Our 2013 iteration of this list is intended as a source of education and discussion. The making of this list is never an easy process. Who are the most influential wine people in the United States, and how exactly do you define ‘influential?’ Does influential mean people who move markets, impact consumers, inspire winemakers, form policy, and create debate? Yes. Though some decry the consolidation of the wine industry (and that is an issue worth considering) we are not trying to suggest who is “good” or “bad” within America’s wine industry. We merely define the Top 100 people, from winemakers to law makers, bankers to bloggers, and sommeliers to celebrities who influence wine; how it is made, marketed, perceived, sold, shipped, purchased, shared and consumed. As was true in 2012, we sought help to assemble this list people from a diverse group of people and we are grateful for their input. And we chose to release it today, January 29th, as it was on this day in 1919 when the pathetic policy of Prohibition was ratified; the effects of this lunatic legislation still evident in our country’s inability to ship and sell wine across state lines. We honor winemakers, wine drinkers and wine lovers of every conceivable demographic. Use this list, comment on it, share it with everyone, learn from it, and continue your joy of being IntoWine.
100- Jay Sung: as the new CEO of Lot18, a wine subscription service pairing family-owned producers and wine lovers, Lot18 has helped its 750,000 members purchase and receive millions of bottles of wine from more than 500 wineries around the world, mainly small lot and hard to find wines. Lot18 offers daily deals including limited time discounts and wine clubs. Though 2012 was tumultuous for them, they have streamlined their business model and look poised to make an impact.
99-Paul Dolan: started out as the winemaker for Fetzer in Mendocino, helping ramp up production to over two million cases and fundamentally beginning the shift toward more conscious farming. He moved on to form Paul Dolan Vineyards and Mendocino Wine Company and fully supports and promotes biodynamic farming practices. Dolan introduced the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing to the Wine Institute, authored a book on sustainable farming and served on President Clinton’s Council on Sustainability and speaks across the U.S. advocating for healthier farming practices.
98- John Hinman: No one likes lawyers, until you need one. As founder and partner of Hinman & Carmichael, Hinman has more than thirty-five years experience with all aspects of the alcoholic beverage industry and is one of the leading alcoholic beverage trade practice, marketing, and distribution lawyers in the U.S. His firm has successfully represented industry members in BATF, TTB, and ABC proceedings. He lectures at UC Davis Extension, is a regular participant in industry seminars and battles against wines dubious overlords.
97-Richard Becker: formed Becker Vineyards in Texas in 1995 producing only 1,500 cases. Now he routinely produce 50,000 cases of 20 different varietals, including Voigner, Chenin Blanc, Mouvedre, Merlot, Malbec, even Gewurztraminer. But he is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. The awards that Becker has won for these wines, especially Voigner, prove you can make fine wine in Texas Hill Country. Becker has influenced a number of Texas wineries by showing that for a well crafted product, there is always a market. President George W. Bush served Becker wines at the White House.
96- Chris Taylor: WinePoynt started in 2009 with the mission to integrate wine features and services bringing together and providing value to wine consumers, retailers, restaurants/wine bars, and suppliers. They launched the smart phone application for Android and iPhone in 2011. WinePoynt learns wine preferences, makes recommendations, connects users, shares wine activity, and ensures customers can find wines they will enjoy in the locations where they are shopping or dining.
95-Paul Sloan: As Small Vines proprietor and viticulturalist, pushing compact spacing, Sloan’s philosophy is that high-density plantings focus the energy of the vine into smaller, more intensely flavorful clusters, producing better quality wine. Striving to innovate, not duplicate, Sloan advocates water conservation, soil conservation, and utilizing more efficient machinery to reduce pollutant outputs. He utilizes close-spacing of vines similar to what you find in Burgundy and Bordeaux and many grape growers are taking notice.
94-Donn Chappellet: Chappellet was the first winery to pioneer high-elevation vineyard planting, establishing mountain-grown Cabernets as some of California’s most coveted wines. The winery has also served as an incubator for some of California’s legendary winemaking talents, including Phil Togni, Joe Cafaro, Tony Soter, Helen Turley, Mia Klein, Cathy Corison and current winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus. Chappellet has been lauded by every major wine magazine.
93-Trey Beffa: of K&L wine merchants (with three retail stores in Hollywood, Redwood City and San Francisco, in California) has vast selection of wines, from rare to common table wines, at good prices. While the selection of wines from around the world is strong the website distinguishes itself by the breadth of West Coast wines. With a bevy of buyers at his disposal, Beffa oversees one of the largest selections of diverse wines. Named best wine website by the Wall Street Journal, and one of the 10 best online wine shops by Food & Wine Magazine.
92-Bill Foley: As the founder of Foley Family Wines, Bill Foley has amassed an impressive portfolio of 12 wineries from diverse regions including Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Washington. Expecting to produce and sell around 700,000 cases in the U.S. in 2013, Foley owns Lincourt, Sebastiani, Chalk Hill, Firestone, Merus and Kuleto brands among others. Foley’s New Zealand holdings already include two wineries. But Foley’s success is in letting each winery maintain its own identity, avoiding the homogenization of acquisition.
