The Annual “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry" – 2012

20- Fred Franzia: runs an empire known as the Bronco Wine Group. As CEO Franzia, nephew of wine legend Ernest Gallo, is best known for his Charles Shaw brand, nicknamed “Two Buck Chuck.” Franzia's marketing methods contrast with those of his higher priced competitors, although he is credited with introducing new consumers to the wine market and ultimately to the premium brands. His business model is based on ownership of over 45,000 vineyard acres, and 50 different wine brands. Savvy and assertive, he speaks his mind in the normally staid wine world and passes value to the consumer.

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19-Anthony Blue: was the West Coast editor for Food & Wine magazine, and wine and spirits editor of Bon Appétit Magazine, (a position he held for 26 years) as well as writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Zagat Guide, and the San Jose Mercury News, Blue acquired the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest international wine competition in the U.S. (over 4,200 wines were entered in 2011). Next Blue purchased Patterson's Beverage Journal, a 65-year-old beverage trade publication that was renamed The Tasting Panel. It has become the highest circulation beverage industry publication and promotes wines from across the globe to both trade, media and the general public.

18-Robert Koch: is the CEO of the Wine Institute, whose aim is public policy advocacy. Wine Institute brings together the resources of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses to support legislative and regulatory advocacy, international market development, media relations, scientific research, and education programs that benefit the entire California wine industry, thus affecting a lot of people. Koch also acts as the chief lobbyist in Washington D.C. for wine matters related to California.

17-Allen Meadows: is publisher of the Burghound, a quarterly newsletter. The related website, offers subscribers newsletters with reviews specific to the Burgundy region and he covers California and Oregon Pinot Noir. But what sets Burghound apart is its comprehensive coverage of Burgundy and Meadows spends usually four months there each year. There are subscribers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries globally. Meadows also regularly speaks on Burgundy and other wine subjects.

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16- David Trone: As the CEO of Total Wine, Trone operates 76 stores in only 11 states, therefore many people may not have heard of them. But $1 billion in sales in two decades is nothing to ignore. There are on average 8,000 wines represented and nearly half of those are imports, exposing wine lovers to a broad diversity of wines they may not otherwise be aware of.

15- Eric Asimov: is the nephew of the late author Isaac Asimov, and he has been writing about wine since 1999. He was named chief wine critic at the New York Times in 2005, taking over the mantle from Frank Prial. He writes two columns for the paper and a blog, and is lauded by followers for his thoughtful, objective, yet inclusive approach to wine. An advocate for less powerful wines, Asimov is in a position of influence with the Times to promote this goal.

14-Joe Roberts: is known to many as 1 Wine Dude, the author of a wine blog that has reached stratospheric heights and was begun as a blog for the “intermediate” wine lover.  He is now a wine consultant and a member of the U.S.- based Society of Wine Educators, and other organizations. He was a winner of the Wine Blog Awards for best wine blog, and Wine Enthusiast ranked him as one of the top three wine blogs in 2010, proof that social media has forever changed the landscape of wine. 

13- Wilfred Wong: is the Cellar Master for 114 BevMo! stores in California and Arizona with estimated annual sales of approximately $95 million. Tasting 8,000 wines yearly and rating them for the loyal BevMo! customers, Wong guides wine lovers to an incredible diversity of wines and at a diversity of price points. Given that he routinely travels the world looking for small producers insures a constant flow on new and exciting wines to the American market. If you live in California, chances are you’ve been to BevMo.

12- Jon Bonné: is The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine editor, responsible for the paper’s wine and spirits coverage and the annual Top 100 Wines list. Before coming to The Chronicle, Bonné was lifestyle editor and wine columnist for His work has earned him two James Beard awards and multiple awards from the Association of Food Journalists. Previously Bonné was wine columnist for Seattle Magazine and has written about wine for Food & Wine, Decanter, and Saveur. He has also reported for The New York Times, Court TV, and National Public Radio, and is working on a book about California wine.

11- Patrick Comiskey: A former sommelier, Comiskey serves as the critic for all domestic wines outside of California for Wine & Spirits Magazine. He contributes to the San Francisco Chronicle's wine section, the Los Angeles Times, Bon Appétit, Wine Review Online and the Robb Report, in addition to writing educational materials for selected restaurants and websites. He also teaches classes and moderates panels on viticulture, wine tasting and various wine regions.