Meet the Judges
Jim Santangelo celebrates his 26th year in the hospitality business and is the owner of the Wine Academy of Utah, a company tailored for both wine and spirit enthusiasts and professionals. His organization provides education and training to restaurant professionals, provides numerous wine events to the community, and offers certified wine courses recognized internationally. The Wine Academy of Utah is an approved program provider for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), an educational track which leads the path in pursuit towards becoming a Master in Wine and Spirits.
Jim has received considerable recognition for his work, including his Best of Video series Curbside & Wine (2020), City Weekly Best Booze Guy (2013), Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards “Best Wine Educator” (2012), and Utah’s “Best Server” (2010). He is also is a featured guest on X96 FM’s Radio From Hell morning show called “Get Another Drink with Jimmy” for over 3 years at 8am on Fridays.
Jim is also the host and instructor for the Wine Festival’s Popcorn and Wine Pairing, Spirits of Utah and the Spirits & Cigars Under the Stars classes Friday and Sunday evenings respectively.
Sheral Schowe is the founder and owner of Wasatch Academy of Wine, Utah’s first and largest wine school, established in 1991. She is the affiliate provider of post nominal certification courses on the wines of France, Italy and Spain for the Wine Scholar Guild and Adjunct Professor of Wine Studies for the Culinary Institute of Salt Lake Community College and University of Utah Lifelong Learning. She has a Master’s degree in Adult Education and is a Licensed Wine Educator through the Utah Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Sheral is a certified French and Spanish Wine Scholar with Master level certification in the areas of Provence and the Rhône. In 2016, Sheral was named “International Wine Educator of the Year” by the Wine Scholar Guild.
Pamela Wood, is the CEO & Director of Education for Culinary Wine Institute. Pamela is one of only 447 Certified Wine Educators worldwide, an American Wine Expert, Certified Sommelier, and Founder of Park City Wine Club, in Park City, Utah. Pamela has a true passion for all things wine! A love of world history, travel and enjoying wine has led Pamela to her passion in life, learning and sharing wine with others. Since 2011, Pamela has been enjoying and educating others on wine through, tasting, educational experiences and wine travel tours.
Pamela is the CEO & Director of Education for Culinary Wine Institute, providing wine sales and service training, specific to the hospitality industry in resorts and restaurants around the country. Her favorite wine quote, “The world of wine has something for everyone.”
With over 30 years experience in food and beverage, Jeff Labounty is a well-known name in the food, wine and spirits world in Salt Lake and Park Cities. Jeff has spent much of his adult life managing dozens of SLC and PC finest restaurants, breweries, and saloons where he developed some of the best wine lists and award winning cocktails in Northern Utah. Known as an outside the box thinker, Jeff loves to bring new ideas and concepts to each place he works building their menus and wine lists into something remarkable. He has always used his influence to support and promote getting Utah wines on restaurant menus across the state.
He is also one of Utah’s best mixologists, with many of his creations featured at cocktail bars around the state. Just for fun Jeff created the “LaBounty Bourbon Ice Bomb” cocktail that won 1st place in the Park City Restaurant Association’s Summer Cocktail Contest a few years ago, using an amazing mix of spirits and wines to make the perfect drink.
Claudia, a resident of Salt Lake City, is a marketing professional with several years of experience in social media, content strategy, and project management. On top of working full-time, she runs her own marketing business supporting women in wine and creatives.
Claudia’s most recent venture is “The Social Pour”, a quarterly wine, and working women’s digital magazine. She has completed the WSET Level 2 wine certification and has expanded her wine knowledge through her magazine, working one-off local wine events, and recently becoming the Marketing Manager of Eat Drink SLC and Vine Lore.
This is Claudia’s first appearance as a judge at the festival and we are glad she has agreed to bring her love of wine to judge our outstanding Utah wines.
Jessica’s love for wine began while living for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, in close proximity to Napa and Sonoma. After college graduation, Jessica worked as a newspaper editor, writing about wine and food, and enhancing her knowledge by attending as many tastings and wine events as possible! During a year living abroad in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017, Jessica became a founding partner of Argeles Vineyard, a boutique producer of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, located in the beautiful Priorat wine growing region. Jessica also had the opportunity to attend a Masters of Wine Symposium in La Rioja in 2018, inspiring her to engage in further studies through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Having earned the WSET Level 3 Certification in wines, Jessica is now pursuing the Level 4 Diploma. She is the founder of Cellar Maven, curating high-end wine collections and designing custom cellars for her clients in Park City.
Tanner began as an associate at Christensen & Jensen in 2013 and has been a Special Counsel since 2018. Prior to law school, Tanner was a bartender in Oxford, England and Wanaka, New Zealand. While in law school, she was a ski instructor at Park City. Her practice at Christensen & Jensen focuses on liquor licensing. Originally from Alabama, Tanner and her husband have lived in Utah for over seven years. Tanner’s practices include assisting clients with liquor licensing, DABC regulatory compliance and enforcement defense.