91-Rudi Wiest: started Cellars International, Inc. and has since become the largest importer of German fine wine to the U.S. Since that time he has been a crusader, focused exclusively on German wines and his distributorship has allowed restaurants and consumers to discover all the great German wine growing regions and have access to wines they might not otherwise taste. His Rudi Wiest Selections educates the wine trade with a variety of national tastings, helping to give German wines a high profile.
90-Madeline Triffon: was named a master sommelier in 1987 and was then one of just two women in the world to hold that title, and the first woman in North America. These days she serves as master sommelier at Plum Market, the Michigan-based gourmet retailer who sells over $8 million worth of wine between their Michigan and Illinois stores. She directs local wine tastings and events, serves as corporate wine educator, and is a wine competition judge.
89-Bob McDonnell: Everyone may hate politicians but as governor of Virginia, McDonnell has opened the doors to allow Virginia wine, currently the 5th largest wine producing state, to surge in the U.S. and overseas - specifically the UK and China. Sales of Virginia wines reached an all-time high in 2012 and over the last three years with an average 8% annual sales growth. The McDonnell administration has establish a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries, and nearly tripled the amount of funds placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education, and marketing programs. Would that more governors were as supportive of their wines.
88-Warren Winiarski: Legendary Napa Valley vintner Warren Winiarksi is founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and winemaker of the Cabernet Sauvignon that bested France’s wines in the historic 1976 Paris Tasting. In addition to his work as consultant and mentor, Winiarski continues to be actively involved in preserving open land in Napa Valley for future generations. Winiarski was inducted into the California Vintners Hall of Fame at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone and continues to mentor younger winemakers.
87- Alex Ryan: Under Ryan’s leadership as President and CEO of Duckhorn Wine Company, Ryan has established a visionary new model for post-sale wineries (Dan Duckhorn sold his controlling interest to GI Partners). While other wineries have been consolidating production and carving up assets Ryan has charted a dramatically different course successfully rolling out new brands like Decoy, and Migration while building on brands Goldeneye and Paraduxx, and keeping quality high and continuing to add acreage to their portfolio.
86- Morgan Twain-Peterson: As winemaker and proprietor of Bedrock Wine Company in Sonoma, Twain-Peterson is also one of the founders of the Historic Vineyard Society which advocates for the identification and support of older heritage vineyards. He has also passed the prestigious Master of Wine exam and upon successful completion of the dissertation will become one of the less than thirty American M.W.’s. His dedication to older vineyards ensures not only unique wines, but maintains historical integrity.
85- Heini Zachariassen: As CEO and co-founder of the wine app, Vivino, available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows phones devices, more than one million bottles have been scanned and downloads of the iPhone app alone are averaging about 1,000 per day. The app enables users to scan in and rate wines they’ve tasted using a five-star scale classification. Users can follow friends, and leave notes on shared wines.
84- Sofia Perpera: is the backbone of Greek wine in the U.S. She participates as a judge in international wine tasting competitions and writes regularly for various Greek publications, and her Atlanta based website, All About Greek Wine promotes all Greek wines in the U.S. and she has been instrumental is bringing Greek wines to the attention of the American consumer. Having worked in Greece for years at the Greek Wine Federation, she was intimately involved in updating Greek wine legislation.
83-Eddie Osterland: was the first Master Sommelier in the U.S. Today he speaks to CEOs and executives from Fortune 500 companies and professional societies who learn the finer aspects of wine. In addition to writing the definitive wine training guide for the restaurant industry, he boasts clients like Ritz-Carlton, Ford, IBM and General Mills.
82-Steve Olson: and his company ‘aka wine geek,’ teaches, lectures, and writes all over the world about wine, beer, spirits, even sake discussing their integral cause-and-effect relationship with food as he preaches the gospel of his mission: making tasting fun by removing the intimidation factor and the pretense. He is the Wine and Spirits Consultant for Bon Appétit Magazine, was selected as Santé Magazine’s Spirits Professional of the Year and was chosen as Cheers Magazine Beverage Innovator of the Year
81- Tim Fish: as associate editor for Wine Spectator, Fish provides many of the tasting notes for California wines specifically Merlot, Zinfandel and sparkling wines. With his focus on value wines and the often overlooked smaller producers, Fish helps to deliver the unsung wineries to a broader public, helping to give wine lovers a sense of diversity of choice.
80- Fred Dame: was Cellarmaster of The Sardine Factory in Monterey, California for twelve years helping to turn it into a wine destination. Currently Dame is a Master Sommelier and the first American to have served as President of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide. He assists restaurateurs and hoteliers in developing their wine programs thus reaching a wide swath of people. Dame founded the American Branch of The Court of Master Sommeliers and has played an active role in the expansion of the Master Sommelier program throughout the U.S. thereby improving the professionalism of sommeliers.
79-Jerry Lohr: was an early pioneer establishing a new outpost of winegrowing on the California Central Coast. He planted in Monterey County in 1972, and Paso Robles in 1987, giving Lohr an integral role in catapulting both regions onto the global winemaking stage. Today, in addition to over 1,300 acres in Monterey County, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines farms 2,300 acres in Paso Robles, and 35 acres in the Napa Valley, and has tasting rooms in Paso Robles and San Jose. J. Lohr wines are available throughout the U. S. and over 30 countries globally. U.C. Davis honored him with its Award of Distinction.
