The True Meaning of the FLIWC

The 19th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) has come to a close. Thank you to all the wineries, distilleries and cideries who entered, and all of the judges and volunteers who helped to make the competition possible.

What makes the FLIWC stand out from other competitions is the non-profit that it supports. All proceeds from the competition benefit the children and families served by Camp Good Days & Special Times, a non-profit that helps those affected by cancer.

Every year, a family who has benefited from Camp Good Days’ programs comes to speak to the judges and volunteers who spend their weekend at the competition. This is always a very special part of the weekend since it reminds everyone present what the real importance of the competition is—to support these wonderful families.

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This year, the Shaw family told their story. Jenesis Shaw is a young girl who had been diagnosed with a stage IV Wilms Tumor in August of 2017. This is the most common type of kidney cancer seen in young children. After her mother, Scotesha, noticed bumps on Jenesis’ abdomen, she and her husband, Mike, took Jenesis to the hospital, where they were told that Jenesis might have cancer. In the months that followed, Jenesis had to have chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

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While in the hospital, Jenesis noticed that there were other children in the hospital who were going through treatments, and she decided to help them by creating “Care Kits” filled with comfort items like blankets and toys. The idea has now become an ongoing initiative for the family through “Team Jenny Bean,” which raises money to purchase the items for the kits. “Giving is truly curative,” said Mike Shaw.

Jenesis has attended Camp Good Days for the Teddi’s Team program, which is a five-day overnight camping program for children ages 8-12 who have been diagnosed with cancer. At the program the children are able to spend time with other children who know what it is like to be them; other children who have been diagnosed with cancer. They are able to leave their worries behind and spend their days fishing, swimming, taking boat rides, doing crafts, having dances, singing around campfires, and playing dress up. Jenesis is excited to attend camp again this summer and said, “it was really fun and I can’t wait to go back!”

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Jenesis and her family are just one example of the many families that Camp Good Days supports. “Camp Good Days allows children to just be kids and leave the stresses of the world in the world…even if only for a moment,” said Mike Shaw. Thank you again to everyone who participated in the FLIWC; you are making a difference to many families just like the Shaws.

This year, Camp Good Days is celebrating its 40th anniversary! Over the years, Camp Good Days has served over 48,300 campers from 22 states and 36 countries. To learn more, visit http://www.campgooddays.org.

Wine and More…

The final deadline to enter the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) is fast approaching!

Something that you might not know is that the competition not only judges wine, as cider and distilled entries are also accepted.  While the wine entries make up the majority of the competition, the cider and distilled entries are rising every year!

One local, Rochester-based company, ROC House Brands, has been entering its products into the competition for three years.  Ricky Tatar, Product Manager of Spirits and Beverages for LiDestri Food and Drink, sheds some light on the different beverages that ROC House Brands creates.

Please explain ROC House Brands…

ROC House Brands is a sub-division of LiDestri Food and Drink. ROC House develops, makes, markets, and sells a variety of alcohol beverage brands including Cask & Crew Whiskey, Recipe 21 Spirits, Pink Lemon Liqueur, mü coffeehouse cocktails, and Tuttobello Limoncello.

Are there any new ROC House Brand products that you are particularly excited about?

Cask & Crew Whiskey is at the top of my list. This brand launched in 2017 and in two years we have already sold over 150,000 bottles. The brand was built around the notion that there are two kinds of people: those who love whiskey and those who love whiskey and don’t know it yet! We infuse our whiskey with natural flavors that blend particularly well with the whiskey. Those flavors are Walnut Toffee, Ginger Spice and Orange Roasted.  And for those who are already whiskey fans, our flagship item is our Cask & Crew Rye Whiskey, which is blended with 51% three-year-old Canadian Rye and 49% three-year-old Kentucky Corn. This is a blend that is great on the rocks or can be mixed in your favorite cocktail.

