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DWWA judge profile: Neil Bernardi

Neil Bernardi is a judge at the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

Neil Bernardi is a dual American/Italian citizen born and raised in Northern California. After living briefly in Florence, Italy, he attended UC Davis to study Italian. At Davis, Neil fell in love with winemaking, and during which he spent three years in the lab of renowned sensory scientist Dr. Ann Noble, he soon expanded his studies to include enology and viticulture.

After earning his B.A. in Italian and B.S. in Viticulture and Enology, Neil went to New Zealand to deepen his understanding of winemaking and the effects of geography and climate on grape growing. In California, Neil has held positions at Quintessa and at Littorai, where he was associate winemaker for Ted Lemon.

Since joining the Duckhorn Portfolio in 2005, Neil has held numerous key positions, including tenures as the assistant winemaker for Goldeneye, winemaker for Migration, and as the general manager for Sonoma County winegrowing operations. As the architect of the Duckhorn Portfolio’s Sonoma County winegrowing program, Neil played an integral role in establishing a Sonoma County estate presence for the company, expanding the grower network, and scaling the Decoy winegrowing operation. Later as Vice President of Winemaking, Neil worked with all the wineries to guide the stylistic course of the company. More recently, Neil played a pivotal role in managing the integration of Kosta Browne into Duckhorn Portfolio, and was instrumental in creating the recently released Burgundy series of wines.

In 2018, the magazine Wine Enthusiast recognized Neil as one of the “trailblazers shaping the future of wine in America” when he was named a “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemaker.” He travels extensively to judge, taste, and study wine. Neil is currently a stage three Master of Wine student and resides in Sonoma County, California with his wife and three children.

See more judges for the 2023 DWWA.

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