78- John Aguirre: is the executive director of Wine Grapegrowers of America, and the president of the California Association of Wine Grapegrowers, who lobby Congress and state governments about legal issues relating to wine, from inclusion in the Farm Bill to taxes to immigration reform which includes guest worker programs, they work behind the scenes to lake legislative actions equitable for the wine industry
77-Mike Dunne: is the former wine columnist, restaurant critic and food editor for the Sacramento Bee and continues to contribute to the Food & Wine section, focusing on value wines. He contributes to a number of wine publications and his blog, A Year in Wine, is based on wine selections he discovers on tastings, judging at competitions, and visits to wine regions. Dunne has assumed a new leadership role at the California State Fair Wine Competition.
76- Kermit Lynch: for four decades this wine importer, author, and winemaker, has been importing wines from about 140 producers in France and Italy. He is the author of two highly regarded books on wine, and recipient of the James Beard Foundation's Wine Professional of the Year, not to mention the Chevalier de l'Ordre de Mérite Agricole medal presented by the French government for his service to the wine industry. His focus is on wines which other importers tend to overlook, smaller hidden gems, but which consumers seek out.
75-Chris Camarda: is winemaker at Andrew Will in Washington State, whose wines routinely score 90 points and over in the major wine magazines. You may think scores are meaningless, but the attention Camarda has achieved has helped to give new life to Washington wines. Wine & Spirits magazine called his winery, located on an island off the Seattle coast, America’s best Washington State producer, and named him one of the 50 most influential winemakers in the world.
74-Mary Ewing-Mulligan: is an author, journalist and wine educator and Master of Wine, the first American woman to achieve this accreditation. She has been the director of the International Wine Center in New York, and is executive director of the U.S. programs for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She is also a freelance journalist of wine articles to various publications including Wine Review Online, and the co-author of seven wine books including Wine For Dummies, selling over a million copies and making wine easy to understand for the masses.
73- Paul Draper: has been the chief winemaker at Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma since 1969. Without any formal training in winemaking, Draper first gained recognition for his Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon when it placed fifth at the Judgment of Paris wine tasting. Draper has played a significant role in the history of California wine through his pioneering work in popularizing vineyard-designated wines as well as instigating the resurgence of old vine Zinfandel, rescuing the grape from obscurity and demonstrating its full potential. He also continues to mentor many California winemakers.
72- Alice Feiring: is a journalist, author and former wine and travel columnist for Time magazine, and an advocate for natural winemaking techniques. In addition to contributions to publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, LA Times, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler, her blog The Feiring Line is considered to be among America’s leading wine blogs. She has authored two books on wine.
71- Elin McCoy: is an award-winning journalist and author, focusing on the world of wine. She is a wine and spirits columnist for Bloomberg News where she writes a bimonthly column as well as a monthly column for Bloomberg Markets which reach a worldwide audience. She has written two books on wine, including “The Emperor of Wine” about Robert Parker, and she contributes to Food & Wine, The New York Times and other wine publications and fits time in to speak at wine conferences.
70- Eric Solomon: of European Cellars based in North Carolina is an importer of French and Spanish wines to the U.S. best expressed in his philosophy of “place over process.” Many of his selections receive top scores in the national wine press and thereby expose the population to everything from Cava to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He was named by Food & Wine Magazine as the Top Importer in the U.S. and Solomon has been featured in every major wine trade publication.
69- Robert Trinchero: Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Bob Trinchero took over Sutter Home Winery and made Amador County Zinfandel, purchasing fruit from some of the oldest vines in California. In 1972, looking for a way to make the wine more intense, he drained off some of the juice before fermentation and left some natural sugar in it. Say what you want about White Zinfandel, it was affordable, introduced non-wine drinkers to wine, and preserved some old Zinfandel vineyards that might have been lost forever. Wine Spectator gave Trinchero its Distinguished Service Award for “having introduced more Americans to wine on the table than anyone in history.”
68-Evan Goldstein: as a Master Sommelier, author of two books and co-author of several other books on wine and frequently nominated for James Beard awards as Outstanding Wine Professional, his wine education reach is global. He regularly contributes to Santé magazine, Sommelier Journal, as well as Wine & Dine, Singapore’s wine and food publication, and Wine Review, South Korea’s leading wine and food magazine. He is the president of Full Circle Wine Solutions, a global wine education firm.
67- Peter Mondavi, Jr.: Along with patriarch Peter Mondavi, Sr., heads up the flourishing Charles Krug Winery and CK Mondavi Family Vineyards. Amidst corporate buy-outs up and down the Napa Valley, Mondavi has been determined to keep Charles Krug in the family, and to preserve the 850 estate vineyards, farming them sustainably. Additionally he has helped preserve the historical legacy of wine in the Napa Valley by refurbishing the original buildings on the property, thus maintaining one of the oldest wineries in California.
66- Steve Heimoff: has been the West Coast Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine since 1994, and previously from 1989 to 1994 he was a contributor to Wine Spectator. He is the author of two books on wine, a frequent wine judge and speaker and his wine blog, while pulling no punches, is quite popular in its direct approach to the world of wine.