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Another brand I am excited about is Recipe 21. Recipe 21 is a complete line of most every type of spirits. The brand consists of Vodka and Flavored Vodkas, Gin, Tequila, Blended Whiskey, Rum, Cinnamon Whiskey, Coconut Rum, Triple Sec, and Peach Schnapps. We are particularly proud of this brand because of the growth and popularity it has seen in the Upstate New York area. The recipe for this is simple—outstanding quality for a very low price. Chances are, if you go into a bar in the Upstate New York area and you order a “well drink” (Vodka Tonic, Rum and Coke, etc.), that bar will likely be using Recipe 21 to make your drink. We love entering Recipe 21 into contests like the FLIWC because it typically does very well, regardless of the fact that it sells for half the price of other brands in the same category.

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 What, in your opinion, makes the FLIWC a competition worthy of entering your products in?

We are very confident in the quality of our products and aim to enter as many competitions as we can. With that said, many competitions are very expensive. I’ve found that the FLIWC not only has the notoriety of world-class judges selecting the winners of the contests and verifying our quality, but also the price is very reasonable; not to mention knowing that, regardless of if we win or lose, the proceeds from the competition are going toward a remarkable cause in Camp Good Days and Special Times. That’s not something I’ve found anywhere else in a spirits competition.

What about working with spirits excites you?

Working with spirits is a lot of fun. It’s a very competitive industry and has consumers that are constantly changing. It’s exciting to bring new and innovative products to market!

How do you think entering competitions such as the FLIWC helps your products/brand?

Consumers are extremely savvy these days. With the vast selection of products for consumers to buy, most decisions are made after the consumer does some research (even while standing there at the store shelf). By putting our accolades on our signage, website, selling materials, etc., we are able to show the liquor store, the restaurant, or the consumer that this product was tested and passed with flying colors.

 

 

Head Judge, Bob Madill

The 2019 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) is approaching soon, and wines are pouring in.  The competition will be held April 13-14, 2019 in Rochester, NY at the Holiday Inn Downtown.

There are many wonderful people who help to make the competition run smoothly, and one of those people is Bob Madill, who is the Head Judge again for this year.  His knowledge of wine, and his very welcoming personality make him a great addition to our team.  If you would like to learn more about who is on our committee or to see who our very knowledgeable judges are for this year, please visit: https://fliwc-cgd.com/judges.asp.

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Please explain what your role of Head Judge entails…

Wine competitions of the scale and size of the FLIWC with over 3,000 wines and 54 judges are very complex. The entire event is orchestrated to ensure that the judges are able to evaluate the wines in a professional and discerning manner without distractions or impediments. The Head Judge oversees the selection of judges, their organization into panels, the integrity of the judging process and works with the organization across all aspects of the competition so that the final results of medals awarded have the credibility merited by the quality of the wines. With the forgoing wine judging process in place, one built upon organizational integrity, wineries that are awarded medals can confidently promote their awards as substantial and credible recognition of the quality of their wines.

What are some of your personal favorite types of wine to drink?

That really depends on my mood and circumstances. Back in the day when I was learning about wine, we could buy European classics from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Germany and Italy at affordable prices. That is a bit more challenging these days.

I much prefer wines that have what one might call an ‘old-world’ character. That is – fresh acidity and fruit, light or no-oak, moderate alcohol – wines that one could also characterize as having a ‘cool-climate’ style. Such as those from the Finger Lakes!

While I consume and enjoy Finger Lakes wines on a frequent basis – especially Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Franc – I drink from other regions as well. Gamay from Niagara, Ontario is frequently on my table – fresh, crunchy and just plain delicious! I have a passion for Beaujolais and Burgundy and older Kabinett Rieslings from the Mosel.

How did you become involved in the wine industry? 

I worked in the high-tech industry for over 20 years. This took me to many places in the world and afforded me the opportunity to visit wines regions in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and South Africa. At the same time, I studied and read about wine, made wine as an amateur, and became qualified as a certified wine judge with the American Wine Society. Eventually I started working in Niagara Ontario’s wine industry – cellar rat, press pad, sales, tastings – everything that I could to acquire practical experience.

