Editorial Team

Meridith May Publisher and Editorial Director MERIDITH MAY

Meridith is responsible for the branding and content of The Tasting Panel and has successfully increased the magazine's circulation and readership in the past seven years. It has become the fastest growing, most widely distributed publication for the beverage industry.

Her background in radio (KIIS-FM, KLSX and KABC in Los Angeles) and newspaper (Santa Barbara News Press restaurant columnist) - combined with her knowledge of food, wine and spirits - gives her an edge in understanding the changing trends of the industry.

Meridith co-owns The Tasting Panel with Anthony Dias Blue and is also owner/Publisher/Editorial Director of our sister publication, The Somm Journal.

Meridith May can be contacted at (818) 990-0350 or mmay@tastingpanelmag.com

Anthony Dias Blue Editor-in-Chief ANTHONY DIAS BLUE

Anthony Dias Blue is the recipient of a 2001 James Beard Foundation Award as well as the 1997 Communicator of the Year Award from the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. He is one of the most influential food and wine personalities in the United States. His work in various media is circulated to more than 30 million global consumers and trade members each month. He can be found in print periodicals, on radio, in bookstores and in cyberspace.

For more than two decades, Anthony was associated with Bon Appétit, the largest-circulation food publication in the United States, his influential consumer-oriented "Blue Lifestyle Minute" radio program is broadcast several times each weekday on WCBS New York and KABC Los Angeles, while the two-hour "Blue Lifestyle" program airs in 30 markets across the country.

Anthony Dias Blue is Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the nation's largest and most prestigious wine judging event, and is also the founding Director of its sister event, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

In April of 2007, Anthony Dias Blue joined forces with Meridith May to purchase and rebrand The Tasting Panel as a nationwide beverage industry publication.

David Gadd Special Features Editor DAVID GADD

David Gadd began with Anthony Dias Blue's Blue Lifestyle organization in 1996 and has worked on projects as diverse as the "Blue Lifestyle Minute" and Anthony Dias Blue's Pocket Guide to Wine, among many others. As a new retiree, he continues to write special features for The Tasting Panel and The Somm Journal.

Rachel Burkons Associate Publisher RACHEL BURKONS

Multi-talented (and very busy) Rachel Burkons frequently writes features and departmental pieces for The Tasting Panel, as well as photographing stories. She travels extensively to represent The Tasting Panel regionally and internationally, and oversees additional projects, including special issues and various catalogs/brochures produced for  The Tasting Panel's many clients.

Managing Editor JEESE HOM-DAWSON 

A Northern California native, Jesse spent six years in New York City before fleeing to Los Angeles for sunny weather and terrible traffic, where she joined Tasting Panel's team in 2015. She lives by the beach in Santa Monica and enjoys cooking and baking with her large collection of cookbooks and kitchen appliances. Jesse is a firm believer in the Oxford comma, despite what others in the office might have to say about it.

Jessie Birschbach Senior Wine Editor JESSIE BIRSCHBACH

Jessica Anne Birschbach-Sheldon (JABS) made The Tasting Panel cut Certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers with a background in fine dining, creative marketing and comedy. JABS brews beer, and sometimes regrets following Angels Baseball. The only time you'll find her "accessorizing" is if she's upgrading her Jeep Wrangler. JABS is of the beach. Whether that beach is on the island of Kauai, where she was born, or where she grew up in San Diego is mostly trivial, just know she's a better swimmer than a walker. So far, being a wine editor is one of her proudest accomplishments.


Kate Newton joined The Tasting Panel in August 2017 after spending several years in Madison, Wisconsin, where she wrote for a collective of small-town newspapers and was a general nuisance to her coworkers with her frequent and very nitpicky editing suggestions. An Arizona native, she's a Clippers enthusiast, fledgling Dodgers fan, budget foodie and pop culture savant (caution to those who venture down the rabbit hole of asking for TV show recommendations) who's now in charge of keeping our writers on the grammatical up-and-up.

Spirits Editor

Mara Marski moved from Colorado to Los Angeles in 2011 with a truckload of dreams and essential home furnishings. She quickly realized that her BFA was useless, and she was not as special as her parents had led her to believe. Soon after this epiphany, she began a very fulfilling, long-term relationship with alcohol that has brought her great opportunities and greater friends. She has been working as a bartender for several years and is delighted to join The Tasting Panel Magazine as an Associate Editor and Events Associate. She also concurrently sits on an unsanctioned ice cream tasting panel of her own creation, of which she is the sole member.

Senior Administrative Assistant SIERRA DOXEY

Sierra Doxey joined The Tasting Panel January 2018 after graduating from California State University Sacramento in May 2017 with a double major in Deaf Studies and Women's Studies. She moved back to her hometown of Pasadena and here she enjoys the arts, dabbling in photography, sketching, critiquing new and old films, and exploring all types of music. Sierra is bilingual, speaking/signing English and American Sign Language (ASL).


Advertising and Finance Team

Bill Brandel VP/Marketing & Sales BILL BRANDEL

A veteran of the wine and spirits industry for three decades, Bill has spent his career as a distributor as well as on- and-off premise at high profile accounts in Florida, Washington DC and Los Angeles.  As a Wine Manager for SW&S in Southern California for the past 20 years, he earned his stripes in understanding all sides of the business. His knowledge and experience prove him worthy of heading up marketing and sales for The Tasting Panel, The Somm Journal and The Clever Root.

VP/Finance Director ANNA RUSSELL

Anna comes to The Tasting Panel with over eight years of accounting experience. At  The Tasting Panel, Anna handles all things Finance and works closely with Meridith May in managing the magazine's business endeavors. She graduated from the University of San Diego where she was granted scholarships for both Academics and Athletics. As a former athlete she appreciates the camaraderie and team spirit which is such an intrinsic part of the atmosphere at the Magazine.

In her spare time, Anna enjoys spending time with her  friends and family, hiking with her dog, Dr. Watson, watching her beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, and scientifically testing wine and beer for the good of the publication.

Dr. Watson (seen above) is The Tasting Panel's official Head of Security and is a no-nonsense enforcer of proper behavior.

Click here for bios of many of our contributors.

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