2009 Wine Star Award Winners

Our picks for the top wine industry luminaries of 2009 plus information on how to purchase tickets.


Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Announces the Winners of its
2009 Wine Star Awards

For Immediate Release
October 28th, 2009

And the winners are...

  • Man of the Year: Ted Baseler, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

  • American Winery of the Year: Trinchero Family Estates, California

  • European Winery of the Year: Mezzacorona, Italy

  • New World Winery of the Year: Yalumba, Australia

  • Retailer of the Year: Best Cellars at A&P, Joshua Wesson

  • Innovator of the Year: Gary Vaynerchuk, Wine Library

  • Importer of the Year: Winebow, Leonardo LoCascio

  • Winemaker of the Year: Scott McLeod, Rubicon Estate, Francis Ford Coppola

  • Distiller of the Year: Hendrick's Gin, Scotland

  • Wine Region of the Year: Valpolicella, Italy
Honoring for...
  • Lifetime Achievement: Harvey Chaplin, Southern Wine & Spirits
Wine Enthusiast Magazine is pleased to announce the winners of its Annual Wine Star Awards for 2009, now celebrating its tenth year of honoring excellence in the wine and spirits industry. Feature articles on each of these winners from 10 categories, plus The Lifetime Achievement award, will appear in the December 15th Special "Awards" issue, to be published on November 4th, 2009. The recipients will be honored at the gala dinner and awards ceremony at the New York Public Library on January 25, 2010.

There were 50 nominees, five in each of ten of the award categories; winners were selected for their outstanding contribution to the world of wine and spirits, with special attention to achievements in the year 2009.

The honorees for 2009 are:


Ted Baseler, CEO

Man of the Year: Ted Baseler, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Ted Baseler is President/CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the most prominent wine company in Washington State. Under his leadership, it has evolved into a high performance organization known for its top quality, world-class wines; for its strategic partnerships with leading wine producers in Italy and Germany; and for collaborating with fellow members of Washington's wine industry to help raise the region's profile, worldwide. For his vision, leadership, brand-building, team-building, and region-building accomplishments, Ted Baseler is Wine Enthusiast's Man of the Year.

American Winery of the Year: Trinchero Family Estates
One of the largest family-run independent wineries in the United States, Trinchero Family Estates is a known industry leader in the California sustainable wine-growing program. Its portfolio currently offers 22 award-winning brands that offer enormous variety and value, among them the first White Zinfandel: Sutter Home. For offering consumers what they want, at prices they can afford; for being leaders in Napa Valley and the California wine industry; and for continuing to invest in the future, Trinchero Family Estates is Wine Enthusiast's American Winery of the Year.


Roger Trinchero, President

Claudio Rizzoli, Vice General Director

European Winery of the Year: Mezzacorona, Italy 
With 1,500 growers and 6,000 acres of vineyards, Mezzacorona is one of Italy's biggest co-operative wineries, operating on a uniquely Italian model: pooling resources, fruit and farming to keep costs down and to provide stability in times of crisis. By combining tradition and state-of-the-art technologies, the group crafts modern value wines of immense popularity in the U.S., whose prices have stayed low, despite the economic crunch. For the group's commitment to value, producing a long list of "Best Buys" in a wide range of quality products, Mezzacorona is Wine Enthusiast's European Winery of the Year.

New World Winery of the Year: Yalumba, Australia
Yalumba is Australia's oldest family-owned winery. Under the leadership of Robert Hill Smith, representing the fifth generation, it has become one of the country's most progressive and successful wine producers and has been recognized as a significant contributor to the growth of the Australian wine industry in general. For their forward-thinking, innovative leadership in the Australian wine industry and their unflagging commitment to quality and family ownership, Yalumba is Wine Enthusiast's New World Winery of the Year.


Robert Hill Smith, Proprietor

Joshua Wesson, Co-Founder

Retailer of the Year: Best Cellars at A&P, Joshua Wesson
Best Cellars at A&P is an innovative wine merchant specializing in approachable, unique and value-driven wines. At Best Cellars at A&P's 39 locations, customers are exposed to new finds in a friendly, fun and educational atmosphere. Its focus on demystifying wine for a broad range of consumers, its obsession with finding great values, its dedication to offering broad selection, and its educational initiatives have earned Best Cellars at A&P the Wine Enthusiast Retailer of the Year Award.