In 1995 Thomas Henickling, professor of Oenology at Cornell, introduced me to Greg Sandor, a pomology student who was forming a group to start a winery on Cayuga Lake, Finger Lakes. The first week of January 1997 Greg & I and a few others purchased the farm that became Sheldrake Point Winery and we planted our first block of vines that year.

What about this year’s competition are you most looking forward to?

Our team of judges are drawn from all over the US, Canada and part of Europe. There are academics, educators, winemakers, sommeliers, retailers – virtually all of the professional scope of that the world of wine encompasses is represented. While we all gather for a specific and serious purpose – to judge ~ 3,000 wines over two days on behalf of Camp Good Days and Special Times – we also enjoy each other’s company, catch up with one another and generally have fun while working very hard. I am really looking forward to seeing and breaking bread with these people who are so supportive for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

From your perspective, what makes the FLIWC so unique?

The FLIWC has three remarkable pillars of strength. The powerful and compelling cause that the competition supports – Camp Good Days and Special Times for children with cancer and their families; the exceptional management team and volunteers who conduct the competition; and, the enviable and widely acknowledged record for trusted wine judging professionalism that the FLIWC has demonstrated over the past 19 years.

As the Competition Approaches…

We are less than two weeks away from the 2018 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC)!

This is the 18th year for the competition, which means 18 years of raising funds for Camp Good Days & Special Times, a not-for-profit organization that provides programs and services to children and families affected by cancer, sickle cell anemia, and other life challenges. The FLIWC, combined with the Camp Good Days Wine Auction Dinner is the largest Rochester area fundraiser for Camp Good Days. The wines that win gold and double gold medals at the competition are served at the wine dinner to the guests.

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition is truly more than just a competition; it is an opportunity for judges from all over the world to taste some of the best wines worldwide, and for wineries to enter a well-known competition, while also knowing that their participation helps children and families who are going through some of life’s toughest challenges.

The competition could not happen without the wonderful judges, coordinators, wineries, and volunteers who participate.

Below is a video about one of Camp Good Days’ campers, Anders. It is through events like the FLIWC and the Camp Good Days Wine Auction Dinner that children like him have the opportunity to come to Camp Good Days, and be surrounded by other children just like him. On the shores of Keuka Lake, Anders and his friends have the opportunity to regain some of their lost childhood that cancer took from them.

17th Annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition a Great Success

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This past weekend, the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition went very well.  There was a wonderful turnout from the judges, great cooperation among the volunteers, and fantastic wines from all over the world.  Below are the final stats and some of the results from the competition.  You can find the entire list of results on the FLIWC website: www.fliwc-cgd.com.  Thank you to everyone who participated, and we hope everyone had a wonderful time! We will see you all next year!

Total Wines Judged: 3077

Total Wineries: 621

Total Countries Entered: 16

From: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Mexico, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States

Total Judges: 52

From: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Slovenia, United States

Total Medals: Double Gold – 88, Gold – 228, Silver – 1188, Bronze – 1099

Best Of Categories:

Best Sparkling  – Blanc de Blanc  NV Gloria Ferrer Winery California, United States

Raul Castellani Award – Best South American Wine  – Mora Negra  2013 Finca Las Moras, Argentina

John Rose Award – Best Riesling – McGuigan Shortlist Riesling 2009 Australian Vintage Ltd., Australia

Best Merlot  – Horse Heaven Hills Merlot  2014 Mercer Estates Winery, Washington, United States

Best Icewine  – De Sousa Vidal Icewine 2014 Diamond Estates Winery, Ontario, Canada

Best Fruit Wine  – Yogi Berry Blackberry NV Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery, Kansas, United States

Best Chardonnay – Kosut Chardonnay Selection 2015   Rodinné vinařství Košut s.r.o., Czech Republic

Best Cabernet Sauvignon – SP1600 Limited Edition 2013 RD Winery, California, United States

Best Cabernet Franc – Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014 Penns Woods Winery, Pennsylvania, United States

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Invaluable Volunteers

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) is this upcoming weekend!  Over the course of the weekend, there will be over 200 volunteers who dedicate their time to making this competition possible and making sure that it runs smoothly.  Volunteers will wash glasses, pour the wine, and transport the wine to the judges.  One of these volunteers, Sister Francella Quinn from the Sisters of Saint Joseph, has been involved with the competition since it began.

