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2014 Somms Under Fire Judges Panel, Emcee, Chef & QuickMix Challenge Judges

We are excited to announce the outstanding panel of Wine Industry Professionals who will serve as Judges for Somms Under Fire!  These judges have paired wine and food across the world and will bring their knowledge and experience to Austin, TX for one night only to put the Somm contestants to the test.  The wine and food pairing skills and innovation of one talented Somm will ultimately be awarded the Grand Prize by this supreme Judges Panel.

Winemaker Wells Guthrie, Copain Wines

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

At Copain, he creates wines that are firmly rooted in California, yet with the sensibilities of the European wines that so moved him. He is as committed to crafting these elegant, nuanced wines as he is to building a legacy that will be passed down to his daughters in the great tradition of European winemakers whose estates have been in the same family for generations.

Global Wine Consultant Peter Wasserman

The son of founder Becky Wasserman-Hone, Peter Wasserman of Becky Wasserman Selections acts as the company’s global wine consultant and is based between Burgundy, where the company is headquartered, and New York City.

Peter’s American mother Becky elected to launch her own wine business in 1979, thus becoming one of the first women to start a wine brokerage.

It seems that a rare combination of genes and upbringing has endowed the Wassermans with their unique talent for unearthing hand crafted hidden jewels. And that sort of talent is critical when it comes to the delicate and notoriously temperamental wines of Burgundy and Champagne, the regions where the Wassermans focus their energy.


Peter Wasserman

Author and Wine Writer Jordan Mackay

Jordan Mackay is an award winning Author and Wine Writer, based in San Francisco.  In addition to being the wine and spirits writer for San Francisco Magazine, his writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, The Art of Eating, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Punch, and many others. He is the author of Passion for Pinot and (with Rajat Parr) the James Beard Award-winning Secrets of the Sommeliers. Currently, he is working on a book about Texas barbecue and two more books on wine.

Piedmont Winemaker Elisa Scavino

Piedmont Winemaker Elisa Scavino is considered to be one of the region’s rising alchemists.  She is the great-granddaughter of Lorenzo Scavino, the founder of the venerable Castiglione Falletto Winery in 1921.  Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Paolo, and father, Enrico, she is the fourth generation to produce high quality wines from the three local grapes, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo.  

The Scavino family distinguishes itself from the beginning for the scrupulous care of the vineyards and passion for terroir. The family estate vinifies its own grapes from 23 Hectares in the Barolo area, in 6 of the 11 villages of the Barolo area. Purity of expression, complexity and elegance is what they aim for their wines.


Piedmont Winemaker Elisa Scavino

Emcee Devon Broglie, Master Sommelier

Master Sommelier Devon Broglie is the Associate Global Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market.  His career in food & wine started after his graduation from Duke University when he began a 5 year stint in the restaurant industry.  His true passion for wine developed in the late 1990s as the Manager of a restaurant that got named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants of 1999. In 2000, he went to Spain working the harvest season in the Priorat Region.  In 2001, he returned to the US and began his career with Whole Foods Market. In 2011, Devon became one of only 186 people in the world to pass the esteemed Master Sommelier Exam. Master Sommelier Devon Broglie

Chef Shawn Cirkiel, Parkside Projects

Shawn Cirkiel’s, one of Austin’s most coveted chefs and restaurateurs, opened Parkside, the city’s first gastro pub to much fanfare. The accolades continue on for this sophisticated spot, as they do for Cirkiel’s subsequent ventures: the Backspace, a widely popular Neapolitan-style pizzeria, and Olive & June, an updated version of family-style Southern Italian dining and his newest addition to be opened soon, Chavez. Cirkiel’s passion for local and seasonal food extends beyond the scope of his restaurants and has become a driving force behind his notable community engagement.

Executive Chef Jeffrey Rhodes, Parkside Restaurant

Parkside Executive Chef Jeffrey Rhodes loves to cook with local, seasonal Texas ingredients.  His ultimate goal is to make food that makes people happy, and to introduce them to new things. As the Executive Chef of the Parkside kitchen, Rhodes collaborates closely with Chef Cirkiel and manages much of the day-to-day kitchen operations.  He is a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon and has had extensive experience in kitchens throughout the South.

Craft Bartender Jason Stevens

Craft Bartender Jason Stevens, Congress Austin

Craft Bartender Jason Stevens has been in the bar, management, and service industry for over 15 years.  At present, Jason manages Bar Congress in Austin while also operating a craft-forward bar catering service, conducting in-home bar education, and consulting with farm-to-market and slow food caterers. 

Jason is the co-owner of Bad Dog Bar Craft, a commercial bitters company.

Certified Sake Specialist Dhal Smith

Dhal Smith is a Certified Sake Specialist, anthropologist, and avid traveler, as well as the Sake Buyer for both Uchi and Uchiko.  To become a Certified Sake Specialist, Dhal completed a multi-day study program, requiring theory-based studies combined with a wide range of Sake tastings, with the Certification obtained through the Sake Education Council.   His long-term goal is to continue his studies so that he can become a Advanced Sake Professional.