WSWA 69th Annual Convention & Exposition Opens in Las Vegas

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WSWA 69th Annual & Exposition

“This year’s convention offers a record number of exhibitors, an impressive lineup of distinguished speakers, new product tastings and exciting competitions,” said Craig Wolf, WSWA President and CEO.

Over 2,100 wholesalers, brokers, suppliers, importers, service providers and other wine and spirits industry professionals gathered today at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) 69th Annual Convention & Exposition.
“This year’s convention offers a record number of exhibitors in two large exhibit halls, an impressive lineup of distinguished speakers, cutting-edge informational sessions, new product tastings and exciting competitions,” said Craig Wolf, WSWA President and CEO. “Our convention brings the industry together to showcase established brands, as well as innovative products.”

Wolf started the convention at the Opening General Session where he welcomed attendees and introduced Charlie Merinoff, President and CEO of The Charmer Sunbelt Group and the WSWA Chairman.

Merinoff gave a poignant tribute to his father and his family’s unique history as beverage distributors. He also explained the value that wholesalers bring to the distribution system, including their local marketing expertise. He stressed the importance of collaboration, integration and innovation among all the tiers of the industry. “We don’t have a choice but to come together,” he emphasized.

Mark Brown, President and CEO of Sazerac Company, received the Sidney Frank Award, which commemorates the spirit and marketing genius of the late Sidney Frank, his philanthropic efforts and his contributions to the beverage industry. Brown reminded everyone that “what we sell is not milk and chips” so state-based regulation is important to maintain a competitive, socially responsible industry.

The keynote address was given by Nando Parrado, featured in the international best seller “Alive.” Parrado was one of the sixteen Uruguayan survivors of Air Force Flight 571 that crashed in the Andes Mountains in October 1972. He told his story about spending two months trapped in the mountains and his amazing trek to find help. Parrado concluded his inspiring story of survival and perseverance by reminding everyone that a part of life is luck and to always enjoy the present. He ended by saying, “Life is not measured by number of breath you take, but the moments that take your breath away.

In the afternoon, the convention featured the Wine & Spirits Tasting Competition in partnership with The Tasting Panel Magazine. A panel of highly esteemed wine and spirits experts including some of the country’s finest sommeliers, wine directors, consultants, merchants, and mixologists judged nearly a thousand wines and spirits exhibiting at the convention. Also, the Hot Brands Awards were presented by Impact Magazine.

In addition, a Satellite Media Tour was hosted by Tony Abou-Ganim, famed mixologist and author of “The Modern Mixologist,” who gave tips on “no fail cocktails.” A complete list of recipes and additional information on the event can be found at

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc. (WSWA) is the national trade organization representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has over 340 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Our members distribute more than 70 percent of all wines and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.

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