65-Gary Eberle: has earned the title, the “grandfather of Paso Robles wine.” One of the first to purchase major acreage in Paso, and then build one of the first large commercial wineries long before anyone had ever heard of the area, his tireless promotion of the Paso Robles wine region is clearly evidence today with a region labeled as “the next Napa.” As the single most awarded winery in the country, constantly winning at competitions across the U.S., Eberle continues to promote not only Paso Robles, but wines which reflect a sense of place, while retaining solid value.
64- Daryl Groom: has held numerous positions in the wine industry including Vice President of Winemaking & Operations for Peak Wines International, and Beam Wine Estates, and both Senior White Winemaker, then Senior Red Winemaker for Penfolds Wines in Australia. His foundation was producing Penfolds famed red wine, Grange, which he oversaw six years. He has been named Winemaker of the Year by the LA Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, the Huston Chronicle, Quarterly Review of Wines, and others. He currently produces Groom Wines, and judges at international wine competitions.
63- Clark Smith: is a respected winemaking innovator and wine production consultant. As Adjunct Professor at CSU Fresno he lectures on innovative views of winemaking, presenting new technologies. He is a leading authority on the enhancement of wine structure and a vocal proponent of living soil. He developed a host of winemaking techniques including the use of reverse osmosis to optimize wine grape maturity and tannin refinement through micro-oxygenation.
62- Greg Jones: is a climatologist, and Professor of Geography at the Department of Environmental Studies at Southern Oregon University who conducts applied research for the wine industry. He was named One of the Top 50 Most Influential People in the Wine World by Decanter magazine for his global ability to present climate change to wineries, a subject which needs to be taken seriously. He consults around the world on the relationship between climate change and grapes and lectures frequently.
61-Kenneth Volk: started Wild Horse Winery in Templeton, which he built into a powerhouse national brand. After selling Wild Horse Volk resumed winemaking by starting Kenneth Volk Vineyards in Santa Maria. But what sets Volk apart is his love for and constant support and promotion of heirloom varieties like Negrette, Cabernet Pfeffer, Blaufrankish and Aglianico, among others. With winemakers like Volk many of these relatively unknown wines might never get made, and never be appreciated by the public.
60-Terry Theise: is a wine importer who started importing German wines to the U.S. in the 1980s making previously obscure grapes, such as Riesling, Gewuerztraminer, and Gruner Veltiner now trendy. He has received the wine industry’s top prize, a James Beard Foundation medal for the nation’s outstanding wine and spirits professional. The award hailed Theise for what his loyal followers have long appreciated: his role as champion of small producers, and his holistic approach to the joys of drinking wine. He is the author of “Reading Between the Wines.”
59- Jon Rimmerman: is often credited with sparking the “email offer” revolution in fine wine sales. Rimmerman started Garagiste on a shoestring budget of just $500 with a simple concept: to bring the winemaker and consumer closer together by taking advantage of a then-new technology known as the email offer. Offering wines described in story form, Garagiste ranks in over $25 million in annual sales with over 100,000 subscribers
58- Kevin Zraly: teaches the Windows on the World Wine School, now in its 36th year which has graduated over 20,000 people. Zraly’s book Windows on the World Complete Wine Course with its annual updates is among America's best-selling wine books selling over 3 million copies, and Zraly's American Wine Guide is the first book that deals comprehensively with all 50 states as modern wine-producing states. He’s been awarded the prestigious James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award.
57- Richard Jennings: with over 30,000 tasting notes posted on Cellar Tracker, more than any other individual on the site, Jennings is a prolific, knowledgeable wine blogger and finalist for the 2011 Wine Blog Awards for best overall blog and writing. He writes for Snooth's Monthly Buyer's Guide, in addition to articles for the Huffington Post, proving that you can still keep your day job as you expand your knowledge and reach in the wine world.
56-Cameron Hughes: is a wine négociant. He does not own a vineyard or a winery but instead he outsources all the labor that goes into making a bottle of wine; growing the grapes, crushing and fermenting them. Working with wineries and vineyards in California, Oregon and Washington, as well as in Europe, he is on track to produce 300,000 cases of wine utilizing an effective business model under four different labels. His mid-priced wines routinely receive awards and accolades.
55- Fred Frank: manages Dr. Konstantin Frank in the Finger Lakes region in New York. As Konstantin's grandson, Fred Frank, has expanded the business tenfold and Dr. Frank wines are now distributed in 36 states and internationally. Earning 79 gold medals in 2012, their wines, specifically Riesling, have earned the reputation as world class. Wine Enthusiast nominated the winery American Winery of the Year, and the winery is one of the Finger Lakes’ Most Award-Winning Wineries raising the bar for American Riesling.
54-Rajat Parr: as sommelier turned winemaker, Parr uses his high profile to educate the public at food and wine seminars worldwide. His Sandhi Wines based in Santa Barbara are receiving critical praise, just like his book, “Secrets of the Sommeliers.” Parr continues as the wine director all of the Michael Mina restaurants throughout the United States.