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Since she started volunteering for the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition 16 years ago, she has done every job from glass washing to wine pouring to serving the judges.  She likes seeing the returning judges who come back every year and is also eager to meet some of the new judges.  She is excited to be a part of an event that helps to make sure that the children of Camp Good Days can continue to come to camp free of charge.

Sister Francella Quinn started her involvement with Camp Good Days after her sister and brother in law became involved.  At the time when they began volunteering, she was a principal in the Rochester Diocese and was not able to be involved with camp, but after, she helped the spiritual leader at camp at the time, Father David Ambuske.  After he passed away, she assumed the responsibility of being the sole spiritual leader—leading prayers during the summer camping sessions and fundraisers throughout the year, leading the memorial service at camp, and helping out wherever she is needed.  She likes being able to be with the children and help them with anything they are struggling with.

One of her favorite memories of camp is when children come up to her and say, “You look like my grandma!” She also loves when she conducts the memorial service at camp in the camp chapel, and children come up and ask to help.  “It is the greatest feeling because it is a celebration of life, and that is what is most important to the children and that is what matters,” she said.

Sister Francella Quinn has volunteered at Camp Good Days for over 30 years.  She is an invaluable addition to the Camp Good Days family, and is a key volunteer in helping the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition be a success every single year.

Support from Local Wineries

Wineries from all over the world enter their wines in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition each year, but the Finger Lakes wineries have a special place in the hearts of those at Camp Good Days with their never-ending support.  David Peterson, the President and Co-Owner of Swedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay Wineries in the Finger Lakes region, has been entering wines since the first year of the competition.

“I grew up working in my family’s vineyard, which is now the site of Swedish Hill,”  David said.  “At that time, there was no vision of a winery; my dad just loved the grape growing part.  I was interested in plants in general, which led to me majoring in Plant Science at Cornell University.  This led me to get more interested in the science of growing and led to getting a MS and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology, specializing in grapes while getting my Ph.D.  I got involved in a graduate student and faculty wine tasting group during that time.  This was in the early 1980’s when the small farm winery movement was just getting started in the Finger Lakes.  I talked my Mom and Dad into starting a winery while I was in graduate school, although I moved out of the area to work in grape and wine research and extension in Missouri and later came back to New York in a similar role for Cornell in the Finger Lakes.  In 1996, I joined the family winery, Swedish Hill, and helped to open our second winery, Goose Watch, in 1997.”

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What is your history with the FLIWC?

We have entered the FLIWC since its inception.  FLIWC is a nice competition for us to enter as it is local, yet international in scope.  Being local, it also gets a lot of recognition and press in the Rochester market.  As soon as the results are released, we see a bump in sales in Rochester stores of any of our wines that win gold medals.  It also supports a great local cause.

What is your role at Swedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay?

My wife Jean and I now own and operate the 3 wineries, so we wear many hats.  My area is oversight of the winegrowing and winemaking, although we have very good employees who are involved in managing those areas.  I am very involved in decisions regarding planting of new varieties, ideas for new products, and I also do all of our grape contracting with about 15 different growers.  This involves visiting each of these contract growers multiple times each year and I work with the winemakers on making harvest timing decisions.  In addition, I oversee our sales away from our tasting rooms, in other words, the arrangements with our distributors and ultimately wine shops and restaurants.  My wife more directly runs our office and oversees the tastings room, although there is always overlap.  At times, we are involved in every aspect of the business.

What do you like about working with wine?

