June 2013
BEVERAGE MEDIA
63
Incoming WSWA President Doug Hertz, of
United Distributors in Atlanta, delivered a
clear message: Evolve your business or
become obsolete.
Each year, the Wine & Spirits
Wholesalers of America presents
one Lifetime Leadership Award, to a
wholesaler whose contribution to the
association and the alcohol beverage
industry defines excellence, inspires
loyalty and exemplifies leadership. No
one displayed these characteristics
more dramatically this year than
Richard Leventhal.
New Jersey-based Fedway
Associates suffered catastrophic
losses to equipment, facilities and
inventory in the wake of Superstorm
Sandy last fall. Miraculously, within
weeks of the disaster, Fedway was
back in business—a direct result of
Richard’s perseverance, inspiration
and visionary leadership.
In addition to his ongoing
effective leadership in the beverage
alcohol industry, Richard Leventhal
is a longtime supporter of all levels
of education; he has endowed a
scholarship at the University of
Chicago, provided challenge grants for
local public schools, and led a major
capital campaign for a local private
school. Active on numerous charitable
boards, his philanthropic efforts
include generous support of the Make-
a-Wish Foundation and United Jewish
Appeal, among many others.
Lifetime Leader
Fedway’s Richard Leventhal
As always, the WSWA convention served as a showcase for many new products aiming to get
broader distribution. The exhibition hall boasted 200 booths, many of which also poured their
products at the opening night reception.
INDUSTRY
EVENT
Now Media award based on
nominations from the more
than 65 industry and life-
style journalists who at-
tended. The winner of this
award was the “mü” product
line from LiDestri Spirits. A
café-inspired line of creamy
wine cocktails from upstate
New York, mü (rhymes with
you) plays off the notion
“coffee break meets happy hour” with
three flavors—Vanilla Latté, Choco-
late Chai and Coco Cappucino—avail-
able both in 750ml bottles and 1.5L
pouches. Thanks to contacts made at
the convention, LiDestri is going to be
able to open up several new markets
this year.
Brands to Watch
As in past years, the convention proved
to be a launch pad for new products,
such as the above-mentioned
Bols Yogurt Liqueur and mü
premixed cocktails. Some
were truly unique, such as
The Bay Seasoned Vodka,
a four-times-distilled vodka
infused with classic Chesa-
peake Bay seasonings (cel-
ery seed, mustard, paprika,
cardamom, etc.)—ideal in
Bloody Marys. And Vision Wine &
Spirits launched four varietal wines un-
der the new Wine For Dummies label.
Blue Chair Bay Rum, a trio of new
Carribbean rums which are just roll-
ing out across the country, hosted a
meet-and-greet attended by brand
owner, famous country musician Kenny
Chesney. The other blow-out event:
XB Sex on the Beach, a ready-to-drink
punch, threw a Monday night party to
launch their brand.
Other once-new brands were in
attendance, with impressive market
traction to report. Pisco Portón, which
launched only two years ago, is now
one of the industry’s fastest growing
brands (and voted Best Pisco at the
San Francisco Spirits Competition).
And celebrity Dan Aykroyd was in at-
tendance, chatting up wholesalers on
behalf of his Crystal Skull Vodka.
Mark your calendars: Next year’s
WSWA convention will be held April
7-9, 2014 in Las Vegas.
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