Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Bottle Shock Open Wine Judging Volunteer Position Descriptions


Volunteers needed for the Bottle Shock Open Home Winemakers Judging

The Bottle Shock Open (BSO) Home Wine Judging Competition is replacing the County Home Wine Judging at the County Fair in association with the Lodi Grape Festival, however, it is very different in many ways. The BSO is open to any, and all, home winemakers throughout the world, and it has the guidance of seasoned professionals.

LAVA has historically hosted similar events in California for approximately 8 yrs under the guidance of Aaron Kidder (IT guru) and G.M. ‘Pooch’ Pucilowski (Certified Wine Educator) of large events (1,100-1,300 entries), and now they are enthusiastic in guiding home winemakers to this event ‘in the heart of wine country’! As you may know, ten professional wineries have been successful as a result of LAVA’s educational forum in only 12 short years!

Why would you want to participate/volunteer in this event?

  1. It is going to be held at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds in Lodi (local for us)
  2. The educational benefits in learning wine judging protocol is phenomenal!
  3. You help raise awareness of LAVA and the community in the wine industry
  4. Winemakers can enter their wines for judging by knowledgeable wine tasters who will give constructive comments regarding your wine(s)
  5. Awards will be top-notched and high quality
  6. Sponsorships are available to support this new venture for a stable platform for home winemakers to enter their wines
  7. You will receive event wine to drink and take home.
  8. Party after the event!

Many of you may have an interest in volunteering for the BSO competition, or you have volunteered in the past to similar events. Newer members to LAVA have an opportunity to assist in making the BSO a competition that will develop a rich tradition with dedication to increasing the abilities of home winemaking. We are very excited that this competition is taking place, but it cannot happen without the dedication of all volunteers.

The competition will require one full day and will be held on Friday, August 1, 2014 at the Jackson Room at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds. Volunteers will receive wine from the competition and provide funding back to LAVA (since we are new, the amount is not known at present). This is a way to give back to LAVA for the education and guidance in making home wines. Also, if you have someone who is interested in helping/volunteering, please write down their name and email info so they can be included.

Here is an extensive list of volunteer slots needed:

Volunteer Coordinator (1) (John Bischoff may take this unless someone wants to fight him for it!).

Requires part time, 4-5 months before and during competition. This important position is the key to a successful event. This person’s sole responsibility would be to coordinate, contact and supervise all volunteers. This person would place volunteers into the many positions that are needed. No one can be a volunteer unless they register with the volunteer coordinator. If we are able to find a good coordinator then the competition can be run with lots of help and no excessive expenses.

Warehouse & Backroom Coordinator (1).

Also known as Cellar Crew Captain. Requires part time, 2-3 months before and during competition. This is the key job for someone that is anal about numbers, checking, rechecking and getting things as perfect as possible (knowing upfront that nothing is perfect). This person would supervise the Cellar Crew who check-in all wines, assign secret numbers, enter the wines into the computer and make phone calls to wineries. This person would be responsible for supervising volunteers who will check all wines for vintage dates, appellations, alcohol, etc. and make sure it is the same wine the winery says they are shipping. Collect and verify all checks and track the information in the computer. All this information will be entered into the computer (under his/her supervision) and then rechecked with the actual inventory by the volunteers. If mistakes can be caught at this level, it saves a lot of embarrassments and mistakes later, during and after the competition. This job requires alot of attention to details.

Buyer/On-site Coordinator (1).

Requires part time, 2-3 months before and during competition. This position is the on-site coordinator that is in charge of purchasing all items in the budget. This person controls the purse strings and answers directly to the Committee. They are also in charge of gathering and collecting all donated items. They will in addition, coordinate the location of the tasting, wine entries and storage of items before, during and after the competition. All rental agreements for computers and copy machines, if needed, will be handled as well as truck rentals if needed, and coordinate meals and any tastings with caterer.

