WSWA 69th Annual Convention and Exposition Opens in Las Vegas
More than 2,100 wholesalers, brokers, suppliers, importers, service providers and other wine and spirits industry professionals gathered today at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 69th Annual Convention & Exposition.
Craig Wolf, WSWA president and CEO, started the convention at the Opening General Session, where he welcomed attendees and introduced Charlie Merinoff, president and CEO of The Charmer Sunbelt Group and the WSWA chairman. Merinoff gave a poignant tribute to his father and his family's unique history as beverage distributors. He also explained the value that wholesalers bring to the distribution system, including their local marketing expertise. He stressed the importance of collaboration, integration and innovation among all the tiers of the industry. "We don't have a choice but to come together," he emphasized.
Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac Company, received the Sidney Frank Award, which commemorates the spirit and marketing genius of the late Sidney Frank, his philanthropic efforts and his contributions to the beverage industry. Brown reminded everyone that "what we sell is not milk and chips" so state-based regulation is important to maintain a competitive, socially responsible industry.
The keynote address was given by Nando Parrado, featured in the international best-seller "Alive." Parrado was one of the 16 Uruguayan survivors of Air Force Flight 571 that crashed in the Andes Mountains in October 1972. He told his story about spending two months trapped in the mountains and his amazing trek to find help. Parrado concluded his inspiring story of survival and perseverance by reminding everyone that a part of life is luck and to always enjoy the present. He ended by saying, "Life is not measured by number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away."
In the afternoon, the convention featured the Wine & Spirits Tasting Competition in partnership with The Tasting Panel Magazine. A panel of highly esteemed wine and spirits experts, including some of the country's finest sommeliers, wine directors, consultants, merchants and mixologists judged nearly 1,000 wines and spirits exhibiting at the convention. Also, the Hot Brands Awards were presented by Impact Magazine.
Additionally, a Satellite Media Tour was hosted by Tony Abou-Ganim, famed mixologist and author of "The Modern Mixologist," who gave tips on "no-fail cocktails."
A complete list of winners, recipes and additional information on the event can be found at www.wswaconvention.org.