Wine Star Award Winners

The winners will be honored at a gala, black-tie awards dinner in January in New York City. For now, toast these spirited leaders as they transform the face of the wine world.


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Save the Date! Monday, January 24, 2011 is the 11th Annual Wine Star Awards Dinner honoring twelve luminaries of the wine world. Join Master of Ceremonies Adam Strum, Editor & Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, at the iconic New York Public Library.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

We are pleased to announce the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Baron Eric de Rothschild!

Currently, Château Lafite-Rothschild is the most collectible wine on the planet. In China, Lafite is on the lips of every investor. Prices for the 2009 vintage have reached five figures for a case of wine that is still in barrel. The resonance of Lafite, coupled with the legend behind the Rothschild name, acts as a siren song for Chinese collectors—and wine lovers around the globe.

But de Rothschild has more than wine in his own quiver of Rothschild arrows. He is a banker and a tireless worker for Jewish charities. He is a polymath in a world where so many people relegate themselves to one specialty.

Most know him best as the owner of four leading Bordeaux estates, apart from Lafite itself. When he arrived at Lafite, the neighboring fourth growth estate of Château Duhart-Milon was already a Rothschild property. Since then, de Rothschild has purchased Château Rieussec in Sauternes (1984) and its associated Entre-deux-Mers estate of Château Paradis Casseuil. And in 1990, he moved to the very different soils of Pomerol when he purchased Château l’Evangile.

These are the Bordeaux properties of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), the holding company for all the de Rothschild properties under the control of de Rothschild. He’s also added to the Bordeaux portfolio the Réserve, Légende and Saga range of branded wines, based on major Bordeaux appellations. For the full de Rothschild biography, pick up Wine Enthusiast Magazine's December 15 issue.

 Man of the Year: Bill Foley for Foley Family Wines

In the last year alone Foley Family Wines has acquired four California wineries including Sebastiani, in Sonoma, Kuleto Estate, in the Napa Valley, and Chalk Hill, one of the finest wineries in Northern California. Today their portfolio consists of 15 wineries spread across two states and two continents, and will likely continue to grow. With an extensive history of vastly successful entrepreneurial endeavors, Bill Foley is as humble as he is an established leader. On receiving this award, Foley says, “Totally unexpected, totally honored. I’m new in the business, in the wine industry, in terms of having a larger presence, and to be recognized in this way by a prestigious magazine is really unbelievable.”

Winemaker of the Year: Genevieve Janssens for Robert Mondavi Winery

It may have been fate that brought Janssens to Mondavi, but it’s been her talents—skilled winemaking, a strict work ethic, the ability to manage teams and, perhaps most importantly, an understanding of the vineyards—that have kept her at the winery. After 36 years she is crafting the greatest To Kalon Fumé Blancs and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons of her career, which is to say among the greatest that Robert Mondavi Winery has ever produced. When asked what she considers her major accomplishment of 2010, Janssens simply says, “Just making wine that everybody enjoys. The most important thing to me, as it was to Mr. Mondavi, is for people to appreciate what you are doing.”

Retailer of the Year: Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, Chris Adams

Upon entering the gracious wood-paneled Sherry-Lehmann on Park Avenue and 59th Street in New York City, it is hard to imagine that this elegant wine and spirits emporium began life as a bootlegging operation during Prohibition. Today the inventory has grown to include 7,000 labels, and the burgundy-carpeted shop is just the tip of the iceberg in a retail enterprise that includes a 65,000 square-foot temperature—and humidity—controlled warehouse, a catalog and internet business which services 100,000 customers per year. Chris Adams, CEO of Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, in response to being named Retailer of the Year, says, “We couldn’t be prouder of this award, and we consider it a highlight of Sherry-Lehmann’s 76 years in business.”

