Wine Enthusiast’s 2014 Wine Star Award Nominees
The leading magazine in global wine lifestyle announces its nominations for the coveted award.
Each year, the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine honor the individuals and companies that have made outstanding achievements in the wine and beverage world. Below are the nominees in each of the categories for 2014. The winners will be announced in the special December 31 Wine Star Awards issue, and the honorees will be presented their Wine Star Award trophies at a gala black-tie dinner in New York City on January 26, 2015.
New to this year’s ceremony, the Innovator/Executive of the Year award celebrates the industry’s most creative and influential trendsetter in the business space, and the Brewery of the Year award lauds a notable business in the fast-growing beer space whose work is influencing trends on a national level.
And the nominees are...
Life Time Achievement Award: Anthony J. Terlato
Superlatives quickly pile up when encapsulating Anthony J. (Tony) Terlato’s half-century career in wine. Visionary, creative, proactive, inspiring and above all innovative, he has been integral in growing domestic and international wine brand awareness in America.
His guiding mantra—“Consider quality a way of life; we do”—is more than a business slogan. It is a template for a life well and fully lived.
“Once you start to drink wine,” says the man whose career has encompassed retailer, distributor, importer, marketer and winery and vineyard owner, “you start to have aspirations.”
His quest for quality and an instinct for tastes to come have long been hallmarks of Terlato’s business approach and have been integral to his successes over the years. From his early years, Terlato noted the tastes of key consumers and recognized an emerging market for fine wine.
Working in his father’s north Chicago shop, Leading Liquor Marts, in the 1950s, Terlato tasted Bouchard’s grand cru Burgundy and wanted it for the store. The New York-based Bouchard importer agreed to work with him if he took 600 cases of a little known Portuguese rosé—Lancers—along with it. Terlato took the chance, effectively marketed the wines to his customers, and it paid off. “We did such a good job with Lancers that Mateus came with us, and Blue Nun,” he recalls of the brands that would soon become major successes.
Terlato joined his father-in-law’s wine bottling firm, Pacific Wine Company, in 1956 and morphed it into a lauded Illinois distributor of fine wines from innovative importers. He began building important relationships that would change his business and impact American wine tastes forever.
Thus was especially true with the late Robert Mondavi, who became Terlato’s good friend and confidant after the two met in the mid-1960s. Mondavi was launching his own winery, and Terlato was looking to add more prestige wines to his portfolio. Both had a similar vision about the role wine would soon play in American culture.
“Bob Mondavi and I would go to the Sherman house restaurant in Chicago,” Terlato recalls. “We’d order several bottles of wine, and after dinner we’d walk around the block and talk. He told me ‘Tony—some day you’ll go to a restaurant and there will be a bottle of wine on every table.' ”
In 1967, Mondavi’s Fumé Blanc became the first California wine represented by Pacific Wine. Mondavi pushed for more, assuring Terlato he'd need more California wine once things took off. “I visited Clos du Val, Schramsberg, Heitz, maybe a dozen wineries," Terlato says. “That was the beginning of our California portfolio.”
But Terlato didn’t stop with domestic wines. While busy building the domestic portfolio, he chose to utilize the already existing family import company, Paterno Imports (importing olive oil at the time) to build his international wine import business. This would ensure a national reach.
He looked to Italy first, importing Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio in 1979. It became the most popular luxury import in the country, and led to an ever-growing fine wine portfolio that eventually included such legendary producers as Angelo Gaja, M. Chapoutier, Champagne Bollinger and many more.
California continued to grow, too. In 1996, at the urging of his sons, both officers in the company since the 1980s, Terlato purchased the Rutherford Hill winery, and today, their California investments include Chimney Rock, Terlato Family vineyards and many more. “We went from retail to distributing to import to winery to vineyard,” he says with pride. “From one end to the other!”
Terlato Wines remains the flagship company of the Terlato Wine Group. It’s a leading marketer of luxury wines in the United States, representing more than 60 brands, covering the world’s finest wine regions, varietals and styles. The quality of the portfolio is underscored by more than 900 90+ reviews from leading wine publications since 2010—more 90+ ratings than any wine company in the world.