David is an Army veteran and graduate of West Point currently living in downtown Salt Lake City. He’s been a student of the Wine Academy of Utah under the mentorship of the Great Jim Santangelo for 3 years now. Under Jim’s tutelage, he’s completed level 2 of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and level 1 of the Court of Sommeliers. He enjoys assisting Jim with a variety of tastings and creating new wine pairing classes such as “Popcorn and Wine.” David is very happy to return for a 3rd year of judging the Utah Wine Festival.
With an MBA and a background in multiple different industries, Brien has been in the marketing, branding, project management, and hospitality field for over 11 years. Brien is a Sommelier via the Court of Master Sommeliers. Dubbed the Ivory Gorilla, Brien brings playful professionalism and passion to wine. Brien found his passion growing up in the hospitality world with professional chefs for parents where he learned early on the importance of wine/food pairings. He is also a first-generation American and grandson to a Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin member; needless to say, wine tasting became second nature.
Brien is the marketing liaison and branding guru with all the tools needed to help customers thrive. He is currently a digital consultant for his independent business, Ivory Gorilla, and the VP of Marketing for Manor Blue. His philosophy is to provide strong, dependable digital solutions that help a business grow. Brien’s strength is in defining the true business need and then executing, measuring quickly, and adjusting to create visibly successful marketing strategies.
Elainna is a native of Los Angeles, but moved to Southern Utah to be closer the all the great things our state has to offer. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Elainna found Utah to be a perfect fit for her active lifestyle. Elainna is a researcher, journalist and storyteller that has written over 15,000 blog and articles.
As a journalist for the Salt Lake Tribune as well as a free lance writer for Utah Business and numerous other magazines, she has written extensively about entrepreneurship, business, tech, biotech, real estate, education, travel, tourism, law, and healthcare. Her love of travel and tourism has given her an appreciation for wines from all over the world and she brings that expertise to the competition as a first time judge for 2022.
Dominick has over a decade working in the hospitality industry, with many years focused on fine wine, cocktails, and beer. He has worked to help create the wine and cocktail scene at numerous fine dining restaurants in St. George including the Painted Pony and Wood Ash Rye. A recent transplant to northern Utah, Dominick is a certified level 1 sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and a certified Beer Server and is presently working toward attaining his level 2 with the CMS as well as the Cicerones of America. Dominick loves to explore the outdoors, travel, and spending time being a dad to his son.
After 25 years as a self-taught and widely traveled amateur wine explorer, Maggie applied her knowledge and enthusiasm for wine into a professional career pivot. She took an early retirement from corporate business management and brand marketing to begin formal wine study, and surrounded herself with a professional network of wine educators, winemakers, grape growers, and sommelier mentors. Maggie has worked multiple harvests in the Willamette Valley and earned her Introductory Sommelier, WSET Level 2, and Certified Specialist of Wine credentials. She is the Founder and General Manager of Vin 7000, a boutique wine brokerage in Utah, specializing in handcrafted artisanal fine wines from small family wineries.
When your mom (and fellow wine judge Sheral) owns a wine education company, well, you’re born with wine running through your veins and the passion for wine as your heartbeat. At least that is the case for Devin Schowe. At a very early age, Devin had a very sophisticated palate. Devin tasted very small sips with food prepared for a particular wine when he was young so he has an incredible sense for wine and food pairing. Devin also honed his skills in culinary, receiving his Culinary Arts degree from Salt Lake Community College. Devin has worked in the food and beverage industry since 2009, working in various restaurants in assisting roles to the Chef, a couple of hotels as Sous Chef and service manager, and is currently the Catering and Banquet Manager for Utah Food Services.
Upon completion of his degree at Salt Lake Community College, Devin dove right in to the Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar Certification programs and received both post-nominals and the highest honors on all three exams. Devin’s primary focus has been on Italian wines and cuisine, but French wines and cuisine are a close second. Devin also speaks Italian and French so you are always in good hands when he is teaching the class.
Doug’s path into hospitality began at Northern Arizona University. He put himself through school as a server and bartender at a high-end steak house. This is where his introduction to fine wines began. Doug moved to Park City in 1976 to teach school, and while he found it rewarding, eventually his love of hospitality won out.
Doug helped open the Stein Eriksen’s Lodge, then moved on to corporate hotels in SLC as a bar manager. His hotel career in Food & Beverage includes the Hotel Del Coronado, Callaway Gardens in Georgia, and The Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe. His focus changed from hotels to corporate F&B when he went to work for Bon Appetit Management Company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Doug ended his work life at Google, where he managed all aspects of their food & beverage service in the US and Europe.
After retiring and relocating to St George in 2014, Doug and his wife Marianne became co-directors of the the largest wine club in Utah with over 1800 members. Now known as the Southern Utah Wine Guild, this 501(c)3 charitable organization focuses on the social aspects of responsible wine consumption and to date the guild has donated more than $80,000 to local art, educational and charitable entities in Southern Utah.
Doug has taught Introduction to Wines at Utah Tech University’s Institute for Continued Learning (ICL), wine pairing classes through Harmon’s in Santa Clara, and numerous smaller local wine groups.