Instructor Bios

Instructor Bios

Stephen Charters, Master of Wine

Steve Charters originally qualified as a lawyer in the UK – but was seduced by the allure of wine, and worked in retail and wine education in London, Sydney and Perth.  Steve is now Director of Research in the School of Wine and Spirits Business at Burgundy School of Business/ESC Dijon.

From 2007-13 he was Professor of Champagne Management at Reims Management School, responsible for developing teaching and research programmes focusing on all aspects of the business of Champagne.  He formerly lectured in Wine Studies and Marketing at Edith Cowan University in Perth.  He is involved in research focusing on consumer behaviour, including wine tourism and consumer perceptions of quality in wine and on management expertise in the wine industry.  He gained his PhD from Edith Cowan University in 2004, for a thesis entitled ‘Perceptions of Wine Quality’.  He is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine having passed its examination in 1997.  Before joining Edith Cowan University Steve ran his own wine education consultancy in Sydney.  He has also worked in wine retail in Sydney, for a company involved in importing wine.

In 1997 Steve was the winner of the Australian Vin de Champagne Award (professional section).  He has wide and current knowledge of a number international wine areas, but focusing mainly on Champagne and Australia.  He has also worked for a vintage on a winery in France.  Steve has written columns for the Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine.  He is author of ‘Wine and society: The social and cultural context of a drink’, published by Elsevier in 2006 and has also contributed to a number of popular books on wine – including The Oxford Companion to Wine (OUP, 2006), ‘Discovering Australia: Wineries’ (Random House 1999) and ‘The Global Encyclopedia of Wine’ (Global Publishing, 2000).

Essi Avellan, Master of Wine

Essi Avellan is Finland’s first Master of Wine. Recognized as an international wine author and champagne specialist, Avellan is the editor of FINE Champagne magazine, the world’s only magazine dedicated to champagne.

Avellan is the author of numerous wine books, including Matka Champagneen, Parhaat samppanjat and The Finest Wines Ever Made. She has also recently revised and extended the third edition of Tom Stevenson’s award-winning sparkling wine bible Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine.

Essi Avellan is a reputed wine judge, in addition to FINE Magazines and The World of Fine Wine tasting panels she had acted as the chair of Decanter World Wine Awards’ Champagne panel and is a jury member at Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. She has been awarded the titles of Dame Chevalier of Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne and Commandeur of Commanderie de Bordeaux.

Peter Liem,

Although American by nationality, Peter Liem is one of only a few professional wine writers to actually live in Champagne, and among these, the only one to write in the English language.

Since 2009 the author and publisher of the online subscription guide to wines and producers of Champagne, is the web's most comprehensive guide to the wines and wine producers of Champagne. This online guide features profiles of over 160 champagne producers, from renowned négociant houses to small grower estates. As a professional wine critic, he enjoys an unusual and intimate perspective on the region and its wines, allowing him to bring his readers an informative, highly detailed and continually updated wine guide written from an insider's point of view.

A senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits, Liem has also contributed to publications such as San Francisco Chronicle, Zester Daily and The World of Fine Wine.

Charles Curtis, Master of Wine

Charles Curtis MW is the founder of CurtisMW, a fine wine advisory serving private, trade and institutional clients with an interest in the market for fine and rare wine.

From LVMH, where he had held the post of Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moet Hennessy USA, Charles became Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas

In October 2004, Curtis became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States.  He is a member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America) and continues to work on their behalf, speaking at their annual Education Seminar and helping to organize events such as the Institute’s Annual Champagne Tasting which he founded.

He writes a regular column for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France and other magazines, and has been a contributing editor to trade and consumer works on wine.

Richard Bampfielfd, Master of Wine

Richard Bampfield, Master of Wine, has worked in the wine business for over 30 years holding management positions in retail, marketing and distribution.  For the last 14 years, he has run his own consultancy specializing in wine public relations and corporate wine events.

He has held the position of Brand Ambassador for Dom Perignon champagne in the UK since 2002, was the CIVC European and UK Champagne Ambassador in 2009 and regularly serves as a champagne judge at the International Wine Challenge.

He visits Champagne each year and teaches about the region and its wines.

Giles Fallowfield, aka Champagne Guru

Giles Fallowfield is an acknowledged expert on the wines of Champagne, the region itself and sparkling wines in general, having gleaned his knowledge from regular visits to the region for over 20 years.

The Champagne consultant for Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Book since the 2001 edition, he also wrote the Champagne chapter in Wines of the World published by Dorling Kindersley in 2004 and fully revised in 2009.

His own book Le Snob Champagne was published by Hardie Grant in the UK and Australia in October 2011.

Giles is the Champagne columnist for Imbibe and Square Meal Magazine and has overseen their annual Champagne supplements for the last five years.On the international stage, he writes regularly for Meininger’s Wine Business International, Drinks International and Flavours from France. His work also appears in Decanter,,, The Drinks Business, Harpers and Off Licence News and has been published in The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times.

Winner of the Prix de Lanson ‘Champagne Writer of the Year Award’ in 2001 and again in 2003, Giles was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer International Champagne Writer of the Year in 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005. In addition to his writing, he has featured on BBC Radio 5 Live and on the BBC World Service, is a regular member of Decanter’s Champagne panel and part of the small team judging Decanter’s World Wine Awards. He regularly sets up and oversees Champagne tastings for Imbibe magazine and runs tutored tastings for groups of consumers.

Geoff Kruth, Master Sommelier

Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth brings vitality, passion, and extensive knowledge to his role as Chief Operating Officer for the Guild of Sommeliers, a nationwide non-profit membership organization of over 7000 wine professionals. He is one of less than 200 people worldwide to achieve the distinction of Master Sommelier.

Kruth graduated from Sonoma State University with bachelors degrees in Computer Science and Music and moved to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in the tech industry. A blossoming wine hobby became an obsession that lead to his enrollment in the French Culinary Institute's Classic Culinary Arts program in New York. While there he honed his palate to taste professionally, ultimately becoming the Sommelier for the Balthazar Group in Manhattan. In this role he was responsible for wine list development, floor service, and staff training and oversaw more than $10 million in yearly wine sales.

Kruth also holds a certificate in Restaurant Management from the Cornell School of Hotel Management and served as Wine Director of The Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. He helped lead The Farmhouse to critical acclaim, earning one Michelin star, a 27 rating in Zagat, and the recent naming by Gourmet magazine as one of the world's top 36 food destinations. Kruth is a frequent guest lecturer and consultant to restaurants and private events, including the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival in Hawaii for the past seven years.

In 2006 Kruth was awarded 'Rising Star of the Year' at the Star Wine International Wine Competition in New York. He also received the 'Rising Star' award from Star Chefs in 2009. The North Bay Business Journal named him one of the “Top 40 under 40” in 2010, and most recently he was featured in the 2012 documentary film SOMM. Kruth can be heard hosting the Guild of Sommeliers audio podcast, one of the most downloaded food and wine podcasts worldwide. Kruth’s experience at some of America's finest dining establishments and his role with the Guild of Sommeliers has put him on the short list of America’s top wine professionals.


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