Meet the judges

Once again this year’s judging panel will be entirely comprised of independent wine merchants, and overseen by David Williams.

We’ll be introducing all of our judges over the coming weeks so keep an eye on this page for details. Those confirmed so far are as follows:

Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wines

Amps Fine Wine in Oundle dates back to 1901. Philip is the fourth generation of the family to run the business, which opened a second branch in the town in 2016.

Ted Sandbach, The Oxford Wine Company

The company’s modern history dates back to the early 1990s. Ted presides over a business that has a thriving wholesale arm, two retail sites and two lively wine cafés in Oxford.

Hal Wilson, Cambridge Wine Merchants

The business is one of the most respected independents in the UK, with seven branches, four of which are in Cambridge itself. Hal  established the company in 1993 with Brett Turner.

Jane Salt, Hay Wines

Based in Ledbury, Herefordshire, Hay Wines was founded by Jane in 2009, starting out as a wholesaler but quickly branching out into retail and online sales as well as events.

Mark Banham, Morrish & Banham

Occupying a prime position in Dorchester’s new Brewery Square development, this thriving young business was founded in 2015. Mark previously ran the acclaimed Palmers of Bridport wine merchant.

Kiki Evans, Unwined of Tooting

Kiki studied architecture in Australia before setting up A Grape Night In with Laura Ward. Their shop was established in 2015 but the pop-up events that were the mainstay of the original business still continue.

Jane Taylor, Dronfield Wine World

Jane and husband Chris set up this Derbyshire business in 2016. Jane, who was once a teacher, lived in Chile for 16 years and has experience as a winemaker.

Gemma Welden, The Jolly Vintner

Gemma took over this well-known merchant in Tiverton in 2015. She trained with Berry Bros & Rudd and had a spell with an on-trade supply company in the Maldives.

John Roberts, Mumbles Fine Wines

An approved WSET tutor, John has more than 37 years’ experience in the wine trade and is the wine consultant for this famous south Wales merchant, which first opened its doors in 2006.

Marc Hough, Cork of the North

Marc gave up his DJ career to join the wine trade and in 2016 set up Cork of the North in Manchester. It’s a lively on-premise venue which also sells wines to take away.

Samantha Jackson, Chester Beer & Wine

A fixture in Chester since 2005, Sam’s business – run in partnership with Steve Kitchen – has recently branched out into running street festivals.

Phoebe Weller, Valhalla’s Goat

 Phoebe is the manager of this iconic shop in Glasgow’s west end. She describes herself as “a lover of all fermented products but in particular cheese and wine”.

Jefferson Boss, StarmoreBoss

Jefferson is co-owner this independent drinks shop in Sheffield. His experience includes retailing for 20 years, in the drinks industry for over a decade. He has also run independent record labels.

Iain Smith, Smiths Wines

Former DJ Iain Smith runs Smiths Wines in Exeter, where in addition to selling quality wine to his loyal customers he also provides midweek dinners.

Clive Stanton, Eton Vintners

Clive has a small, but energetic company in the heart of Windsor and has worked in the wine business for over 30 years. He has been a supplier to major local restaurants as well as opening several wine shops across the years.

Rod Graham, The Good Spirits Co

Rod has been been selling to the people of Glasgow for 16 years; a decade with Oddbins and then latterly with the Good Spirits Co, which opened in 2011 and now has three shops in the city.

Matt Tipping, Jeroboams

“London’s local wine merchant” is privately owned and has six shops in prime locations. Matt started his career with Majestic Wine before moving to Berry Bros for 11 years. He joined Jeroboams as commercial director in September 2016.

James Kelly, Vino13

After a 26-year career in interior design, James started his wine business in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire. “The ethos is to offer quality and variety allied to a sound knowledge of what is in the bottle,” he says.

Zoran Ristanovic, City Wine Collection

City Wine Collection was established in 2003 and operates from Richmond Upon Thames. Zoran has a degree in viticulture, has worked in all aspects of the wine trade in the UK including a stint as a WSET lecturer s well as participating in winemaking in Bordeaux and Spain.


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