Wine Enthusiast’s star-studded, black-tie Wine Star Awards gala is a banner event every year, but for the program’s glittering 20th anniversary on January 27, 2020, Wine Enthusiast is shaking things up with a new location after two decades of celebrations in New York City and South Beach, Miami. For the first time ever, the event will be held in San Francisco, at the legendary Palace of Fine Arts.
“As we honor the global wine industry, I felt that for the 20th anniversary of Wine Star Awards, we should be in the proximity of historic California wine country, home of the majority of wines that Americans consume,” says Adam Strum, chairman, editor and publisher of Wine Enthusiast.
Built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition, the majestic Palace of Fine Arts is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its ornate beauty belies its versatile and sometimes surprising role in the city over the years; the palace has served as everything from tennis courts to military storage to a phone book distribution center and, following massive rebuilding in 1964, the Exploratorium interactive museum. Today, it’s an expansive event space.
The venue has another role yet to fulfill, says Strum. “We intend to turn the Palace of Fine Arts into the Palace of ‘Fine’ Wines.”
The location follows the Wine Star Awards ethos of the last two decades. For years occupying multiple floors of the famed New York Public Library, the ceremony recently moved to another equally vibrant cultural locale on the Miami seaside, the Nobu Eden Roc.
“It has grown dramatically from a small local ceremony to a sold-out, 600-people, must-attend evening for the who’s who of the international wine business,” says Strum.
As the industry has evolved, so have the awards, with special recognition given in recent years to stewards of the environment and, last year, a special award for Social Visionary of the Year, Deborah Brenner, the founder and CEO of Women of the Vine & Spirits.
Reflecting on the program he’s helped create, Strum shares a fond memory of the inaugural Wine Star Awards in 2000:
“It was the year of the new millennium, and Jess Jackson was our first Person of the Year and Michel Rolland our Winemaker of the Year,” he says. “They both spoke eloquently about the quality strides the wine industry was making globally and the positive impact it was having on consumption.”
As the wine industry and consumption continues to grow, the Wine Enthusiast team looks forward to celebrating them in January.