“Some day,” Terlato says with a smile, “there will be two bottles of wine on every table.”
"Tony Terlato has succeeded in an unparalleled number of achievements over the course of his lifetime," notes Wine Enthusiast Editor and Publisher Adam Strum. "His early insight on important brands, his pioneering efforts in bringing key Italian wines to the U.S., his exploration of California wineries and vineyards, and his ongoing quest for quality embodies what it truly means to be a wine industry pioneer. Tony Terlato's vision and energy have helped to make wine into the global industry it has become today."
Anthony Terlato will be presented the Wine Star Trophy for Lifetime Achievement at the Wine Star Awards dinner, to be held January 26, 2015 in New York City.
Person of the Year
Bryan Fry: President and CEO of Pernod Ricard, USA
The U.S. head of the Paris-based beverage giant since 2012, Fry has been a major player in increasing the company’s foothold in domestic wines. Fry helped finesse the company’s 2014 acquisition of its first still winery, Sonoma’s venerated Kenwood Vineyards, which it plans to grow.
Bill Koch: Wine Fraud Watchdog
In the last decade, energy industrialist and prominent wine collector Koch has made it his mission to combat wine fraud. Seeking to better protect consumers, Koch has spent $25 million and filed numerous lawsuits to fight counterfeit sales by auction houses, collectors and retailers.
Charles Merinoff: Chairman and CEO, Charmer Sunbelt Group; Chairman, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 2012–13; Board of Directors, WSWA
At Charmer Sunbelt Group, Merinoff helped grow his company’s distribution of fine spirits, wines and non-alcoholic beverages in 15 states. A member for 30-plus years, his role at WSWA benefits the nation’s 6,000 wholesalers in legislative matters.
Christian Seely: Managing Director, AXA Millésimes
Since 2000, Seely has been managing director of AXA Millésimes, which owns chateaus in Bordeaux, Domaine de l’Arlot in Burgundy, Quinta do Noval in Portugal and Disznókő in Tokaj, Hungary. Seely is also the president of Bordeaux négociant Compagnie Médocaine, managing director and part owner of Quinta da Romaneira in the Douro and co-founder/joint owner of Coates and Seely Ltd., a producer of English sparkling wine.
Peter Deutsch: CEO, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
As the second-generation head of his family’s importing business, Deutsch has continued the company’s tradition of excellence. He’s helped grow 30 international wine and spirits brands like Yellowtail and Georges Duboeuf into household names.
Channing Daughters (Long Island, NY)
Located on 25 acres in Bridgehampton on New York’s Long Island, Channing Daughters grows a variety of grapes that boost the region’s reputation of producing high-quality fruit. Founded in 1982, the small-production winery produces 26 annual bottlings, with quality and artisanal expression in mind.
DeLille Cellars (Woodinville, WA)
Started in 1990 by four men seeking to create great wine, DeLille Cellars continues to do just that with each vintage. DeLille earns high praise for its Rhône-blend focused Doyenne label. Last year, the company brought in Bacchus Capital Management as investors and subsequently expanded its production.
Fetzer Vineyards (Mendocino, CA)
Fetzer’s first vintage was released in 1968, and it has since grown into a wine powerhouse. In 2011, the brand was purchased by Viña Concha y Toro for $238 million. It remains committed to producing high-quality wine focused on sustainable growing practices.
Jordan Winery (Sonoma, CA)
The Jordan estate was built in 1974 on 1,300 acres, but it wasn’t until 1980 that its first wines were released. John Jordan became CEO in 2005, and he’s preserved his parents’ vision for the winery. From energy-efficient roofs and solar arrays to fruit sourcing and soil-mapping studies, John has elevated the winery’s commitment to quality.
Ken Wright Cellars (Willamette Valley, OR)
Since being founded in 1994, Ken Wright Cellars has been a top producer of Oregon Pinot Noir, sourcing from top vineyards throughout the state. Founder Ken Wright is also a philanthropist, and he’s involved with local charities and community service organizations that support healthcare for seasonal vineyard workers and their families.
