Italians do it better

Melbourne Wine Presenters

Max Allen

Max Allen is an award-winning wine journalist and author. Wine columnist for The Weekend Australian, wine editor for Gourmet Traveller magazine and Australian correspondent for

Max’s book The Future Makers: Australian Wines for the 21st Century was named Best International Wine Book at the Louis Roederer Wine Writers Awards in London in 2011; his latest book is Wine Know How, a beginner’s guide to the joys of fermented grape juice.

Max also plays bluegrass mandolin and is a backyard cidermaker – and chief judge of the Australian Cider Awards.

Rocco Esposito

Rocco’s wealth of experience commenced in Italy where his passion for the Food & Wine Industry was greatly encouraged and involved working in many restaurants.

In 1998 Rocco travelled to Melbourne on a working holiday visa, he commenced working within the hospitality industry and until recently was the Wine Director for the VDM Group; whilst consulting for several Restaurant Groups and wine companies throughout Australia.

Rocco has qualifications Wine WSET, and is a much sought after educator and public speaker within the wine industry.

Kara Maisano

Kara Maisano is a Sommelier and Wine Director at Masani Italian Dining and Terrace in Melbourne, established in 1983 by her father, Chef and Restaurateur Richard Maisano. She is a graduate of the WSET Diploma, Court of Master Sommeliers and a Vinitaly International Academy Wine Ambassador, as well as judging at wine shows and hosting wine tutorials in Melbourne. Accolades include finalist Gault & Millau Sommelier of the Year 2016, Vin de Champagne Award 2016, Ruinart Sommeliers Challenge 2016. Kara joins the IWFF team in 2017 to curate the Italian Wine Masterclasses in Melbourne.

Michael Trembath

Michael completed his Associate Diploma in Wine Marketing at Roseworthy College in South Australia, graduating as dux of the course. He gained solid experience in the retail sector before taking on the role of Director of Sales & Marketing with WJ Seabrook.

After a two year sojourn in Italy, working with eminent wine exporter Neil Empson, Trembath and Taylor followed seamlessly, and Michael has earned himself a strong reputation for having formidable wine knowledge. Michael is a judge of the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show and hosts annual tours to Italy with luxury travel company, Captain’s Choice. In 2016 Michael made his 42nd trip to Italy.

Lisa Cardelli

Passion and curiosity for food and wine have always been an integral part of Lisa’s life. After working in an Italian restaurant in the US, she returned to Italy to become a sommelier, achieving a Diploma as Professional Sommelier in 2012 and becoming a Professional Show Judge with AIS (Italian Sommelier Association).

In Australia, Lisa has worked in fine dining restaurants including Pilu at Freshwater and Vue de Monde, while studying for the WSET Diploma and Court of Master Sommelier Certification. Currently working as Head Sommelier at Neil Perry’s Rosetta, she is part of the Rockpool team responsible for selecting wines for Qantas. In her free time, Lisa is a guest speaker at SBS Italia and judges wine shows. She plans to one day become a Master of Wine.

Matt Paul

Matt Paul graduated from the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne and spent ten formative years in managerial and sommelier roles in some of Melbourne’s leading restaurants working alongside celebrated innovators in that industry. The George Melbourne Wine Room, where Matt cut his serious industry teeth, fortuitously materialised as the meeting place with Michael Trembath and Virginia Taylor. Joining Italian wine specialists Trembath and Taylor as a partner in 2004, Matt drinks, cooks and drives Italian.

James Scarcebrook

James Scarcebrook has a Masters degree in Wine Business from the University of Adelaide, and has worked in the wine industry since 2004. Over the past 13 years he has gained experience in retail, wine tourism & hospitality, marketing and wholesale imports. He has travelled all over Europe visiting wine regions, including numerous trips through Italy. As the Melbourne representative for importer Enoteca Sydney he has the privilege of working with the top sommeliers and wine buyers in the city, selling some of Europes finest wines. Outside of his ‘day job’ he splits his time between his wine podcast The Vincast, making some Italian-varietal wine for his upcoming Vino Intrepido project, and spending time with his partner Victoria and their new baby son Oliver.

John Portelli

John Portelli has devoted his life to the most sacred elements of good living: family, friends, food and wine, with a passion fueled by a deep knowledge and love for all things Italian. His magnetic charm and his undeniable success as one of Australia’s most recognised and respected importers, distributors and connoisseurs of Italy’s finest produce has cemented his place among the pioneers of the Italo-Australian community.

Sally McGill

Sally McGill began her career as a chef, but moved to London where she entered the wine trade. While working with a small Burgundy importer, Fields Wine Merchants, Sally completed the Diploma at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and was awarded the “Portuguese Wine Scholarship’. From London Sally moved to Italy where for 3 years working in Umbria and Tuscany in wine retail and public relations, she enriched her knowledge and indulged her passion for Italian wine and cuisine. Sally returned to Australia in the early 1990’s, joining the Casama Group t/a red+white and Mezzanine in 1994 to manage and co-ordinate the imported wine portfolio. Sally makes regular return visits to Europe to catch up on recent developments and taste new releases.