The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 69th Annual Convention & Exposition took place last week at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The annual event showcased a number of innovative, as well as established, wines and spirits. The convention also featured prominent industry professionals, speakers, award honorees, judges and mixology competitors.
"This year's convention was a tremendous success," says Craig Wolf, WSWA president and chief executive officer. "We had close to 2,300 attendees, representing an increase of 22% over last year's high attendance," he emphasized. "We are excited to provide a valuable gathering in which wholesalers, suppliers and other industry professionals can work together to bring exciting brands to the most dynamic market in the world."
Event highlights included the U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum, which presented five compelling educational panels focused on brand activation, industry trends, the three-tier system, social media and building a world-class team.
Three distinguished competitions highlighted innovative cocktails and spectacular brands, including:
Call for Cocktails: Mixology Competition Winners:
- Berry Essence with Martin Miller's Gin, created by Freddy Diaz of Kindred Spirits
- The Chesterfield with Tanteo Cocoa, created by Jason Mendenhall, Park Street Imports
- Cortez the Killer with Tanteo Tropical, created by Jason Mendenhall, Park Street Imports
Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition Winners:
Best in Show Iron Mixologist, Best Aperitif and Best Dessert Cocktail
- Francesco Lafranconi of Southern Wine & Spirits
Best Long Drink
- Andrew Pollard of Wirtz Beverage
Wine and Spirits Tasting Competitions, sponsored by The Tasting Panel magazine:
More than 250 brands received Double Gold, Gold and Silver medals, and the following brands were recognized as Best in Show:
Spirits: Best in Show
- Alfred Schladerer Williams-Birne Pear Brandy Germany
- Atlantico Private Cask Rum Dominican Republic
- Destiladora Del Valle OSKI Russian Polar Bear Vodka Russia
- Destileria Los Danzantes Mezcalero #4 Mexico
- Evan Williams 1783 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey USA
- Glen Dronach 12 yr Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey Scotland
- Martin Miller's Reformed London Dry Gin England/Iceland
- Moleca Gold Cachaca, Brazil
- Revolucion Silver Tequila, Mexico
- TY KU Soju, Japan
Wines: Best in Show
- Avondale 2006 Syrah, Samsara, South Africa
- Avondale 2010 Chenin Blanc, Anima, South Africa
- Bidoli 2011 Pinot Grigio, Friuli, Italy
- Cirulli 2008 Bordeaux Blend, 1861 San Valentino, Umbria, Italy
- Conte d'Attimis-Maniago 2007 White Blend, Ronco Broilo, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
- Fetzer Vineyards 2010 Chardonnay, Sundial, California
- Fetzer Vineyards 2009 Zinfandel, Valley Oaks, California
- Matsu Bodega y Vinedos Ecologicos 2009 Tempranillo, DO Toro, Spain, Santa Maria Valley
- Patria Merlot, IGT Sicilia, Italy
- Robert Oatley Vineyards 2010 Rosé of Sangiovese, Mudgee, Australia
- Robert Oatley Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot, Mudgee, Australia
- Robert Oatley Vineyards 2011 Riesling, Signature, Great Southern, Australia
- Robert Oatley Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Signature, Margaret River, Australia
- Sanctuary Estates 2008 Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido Vineyard
- St. James Winery Raspberry, American
- Tenryo Hidahomare Junmai Ginjyo, Japan
- Tenuta Roveglia 2011 Trebbiano, Limne, Lugana, Italy
- Valle de La Puerta 2009 Malbec- Bonarda, Alta, Famatina Valley, Argentina
- Vignobles Gilles Louvet 2009 Rhone Blend Domaine Felix des Toureilles Organic,
- Vignobles Gilles Louvet NV Brut Bulles d'O Organic, AOC Blanquette de Limoux
The Hot, New, Now Media Award went to Purgatory Vodka made by Alaska Distillery-a small batch Alaskan-owned and operated micro-distillery.
WSWA honored Vern Underwood, chairman of the board of Young's Market Company, as the recipient of the Lifetime Leadership Award, and Mark Brown, chief executive officer of Sazerac with the Sidney Frank Award.
The convention also featured inspirational speaker Nando Parrado and keynote speakers John Hofmeister, Erik Qualman and Kit Codik.
Highlights from the WSWA 69th Annual Convention & Exposition, winning drink recipes and a full list of competition winners are available online at WSWAConventionBlog, and video highlights can be found on WSWA You Tube Channel as well as www.wswaconvention.org.
The WSWA 70th Annual Convention & Exposition will take place from April 27-30, 2013, at the Grande Lakes Orlando, Florida.