Wine Travel Awards 2023–2024 judging team pushes the boundaries and breaks down professional barriers

The calendar New Year is just around the corner, but the New Year of Wine Travel Awards has already begun! In this edition of the awards, the WTA team takes special pride in the judges who have joined our wine community – a true constellation of professionals and experts who are among the best in the world. This year’s panel of judges brings a distinctive set of characteristics and exciting updates to the forefront. Notably, we’re pleased to welcome a new expert from New Zealand to the WTA team, expanding the geographical horizons of the award and enriching our global perspective.

A noteworthy trend in the evolving landscape of the wine community is that sommeliers, who brilliantly represent wine regions on the international stage, are increasingly being joined by bartender ambassadors. is the growing influence of bartenders. Transforming into progressive and modern specialists, bartenders are now pivotal trend setters in the realms of beverages and tourism.

The WTA Organizing Committee continues its exciting journey into the realm of wine and spirits tourism. Along the way, we encounter captivating individuals, businesses, and destinations. As we embark on the new campaign year of 2023–2024, we’re eager to share our discoveries with you.

The formation of the WTA jury is in its final stages – it’s already completed – we have 12 judges as usual, and we are proud of the outstanding personalities from the world of enogastronomy who have joined our jury this year! It is with great pleasure that we reveal to you some of these outstanding – we can already tell you ALL the names – names. Robert Joseph, Felicity Carter, Dr Ricardo NunezStéphane Badet, Professor Gergely Sholnoki, Nina Bassett, Esther Garcia Adrados and Per Karlsson continue to share their expertise in the third edition of the WTA.

This year, we have some new names of professionals in the wine and wine tourism industry also appeared in the WTA 2023–2024 Jury list:

  • Florence Cathiard, co-owner of the renowned vineyard Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte and President of the Wine Tourism Board;
  • Javier de las Muelas, Dry Martini The Academy, owner is also the founder of a chain of bars of the same name popular with tourists in different parts of Europe;
  • Tim Hanni MW, President of Calyber LLC and HanniCo LLC. Wine industry business consultant and lecturer;
  • Yang Shen, estate Director of Cloudy Bay.

It gives us great pleasure to tell you a little more about each of our judges.

Robert Joseph: Pioneering Wine Expert, Author, and Industry Innovator

Robert Joseph, a prominent figure in the world of wine, brings a wealth of expertise as a British wine expert, consultant, and producer. His journey began in 1984 when he, along with Charles Metcalfe, introduced the magazine Wine International and the renowned London International Wine Challenge. His influence extends globally with the launch of International Wine Challenges in various Asian countries and Russia, marking a significant expansion in wine appreciation. Serving as the wine correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph for sixteen years, he authored over 28 books, earning the prestigious Glenfiddich award for wine writing twice.

His annual Robert Joseph Good Wine Guide, published by Dorling Kindersley, received international acclaim, winning the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for the best Wine Guide in 2004. A seasoned judge and chairman at numerous wine competitions worldwide, Joseph is recognized for his discerning palate. In 2005, in collaboration with Hugh Ryman and Kevin Shaw, Joseph ventured into winemaking by launching le Grand Noir in the Minervois region. This venture aimed to establish a range of French wines that could rival successful New World brands. The brand now boasts 15 wines, selling nearly 3.8 million bottles in 62 countries. The le Grand Noir Chardonnay-Viognier earned a coveted spot on the menu at Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill.

Dr. Ricardo Nunez: Crafting Masterpieces in Every Bottle

Dr. Ricardo Nunez stands at the helm of Vinos de La Luz, an international conglomerate of wineries spanning Spain, Italy, Argentina, the United States and Ukraine. Hailing from Argentina and born into a lineage of winemakers, Dr. Nunez’s roots are entwined with the vineyards of the Andean Cordilleras, where he explored the nuances of the Uco Valley. Beyond his role as the head of Vinos de La Luz, Dr. Nunez is a forward-thinking investor contributing to the evolution of Ukraine’s wine-growing market through his venture, Wine Gallery. With a vision to establish his own products on Ukrainian soil, he takes on the roles of importer and producer, introducing Vinos de La Luz to the Ukrainian market initially.

