Chairman, Decanter World Awards
Steven Spurrier, born October 5, 1941, was educated at Rugby School and the London School of Economics. In 1964 he joined the wine trade as a trainee with Christopher and Co., (established in 1665). Steven moved to Paris in 1970 and purchased Les Caves de la Madeleine, a small shop in the centre of the city, and in 1973 he opened L’Academie du Vin, the first independent wine school in France. As a partner, he became involved in diverse ventures allied to wine: Le Bistrot a Vin, a wine bar and restaurant in the business quarter of La Defense; Le Chemin des Vignes, a warehouse and bottling plant on the outskirts of Paris; Le Moulin du Village, and Le Blue Fox, a restaurant and wine bar near the Caves de la Madeleine.
Spurrier is perhaps best known for having created the tasting between top Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California and France in May 1976, subsequently referred to as The Judgement of Paris. A recreation of this event was held simultaneously in London and Napa, on May 24, 2006, 30 years later to the day.
Master Sommelier & Owner — Element Winery, F.L.X. Wienery, F.L.X. Table, F.L.X. Culture House Brewery
Christopher Bates has spent over 20 years in all aspects of the hospitality industry, gaining a balanced perspective of all facets of it. Christopher and his wife Isabel own and operate F.L.X. Hospitality, F.L.X. Wienery, Element Winery, F.L.X. Table, F.L.X. Fry Bird, F.L.X. Provisions, Feast & Co., and F.L.X. Culture House in the Finger Lakes.
In 2012, Christopher was named Best Young Sommelier in America and then the Best Young Sommelier in the World before the year was through. He went on to win TopSomm 2013, Americas most important sommelier competition, before passing his Master Sommelier Exam in May 2013. He was the 199th person in the world to do so and the first to ever pass as a working executive chef. In 2015, he was named on America's Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers list by WineEnthusiast.
Christopher and his wife Isabel have settled in the Finger Lakes region of New York to be a part of the growing hospitality industry, and be a part of the future growth of the Finger Lakes. Christopher is an active member of the sommelier community and continues to educate as a lecturer at The International Culinary Center and with the Court of Master Sommeliers..
CEO, Sustainable Business International
Sandra Taylor is CEO of Sustainable Business International, a consulting business that assists clients at various stages of environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practice, primarily in the food and beverage sector.
Sandra has studied wine extensively for many years. She completed the French Wine Scholars course in 2010, and is a graduate of the Wine MBA program at The Bordeaux School of Management/Kedge Business School in France. Her first book, The Business of Sustainable Wine, was published in July 2017.
Sandra is an international public speaker on wine, a columnist with Wine Review Online, and a member of Magnum Club, a global organisation of women wine producers, sommeliers, writers and critics.
Sandra has been a senior executive with Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, where she led global Corporate Responsibility and sustainability in coffee supply chains; and with Eastman Kodak Company where she oversaw global public affairs and corporate citizenship.
Dr. George Soleas
President & Chief Executive Officer, LCBO
George Soleas joined the LCBO in 1997 and played a crucial role in making the organisation the first liquor jurisdiction in the world doubly accredited by the International Organization for Standardization. In 2008, George’s role expanded to include LCBO Logistics, and in 2013, he was named Executive Vice President. He assumed the role of President & CEO in May 2016. Before his service at the LCBO, George ran quality assurance and research and development for Andres Wines.
George currently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Retail Council of Canada and on the World Wine Trade Group Expert Committee. He is a recipient of the Ontario Imported Wine-Spirits-Beer Association’s Industry Partnership Award and the Greek Wine Industry Award, a Jurade de Saint Emilion inductee, and was part of the Fall 2018 induction of the Keepers of the Quaich.
Director, Customer Experience
As Director of Customer Experience, Todd Bliss leads the teams that link together product and marketing strategies for LCBO’s network of 660+ stores, including Visual Merchandising, Space Planning, Promotional Planning, Gifting, and Merchandising Communications. The main focus of Todd’s role is leading collaboration across Retail Operations, Merchandising, Marketing, and Store Design to drive innovation in new store layouts, product placement methodologies and sold space programming. Todd’s focus on customer service expectations and product knowledge at all levels, well-executed product and promotional strategies, turns and sold revenue, and support for activations, including world-class events and tastings, are critical to the LCBO’s focus on customer-centricity.
Before joining the LCBO, Todd was Director of Visual Merchandising at Indigo Books, partnering in the transformation of the bookseller into general merchandise. Todd began his career at GAP Inc. growing from a frontline associate to District Manager of all stores in the Greater Toronto Area and as Merchandising Manager at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. As a retail operator at GAP, Todd excelled in people development, brand leadership and drove stellar sales results.