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.


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.