Bellavista (Franciacorta, Italy)
Vittorio Moretti transformed his small winemaking operation into a full-fledged winery in 1977. With those fateful steps, Bellavista helped transform Franciacorta into one of Italy’s most famous regions. The tradition continues with CEO Francesca Moretti at the helm, arguably crafting Europe’s best sparkling wine outside of Champagne.
Château d’Esclans (Provence, France)
The producer behind the world-renowned Whispering Angel, Château d’Esclans has helped change perceptions of rosé from inexpensive and sweet to wines of character and quality.
Domäne Wachau (Wachau, Austria)
A cooperative deeply rooted in Austria’s Wachau region, this producer cultivates nearly 1,100 acres of vines, creating highly coveted, premium white wines.
Weingut Robert Weil (Rheingau, Germany)
Fourth-generation owner Wilhelm Weil runs this renowned winery, one of the Rheingau’s most consistent quality producers. From voluptuous, elegant entry-level wines to cellar-worthy pours, Robert Weil is accessible to consumers and beloved by sommeliers.
Viña Real (Rioja, Spain)
Parent company Cvne maintains this top Rioja producer, pumping 125 years of winemaking history into every bottle. The Rioja Alavesa-based winery has been producing world-class Tempranillo since 1920.
New World Winery
Cave Geisse (Brazil)
Chilean Mario Geisse founded Brazil’s top sparkling wine producer in 1979 after working as a general manager for Chandon do Brasil. Realizing the region’s potential for high-quality sparkling wine, Geisse set off on his own, and today is lauded for his diverse range of bubbly.
Craggy Range (New Zealand)
Started in 1997 by Australian Terry Peabody, New Zealand’s Craggy Range produces benchmark wines like its Gimblett Gravels blends and single-vineyard Pinor Noirs, defining New Zealand’s extensive terroir for new generations.
Mission Hill Family Estate (British Columbia)
Anthony von Mandl’s Mission Hill is the acknowledged leader in Okanagan viticulture. Farming in five regions throughout the valley, the family-owned producer also operates an impressive winery in the Okanagan Valley that’s a leading destination for visitors.
Warwick Wine Estate (South Africa)
Norma Ratcliffe, head winemaker at Warwick since the late 1970s, has played a pivotal role in developing South Africa’s wine business and culture. Her son, Mike Ratcliffe, is the third generation to take part in the Stellenbosch-based family business, positioning the winery as one of the country’s most innovative producers.
Viña Santa Carolina (Chile)
Viña Santa Carolina boasts more than 130 years of winemaking history, making internationally recognized Chilean wine from all over the country. Exporting nearly 80 percent of all production globally, this urban winery is acclaimed for its vineyard innovations and quality-to-price ratio.
Angelos Iatridis, Alpha Estate, Greece
Trained in Bordeaux, co-owner and winemaker Iatridis crafts exceptional wines from international varieties, but excels with native Greek varietals: Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro. Helping found Alpha Estates in 1997, Iatridis has been a tireless ambassador for premium Greek wines.
Celia Welch, Celia Welch Consulting, Corra, California
With an enology degree from UC Davis, Welch started her winemaking career working throughout the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. East Coast, followed by New Zealand, Australia and finally, Napa. Welch started Celia Welch Consulting in 1991, with current clients including Scarecrow, Kelly Fleming, Barbour, Keever and Hollywood & Vine. After 25 years making wine for other vintners, Welch began her own brand, Corra, in 2004.
Charles Smith, K Vintners, Charles & Charles, Washington
A champion of Washington State wine, former rock-band manager Smith is behind numerous acclaimed brands that include Charles Smith Wines, K Vintners and Secco Italian Bubbles. The tireless entrepreneur also maintains Charles & Charles, a Trinchero-backed venture alongside Charles Bieler.
Dr. Donato Lanati, Italy
A famed Italian oenologist and member of the International Organization of the Grapevine and Wine, Lanati consults at vineyards and wineries throughout Italy, Georgia, Switzerland, Romania and Kazakhstan. He is also the founder of Enosis Meraviglia, a research center devoted to winemaking development and raising the quality of wine through a scientific approach.
Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix, Australia
Chief Winemaker of Margaret River’s storied Vasse Felix winery since 2006, Willcock has garnered numerous awards for her critically acclaimed wines, simultaneously elevating the winery and region to new heights.
Famed for its sparkling wine, regal chateaus and manor houses, Champagne is a destination that’s refined and distinctively French. Leading the world’s fine sparkling wine production—from its great houses to small-production, high-quality producers—Champagne is a name synonymous with luxury and pleasure.
Chianti Classico, Italy
Tuscany’s most famous denomination is undergoing a major renaissance. This quality revolution has resulted in top-shelf pours at incredible values, while investments into clonal research, vineyard management and marketing have created a new buzz in the region.
Red Mountain, WA
Though the first vineyards were planted 40 years ago, Red Mountain only recently became a recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2001. Red Mountain boasts 1,199 acres of vineyards and is home to 15 wineries, producing much-lauded Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.
Sonoma County, CA
No longer in the shadow of Napa’s grandeur, Sonoma County is grabbing the wine world’s attention with its benchmark cool-climate wines, like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, produced at vineyards near the coastline. The region's warmer AVAs also produce knock-out Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel. With viticulture representing 61% of the county's agriculture, the annual grape harvest is worth an estimated $200 million.
New York State
With five diverse wine-growing regions—the Finger Lakes, Long Island, Lake Erie, the Niagara Escarpment and the Hudson River—New York’s wine industry contributes more than $4.8 billion in economic benefits for the state. The No. 3 wine-producing state according to the Wine Institute, 1,631 vineyards and 353 wineries call New York home.
Folio Fine Wine Partners
Founded and helmed by Michael, Isabel, Dina and Robert Michael Mondavi Jr. in 2004, Folio has since grown into a leading importer and distributor of wines from California, Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain, representing wines by the likes of Tyler Florence, Arnaldo Caprai and Ornellaia.
Maison Marques & Domaines, USA
Founded in 1987 as the U.S. sales and marketing arm for Champagne Louis Roederer and Roederer Estate, the company has grown to into a marketer of prestigious, family-owned producers. It represents some of the world’s most esteemed properties like Bordeaux’s Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Douro’s Ramos Pinto, Piedmont’s Pio Cesare and Napa’s Dominus Estate.
In 2013, Opici Wines celebrated 100 years in the business by launching its Auspicion and Julia James California wine brands in 25 states and developing its Market Street Spirits group, a separate spirit division beneath the company banner. With a portfolio of some 50 hand-selected producers distributed in 46 states, Opici imports and distributes more than three million cases of 2,500-plus wines and spirits annually.
Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd.
A pioneering importer with an acclaimed portfolio boasting 50 prominent brands—including Domaine Faiveley, Hugel et Fils and Paul Jaboulet Aîne in France, Folonari in Italy and Barón de Ley in Spain—Frederick Wildman & Sons celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014.
Vine Connections launched in 1999, but is now a top boutique importer of Argentine wine and Japanese saké. The company shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, it grew its business by partnering with nine Chilean wineries representing 10 valleys.
ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
ABC was founded in 1936 by Jack Holloway, a former cigar store manager who expanded into the beverage industry following Prohibition, and is Florida’s oldest and largest wine and spirits merchant. The company has approximately 150 locations throughout the state.
Chambers Street Wines
Located in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, Chambers Street Wines has been a leader in the boutique retail space since 2001. With well-researched email newsletters, exclusive access to rare library releases and investment in extensive training and education for staff, it’s a wine lover’s dream shop.
K&L Wine Merchants
K&L’s three California storefronts (Redwood City, San Francisco and Hollywood) and booming online business have made it the go-to retailer for delicious everyday bottles, but also draws its fair share of collectors of fine and rare wines.
From humble beginnings 50 years ago, Trader Joe’s now spans the U.S. with hundreds of locations, most offering expansive selections of beer and wine. The mix includes national brands, special purchases and direct imports, always with a strong focus on value (think Two Buck Chuck), education and fun.
