Meet the Tasting Panel

The experts who blind-taste every wine we sell

What does the Tasting Panel do?

One of the most important promises of the New Zealand Wine Society is to make and source only the best wines.

That means each and every wine we sell is first blind-tasted by a panel of experts. If they aren’t Bronze-medal standard or higher, we don’t sell them.

For our customers, this takes the guesswork out of buying and means we stand by a 100% Tasting Guarantee. If you don’t like a wine, you can return it and order another.

Vic Williams - Tasting Panel Chair

Vic Williams is a prolific food and wine writer, public speaker and winner of the 2012 Sir George Fistonich Medal for Services to New Zealand Wine. The award is named for Villa Maria’s Sir George Fistonich who Vic credits with his start as a wine writer in 1979.

“I was once the editor of the South Auckland Courier, in the distant past when Villa Maria operated from a cramped tin shed in Mangere. George had a contact at the airport who used to let him know when famous people had a few hours' transit time, and he would invite them to the winery. In those days he didn't think he had enough clout to interest the dailies, so he'd ring me.”

Vic has dedicated his time to New Zealand Wine Society as our Cellar Director since the 1990s.

Jo Gear - Head Winemaker New Zealand Wine Cellars

Jo started her celebrated winemaking career at Matua Valley Wines in 2001. Since then she has won more medals and trophies than she can fit in the pool room including a couple of trophies at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Jo is particularly known for her white wines. Spending much of her time in Marlborough means a LOT of Sauvignon Blanc and surprisingly enough that does not worry her at all.
Jo has also worked in the Napa and when she’s not making award-winning wines she judges at wine shows.

“What inspires me is the pleasure that people get from drinking my wines. There is so much that goes in to getting a wine there, so many people involved in making the epic journey from grape to glass that it's extremely rewarding to see our customers enjoy it.”

Anthony Cotton - The newest member of the Tasting Panel

Ants comes from an artistic/design background, loves trying new styles and varieties of wine, and he can't live without Chardonnay.

"For me it’s about the emotional response gained from being in the moment. Everyone is going to have their likes and dislikes with wine. I love the idea that each wine is like a time machine, a pure expression of a time and place captured in a bottle."