Donation/Sponsor Coordinator (1)

Part time, 5-6 months before the competition. Responsible for coordinating the gathering and collecting of all donated items, signing up sponsors and arrange in-kind contributions. This would include any food or drink items used during the competition. This person will coordinate and create the materials used to procure Sponsors. (It is possible this person could receive a financial commission based on the money brought into the sponsorship program.)

Digital Photographer (1)

Takes pics on judging day of event and provides to BSO and Lodi Grape Festival and LAVA plus others. Photographs sponsor banners/materials for a photo gallery.


Captain Positions (1 each)

All of these positions require someone who can manage people. They would be needed during the competition AND would be one of the volunteers doing their respective jobs.

  • Clerk Captain
  • Pouring Captain
  • Steward Captain
  • Panel Assistant Captain
  • Glass Washing Captain
  • Communications Desk

Volunteer Positions:

Cellar Crew (2-4 rats depending upon entries).

Requires part time, 2-3 months before and during competition. All of our volunteers will be paid with wine and do so with much enthusiasm and excitement. The Cellar Crew would work in the “warehouse” (unknown for now) part time for about 2-3 months before the competition. They will collect, sort, assign secret code numbers and check all the wines that come into our possession. They will be responsible for placing all data into the computer, verifying winery information, then checking and rechecking all information. Info in the computer will be compared against the actual wine label. They will also call wineries to remind them to enter the competition (this is critical). The amount of people needed depends on how much time it takes the volunteers to process the information. We will need one location (and at least one person) that is open from 9 to 5 in order to accept wines from UPS and FedEx. Time will be flexible. They will also be responsible for picking up wine at the various Home Wine Making shops in Northern California.

Regular Volunteers.

Needed maybe the night before the event and all day of the tasting. All volunteers would be broken up into their work groups, each would be lead by about 5 volunteer captains. They would all report to the Volunteer Coordinator. These groups and positions are listed below.

Clerks (5-8 slots depending upon entry numbers)

Their job would be to assist the judges in tracking and scoring the wines. They need to be very organized and good at keeping track of paperwork and judges (who may not be very organized). They sit at the judge’s table and record all the judge’s scores. They keep track of all paperwork judges are required to fill out and make sure it is correct.

Pourers (5-7 slots depending upon entry numbers)

This position requires an early start in the morning. They need to open &

pour the correct wines into the correct glasses. They will be on their feet all day long.

They are the back room workers who keep the wine flowing during the day. They are not

allowed in the judge’s room.


Stewards (4-8 depending upon entry numbers)

The only link between the Pourers and the Judges are the Stewards. They

pick up and deliver wines, set up the glasses in front of the judges and help clear the

empty glasses. They also help remove the judge code sticker on the glassware.


Panel Assistants (2-6 depending upon entry numbers)

This group will do everything needed to assist the judges, clerks and stewards. There may be long stretches of sitting but they have to be vigilant; if a judge needs crackers or a pencil sharpened, they do it. They will help clear the tables after the judges finish tasting, and run the glasses to the kitchen as needed.

Washing Wine Glasses (? depends upon whether we get a portable dishwasher onsite)

We will need to wash the glassware on a continuous basis.

We will have to see if we can rent a dishwasher. Carts will be needed to bring the glasses

to the pouring tables. A lot depends if we rent or buy glasses.


After Party

We will need to clean up the place after the competition. All Volunteers

will help do this before they leave for the day and before the party starts. It will be the

Cellar Crew responsibility to mark the medal winners and place the wines on the tables.

We will need a volunteer to arrange the food for that evening.

Please signup regarding your availability and your job preference, if you have one. Please respond as soon as you can to allow the streamlining of the event, and you can get the slot of your choice! Once you sign up, additional instructions and details will be sent to you.


[P.S. Many of these slots are listed in months of time needed to commit, but the first year will be ‘hurried’ to get the competition in before harvest starts, so the time frame will be ‘contracted’. Next years’ competition will be held earlier in the year.]

Email John Bischoff at for your committment and what slots you would like.