Total Wine & More
Opened in Delaware in 1991 with just two locations, Total Wine & More has since expanded to 15 states with more than 100 superstores. Stocking more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers, Total Wine is not just about numbers. Its staff undergoes extensive training to provide consumers with knowledgeable assistance.
As co-owner of Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, Stuckey, a master sommelier, still walks the dining room nightly to offer enthusiastic recommendations and share his passion for wine with guests. This dedication is why the restaurant was nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service from 2010–12, winning the prestigious prize in 2013.
Broglie started his career with Whole Foods Markets in the wine department of its Durham, North Carolina, store. Earning his master sommelier stripes in 2011, he serves as the company’s associate global beverage buyer at the company headquarters in Austin, Texas.
One of the 219 individuals worldwide to pass the notorious master sommelier exam, Cauble has amassed numerous industry distinctions. Formerly U.S. Ambassador for Krug Champagne and one of the stars of the documentary SOMM, he recently launched a new business, SommSelect, an online retail site that offers hand-picked selections from Cauble himself.
White began her career as general manager and wine buyer for University Wine Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After donning many hats within the industry (an internship in Burgundy, working at Tuthilltown Distillery in upstate New York, wine sales at Domaine Select Wine Estates and head sommelier at Veritas in New York City), White is currently a sommelier at PRESS Restaurant in St. Helena, California.
Within a year of taking over the dusty 4,500-bottle cellar of Michelin two-starred L’Auberge Bretonne in the Pays Nantais, the native of Angers, France, was named Best Loire Valley Young Sommelier and Best Sommelier in all of Brittany At Rouge Tomate NYC, Lepeltier manages one of New York City’s top wine lists with a flair for small-production, organic and biodynamic wines.
Antonio Capaldo, Feudi di San Gregorio
After approximately 10 years in finance and strategic consultancy, Capaldo joined Feudi di San Gregorio as chairman in 2009. At the helm of the leading Campania producer, Capaldo has ushered in a quality revolution with progressive viticulture practices and a commitment to revitalize the regional wine industry.
Robert D. Torres, Trinchero Family Estates
Torres, principal, senior vice president of operations and grandson of the original owner, Mario Trinchero, has developed Trinchero’s leadership in sustainable, environmentally responsible practices. The dedication to waste management, biodynamic practices and reduced water consumption has resulted in awards and accolades from the Wine Institute, Napa County and California’s Integrated Waste Management Board for decades.
Charles Banks, Terroir Capital
The former managing partner of Napa cult-favorite Screaming Eagle, Banks has kept busy since leaving the company in 2009. Banks co-founded Sandhi Wines and started Terroir Capital with a group of investors, purchasing high-profile winery and vineyard properties around the world, including South Africa’s Mulderbosch and Fable Mountain Vineyards (formerly Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards) and Napa Valley’s Leviathan and Mayacamas Vineyards.
Christophe Baron, Cayuse Vineyards
The youngest child from a centuries-old Champagne house, Baron Albert, Baron’s family has worked the land since 1677. Studying viticulture in Champagne and Burgundy exposed Baron to Pinot Noir. Following training stints in Australia, New Zealand and Romania, Baron came to the Pacific Northwest with Oregon in mind, but landed in Walla Walla, Washington, instead, after he saw the area’s tremendous potential. In 1997, he founded Cayuse Vineyards, which today boasts more than 55 acres of vines and offers at least a dozen masterfully crafted wines each year.
Michael Votto, Votto Vines Importing
CEO Votto and his family launched their company at the height of 2009’s economic downturn, and by August 2014, it was ranked on the Inc. 500|5000 list of fast-growing private, American companies. Recognized for its quick revenue growth—from $384,000 in 2010 to $4.3 million in 2013—the company plans to broaden its distribution and release a proprietary wine brand in the coming year.