53-Gordon Burns: established ETS Labs to provide technical and laboratory assistance to the burgeoning wine industry. ETS has continued to expand its technical expertise and new methodology in the analysis of wine in ways most people have no clue about. ETS was awarded ISO 17025 accreditation making it the first and only independent, domestic wine laboratory with this accreditation. Burns has been a member of the American Society for Enology & Viticulture, Association of Official Analytical Chemists, and many others.
52-Jon Fredrikson: of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates is the oldest professional consulting firm dealing exclusively in wine industry matters. The firm publishes management information, offering a broad range of wine property investment, industry research and consulting services and monitors monthly and annual comparative shipments of leading California wineries and wine imports by country. Their report also provides insightful commentary and analysis of current business conditions and trends shaping the market. Considered the bible of the wine industry, this behind-the-scenes firm has a great impact on the business side of wine.
51-Steve Miller: and his two sons Nicholas and Marshall own and farm Bien Nacido Vineyards, the most well-known and respected vineyard on California’s Central Coast. Bien Nacido also has the distinction of being one of the major viticultural nurseries in California for certified, varietal budwood. In addition to Bien Nacido, the Millers operate two other vineyard sites, French Camp, east of San Luis Obispo, and Solomon Hills in Santa Maria, with well over 2,500 combines acres, as well as two custom crush facilities in Santa Maria and Paso Robles where hundreds of winemakers got their start. Bien Nacido was called one of the top 25 vineyards in the world by Wine & Spirits Magazine, and Food & Wine Magazine called them one of the ten best vineyards.
50- Tom Wark: has been in the public relations wine business since 1990 and has become a force to be reckoned with. In addition to his promotion of the wine industry as a whole, his blog, Fermentations, has become for many, a daily reading ritual where he covers the wine business, wine communications and public relations. He is the founder of the American Wine Blog Awards as well as one of the founders of the Wine Bloggers Conference. Additionally, Wark appears at industry conferences as a panelist and moderator covering subjects as diverse as small winery marketing, blogging, social media and the politics of wine.
49- Jon Kapon: is the president of Acker, Merrall & Condit, which bills itself as America's oldest wine store and has, under his watch, become the world’s leading vendor of fine wine at auction, including on-line auctions. In addition to auctions, they are a retail wine store, wine club serving the ultra rich. Kapon has made Acker the leading vendor of fine wines in America, with auctions from New York to Hong Kong. Revenue for 2012 was just over $83 million, certainly down from previous years, but they are nonetheless the top wine auction house in the U.S.
48- Bartholomew Broadbent: is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Port and Madeira and he’s credited for being responsible for the growth of Port consumption and the re-introduction of Madeira to the U.S. His company, Broadbent Selections, is the exclusive U.S. national importer for some of the worlds most sought after family wineries, including Chateau Musar, Warwick Estate, Spy Valley, Quinta do Crasto, Aresti, Louis Guntrum, Montsarra Cava, Pago de Larrainzar, and Dr. Hermann. He also produces his own Broadbent Port, Madeira, and Vinho Verde in Portugal. Broadbent was named one of the “50 most influential people in the wine world,” by Decanter Magazine, and was nominated Importer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
47-Mike Benziger: leads one of the most prominent and one of the last in-tact families in the wine industry. Based in Sonoma, the 30-year old Benziger Family Winery is widely known for their pioneering exploration and practice of biodynamic, organic and sustainable agriculture and grape growing. Though they did not start out this way, as time evolved, they began to embrace a different way of farming. The validation of this is high scoring wines in the national press and medals at wine competitions. Through dedicated promotion of these practices, biodynamics is gaining more traction as a viable farming method.
46-Karen Ross: is the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Prior to that she served as president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and as the Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America. In these types of leadership positions, Ross helped sponsor scholarships for children of vineyard employees, created the nationally-recognized Sustainable Winegrowing Program and under her leadership CDFA has set an ambitious new 5-year plan to support California agriculture including continued work on preventing Pierce’s Disease.
45-Linda Reiff: is the Executive Director of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, a trade association with an active membership of 450 NVV wineries, representing vintners and grape growers. Widely-recognized as one of the leading wine trade organizations in the world, Reiff tirelessly promotes the Napa Valley and the many offerings of the association including Auction Napa Valley which has given in excess of $110 million to local non-profits. The total economic impact of Napa County’s grape and wine business was $26 billion in California and more than $50 billion in the U.S. in 2012. That’s a lot of power.
44- Rick Tigner: As President of Kendall Jackson, Tigner heads an impressive empire which includes aggressive expansion of vineyards including Sonoma, Mendocino and Australia. Wine & Spirits has named Kendall-Jackson “Winery of the Year” 10 times, and Tigner gave the winery an even bigger public profile, interesting others across the U.S. about wine when he appeared on the reality TV show, Undercover Boss.
43-Wayne Belding: Originally trained as a geologist, Belding found his way from the oil fields to the vineyards. He began in the retail wine business, became an award-winning sommelier in Denver, then became the 13th American to pass the Master Sommelier examination. He has served as Education Chairman and Chairman of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has been a wine teacher and competition judge both nationally and internationally, and was the former owner of The Boulder Wine Merchant in Colorado, and author of Diving Into Wine.