Driven by a sense of duty to enrich the local industry, Dr. Nunez spearheaded the creation of Big Wines Big Art, featuring masterpieces like Odesa Black 2020 and the Ivan Marchuk Limited Edition. Renowned painter Ivan Marchuk, a cherished friend of Dr. Nunez and a global artistic luminary, contributed a remarkable work that graces the label of these exceptional wines. The launch of Big Wines Big Art has already garnered accolades, securing the 2023 Gold Medal at the Berliner Wine Trophy, the 2023 Gold Medal at Mundus Vini, and the prestigious 2023 Great Gold Medal at CERVIM, a challenging competition in Italy dedicated to Extreme and Heroic Wines.

Dr. Nunez’s journey began with importing his own wines into what he found to be an emerging market in Ukraine. Today, he continues to shape and elevate the landscape of Ukrainian winemaking, blending tradition, innovation, and artistry into every bottle.

Felicity Carter: The Evolution of Wine Media and Communications

Felicity Carter, Executive Editor at Pix and former Editor-in-Chief of Meininger’s Wine Business International, is a prominent figure in global wine business journalism. Her work has been featured in leading publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Guardian USA. An international wine judge and speaker based in Europe, Felicity’s expertise extends beyond wine, as she has written non-wine books and worked as a freelance romance novel editor.

At Pix, she delved into the history of wine blogs at the request of Stevie Kim, who spearheads initiatives linked to the Vinitaly brand. Felicity highlights how wine blogs transformed the media landscape, shifting the focus from big producers to smaller, more compelling stories, revolutionizing our perception of the wine world.

Regarding the value of bloggers in wineries and wine tourism today, Felicity acknowledges the evolving landscape of wine communication. With the transformation from traditional blogging to various platforms like Instagram and Facebook, the role of influencers has become diverse. While it’s challenging to discuss wine tourism due to the dynamic global changes, social media, particularly for smaller businesses, remains a powerful tool for promotion.

Per Karlsson: Crafting a Vintage Legacy in Wine and Travel

Per Karlsson, co-founder of BKWine Magazine and a renowned figure in the wine industry, has established himself as a leading wine tour operator and author. Alongside his wife Britt, he founded BKWine AB in 2004, evolving into one of the world’s premier wine tour operators. As the writer, journalist, and editor-in-chief of BKWine Magazine, a bilingual online wine publication, Per reaches a global audience through the widely read BKWine Brief newsletter.

Since 2015, he has contributed regularly to, sharing his expertise on wine. With eleven co-authored books, covering topics from winemaking and wine growing to regional guides and wine courses, Per has received numerous literary awards from organizations such as Gourmand International, OIV-International Organisation of Vine and Wine, and the Swedish Gastronomic Academy. While most books are in Swedish, “Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking: Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture” is available in English.

Per’s photography, specializing in wine and travel, graces magazines, books, and his own publications. His latest book, “The Wonderful World of Wine” (published in September 2020), serves as a comprehensive guide for wine enthusiasts, covering wine countries, history, grape varieties, and more. Per Karlsson’s multifaceted contributions continue to shape the world of wine and travel.

Nina Basset: Impact on the Hospitality and Fine Wine Industry

Nina Basset is a seasoned professional in the hotel industry, having played a key role in establishing Hotel du Vin, Hotel TerraVina, and Spot in the Woods alongside her late husband, the remarkable Gerard Basset. Her remarkable achievements include becoming the youngest-ever AA Hotel and Restaurant Inspector at the age of 21 and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Business well before turning 40, solidifying Nina’s reputation as a distinguished hospitality expert.

Her passion for fine wine developed during numerous vacations spent with Gerard in vineyards around the world. Living with a wine legend like Gerard ensured that both Nina and their son, Romané, absorbed his fervor and enthusiasm for all things related to wine.

Since January 2019, Nina and Romané have been dedicated to preserving Gerard’s legacy, not only through their association with Liquid Icons – the company he co-founded with Lewis Chester DipWSET – but also by establishing various awards and scholarships in Gerard’s name. These initiatives ensure that Gerard’s profound impact on sommeliers worldwide and the global fine wine industry continues to be celebrated. In October 2020, Nina graciously accepted an invitation to become a Vice President of the Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS), and in November 2022, she assumed the role of General Secretary of the ASI.

Yang Shen: The Vinous Odyssey

Mr. Yang Shen, born in Chengdu, Sichuan, recalls his wine journey starting with a bottle from ChangYu, China’s oldest winery. The global wine awakening occurred when his uncle, Michel Xu, introduced him to French wine, shaping Yang’s future. He pursued Viticulture and Enology studies in France at Macon-Davaye Wine High School, University de Montpellier, and Montesquieu University Bordeaux. Holding senior roles in global giants like Moët Hennessy, Diageo, and Chandon China, Mr. Yang’s career highlights include his impactful stint at Domaine Chandon China. Crafting an oasis in the desert, he achieved remarkable success.