To me, wine is more interesting than many products as it’s not so much a commodity as most things that people produce.  There are so many factors that go into producing it—soil, grape variety, weather, human interaction in both the vineyard and the winery—these factors have such a profound influence on the final product.  Wine is also something that brings so much enjoyment and entertainment to people.

Do you have a special memory from a past FLIWC?

Well, we have won a number of awards over the years.  I think the very first year we were the only double gold medal winner for Riesling, which is a big deal considering the quality of the local Rieslings.

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition continues to grow each year, and so far this year, about 10% of the wineries that have entered are new wineries!  The support of both new wineries, and long-time supporters like Swedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay help to ensure the success of the competition, and the longevity of Camp Good Days.

A Yearly Tradition

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Each year at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, there are judges who come from all over the world to lend their expertise.  For some, this year will be their first time being involved with the competition, and for others, like Peter Bell, this is a yearly tradition.

Peter Bell, the Senior Winemaker at Fox Run Winery in Penn Yan, New York has been a judge at the FLIWC every year since its inception except for 2004, when he was away on sabbatical in Australia.  He has become a valued part of the competition and a great supporter of Camp Good Days.

Even though wine is now Peter’s life, it took him a little while to become part of the industry. “In my late twenties, it finally occurred to me what profession I needed to be in,” Peter said.  “Becoming a winemaker was, at the time, a highly unorthodox thing to do, especially for a city boy like me.  I did what it took to be accepted in a degree program in Wine Science in Australia.  That was way back in 1986.  My first vintage was in 1988.”

Every year at the FLIWC, each wine is judged on its own merit – its presence, balance and varietal character – not by how it compares to other wines in the flight.

Wines are blind judged in flights, with each wine identified only by a computer-generated code number. Each glass is labeled with this code number and the judges are given a scoring sheet with the number and the type of wine.  All flights are staged in a separate back room and delivered to the judging room.  Re-pours, when necessary, from a second unopened bottle are also staged in the back room.

Each judge will taste around 200 wines over the course of the weekend, but there is always a wine that stays in each judge’s memory.  “There was that time my panel got a flight of ice wines, one of which was actually a jalapeno-infused ice wine that we were not given any prior knowledge of,” Peter said.  “It was the freakiest thing ever, but I could find absolutely nothing to criticize about it, so I gave it a Gold.  And, as it happens, all the other judges on my panel felt the same way, so it got a Double Gold.”

This year, Peter will be joined by about 50 other judges, all of whom will be able to taste some of the best wines in the world.

More Than a Competition…

Started 17 years ago, The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition has become one of the largest wine competitions in the world to benefit a charitable organization.  Last year, 3,824 wines, from 916 wineries, representing 50 states, 24 countries, and 6 Canadian Provinces were entered.
winecompblog3Each year, there is an esteemed panel of judges—they are Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, wine educators, wine journalists, winemakers, and other top internationally certified wine judges. The judges evaluate and award thousands of wines from around the world, all in three days of blind analysis and competition.  All of the wines are presented blind to the judges’ panel in Riedel stemware with only the grape or blend identified.  No indication of geography, vintage, or price point is shared, ensuring totally unbiased evaluation given to each wine.

The competition, along with the Camp Good Days’ Wine Auction Dinner is the largest fundraiser to benefit Camp Good Days.  This competition helps to provide the funds necessary to allow Camp Good Days’ Founder, Gary Mervis, to keep the promise that he made when he started Camp Good Days 38 years ago; that all of the programs and services provided by Camp Good Days would be provided free of charge to the participants.

In 1979, the youngest of Gary’s three children, Elizabeth, “Teddi,” Mervis, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age 9. During all of her treatments she received, what upset her most was that she was felt she was alienated from her friends—she knew no one else who now looked like her.  As Gary witnessed his child struggle, he decided to give her a place where she would be welcomed and feel just like everyone else.  Thus was born Camp Good Days—a place where children with cancer are not faced with boundaries, but rather open hearts, compassion and fun.  Camp Good Days is a place where children affected by cancer can be around other children who know exactly what it is like to be them.