42-Paul Gregutt: is a wine writer whose focus is the wines of Oregon and Washington. He publishes a column titled Wine Adviser in The Seattle Times, and contributes to publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management, Yakima Herald-Republic, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, and the Spokane Spokesman-Review, as well as Decanter and Wine Spectator. He is also the Northwest Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and via his book Washington Wines & Wineries: the Essential Guide, and his blog he continues to educate people about these two terrific wine states.
41-Jason Eckenroth: founded ShipCompliant to allow wine producers, importers, marketers and wholesalers to distribute product across the U.S. with access of up-to-date state regulations and tax rates for direct shipments to consumers, and at the same time track their shipments so they can ensure compliance with regulations. ShipCompliant processes direct shipments for more than 2,000 wine brands across the U.S. and maintains a database of direct shipping rules in order to enable real-time compliance checks and auto-populated state shipping and tax reports. It’s not sexy, but it is imperative.
40- George Miliotes: Master Sommelier George Miliotes began creating award-winning wine lists in the late 1980s and eventually created one, the first of its kind, for The California Grill at Disney World. He is currently Director of Beverage and Hospitality for the Capital Grille, a Darden restaurant concept, where he oversees the wine list for all 40 locations of the national steak house chain, with wine lists ranging from 300 to 1,000 selections. That translates to a lot of wine. Miliotes is also the food and beverage director for the nationally recognized, Seasons 52.
39-Paul Mabray: Billed as the digital think tank for the wine industry, Mabray’s creation- VinTank is the wine industry’s most powerful social media monitoring and data distribution platform. VinTank is designed to help revolutionize the wine industry through e-business and innovative digital products and marketing, including phone apps, QR codes and point of purchase information for consumers to access wine information. They monitor and analyze blogs, social media, tasting note platforms and distribute that information so you know who’s talking about you and your wine.
38- Jeremy Bensen: is the executive director of Free the Grapes!, a national grassroots coalition of wine lovers, wineries and retailers who seek to remove restrictions in states that still prohibit consumers from purchasing wines directly from wineries and retailers. Established in 1998 by five wine industry associations which together represent thousands of U.S. wineries, Free the Grapes’ operations are funded exclusively by contributions from wine consumers, winemakers and retailers and are attempting to change archaic wine laws.
37- Tim Gaiser: is a nationally renowned wine expert and Master Sommelier. He is the director of education for the American chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas, and adjunct professor for the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. With experience in all phases of the wine industry - online, wholesale, retail, winery, and restaurant - he has developed wine education programs for restaurants, winery schools, and wine distributors and taught classes on wine and spirits increasing the awareness of how our minds recognize and code smells and tastes.
36- Cyril Penn: is editor in chief of Wine Business Monthly, the largest circulation of any wine trade publication in North America. The magazine focuses on the most up-to-date and comprehensive editorial, including legislative changes, winery marketing, covering everything from tank presses and mobile bottling lines, to how to properly clean a stainless steel tank to ATV’s for your vineyard, and yeast selections. It’s the nuts and bolts of the wine industry and the publication family includes Wine Business Monthly, Wines & Vines, and Practical Winery and Vineyard.
35- Meredith May: as publisher, executive editor and co-owner of The Tasting Panel Magazine May has helped create the Tasting Panel into one of the fastest growing and most widely read magazines for the beverage industry. With over 100,000 readers, of which over half are on-premise wine buyers, the magazine wields a lot of power staying current with the latest trends and up and coming wine regions. The Tasting Panel also holds media and trade tastings, getting new wines in front of wine writers and buyers.
34- Gregory Dal Piaz: is editor in chief at Snooth Media, a technology-driven media company that is a leader in delivering wine, spirits, and food content to the epicurean consumer with online articles, wine reviews and a purchasing site. Snooth Media, with a reach of more than 3.5 million monthly visitors, includes Snooth.com the largest online wine community with over 1 million registered members.
33-Alder Yarrow: started Vinography in 2004 before wine blogging was even remotely cool. His site is among the most influential wine blogs and has received multiple wine blog awards. Featuring wine and sake reviews, restaurant reviews, editorials, book reviews, wine news, and wine event coverage, Vinography publishes new content daily to a global readership.
32-Steven Tanzer: is editor and publisher of the critically acclaimed bimonthly International Wine Cellar, an independent journal read by wine lovers in all 50 states and 34 countries, and translated into French and Japanese. Tanzer has also served as Senior Editor and wine columnist for Food & Wine magazine, and wine columnist for Forbes FYI, and has authored two wine books, and the wine blog, Winophilia.
31-Rob McMillian: is the founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division based in Saint Helena. Just like politicians and lawyers, no one likes bankers, but wineries need capital and this bank is the leading provider of financial services to the fine wine business. McMillian publishes reports on emerging trends and is author of the bank’s Annual State of the Wine Industry Report which has become one of the most widely read reports of its kind. Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division is the leading provider of financial services to wineries and vineyards in the western U.S. with over 300 winery and vineyard clients in Napa, Sonoma, California’s Central Coast, Oregon and Washington.