Restaurateur of the Year: Tyler Florence

Today’s restaurateur needs more than knife skills to succeed, and Restaurateur of the Year Tyler Florence is far more than a world-class chef. This inventive entrepreneur is fueling his rapidly growing restaurant group with star turns on TV, cookbooks, kitchen shops, a signature wine label, even an iPhone app, and the synergy is explosive. Florence is launching three restaurants in six months and this autumn, Tyler published his sixth cookbook, Tyler Florence Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better. “They say an overnight success takes fifteen years,” states Florence, “so here we are. It’s is a big honor for us to be named Restaurateur of the Year and we plan to use this as the stamp that says, ‘Yes you can do this’ as we take our next leap forward.”

American Winery of the Year: J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jerry Lohr

Now nearly 40 years old, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines show no signs of middle age. It has maintained an adroit balance, feeling its way forward with unerring accuracy, and managing both to give consumers what they want while at the same time holding a leadership position in the industry. For its trailblazing accomplishments in Monterey and Paso Robles, for the overall quality of its wines at fair prices, and for its ethical, philanthropic and environmental standards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines is honored with Wine Enthusiast’s American Winery of the Year Wine Star Award.

European Winery of the Year: Sogrape Vinhos (Portugal), Guedes Family

Sogrape has not only succeeded in creating what is considered by many to be the quintessential Portuguese wine, Mateus, they have managed to move beyond its origins to succeed in both volume brands and with some of the most iconic wines in Portugal. These achievements are a testament to the sense of purpose of the Guedes family, still running this family-owned firm. For this willingness to continually develop, for its ability to successfully promote its many brands and for its role as a flagship Portuguese wine company, we are proud to award Sogrape Vinhos the Wine Star European Winery of the Year 2010.

New World Winery of the Year: Bodega Catena Zapata (Argentina), Nicolas Catena

Argentina has become the world’s fastest growing wine exporter, with Malbec leading the charge. The winery setting the pace has been Catena. Catena’s vision took more than a decade to become a reality as it required tireless promotion by Catena himself along with wines of quality and individuality that could back up the then-idealistic claims that Argentina deserved to be taken seriously. Catena is currently selling about 80,000 cases of varietal wines in the U.S. while the family continues to hold stakes in several other established Argentinean brands. “I think we have achieved what my father set out to do: make supersonic, ageworthy, concentrated Malbecs, basically the best wines we can possibly make,” says Laura Catena.

Distiller of the Year: Cooper Spirits for St-Germain, Robert Cooper

It’s not every day that a brand new distillery makes a huge splash with its first available product. And it’s even more rare that said spirit is almost universally lauded by the notoriously perfectionist community of mixologists who collectively form the driving force behind the current cocktail renaissance. But such is the tale of the Cooper Spirits Company and St-Germain, the elderflower blossom-flavoured liqueur that has taken the mixology community by storm. “I am constantly being inspired by the bar trade,” says Cooper. “Their support of artisanal, all natural and quality products has had a decided impact on the growth of my business.”

Innovator of the Year: Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux, France

In the last year Bordeaux has seen a complete renaissance and this grand, beautiful city has been transformed. The river front is now a series of parks and water sculptures, with walkways and cafés. The buildings that line the river front for nearly two miles, many from the 18th century, gleam in the palest yellow stone. This city of a quarter million people is now among the most stunning in France. The driving force behind this transformation has been Alain Juppé. French prime minister from 1995 to 1997, Monsieur Juppé was elected Mayor of Bordeaux in 1995 and again in 2006. His ambition from day one in office was to change the city center by taking the inspiration from the great wines of Bordeaux into the heart of the city.

Importer of the Year: TGIC, Alex Guarachi

TGIC founder Alex Guarachi was once content to simply “thank God it’s Chilean.” Today his California-based company is the leading importer of South American wines, bringing in about 750,000 cases, more than 90 percent of which hails from Argentina and Guarachi’s homeland.  With their continued successes Guarachi says “We’d like to get to a million cases next year.” Given where Guarachi and his 67-person staff have come from, and given how long wineries like Montes, Pascual Toso and others have stayed with TGIC, it’s obvious that making top-level South American wines mainstream in America is what Guarachi and TGIC are good at.

Wine Region of the Year: Rhone, France

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