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International judges announced for 2014 Air NZ Wine Awards

10 July 2014

International judges announced for 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Two highly respected international wine personalities will be joining this year’s judging panel for the country’s premier wine competition, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Respected wine writer David Brookes from Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, Wine Companion and Wine & Spirits magazines, and Sebastian Braun, one of Sweden’s leading wine buyers, will be joining the judging team of 26 for this year’s competition.

Judging for the 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards will take place from 3 to 5 November, in Auckland. The gold medal winning wines will be announced on 12 November. On Saturday, 22 November, the ‘best of the best’ trophy winning wines will be revealed at a black tie dinner in Hawke’s Bay. The dinner will be attended by New Zealand’s top winemakers and industry figures to celebrate the quality of New Zealand wine.

In last year's competition 1,379 wines were entered across 16 different classes. A total of 655 medals were awarded: 111 gold, 196 silver and 348 bronze.

Air New Zealand Wine Awards Chair of Judges Michael Brajkovich, Master of Wine, says having international judges involved in the process ensures that the Awards maintain their high standard.

“The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is a highly respected competition internationally,” he says. “Our winemakers are world-renowned and having an experienced judging panel is critical in helping the industry strive for improvement in quality and innovation.”

The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is the country’s premier wine awards. The competition has been running for over 30 years, and recognises excellence in New Zealand winemaking. The Awards are owned and organised by New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country's 1,700 grape growers and winemakers.

Entries for the 2014 competition open to New Zealand wineries on 11 August.

For more information visit

Born in Stockholm, Sebastian Braun has held a variety of positions at the Swedish retail monopoly, Systembolaget, since 1998. His roles have included sales person, product information and description writer, and customer relations. In 2005 he was appointed wine buyer and has managed areas such as Chile, Portugal, Switzerland, UK, Luxembourg, Hungary, Bulgaria and South Africa.In 2009, he became responsible for managing Italy, Austria and New Zealand. Sebastian has been a judge at The Veritas Awards in South Africa, Concours Mondial Bruxelles and Decanter World Wine Awards. Outside of work he enjoys cooking, riding his racing bicycle, DJing and playing in his rock band.

David Brookes is a freelance wine journalist contributing to Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, Wine Companion and Wine & Spirits (US) magazines. Originally from North Canterbury, New Zealand, David now lives in South Australia’s Barossa Valley where he is the principal consultant at Wine Marketing Labs, providing brand management, digital strategy and in-bound marketing services for wineries and regions across Australia. With 22 years in the wine industry his experience spans retail, wholesale, winery, secondary market and brand management. He is a sought-after judge on the Australian and international wine show circuit judging at around 10 major and regional wine shows a year. David was awarded Dux of the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2011. His work in social media marketing in the wine industry has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Techcrunch and Mashable. He was also one of five businesses featured in Twitter’s initial “Twitter Business 101” benchmark study.


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