Mike Bennie is a globetrotting freelance wine and drinks writer, journalist and presenter. His work appears in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine, Delicious, and he is Editor-At-Large of Wine Front. His work is also regularly found in Sun-Herald Style Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald Good Food section, Men’s Style magazine, Wine Business Magazine and various other publications. Mike is an active wine judge in Australia and overseas, and a graduate of the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial. He is co-founder and co-director of Rootstock Festival and is prolific with his wine work. In between travels, he enjoys long walks on the beach with a bottle of wine (or sour beer) in his hand.
David Messum is a winemaker, wine marketeer, and presenter. He is winemaker at Born and Raised Wines, a brand that follows his love of Italian wine varieties and minimal intervention winemaking across Victoria’s unique vineyards. David has worked vintages in New Zealand, and has hunted out the winemaking secrets of Nebbiolo, his favourite variety, in its homeland Piedmont. David is also the founder of wine, food and hospitality marketing agency, Just the Drop. He’s the wine guy on Fairfax Media and Virgin Australia’s What’s Cooking radio show, as well as hosting corporate tasting events and trade training programs. When not thinking about wine, you’ll find him out riding his bike or planning the next overseas eating and drinking expedition.
After surviving an adolescence of microwave dinners and tinned asparagus, Tim Wakins entered the Sydney restaurant scene in 2000. He has spent the past 15 years honing his front of house skills in the world of fine dining. He began working for Giovanni Pilu in 2006 at iconic restaurant Pilu at Freshwater as Head Sommelier, this ignited a passion for wine that has grown ever since. Tim has travelled extensively to wine regions across the globe, providing him with an appreciation for winegrowers farming sustainably, and making wine with low intervention methods. He dreams of a future where this is not practiced by a select few, but rather the norm. Tim still approaches tinned asparagus with caution and is Head Sommelier at Automata.
Matt Dunne’s career has covered a multitude of areas such as managing fine restaurants, creating wine lists, food retail merchandising and food and wine training. Originally from the Snowy Mountains Matt’s career took him to Sydney, Chicago and London. In Australia Matt worked for Simon Johnson Quality Foods, became award winning Head Sommelier at ARIA and eventually became Group Sommelier for MorSol. He also created the decorated wine list at Chiswick Restaurant in Woollahra Sydney. Schooled in all things wine, Matt’s achievements are numerous, allowing him to regularly host for the MorSol events program across all venues. He is experienced as a keynote speaker, educator and has a fresh, approachable take on wine.
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.
Giorgio De Maria studied agriculture in Turin, graduating with a thesis on the production of summer cheese in the Italian Alps. After working in fine dining restaurants in Dublin and Tokyo, he came to Sydney, where he worked at Vini before opening 121BC in Surry Hills (Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Sommelier of the Year 2012). A sister venue, 121BC Hong Kong, opened its doors in 2013 (Best Wine Bar List of China’s Wine List of the year Awards 2014 and 2015). In 2014 Giorgio compiled the wine list for Billy Kwong (Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Wine List of the Year 2016). He is one of the creators of Rootstock Festival and owns a small wine import company that specialises in Italian artisanal and natural wines Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines.
Luke Collard has worked in the hospitality industry on three continents over 25 years, with the last 12 on the Northern Beaches. He has managed Palm Beach Wine Co, Pilu at Freshwater, Jonah’s Restaurant, and was the Head Sommelier at Ormeggio at The Spit for two years. He is currently Head Sommelier at Jonah’s Restaurant in Whale Beach, which was recently awarded ‘Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List’. Luke regularly travels within Australia and overseas. He has been closely involved with the Sydney Italian Wine + Food Festival for the last three years, and publishes an occasional wine blog.
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.
Ian Cook graduated from the University of Sydney in the 70’s with a degree in Economics and a burgeoning interest in fine wines. Having resurrected the cellar at St. Paul’s College, Ian’s love of all things wine was born. He became the owner of Five Way Cellars in Paddington 27 years ago, a small store featuring premium boutique Australian and European wines. Ian was at the forefront of introducing Italian wines to Sydney, his shop quickly became a mecca for those looking for ‘hard-to-find’ wines. Ian has supplied many Sydney boardrooms and is in constant demand for corporate dinners, tastings and education.
Michael Trembath 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 and 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.
Orsola Beccari is owner of Vignavecchia, one of Chianti Classico‘s most faithful producers. It has been the property of the Beccari family since 1876. The founder was Odoardo Beccari, the famous explorer, botanist and zoologist, who in 1978 discovered the largest inflorescence in the world: Amorphophallus titanium. This is one of many discoveries amongst which are the Tulipa beccariana, the Casuarius beccarii and many species of palm. Today Fattoria Vignavecchia is a thriving agricultural business that combines 140 years of tradition with innovations in the viticulture and enologic field. A winning combination for the production of excellent wines which convey the region of Radda in Chianti.