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Teddi lost her battle in 1982 but Camp Good Days continues its mission as a legacy to her and all the children who have braved the fight against cancer. With the summer camping sessions and year-round programming and support, Camp Good Days hopes to give back at least a little bit of the childhood that cancer has taken away.

This year, Camp Good garyandteddiDays is celebrating its 38th anniversary.  Since its inception, it has served more than 47,000 campers from 22 states and 34 countries—a feat only made possible through the generosity of so many people and organizations, and the special fundraising events that benefit Camp Good Days, like the FLIWC.

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition is more than just a competition; it is an event that helps to bring people with common interests together from around the world, and it helps to keep the legacy of Teddi Mervis and all children who have braved the fight against cancer alive through Camp Good Days & Special Times.

Wine Leaders to Take Active Part in Competition

The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC) cannot be a success without the help of knowledgeable leaders in the wine community.  This year, two local leaders: Lorraine Hems and Teresa Knapp are taking on key responsibilities in the FLIWC.

Lorraine Hems is going to be this year’s Head Judge. She will oversee all of the judges at the competition.lorrainehemsheadshot

Lorraine Hems has been in the wine and culinary field since 1981. She started teaching wine courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2001 following a career in the retail and wholesale arenas. A fulltime lecturer in the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department since 2005, she later received her Masters of Service Leadership and Innovation there. She loves involving her students with various events that have included this competition.

Lorraine has been judging in competitions for over 20 years and was there at the beginning of the FLIWC. She assisted in the backroom for the first year and, since then, has judged 14 out of 15 subsequent competitions. Lorraine also served on FLIWC committees, has been in charge of the “Candy Store” of wines for the Camp’s dinner auction and has been part of several auction items.  She was also given a Teddi Award from Camp Good Days in 2011. Lorraine has also chaired other local wine competitions.

Lorraine’s a Certified Wine Judge through the American Wine Society, a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and is working on finishing her Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma. Lorraine became a Certified Wine Educator and Certified Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators’ certification programs and was elected to their Board of Directors and Secretary to the Executive Committee. She also teaches WSET and industry training courses at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, NY and other locations.

Lorraine has had many opportunities to travel, present, and judge globally.  A local girl, she’s really enjoyed working with the great people in the New York State wine industry; an internationally-recognized quality wine producing region. She received the Women for WineSense’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation’s Consumer Award in 2016 for promotion and education about the wines of New York. She is currently working on the 2nd edition of her course textbook, Passport to the World of Wines.

“I have been involved in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition since it began,” Lorriane said, “so I am honored to be asked to be the Head Judge in its 17th year! Over these years, I’ve witnessed many judges crying when they’ve witnessed the impact Camp has on the lives of the campers and how they’re able, through judging at the competition, raise money for more campers to attend. It’s very exciting to be a part of this globally recognized competition that benefits Camp Good Days and Special Times.”

Teresa Knapp is going to be this year’s Flighting and Tabulation Manager.  She will oversee the selections of wine and the scoring of the wines being tasted.

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Teresa Knapp has been in the grape and wine industry all of her life. As a 4th generation grape growing member of the Stamp Family, Teresa is a partner of Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, NY.  Spending time working in the vineyards made Teresa appreciate all of the hard work that goes into a fine bottle of wine. Upon graduating from Cornell University, her love of the industry brought her to the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

As Project Manager of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Teresa has been the Competition Director of the New York Wine & Food Classic for the last 17 years.  Other competition experience includes: The Golden Nose, International Eastern Wine Competition and she is a founding partner of the Makers & Masters Classic. Teresa lives in Canandaigua, New York with her very supportive husband, Randy, and three children.

 “This will be my first year of involvement with the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition,” Teresa said. “I am looking forward to putting my experience with the New York Wine & Food Classic to use in such a great way. I am excited to work on an international competition while supporting Camp Good Days and Special Times and all they do.”