You Be The Judge

Private PairingEver wonder how the wine got its “score?”  Now you can be the judge!

Now in its fourth year, the ‘You Be The Judge’ tasting tent provides guests the opportunity to learn how to judge select Virginia wines by varietal, just as in a wine competition.

While these tastings will not be “blind,” seated attendees will be served vintages from up to ten of the best Virginia wineries.  Guests will learn how to evaluate the various elements of each wine including Appearance, Aroma, Attack, Mid palate and Finish.

On average, a new wine is poured in the tasting tent every eight minutes and a new varietal is introduced every twenty-five minutes.  Most years, close to 100 separate tastings are poured in the YBTJ tent.  With this intensity of tasting, spill/spit buckets are an important part of the program.

Each wine is introduced by Virginia wine veteran Neil Williamson.  Known throughout the Virginia industry as “The Grumpy Marketing Guy,” Williamson is a wine writer who also serves as the Chairman of the Virginia Wine of the Month Club tasting panel.  Along with each varietal, Williamson shares his impression of the wine as well as stories about the wines and the men and women who make them from his over eleven years on the Virginia Wine Trail.

Williamson, a UC Davis Wine Executive Program alumnus, believes wine should be approachable to all.  Regardless if you are a Sommelier at a five star dining establishment or a wine newbie, Williamson’s relaxed style and dry wit makes Virginia wine education fun.

Tickets are extremely limited and anticipated to sell out prior to the festival gates opening.  This event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Neil Williamson

Neil WilliamsonNeil Williamson serves as President of The Trellis Group, LLC, (TTG) a marketing agency focused on East Coast based wineries. In addition to their full time clients, TTG also serves wineries on a project basis.
Known across the industry as the “Grumpy Marketing Guy,” Williamson serves as the Chairman of the Virginia Wine Club Tasting Panel, the Editor of The Virginia Wine Journal and a wine columnist for The Old Town Crier. He has served as a guest lecturer at The University of Virginia and is Adjunct Faculty to Piedmont Virginia Community College Viticulture and Enology program.

Williamson joined the wine industry in as Marketing Manager for Prince Michel Vineyards in Leon Virginia. In his tenure at Prince Michel (and their Napa sister, Leducq Vineyards) he developed and implemented innovative promotional campaigns including television, newspaper, magazine and outdoor advertising as well as e-mail, event and guerilla marketing.

After founding TTG, Williamson conceptualized and implemented the Discover Virginia Wine Festival in Greene County. He has helped countless start up and existing Virginia wineries hone their marketing message. His international work is focused in the winelands of South Africa where he helped create the United States/South Africa Wine Foundation’s apprentice program, bringing South African wine professionals to work in both Virginia and California wineries for the 2006 harvest season.

Prior to joining the wine industry, Williamson spent twelve years working for advertising agencies representing national accounts. Williamson has a degree in Communications from Radford University and an Alumna of the first Wine Executive Course from University of California at Davis (2001).

He also serves as the President/Executive Director of the Free Enterprise Forum, a public policy organization focused on local government.

Participating Wineries