About the organization
The American Fine Wine Competition began in 2007 and is co-founded by Shari Gherman and Monty & Sara Preiser. It is the most influential all-American Wine Invitational in the country.
The AFWC takes place each January at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Lab. This prestigious judging does more than award both medals and points to American wines. It promotes those wines, offers educational opportunities to students of FIU, raises significant money for community non-profits, and helps brand businesses who partner with AFWC.
Following the annual judging, a series of events take place throughout the year. Each event raises money for non-profits. We work with dozens of these important organizations. For specific organizations see “Charity” on this site. In the past 12 years, AFWC has raised more than $1.1 million.
Each year approximately 800 of the finest wines produced in the U.S. are invited to, and participate in, this elite competition. AFWC is proud and honored to work with such incredible wineries. America produces some of the finest wines in the world and we take seeking out and promoting those magnificent wines very seriously.
Shari Gherman – President, and co-founder
Shari is a Sommelier and has been involved in the wine industry for 30 years. Her experiences in virtually every aspect of the industry, including marketing, distribution, supply, advertising, and judging, have combined to form a unique and diverse background. Shari’s approach to talking about wine comes from a deep love of the industry and the grape. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and makes wine exciting, inviting, and interesting. Through the American Fine Wine Competition, Shari has established a vehicle to share her knowledge, raise money for worthy causes and meld her love for wine with her drive to give something of value back to the community.
Monty and Sara Preiser – co-founders
Monty and Sara reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. They honed their wine skills as they traveled the country while Monty practiced law for 20 years, and for many years were wine columnists for The Boca Raton News and other publications. They are now the principal wine writers/editors for numerous lifestyle magazines including Coastal Isles on the Atlantic Coast and Living on the Suncoast on the Florida west coast. They own Creative Professional Programs, a company devoted to continuing education for professionals in conjunction with fine wine & food instruction. The Preisers have served as judges for several wine competitions from east to west coast, are frequent guest commentators on wine radio shows, and they publish the most comprehensive guide to Napa Valley wineries and restaurants titled, appropriately, The Preiser Key.
Joel Feigenheimer, Ph.D.
Joel is a 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry. A graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Dr. Feigenheimer is now the NAC Eminent Scholar and Endowed Professor at The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami. In addition to his academic career, he has worked in both the independent and corporate worlds of foodservice and presently consults for a variety of high-profile organizations, both nationally and internationally. As an entrepreneur, he has experienced every facet of the food and beverage industry. Operating and consulting for bars, restaurants, and hotels, he offers a unique outlook based upon proven real-world experience and the latest academic theory. In 2009, he founded “realEats Consulting”. This company specializes in profitability management in an ever-changing marketplace.
Greg Miseyko – Chief Judge and Judging Coordinator
Greg Miseyko has studied, collected and consulted in wines for 45 years including a wildly fortunate mentoring experience with five Masters of Wine in London. Greg co-founded Napa producer Red Mare Wines from 2007 until he sold in 2018. He works as a Financial Advisor in Boca Raton, and teaches wine tasting clinics in homes, businesses, alumni groups, clubs and restaurants. He earned his WSET level 3 award With Merit through Florida Wine Academy in Miami. 2019 marked his second year as Chief Judge and Judging Coordinator for the American Fine Wine Competition. His most popular lectures explore how sensory perceptions engage the mind to enhance the enjoyment of wine.
Rod Coleman, LLC. – A Lawyer with a Passion for Wine
The founding shareholder of Rod Coleman, LLC. a boutique litigation law firm in Boca Raton, Mr. Coleman has been a member of the Florida Bar for 30 years and specializes in civil trial practice. The firm’s practice areas include business litigation, real estate litigation, professional malpractice, personal injury, and probate litigation.
Rod also has a passion for wine. He belongs to several wine tasting groups, has been collecting wine for more than 20 years, and is a member of the AFWC Advisory Board.
He received his undergraduate degree in 1980 from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia and his Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Rod is partnering with the AFWC as a sponsor for the fifth consecutive year. “The AFWC is a series of great events- culminating with the Charity Wine Gala and raising an impressive amount of money for worthwhile charities. This is why I wanted to become involved as a sponsor, and not just as an attendee,” Coleman says.
Alejandro Ferrari – Entrepreneur
Alejandro Ferrari has extensive experience in business development, lead generation, marketing, client relations, account management, and sales. Mr. Ferrari has more than 20 years of experience in business development practices and value creation practices. In 2005 he founded Strategic Importers, Inc. Strategic Importers is a wine importer and distribution company based in Boca Raton. Mr. Ferrari is the owner/president and his company focuses on providing hand-crafted wines from organic and biodynamic producers to its on-premise and off-premise customers. Strategic portfolio offers wines from USA, France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, and Uruguay. Mr. Ferrari graduated in international commerce and business from the Colombian Institute of Management (INCOLDA). He studied English as a second language at Stanford University. He attended the Continuing Education Program on global issues and Marketing Strategies at Stanford University Continuing Education Program, Palo Alto, CA.
Andrew J. Scott, III – Entrepreneur
Mr. Scott retired from 30 + years of law enforcement in 2006, the last seven years as Chief of Police of the Boca Raton (FL) Police Department. Mr. Scott has created a very successful consulting company providing expert witness consultation to police departments and law firms on high liability police practices and procedures. Mr. Scott has been qualified as an expert in police practices and procedures in both federal and state courts throughout the country. Mr. Scott is a principal-partner of Scott-Roberts and Associates, LLC which provides employment screening and background check services. Mr. Scott is also a principle-partner in MyMatchChecker which provides background check services on prospective dates for online and traditional daters. Mr. Scott is an Adjunct Instructor for Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton), Lynn University (Boca Raton), and Capella University; teaching criminal justice and human resource management courses.
Drew Gaines – Entrepreneur
An avid wine enthusiast and successful businessman, Mr. Gaines is the owner of Pro-Frame Contracting Inc., a company that began as a small three-man office in 1990, building single-family homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties. By 1997 Pro-Frame moved to its current headquarters in Pompano and expanded into the Naples/Ft Meyers market. Florida Real estate boomed and so do Pro-Frame. Today Florida’s major builders rely on Pro-Frame to deliver quality workmanship and materials that span Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, St Lucie, Collier, Lee, Sarasota, and Manatee counties in Southeast and Southwest Florida.