2017 Winemakers’ Cookoff  judges

The Paso Robles Rotary Club announced its lineup of judges for the 2017 Winemakers’ Cookoff fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, August 12th. The 2017 Cookoff judging crew consists of the five respected food and wine industry professionals: Robert Whitley, San Diego-based syndicated wine writer and wine-industry judge, Mike Cervin, Santa Barbara-based food and wine journalist and author; William-Bloxsom Carter, Former Playboy Executive Chef and Owner/Chef of The Canyon Villa in Paso Robles, CA; Sara Schneider, Wine Editor of Sunset Magazine; and Mira Honeycutt, wine writer and columnist based in Paso Robles, CA.

“This is an extremely experienced and cohesive group of judges,” says David Lundy, Chairman of the Rotary Winemakers’ Cookoff. “We’re lucky that they love this event and are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in this event.”

The judges’ duties are to sample the wine and food pairings prepared on site and served to event attendees by the 35 participating wineries and breweries to determine winners of the Judges’ Choice awards. In a parallel food and wine pairing competition, participating winemakers solicit votes from attendees for the People’s Choice awards.

Below are brief biographies of the five talented wine-industry pros lined up to judge this year’s cookoff:

Robert Whitley

Robert Whitley is host of the “Wine Talk” column, wine columnist for the Creator’s Syndicate published in major newspapers. Robert also is publisher of Wine Review Online, which draws upon the expertise of top U.S. wine and food journalists. Whitley oversees the Critics Challenge, the San Diego International Wine Competition and the Monterey Wine Competition as well as numerous wine tasting events. Robert also hosts two weekly radio shows – Whitley On Wine and The Gourmet Club.

Michael Cervin

Michael Cervin has been involved in the wine industry and focused on the Central Coast for a dozen years as a writer, judge and educator. He is the author of the national travel book, California Wine Country, and has written about wine for “Decanter,” “Wine Enthusiast,” “Wine & Spirits,” “Sommelier Journal,” “The Tasting Panel,” “Food & Beverage World,” and he regularly contributes to “Fine Wine & Liquor,” the largest wine magazine in China. His professional judging experience has included The Best of Vinho Verde Awards in Portugal, the Taste of Rum Festival in Puerto Rico, the California State Fair Wine Competition, The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, the Central Coast Wine Competition, and many charity wine and food competitions. He is also the restaurant critic and travel writer for the Santa Barbara News-Press.

William Bloxsom-Carter

After 30 years as the Executive Chef of the Playboy Mansion, William Bloxsom-Carter is now living his dream as Owner/Chef of The Canyon Villa in Paso Robles.  Chef Carter is a master at pairing food and wine; executing a menu with tremendous thought to the availability of fresh ingredients and pairing his menu with wine.  As an expressive connoisseur of Paso Robles wines, in particular, Chef Carter knows what makes an award-winning food/wine combination.  His palate and expertise will lend an insightful hand into the cookoff judging team. 

Sara Schneider

Sara Schneider is Sunset magazine’s first wine editor, responsible for tasting panels, food-and-wine pairing in the test kitchen, wine-related food and travel coverage, Sunset’s International Wine Competition, and the magazine’s wine club. 

With a B.A. and an M.A. in English, Sara taught high-school English for 10 years before a love of cooking drew her to San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, where her wine interest began. After earning her AOS degree, she combined her word and culinary backgrounds as editor of Berkeley-based Bay Food magazine for three years, then joined Sunset’s editorial staff, first on the copy desk, then as a senior food editor, eventually becoming head of the food department. In that role, she expanded the magazine’s wine coverage, and launched its Western Wine Awards program and the Sunset Wine Club. In 2005 she was named wine editor.

Mira Honeycutt

Mira Advani Honeycutt is a Paso Robles-based food/wine journalist and author with over 20 years’ experience. Her weekly column Sip & Savor is published in the Paso Robles Daily News and she is a regular contributor to the Napa Valley Register and Sommelier India Wine Magazine. Honeycutt is the author of California’s Central Coast, The Ultimate Winery Guide: From Santa Barbara to Paso Robles (Chronicle Books). Honeycutt is the curator of the recently published book, The Winemakers of Paso Robles. She has chronicled the wine world from California and Oregon to France and Italy and her stories have been published in Harper’s Bazaar (India), the Hong Kong Tatler, Asian Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter amongst other international publications. 

During its nineteen-year history, the Paso Robles Winemakers’ Cookoff has become one of Paso Robles’ most-popular wine, food and music events. It is also one of its most unique. The Cookoff features not just local wines, but the culinary talents of more than 35 of the appellation’s winemakers and brewmasters. Participating wineries and breweries pair their culinary creations with their finest wines and compete for both Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards the day of the event. Since the first Winemakers’ Cookoff in 1999, proceeds from the Winemakers’ Cookoff have been deposited in Rotary’s Harlow Ford Scholarship Foundation building a perpetual fund that has enabled the Paso Robles Rotary Club to award scholarships totaling nearly $600,000 as well as build a perpetual fund that will help guarantee future scholarship benefits. For more information on the Paso Robles Rotary Club and the Winemakers’ Cookoff visit: www.winemakerscookoff.com