30-Erle Martin: is CEO of Crimson Wine Group, a wine business with five brands, over 700 planted acres in five growing regions and 11 AVAs across California, Oregon and Washington and representing over 250,000 cases. Their holdings include, Archery Summit in Oregon, Pine Ridge in Napa, Chamisal in the Edna Valley, Dry Creek Valley’s Seghesio Vineyards, and the company also owns a vineyard in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills. All this proves that consolidation in the wine business need not mean sacrificing quality or individual brand identity.
29- Alyssa Rapp: is the founder and CEO of Bottlenotes, Inc., the leading resource for new to intermediate wine enthusiasts interested in learning about wine, sharing tasting notes, and tasting wine. Alyssa is also the author of “Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips.” Her daily newsletter reaches over 150,000 subscribers. Additionally, this on-line forum brings together wine lovers of all stripes, allowing everyone to share their tasting notes via every form of social media.
28-Lettie Teague: Before joining The Wall Street Journal with her On Wine column (for which she received a 2012 James Beard Award), Teague was the executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine, where she wrote the monthly column Wine Matters. She received the James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 2003 and won a 2005 James Beard Award for her magazine columns. Her writing at both the Wall Street Journal, and Food & Wine reach a massive market, and that translates to sales.
27- Doug Cook: is the proprietor of the Able Grape, a wine search engine with a database of over 26 million pages from over 41,000 websites, all related to wine. This self professed “computer geek turned wine geek” has amassed a social media empire with over 260,000 Twitter followers, and he contributes to Wine Business Magazine. Able Grape has become the largest wine search engine on the Internet. If you need to find something related to wine, you will find it here.
26-Andrea Robinson: continues as one of the country’s’ leading wine educators, and is one of only 18 women in the world appointed Master Sommelier by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. She has produced food, wine and travel video content for Delta Air Lines and broadcast media for the Food Channel, and PBS. She is the author of eight wine and food books and her articles have appeared in publications such as Health, Eating Well, Esquire, Real Simple, Money, and Bon Appétit, She has received three James Beard Awards and if that’s not enough, she’s created a new line of wine stemware.
25- Tim Hanni: is a professionally trained chef, Master of Wine, and Certified Wine Educator. His unique, progressive take on food and wine has allowed him to create wine lists for clients like Ruth’s Chris and P.F. Chang, focused on balancing food and wine flavors from physiological, biological and psychological perspectives. Hanni is also recognized for introducing the concept of “umami” to the wine and food community. He has lectured in over 27 countries and has been featured in Sommelier Journal, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His latest book is “Why You Like the Wines You Like.”
24-Leslie Sbrocco: is an award-winning author, speaker, wine consultant, and the author of two national wine books. As host of the PBS series Check Please!, she has won a coveted James Beard award, two Tasty Awards, and three Emmy awards. Sbrocco was also a featured judge on the PBS national series, The Winemakers, and she is a regular guest on NBC’s Today Show. She is also a wine educator for Crystal Cruises, and Holland America Cruise Lines, and actively promotes a website, Thirsty Girl, which aims to empower women in their wine and food choices.
23- Tyler Colman: is better known to most people as Dr. Vino, an award winning wine blogger and author of two wine books, and he teaches at NYU. He is also among the contributors to The Oxford Companion to Wine. His blog is one of the most consistently highly rated wine blogs, no small feat in today’s over saturated wine blog market. In addition to being nominated for a James Beard Foundation award, his articles have appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Forbes.com, Wine & Spirits, Decanter and a host of others.
22- Fred Franzia: runs the empire known as the Bronco Wine Group. As CEO Franzia’s best known product is the ubiquitous 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.
21- Eric Levine: a former Microsoft program manager, created Cellar Tracker after he had made the program for himself, in order to track his own wine. Cellar Tracker has 250,000 users with entries for nearly 40 million individual bottles, and nearly 3.6 million wine reviews from across the globe. It has become a social media whirlwind, connecting wine lovers from all points of the planet. Cellar Tracker has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal.
20- Anthony Blue: runs the San Francisco International Wine Competition, the largest international wine competition in the U.S. and is co-owner of The Tasting Panel Magazine, which has the highest circulation of any beverage industry publication. His work in various print and on-line media about wine is circulated to more than 30 million global consumers and trade members each month. His radio show, Blue Lifestyle is in 35 markets across the U.S.
19- Antonio Galloni: is the California wine critic for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate newsletter. Galloni has tossed himself into the position and offers a somewhat different approach to wine than Parker, less enthralled with power wines. He has expanded the representation of California wines from other regions including Santa Cruz and lesser known varieties
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, Burghound.com 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.
16- David Trone: As the CEO of Total Wine, Trone operates 85 stores in only 13 states, therefore many people may not have heard of them. But over $1 billion in sales in two decades is nothing to ignore. There are on average 10,000 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. Total is also expanding their stores to include a tasting bars, education centers and in-store iPads.
15- Joe Roberts: is known 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, and he writes about wine for Playboy.com.
14- Eric Asimov: is chief wine critic at the New York Times 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, more balanced wines, Asimov is in a position of influence with the Times to promote this goal. His other articles have appeared in Food & Wine Magazine, and Sommelier Journal. He is the author of the book, “How to Love Wine.”
13- Wilfred Wong: oversees the purchasing and ranking of wine for 130 BevMo! stores in California, Arizona and Washington with annual sales of approximately $95 million. Tasting over 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. 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 about wine for The New York Times, Court TV, and National Public Radio.
