Rhys Pender, MW

2014-04-21_14-31-19A passionate educator, wine lover, judge, writer, and grape grower/farmer, Rhys has worked in the wine industry since he was a teenager. Rhys pursued his food and wine passion by completing a Professional Culinary Diploma to ensure he eats well and all levels of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) programs to make sure there was always good wine at the table. In 2004 Rhys began taking on the grueling Master of Wine program. This culminated in Rhys becoming Canada’s youngest Master of Wine in 2010, one of only approximately 300 in the world. 

Rhys runs a WSET wine school and consultancy through his business Wine Plus+ and between travelling around the world can be found with his boots in the dirt at his small 4 acre vineyard and winery in the Similkameen Valley – Little Farm Winery. He is a regular contributor to Canadian publications such as Montecristo, Taste, Savour, Wine Trend and Good Life Connoisseur. In addition to judging for Wine Align, Rhys judges wine competitions internationally such as the Decanter World Wine Awards, Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards and the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition.

Read our interview with Rhys below…

1. How many years have you been working with wine?
I started working in wine retail when I was 14 and have, with the exception of a few years in the middle, been involved in wine ever since in all different aspects from growing and making to education to retail and hospitality.

2. What was your first wine related job, article, or assignment?
Stacking shelves with wine in Australia when I was 14.

3. Is there a grape or style of wine you are personally attached to?
Delicious, restrained chardonnay.

4. What was your first Canadian “aha” wine moment?
Seeing how well many of the wines can age. Canadian wine is still not yet recognized for its ageability.

5. Which grape(s) do you feel is/are Canada’s best bets in terms of producing top quality wine?
Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Gamay & Syrah. Maybe Cabernet Franc too.

6. What would you like consumers to know about Canadian wine?
How well many of them can age.

7. How many years have you judged Canadian wine?
I think this is year 10.

8. What do you enjoy most about judging at The Nationals?
Getting to taste such a wide range of Canadian wine from all regions all at the same time. It gives a great snap shot as to what is happening.

Questions or comments?  Contact us:  [email protected]