Judges for the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards are selected from across Australia and are engaged based on their exceptional industry knowledge and expertise.

We are happy to welcome local and interstate industry leaders to the judging panel for this year's Royal Melbourne Wine Awards.

Judges are sourced from a broad base and include leading Australian winemakers, wine journalists, wine buyers, distributors and fine wine retailers.

Judging panels blind taste the wines to award medals based on the judging criteria for each class. Any wine awarded 95 - 100 points will be awarded a gold medal, 90 - 94 silver and 85 - 89 bronze.

2019 Judging Panel

Chair of Judges - Matt Harrop

Born in New Zealand, Matt Harrop grew up in Auckland, working his first vintage at 17 in 1988 and graduating from Roseworthy College in 1991 with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology. Matt has previously held roles as winemaker at Shadowfax from its first vintage in 1999 and Senior Winemaker at Nautilus in Marlborough NZ. Following that, he spent three years as winemaker at Brokenwood. Most recently, Matt has been appointed winemaker at Curly Flat Vineyard. Matt is also a regular judge of Australia’s city and regional wine shows including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Barossa and Mornington Peninsula shows.

Panel Chairs

Anna Pooley, Pooley Wines, Tasmania

Anna’s wine journey began working alongside her Grandmother Margaret in the family vineyard. Inspired by the first vintage from the Pooley Estate, Anna left Tasmania to study winemaking at the University of Adelaide.
During her career, Anna has worked with some of Australia’s great wineries such as Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Tatachilla, Rosemount and Yellowglen and led the Tasmanian premium producer Heemskerk to international acclaim.
Vintages in Italy with Castello di Gabbiano & Riecine, as well as time at the fame Salomon Undhof in Austria, has deepened Anna’s winemaking skill set enabling her to produce elegant and world class age-worthy wines.

Ben Portet, Dominique Portet Winery, Yarra Valley, VIC

Ben is the Senior Winemaker of his family’s winery, Dominique Portet, based in the Yarra Valley. Holding a degree in Oenology from the University of Adelaide, his knowledge base is punctuated with experience from local and global wineries in Champagne, Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley as well as Africa, United States and of course Australia.

Chris Tyrell, Tyrell's Wines, Hunter Valley, NSW

Chris Tyrrell is the fifth generation of Tyrrell family winemaking dynasty, alongside his sister Jane and brother John. Chris began his winery apprenticeship in 2001. From then on Chris has worked with his family’s wine company. In between vintages he worked in the sales and marketing department until the end of 2005 when he returned to work full time in the winery. In late 2014, Chris was promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all facets of production at the Hunter Valley winery and vineyard.

Kerri Thompson, Wines By KT, Clare Valley, SA

Kerri Thompson has been living and making wine in the Clare Valley district for twenty years, She established her own wine business, Wines by KT, in 2006 after managing the historic Leasingham Wines for the Hardy Wine Company. The focus of Wines by KT is creating individual vineyard wines from the sustainably cared for Peglidis and Churinga vineyards, in Watervale, South Australia, specialising in Riesling.

Lisa Jenkins, Mac Forbes Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC

A qualified chef, Lisa made the move from the back of house to the front early in her hospitality career. Her synergy with food and wine held her in great stead as manager at the City Wine Shop for close to eight years.
A new direction in career came about in 2016 taking on the role of Sales Manager for Mac Forbes Wines in Victoria, ACT and Tasmania. At the same time, Lisa and her husband began making their own wine under the label Fleet, based in South Gippsland.

Simon Steele, Medhurst Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC

Simon is an Adelaide-born winemaker in charge of the winemaking from a 12.3 hectare site in the Yarra Valley, Medhurst wines. He has extensive winemaking experience nationally with Shaw and Smith, Hardy’s Tintara, Shadowfax and Brokenwood, as well as stints in Burgundy, and Rioja. Simon has been involved in many regional and national wine shows since 2004. This will be Simons fifth year at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. From being a steward, Simon worked up to associate judge, then judge and is now panel chair.

Toby Barlow, St Hallett, Barossa Valley, SA

Born in Oregon USA, Toby Barlow grew up in Sydney where he completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Philosophy in 1996. After a period of travel and wanderlust, Toby developed his first vintage in 1998 and went on to complete a Graduate Diploma in Oenology at Adelaide University in 1999. Over the last twenty years, Toby has been Senior Winemaker for Mitchelton and St Hallett before more recently the Premium Wineries Director role for the Lion Wine Group and Accolade Wines. In addition to these roles Toby has spent time working at wineries in Oregon, New Zealand, France and Spain and is a regular senior judge at Australia’s capital city and regional wines shows.


Adam Carnaby, Seppelt Wines, Great Western, VIC

Alister Timms, Shadowfax Wines, Werribee, VIC

Brock Harrison, Pernod Ricard, Barossa Valley, SA

Joshua Cooper, Joshua Cooper Wines, Macedon Ranges, VIC

Luke Lomax, Devils Cave Vineyard, Heathcote, VIC

Marcus Satchell, Dirty Three, Gippsland, VIC

Natasha Mooney, Wine Architect, Barossa Valley, VIC

Nic Schirripa, Casella Family Brands, New South Wales

Nick Spencer, Nick Spencer Wines, Canberra, ACT

Peter Fraser, Yangarra, McLaren Vale, SA

Peter Godden, AWRI, Adelaide, SA

Peter Nixon, Dan Murphy's, Melbourne, VIC

Steven Paul, Oakdene Wines, Bellarine Peninsula, VIC

Tim Shand, Punt Road Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC


Associate Judges

Anthony Pieri, Apples and Pears Entertainment Group, Melbourne, VIC

Ben Ranken, Willimee Wines, Macedon Ranges, VIC

Brigitte Rodda, Best's Wines, Great Western, VIC

Ed Merrison, CellarHand, Melbourne, VIC

Gil Sykes, Winehouse, Melbourne, VIC

Jessica Ferguson, Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton, QLD

Justine Henschke, Henschke, Eden Valley, SA

Lachlan McCallum, The European, Melbourne, VIC

Lisa Cardelli, Rockpool Group, Melbourne, VIC

Luke Joliffe, Stella Bella, Margaret River, WA 

Mark Bulman, Turkey Flat Vineyard, Barossa Valley, VIC

Nicole Bilson, WSET Educator, Melbourne, VIC

Philip LeMessurier, Curduroy Wines, Adelaide Hills, SA

Pip Anderson, MONA, Tasmania

Stephanie Jacob, Supernormal, Melbourne, VIC



For further information about the selection of the judging panel and judging expression of interest for 2020, see below.