11- Patrick Comisky: A former sommelier, Comisky serves as the critic for all domestic wines outside of California for Wine & Spirits Magazine. He is the chief wine columnist for the food section of the Los Angeles Times, and has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, 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 as well as being a wine judge at competitions.
10- Matt Kramer: since 1985 he has contributed to Wine Spectator, but he has been writing about wine since 1976, utilizing a style less formal and more open than most wine writers. He is the wine columnist for The Oregonian, and formerly wrote about wine for The New York Sun, and the Los Angeles Times. Praised for lucidity in his writing he has helped champion small wineries and now the commonly understood idea of terrior. He has seven books published about wine.
9- Doug Frost: is one of only three people in the world to have achieved the title of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, which puts him in demand as a writer, speaker and wine judge. He has authored three books on wine, contributes to the Oxford Companion of Wine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Underground Wine Journal, Drinks International, Practical Winery & Vineyard, Wines & Vines, Wines & Spirits, Cheers Magazine, and Santé Magazine, among others. His incredible depth of knowledge and understanding of wine makes him sought after as an educator, impacting a variety of wine lovers, and he does this with humor and pinpoint accuracy.
8- Adam Strum: as Founder and Chairman of Wine Enthusiast Companies and Editor and Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine Strum heads up the largest group of wine commerce and media companies in the world. With more than 800,000 readers Wine Enthusiast Magazine provides editorial content and authoritative reviews and ratings of tens of thousands of wines every year. The Wine Enthusiast catalog and web business is the world’s leading inventor and seller of wine accessories and wine storage with catalogs distributed to more than 300 million wine-related publications in the United States and around the world.
7- James Laube: Everyone knows his name and as the lead taster and wine writer for Wine Spectator, Laube’s influence has been non-stop for almost 30 years. His four books on wine helped earn him a James Beard Award for best wine book of the year.
Laube’s influence is best expressed via the incredible sales that his recommendations provide to high-end and low-end wineries alike. People read and respect his opinion and therefore wines are bought and sold based on his recommendations. You may not agree with him, but you cannot doubt his influence.
6-Gina Gallo: With over 24 wine brands, and over 70 millions cases of wine produced and tens of thousands of acres of grapes, E. & J. Gallo Winery is the world's largest family-owned winery and the largest exporter of California wine. Gina Gallo is winemaker, spokesperson and all around wine supporter. But beyond that she has tirelessly promoted wine in general and helped quality control and quality assurance for her wines on the backend. Long gone are the days when the name Gallo was associated with Ripple and Thunderbird and their offerings also include higher end fine wines. Sure, they are a wine-behemoth, but they sell more wine than anybody.
5- Rob Sands: As president and CEO of Constellation Brands, Sands oversees 4,300 employees, sales in 125 countries and operations at approximately 30 facilities. Yes, they are a publicly traded company and yes as a distributor, not everyone likes them, but they move an immense amount of wine. Brands include Clos du Bois, Robert Mondavi, Franciscan Estate, and Ravenswood. They remain the biggest seller by volume of premium-category wines priced between $5 and $15. Oh, and they launched 20 new labels in 2012.
4- Wayne Chaplin: is the president and COO of Southern Wine & Spirits, the nation’s largest spirits and wine distributor with estimated revenues of more than $9 billion, about half of that being wine. You may dislike the distribution system in the U.S., but you cannot ignore them. The company has operations in 34 states and Washington, D.C., and also has a distribution license for the state of Texas. They employ nearly 12,000 people, and they move a lot of wine.
3- Marvin Shanken: is editor and publisher of Wine Spectator, one of the top wine magazines in the world. Spectator’s Top 100 Wines has become something of an annual wine bible. In addition to Spectator, Shanken exerts influence via Impact Databank Reports, an annual industry publication which provides raw wine data, and trade publications Market Watch and Food Arts. Today Wine Spectator is read by nearly 3 million people and exerts tremendous influence with its reviews on wines, up and coming wine regions, and food.
2- Annette Alvares-Peters: is the merchandise manager for wine, spirits and beer for Costco, and Costco is America’s largest beverage alcohol retailer selling wine in 433 stores in the U.S and Puerto Rico, and an additional 165 stores in seven foreign countries with 68 million members. Wine revenues alone reached an astounding $1.4 billion for 2012 and 70 % of those sales were U.S. domestic wines. They move an immense amount of wine, including their own Kirkland label, and have made wine much more accessible to the masses.
1-Robert Parker: Love him or hate him, Robert McDowell Parker has had the single most significant impact on wine. His once unquestioned authority is diminishing to be sure - though he’s on track to now focus on China). Nonetheless there is no single person, at this point in time, who has ever wielded as much influence. His 100 point rating system has forever changed how wines are scored and perceived. His influence from his Wine Advocate newsletter still means that winemakers and winery owners craft their wines to suit his tastes, though no one will actually admit it. No other single critic in the last three decades has held that kind of influence, and in this day of segmented media attention, no one will again. Right or wrong, good or bad, Parker’s influence has been monumental. Say what you will, Robert Parker has impacted American wine more than any other single individual.