Spirit Brand/Distiller of the Year
Anchor Distilling Company
An amalgam of Anchor Brewing Company, Anchor Distilling Company, Berry Bros. & Rudd and Preiss Imports, Anchor Distilling Company builds its portfolio with superior artisanal selections from multigenerational family-owned companies.
After acquiring the 240-year-old Tuthilltown Gristmill in 2001, Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee founded Tuthilltown Spirits after converting the mill’s granaries into a microdistillery. New York’s first whiskey distillery since Prohibition, Hudson Whiskey was released in 2003, and today, the company is a major force in the artisan distillery market.
The mixology ingredient du jour and a major component in the popular Negroni cocktail, Campari is experiencing a renaissance. The recipe for the flavorful liqueur has been around since 1860, but has only recently leapt in popularity, with Gruppo Campari becoming the sixth-largest spirits company in the world.
Pronounce ma-gay, this internationally renowned mescal brand was founded by Ron Cooper. Handcrafted and 100% organic, Del Maguey works closely with native Zapotec Mexican Indian producers in the remote village of Oaxaca, Mexico, to craft this smoky spirit that’s finding favor in mixology meccas.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Produced in small batches at Austin, Texas’s first and oldest legal distillery, this craft vodka has become a favorite amongst mixologists and consumers alike. Founder Tito Beveridge was originally a geologist before he started bottling flavored vodka for friends as Christmas presents.
Sanders is behind the bar at the acclaimed watering hole drink.well in Austin, Texas, which she co-owns with her husband, Michael. Dedicated to the craft of cocktails, Sanders manages the 37-seat pub with an emphasis on top-shelf hospitality, augmented by great drinks and food.
Scott Baird/Josh Harris
Known as The Bon Vivants, this cocktail-focused crew is a nationally recognized hospitality firm dedicated to recipe creation, restaurant consultation, marketing and strategy. Their clients run the gamut from Absolut to Pernod Ricard USA, and they also man San Francisco’s hottest cocktail bar, Trick Dog.
Kenyon was named American Bartender of the Year at 2014’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, judged by 75 of the country’s top bartenders, bar owners and hospitality industry professionals. When not accepting laurels, Kenyon holds court at his Denver craft cocktail den, Williams & Graham.
As owner and bar director of The Hawthorne in Boston, Cannon plies his craft and dedication to the cocktail on a daily basis. Often credited with elevating the cocktail craft in Boston, he’s regularly recognized in national press while also mentoring a new generation of mixologists.
Over the last decade, Reiner has been New York City’s doyenne of the cocktail arts, serving as the mastermind behind top bars like Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and Pegu Club. When not managing her mixology empire, Reiner also heads Mixtress Consulting, creating beverage programs for restaurants, resorts, spirits companies and bars.
Brewery of the Year
Distributed in 26 states and parts of Canada, Deschutes has been on a meteoric rise, expanding its operations into Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan in 2014 alone. The brewery offers both impressive core, year-round beers and limited-production selections, including some wild-ferment and barrel-aged brews that deserve space in any afficionado’s cellar.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Winner of the World Beer Cup for Mid Size Brewery of the Year four times, the Paso Robles, California-based brewery is renowned for its line of pale ales, but is equally lauded for its limited-release, barrel-aged beers.
Founders Brewing Co.
Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders has been internationally recognized for its beers with multiple awards and rankings. The Founders team offers a slew of year-round suds and specialty seasonal brews that have found a cult-like following, like their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout).
A leader in the craft beer revolution since 1985, Samuel Adams Brewery—via owner Jim Koch—has been key in creating a public clamor for quality and uniqueness in beer. With the company celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014 and new beers being added to their lineup, including special seasonal and limited-release offerings, it’s clear that Samuel Adams will continue to lead the charge in the craft beer boom.
Based in Montreal, Unibroue was started in 1990 when André Dion and Serge Racine decided to enter the craft beer market. Taking inspiration from Belgian-beer styles, the brewery launched North America’s first abbey beer, the Blanche de Chambly, subsequently finding success with its other iconic Québécois brews. In 2006, Japan’s oldest commercial brewer, Sapporo International, purchased Unibroue, which helped to increase their global visibility.