In 2016, leveraging his expertise and trilingual proficiency, Mr. Yang assumed leadership at Cloudy Bay. The winery, invested in by Veuve Clicquot since 1990 and part of the LVMH family since 2003, stands as a beacon of quality and prestige on the New Zealand wine map. Yang Shen’s leadership continues to elevate Cloudy Bay’s prominence.

Tim Hanni MW: Wine Visionary and the Future of Wine Understanding and Appreciation

Mr. Hanni, a Prescott, Arizona resident, boasts over 50 years of comprehensive experience across various aspects of the wine industry. As a trailblazer, he, along with Joel Butler, achieved the distinction of becoming the first American Master of Wine in 1990. Currently serving as a faculty member, Mr. Hanni imparts his extensive knowledge through wine business courses at esteemed institutions like the Napa Valley Wine Academy, Washington State University (Pullman, WA), and Linfield University (McMinnville, OR). His expertise extends globally, providing consultancy services to wineries and wine-related enterprises.

Renowned as an innovator and researcher, Mr. Hanni challenges the conventional in the wine world, earning the moniker “the wine anti-snob” from the Wall Street Journal. His pioneering efforts aim to dispel wine myths and bridge the gap in wine understanding. At the core of this mission is the exploration of fundamental taste preferences that resonate with all wine consumers, fostering inclusivity.

Within Calyber LLC, Wine Business Education (WBE) stands as another noteworthy business unit. WBE provides specialized wine business education programs, including financial planning and forecasting calculators and workbooks. Collaborating with over a dozen universities and institutions, such as the Oregon Wine Board, WBE, in partnership with the Napa Valley Wine Academy, delivers comprehensive offline and online workshop programs. These initiatives empower wine professionals and enthusiasts to gain valuable insights into the business of wine from a supply-and-value chain perspective.

Tim Hanni

Prof. Dr. Prof. h.c. Gergely Szolnoki: Navigating the Diverse Landscape of Wine Research and Tourism

Gergely Szolnoki, a distinguished figure in the world of wine, holds the position of Professor of Market Research at Geisenheim University in Germany and is an honorary professor of Wine and Beverage Management & Marketing at the University of West Attica in Athens, Greece. His extensive research portfolio encompasses diverse areas such as consumer behavior, communication and social media, organic wines, market analysis, and wine tourism. Beyond his scholarly pursuits, Gergely serves as a delegated expert in the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), focusing on wine economics and statistics.

Currently, Gergely Szolnoki is delving into the intricacies of wine tourism, with a specific focus on unique aspects like caravanning tourism and sustainable or organic wine tourism. Looking ahead, he envisions expanding his research into various facets of wine tourism, seeking to uncover new insights and contribute to the evolving landscape. Reflecting on recent developments in the world of wine, Gergely expresses delight in the resurgence of international wine fairs after a hiatus of two years. For him, these events are more than occasions to showcase wines — they represent opportunities for people to come together in a delightful and enriching manner.

Stéphane Badet: Nurturing Future Winemakers in the Face of Climate Challenges

Stéphane Badet, a distinguished lecturer at the Institute of Vine and Wine Science (ISVV) at the University of Bordeaux, one of the world’s foremost educational institutions, also holds a prestigious position at EPL Bordeaux. With a wealth of experience in wine economy, industry management, business, marketing, and tourism, he has served as an expert and consultant in various cooperation and sustainable development programs worldwide, collaborating with entities such as Interco NA, FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of France, and French and German embassies.

Currently, Stéphane is focused on preparing the next generation of wine industry professionals for the challenges posed by agro-ecological transition and climate change adaptation. Actively involved in shaping curricula and training modules at ISVV and EPL Bordeaux, he draws inspiration from global experiences, such as his recent exploration of wine production in Canada using resistant and hybrid varieties. In collaboration with high schools and universities across the European Union, Stéphane is spearheading initiatives to adapt technical management practices to address climate change and global warming. Looking ahead, he expresses a keen interest in contributing to the revival of Ukraine’s wine sector post-war, recognizing the resilience and determination of Ukrainian winegrowers in the face of adversity.

