Our Panel

Photo of Liz Thach from SSU

Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine

Dr. Liz Thach, MW (pronounced “tosh”) is the Distinguished Professor of Wine and a Professor of Management at Sonoma State University where she teaches in both the undergraduate and Wine MBA programs. Liz’s passion is wine, and she has visited most of the major wine regions of the world and more than 37 countries. In addition, she is an award winning author who has published over 120 articles and 6 wine books, including Call of the Vine, Wine – A Global Business and Wine Marketing & Sales. A fifth generation Californian, Liz finished her Ph.D. at Texas A&M and now lives on Sonoma Mountain where she tends a small hobby vineyard and makes Pinot Noir wine. She also works as a wine judge in various competitions, and has served on many non-profit wine boards. Liz obtained the distinction of Master of Wine (MW) in May of 2011. Guest Panelist/Contributor.




Deborah Parker Wong, Diploma WSET is Global Wine Editor, The Tasting Panel, SOMM Journal and Clever Root, a contributing editor to Spirited published by the Press Democrat, and Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. As Director of Education for Discover Wine & Spirits Academy, she teaches WSET certification courses and is an adjunct professor of wine at Santa Rosa Junior College and Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif. Deborah serves as a professional wine judge for several regional, national and international wine competitions. You can find an archive of her articles at www.deborahparkerwong.com Panelist/Contributor.




Fred Swan, Diploma WSET is a San Francisco Bay Area-based wine writer and educator. He holds a Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, is a Certified Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship by the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. His writing and reviews appear in publications such as GuildSomm.com, daily.SevenFifty.comThe Tasting PanelSOMM Journal, and FredSwan.wine. He teaches for the San Francisco Wine School, judges wine and conducts focused wine tastings, dinners and seminars. Panelist/Contributor.





Lisa Granik Master of Wine

Lisa Granik, Master of Wine


Lisa Granik, MW has been a Master of Wine since 2006.  A former law professor, she taught in Georgia when it was still part of the Soviet Union. She returned 20 years later courtesy of a USAID effort to assist the Georgian wine industry.  She is an award-winning writer in both print and digital media, and is much in demand for her consulting projects, teaching and speaking engagements. Guest Panelist/Contributor.


Rich Higgins Headshot

Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone



Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone & Brewmaster was the third person to earn Master Cicerone distinction, and he is also a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. His consulting practice includes Restaurant Beer Program Implementation, Beer Dinners And Guest Sommelier Events, Brewery Consultation, Retail Beer Store Consultation, Distributor And Sales Staff Trainings, Teaching, Judging, and Corporate Events including Team-building seminars.  Contact Rich at www.richhiggins.com. Guest Panelist/Contributor.


Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis Headshot

Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier



Catherine Fallis, MS (pronounced “fall  is”) is the world’s 5th female Master Sommelier and Proprietor at Planet Grape® LLC, a wine consulting firm providing content, reviews, corporate & private tastings, restaurant wine program development, and speaking services. She created her alter-ego, grape goddess®, to help bring wine down to earth for consumers as well as those entering the wine industry. She is one of a handful of female professional sabreurs in the world, opening a bottle of Champagne with a sword in a dazzling theatrical performance. Catherine was recently inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier and is a Board Member of The American Institute of Wine & Food.

Her diverse wine background as a salesperson, sommelier, distributor, and supplier helped Catherine become the well-rounded and thorough expert she is today. She understands all facets of the wine business, and is a frequent speaker, event host, educator, and consultant for corporations, consumers and the wine trade.  She is a highly sought after wine expert and spokesperson for the wine industry. Panel Lead/Editor-in-Chief.