Innovator of the Year: Gary Vaynerchuk, Wine Library
Since the launch of Wine Library TV in 2006, Gary Vaynerchuk has focused his passion for wine and wine education and made himself into a major force in the wine industry. With over 80,000 viewers every day, his daily webcast Wine Library TV is helping to reinvent the concept of wine tasting for a new generation of consumers with a focus on each individual's appreciation of wine and expanding one's own palate. For pioneering wine marketing on the Internet, for bringing an egalitarian tone to wine criticism and for enticing millennials to the tasting table, Wine Enthusiast names Gary Vaynerchuk Innovator of the Year.


Gary Vaynerchuk

Leonardo LoCascio, CEO/President

Importer of the Year: Winebow, Leonardo LoCascio
Winebow is a premier U.S. importer and distributor of premium quality fine wine, spirits and sake from around the world, with one of the most diverse and expansive portfolios in the industry. Founded in 1980, the education-oriented company imports brands from 30+ countries, with a specialization in Italian wine. For its pace-setting, forward-thinking advocacy of Italian wines, its outstanding relationships with its many clients, and its impact on the culture of wine drinking in America, Winebow is Wine Enthusiast's Importer of the Year.

Winemaker of the Year: Scott McLeod,
Rubicon Estate, Francis Ford Coppola
Now in his 20th year overseeing production of Francis Ford Coppola's Napa estate, McLeod has pushed the flagship Rubicon bottling into the top ranks of Napa Valley Bordeaux blends. Beyond his involvement with Rubicon, McLeod is also a stalwart promoter of the Rutherford AVA in its own right. For presiding over one of Napa Valley's greatest and most glamorous wines, for accomplishing as much as he has at the relatively young age of 47, and for implementing the vision of his demandingly creative boss, Francis Ford Coppola, Scott McLeod is Wine Enthusiast's Winemaker of the Year.


Scott McLeod, Winemaker


Distiller of the Year: Hendrick's Gin, Scotland
Scotland may be best know for its whiskies and golf courses, but this botanical gin in the squat brown jug from is as smooth as they come. Infused with cool cucumber rather than the more common juniper, it makes a quintessential gin and tonic and has fast become a favorite of spirits lovers worldwide. For appealing to a broad audience of consumers and service industry professionals while staying true to itself, for producing a world-class, high-caliber, innovative and pioneering spirit, Hendrick's Gin is Wine Enthusiast's Distiller of the Year.

Wine Region of the Year: Valpolicella, Italy
One of the highest producing DOCs in Italy, Valpolicella produces a wide range of delicious wines, ranging from lighter reds to more intense, concentrated reds, such as Ripasso and Amarone, made from air-dried grapes. This region has seen a continued increase in quality over the past few decades, seen in the wines of both traditional estates and small innovative producers. For the classic quality of its quintessential wines, Amarone and Ripasso; its commitment to tradition; and for the unique approach it takes to all its wines, Valpolicella is Wine Enthusiast's Wine Region of the Year.



Harvey Chaplin, Chairman/CEO

Lifetime Achievement: Harvey Chaplin,
Southern Wine & Spirits
Harvey R. Chaplin, Chairman and CEO of Southern Wine and Spirits of America since 1994, served in numerous senior executive roles, running day-to-day operations of the company from 1969 to 1993. Due to his vision and leadership, today Southern Wine & Spirits is the nation's largest wine and spirits distributor, with operations in 29 states. For his unparalleled role in generating interest, distribution and sales, and for his contribution to the continued healthy growth of this industry, Wine Enthusiast is proud to name Harvey Chaplin as the recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.

For details about  The Wine Star Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony, and to reserve your table
click here or contact Seth Dranginis, seth@dunnrobbinsgroup.com , 212.929.7700

About Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Founded in 1988, Wine Enthusiast Magazine's mission is to educate and entertain readers about wine and the wine lifestyle in an accessible and user-friendly way. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has grown to become world's most respected and quoted publications in the field of wine and spirits. The magazine is an important source of ratings and reviews of both wine and spirits currently available in the marketplace, vital to both consumers and trade. With a readership of 600,000 per issue, Wine Enthusiast Magazine is available in fine wine shops, tasting rooms and major bookstores nationwide. In addition, Wine Enthusiast Magazine develops signature events for both consumers and trade. The magazine and "Buying Guide" are also available online at www.WineMag.com.

About Wine Enthusiast Companies
For over 30 years, Wine Enthusiast Companies has been helping people experience and enjoy the wine lifestyle. The Wine Enthusiast Companies is the established leader in wine education, wine accessories, wine refrigeration and custom built cellars. Wine Enthusiast products are available through catalog, online and various retailers nationwide. To find out more about The Wine Enthusiast, visit www.WineEnthusiast.com or call the company's offices: United States: 800.356.8466.

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