A Magical, Musical Wine Star Awards
Wine, spirits and beer industry luminaries poured into Manhattan’s magical New York Public library on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 for Wine Enthusiast‘s 16th annual Wine Star Awards black-tie gala—an evening featuring plenty of wine and song.
Attendees filed into the Library’s grand Astor Hall to enjoy a high-energy cocktail hour, featuring frosty glasses of Belvedere Vodka and New Amsterdam cocktails, as well as select pours from the night’s winners. Costco Wholesale generously provided selections, including a 2010 Brunello di Montalcino and Napa Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Other bottles included Viña Santa Carolina’s 2011 VSC Assemblage, Luce Della Vite’s 2012 Luce and Ferrari’s 2007 Perlé Rosé from Trento.
The evening kicked off with a brand new Wine Star Award, Wine & Culture, which Master of Ceremonies Adam Strum, chairman of Wine Enthusiast Companies and editor and publisher of Wine Enthusiast, presented to vintner Jean-Charles Boisset and Grammy and Oscar award-winning artist singer/songwriter John Legend for their Napa Valley wine-label collaboration, Legend Vineyard Exclusive.
Before accepting the award, Legend treated the room’s starstruck guests with an exclusive performance of his hit song “All of Me.”
“Wine and music are a wonderful pairing,” Strum said, handing the award to Boisset and Legend.
“We are thrilled that the editors of Wine Enthusiast have recognized the overwhelming talent that John Legend brings to the world of wine, and the incredible vision he had to bring wine, music and culture together to create the extraordinary LVE Collection of wines!” said Boisset in a glowing speech, and again via social media.
Other Wine Star Award recipients included Camron King, executive director of the Lodi Wine Grape Commission, who accepted the award for Lodi’s Wine Region of the Year.
“It’s been many generations of work in Lodi to get where we are today,” he proudly announced in his speech.
The evening’s momentum got a jolt when Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, Winemaker of the Year, invited servers to pop open magnums of Louis Roederer’s 2006 Cristal at each of the tables.
Riding the wave of sparkling wines, Tasting Director and Senior Editor Lauren Buzzeo encouraged the crowd to embrace their “cross-drinking,” sipping not only the wines provided by the evening’s winemakers, but also the beer contribution from Brewery of the Year, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Accepting the award was craft brewing pioneer and Dogfish Head President and Founder, Sam Calagione. After thanking his wife and team, he told the crowd to “be promiscuous with your beer choices.”
Aurelio Montes Sr., co-owner of Montes Wines and winner of Innovator/Executive of the Year, accepted his Wine Star Award for driving the charge to create high-quality, internationally competitive Chilean wines by pioneering the use of land and experimenting with progressive dry farming methods. This is the second Wine Star for Montes. He accepted the award for New World Winery of the Year in 2003.
All the winners were introduced with high-quality playful and entertaining videos. A favorite among the crowd was American Winery of the Year JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery’s video, which contributed to the evening’s musical theme by featuring talented musicians playing pop songs using wine glasses.
Capping off the evening, Wine Enthusiast honored wine pioneers from two of the world’s most dynamic wine-producing nations, the United States and Italy.
First, Italian wine legend Angelo Gaja was celebrated with the Lifetime Achievement Award. “His influence on Italian wine extends to all corners of the globe,” Strum commented. “Gaja’s prescient devotion to single-vineyard plantings in the 1960s and 1970s took the Italian wine category to new levels of quality; Today, that standard continues at his estates in Tuscany and Bolgheri.”
Gaja—who thanked his family, including daughter Gaia for continuing the traditions he set forth—echoed Strum’s statements, saying, “Wines are more than just what you taste and smell in the glass. Wines made in an area reveal the characters of the people there, the people who grew it and nurtured it.”
Finally, California’s Michael Mondavi was honored as the Person of the Year. Mondavi, who Strum described as “tireless,” was lauded for his work building the Robert Mondavi Winery, “a famed business that was to change the face of American wine forever,” Strum said, as well as for creating Michael Mondavi Family Estates and Folio Fine Wine Partners.
Closing out the festive night with one of the evening’s most rousing speeches, Mondavi thanked his family for their support and love.
“Respect for one another, family and friends, integrity, integrity, integrity,” he said to the rapt audience, “this should be Persons of the Year. None of us get here alone.”
Check out select snapshots from the 16th Annual Wine Star Awards Gala by clicking through to the next slide >
Left to right: Wine Enthusiast CEO Sybil Strum with Wine Star Award winner for Innovator/Executive of the Year, Aurelio Montes, and his wife, Bernardita.
Left to right: Robert Mondavi Jr., Michael Mondavi, Wine Star Award winner for Person of the Year, with Joe Gallo Sr. and Ernest J. Gallo.
Left to right: Wine Enthusiast Publisher & Editor Adam Strum with Jean-Charles Boisset and John Legend, who won the first-ever Wine & Culture Wine Star Award for their Napa Valley wine-label collaboration Legend Vineyard Exclusive.
Front row, left to right: Lara Trump, Eric Trump, Jean-Charles Boisset, John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Erika Strum Silberstein, Wine Enthusiast Director of Marketing.
Back row, left to right: Wine Enthusiast Publisher & Editor Adam Strum, Marc Taub of Palm Bay International, Wine Enthusiast CEO Sybil Strum, Chris and Mache Indelicato of Delicato Family Vineyards and Elliot Silberstein.
Wine Star Award winner for Winemaker of the Year, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon of Champagne Louis Roederer.
Left to right: Wine Star Award winner for Lifetime Achievement, Angelo Gaja with Wine Enthusiast Publisher & Editor Adam Strum.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Noble Rot being poured for guests during the glamorous cocktail hour in Astor Hall.
John Legend performing “All of Me” in the Celeste Bartos Forum during the 16th Annual Wine Star Awards presentation at the New York Public Library.
Wine Enthusiast Publisher & Editor Adam Strum pouring Louis Roederer’s 2006 Cristal for attendees during the Wine Star Awards reception.
Annette Alvarez-Peters, assistant general merchandise manager for beverage alcohol for Costco Wholesale, Retailer of the Year, snapping a selfie with friends.
Left to right: Matteo Lunelli and Camilla Lunelli of Ferrari, the Wine Star Award recipients for European Winery of the Year, with Wine Enthusiast Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa.
Left to right: Wine Enthusiast CEO Sybil Strum with Wine Star Award winner for Sommelier/Wine Director of the Year, Helen Mackey, who is currently the VP of Darden Enterprises Beverage and Strategy Innovation.
Attendees gathered in Astor Hall at the New York Public Library for the 16th Annual Wine Star Awards.
John Legend performing “All of Me” for attendees in the Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library during the 16th Annual Wine Star Awards.
Click below for our in-depth coverage of this year’s winners!
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