To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
Find out about California-based Wine Business Professor Dr. Liz Thach MW in our exclusive interview…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I am a Professor of Wine Business & Management, working in the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University in California. I teach full-time in the Wine MBA and Wine Business Bachelors program.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
Wine has always been an interest since I took a trip to Napa Valley on my 21st birthday. For many years I took wine tasting classes and travelled to wine regions around the world on every vacation. Then in 2000, I was fortunate enough to get a full-time job in wine education and writing. In 2011, I became a Master of Wine.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
That the wine industry is like one big family around the world – it is very close-knit and well connected, many people know one another, and by collaborating and networking you can accomplish much.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Paul Dolan, former CEO of Fetzer Winery and the ‘Godfather of Sustainable Winemaking in California’ – he has been a great mentor, and a huge advocate for not only sustainability, but organic and biodynamic winemaking.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
Finally passing the MW exam!
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Aromatic Italian whites, Grenache from California, and sparkling wines from around the world.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
I have a hobby vineyard in the Petaluma Gap region of Sonoma County, where I grow and make ‘garagiste’ Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is one of my favorite varietals to drink, but I also love Sauvignon Blanc on a hot day, Cabernet Sauvignon with a juicy steak, and sparkling wine at any time.
What’s your desert island wine?
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Bordeaux from Pauillac.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Taste everything, be open-minded, look for the good in every wine, and have fun.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Balance, concentration, aroma and flavour.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Tasting some incredible wine and working with fun people.
Written by Decanter.com