well-versed tour guide of Northern Portugal and Spain and speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English.

  • Tatiana Mann

    Tatiana is an international wine professional born in Russia and brought up in the UK. The qualified sommelier, who has degrees in chemical technology and psychology, is currently working towards her MW qualification. She used to own a boutique hotel and two restaurants in Essex, England, but is now the managing director of Simple Ltd Group’s Grand Cru fine-dining restaurant and Wine Depo bar in Moscow’s Depo food mall. Tatiana is also a committee member of the Circle of Wine Writers, a Sherry educator and wine judge.

  • Dr Winifred Bowman

    Winnie is a qualified physiotherapist, biomedical scientist, has a PhD in education (didactics) and is a Cape Wine Master. In fact, she is a former chairperson of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters and a member of its education committee. Winnie is also honorary secretary of the UK-based Circle of Wine Writers and a member of the Association of Wine Educators. She has been judging wine and spirits competitions around the world for more than 12 years and conducts wine and brandy tastings for corporate and private clients.

  • David Hsiao

    David is a Taiwan-born Kiwi, who is also the first Bureau Français – Business France (Taiwan) gastronomy ambassador, as well as the first wine promotion representative of New Zealand Trade & Enterprises (Taiwan). The former head sommelier of Michelin-starred restaurant La Cocotte by Fabien Vergé, he is a certified sommelier, experienced international wine judge, and holds a WSET Advanced certificate. David also has three masters degrees – in biotechnology, biochemistry and international business.

  • Patricia Mateo

    Patricia Mateo is a leading strategic food and restaurant consultant in Spain. A Londoner by adoption and native of Madrid by conviction, she splits her time between these two ‘foodie’ cities. In 2006, she founded Mateo&co, a strategic consulting firm for branding, marketing and communications, specialising in food and restaurants. Patricia is also the founder of Spain’s first street food market, MadrEAT, and was a partner in the International Wine Challenge Merchant Awards Spain.

  • Tim Unwin

    Tim Unwin is Emeritus Professor of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, and has a special interest in ‘the geography of wine’. In the wine world, he is probably best known for his book ‘Wine and the Vine’, first published in 1991. He continues to write and speak about wine, and has also served as academic adviser and external examiner to the Institute of Masters of Wine, as co-founding editor of the Journal of Wine Research, as a reviewer of the extension services of the Australian Wine Research Institute, and most recently as chair of the Wine Committee of the Athenaeum Club in London.

  • Jon McDaniel

    Jon is the founder and CEO of Second City Soil, a Chicago-based wine consultancy with the mission of growing Chicago’s wine culture through winery and restaurant marketing and education partnerships. Recognised as one of the top wine professionals in the USA, Jon works with different wineries, international organizations and trade festivals on marketing, education and sales advice. Jon is also an adjunct professor of hospitality management at Roosevelt University in Chicago and the owner and winemaker of Amos Cellars, a California-based wine brand.