Ester Garcia Adrados: Commitment to Excellence and Sustainability

Ester Garcia Adrados, the accomplished Director of the School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia and the Vocational Training Institute of Wine Tourism of Catalonia, also holds the esteemed position of Director of the Wine Business School. Although born in Barcelona, her family’s deep-rooted connection to the world of wine in Ribera del Duero has significantly influenced her path. Currently residing in Vilafranca del Penedès, Ester passionately champions projects and training initiatives that propel the professionalization and dissemination of the wine and wine tourism sector. Central to her endeavors are the core principles of innovation, sustainability, and fostering robust networks.

Presently, Ester is actively engaged in advancing the School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia, offering higher professional training in Wine Tourism within the Bologna Plan. An ambitious plan for the upcoming year is to extend a warm welcome to international students, adding a global dimension to the educational experience.

Florence Cathiard: Pioneering French Wine Tourism and Terroir Excellence

Florence Cathiard, co-owner of Château Smith Haut Lafitte with her husband Daniel, stands at the forefront of French wine tourism. As the President of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Oenotourisme, she has played a pivotal role in advancing the experience of wine enthusiasts. Recognized for her contributions, Florence is a “chevalier de l’ordre du mérite” and has been granted the prestigious “Légion d’Honneur” by Alain Juppé.

In 2023, Florence launched a groundbreaking initiative alongside the Minister of Tourism—an innovative multilingual platform, This platform provides unprecedented access to all the wine regions of France, celebrating not only the renowned but also the “unsung heroes” of French winemaking. Beyond her contributions to the broader wine community, Florence, along with her family, has crafted a unique wine tourism experience at the hot springs at Caudalie. This venture reflects her commitment to offering visitors an immersive and diverse encounter with the world of wine.

Florence and her husband embarked on their vinicultural journey in 1990, selling all other business interests to acquire Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Over the years, they passionately invested in renovating the winery and the 18th-century manor house, choosing to reside there and channel their energy into producing exceptional white and red wines.

Javier de las Muelas: A Visionary Mixologist Redefining Cocktail Craft Across the Globe

Javier de las Muelas stands as a trailblazer and accomplished entrepreneur, widely recognized as one of the foremost masters in the art of mixology worldwide. Renowned for his trendsetting initiatives, he not only imparts insights at gastronomy forums and business schools but also collaborates with media outlets and serves as a consultant to leading F&B companies. As the founder of Barcelona’s iconic cocktail bar, Gimlet, and the owner of Dry Martini in Barcelona (, a venue nominated for seven consecutive years in the World’s 50 Best Bars list, Señor de las Muelas has achieved international acclaim. His creative brilliance extends to some of the most innovative cocktail bars and dining establishments across Spain and Latin America.

With establishments in glamorous locations like Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastián, and Tenerife, Señor de las Muelas has crafted a reputation for venues that offer unparalleled customer experiences. Each venue engages all the senses, boasting quality ingredients, elegant presentations, and expertly blended flavors. While each business carries a distinct identity reflecting its locale, they share a common thread of sophistication, tradition, and imaginative flair—a signature touch of Señor de las Muelas.

His unique ability to seamlessly fuse classic cocktail craftsmanship with modern interpretations establishes him as a visionary shaping the future of the industry. As a key member of our jury, we anticipate that his discernment and worldly knowledge will significantly enhance our perspectives.



We eagerly anticipate the forthcoming stages of the WTA’s journey, embracing the evolving dynamics and contributions of industry experts and influencers. As we navigate these changes, we remain committed to recognizing and celebrating excellence in the world of wines and spirits.

We expect 2024 to be very dynamic and full of events. The WTA team and our nominees will be presented at several significant events: ProWein, Wine Paris & VinExpo, London Wine Fair, WineFuture, and Wine & Gourmet Taipei, IWINETC, WinExpo Georgia, Balkans International Wine Competition & Festival, Italian Taste Summit, EnoExpo, Le Mondial Des Vines Blancs Strasbourg, and London Spirits Competition, etc.

We invite you to join the friendly, active and progressive Wine Travel Awards community! We accept nominees’ applications until 27 February 2024. And we are always open to sponsors and partners, please contact:

Sponsorship and advertising
Iryna Diachenkova
+38 067 4474578
(WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber)

Events and nominations
Bohdana Nosenok
+38 099 620 51 63 (WhatsApp)
+38 099 375 89 18 (Telegram)