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Market Watch Toasts The Top Spirits And Wine Retailers At Its Annual Awards Dinner

September 27, 2019

SND’s sister publication Market Watch magazine honored the nation’s best spirits and wine retailers last night at its Leaders Awards Dinner, a black-tie affair held at the St. Regis Roof in New York City.

The magazine’s Retailer of the Year award went to Jack Farrell, owner of Minneapolis-based Haskell’s. Farrell, a trail blazer in fine wine sales in the Twin Cities, has led Haskell’s since 1970, building the business into an 11-store institution. Together with his four sons, who are all in the business, today Farrell oversees an operation that does $65 million in annual revenues.

The Industry Executive of the Year award was won by Wayne Chaplin, CEO of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS). Chaplin has spent 35 years in the distribution business. Three years ago he led his company, Southern Wine & Spirits, through its merger with Glazer’s Inc., and SGWS has become the largest and most successful alliance in the second tier’s history.

Eight new Leaders from six retail operations were honored at last night’s dinner. Here’s a look at the Leaders Class of 2019:

  • Phil Markert of the Vons, Albertsons, and Pavilions stores in Southern California. One of the early pioneers of supermarket wine sales in the Golden State, Markert is the director of wine and spirits for 354 stores, making his operation Southern California’s largest wine and spirits retailer.
  • Marques Warren of Downtown Spirits in Seattle, Washington. Warren opened his store in a run-down section of Seattle just seven years ago, and today it’s a retail destination and part of a vibrant neighborhood renaissance.
  • Armando Luis of Sparrow Wine & Liquor Co. in Hoboken, New Jersey. Luis assumed leadership of the family business in 1986, and has since taken its wine program to new heights, while also opening a second store in Hoboken that has now become the flagship.
  • Rufus Nagel of Molly’s Spirits in Lakeside, Colorado. A relative newcomer to the business, Nagel opened his first store in 2014, a 23,000-square-foot venue that garners revenues of $23 million after just five years in business. He plans to open a second, 25,000-square-foot store later this year.
  • Rick, David, and Kenny Gordon of Boston-area retailer Gordon’s Fine Wine & Liquors. This father-and-two-sons team is credited with creating a new era for the 85-year-old family business. With a sharp focus on high-end wines and luxury spirits, Gordon’s today operates five stores in the greater Boston market.
  • Eddie Cruz of Jensen’s Liquors in Miami, Florida. A 40-year veteran of wine and spirits retailing, Cruz has expanded his family business from a single store to six locations, employing a neighborhood-centric focus.

Three Leaders alumni were honored for excellence in marketing, website innovation, and community service. Mark O’Callaghan of Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse in Clifton Park, New York, won the Leaders Alumni Award for Best Marketing, while Robert Troneof Total Wine & More took home the Best Website honor. The Alumni Award for Community Service went to Bob Kreston, a 2005 Market Watch Leader and owner of Kreston Wine & Spirits in Wilmington, Delaware.

The market’s top brands were also recognized at the Leaders dinner. Jim Beam won the honor for Spirits Brand of the Year, and Whispering Angel, imported by Shaw-Ross International, was named Wine Brand of the Year. The Best New Spirits Product honor was won by Diageo for Ketel One Botanical, while Diving Into Hampton Water, the hit rosé collaboration between Gérard Bertrand and Jon and Jesse Bon Jovi, won the Best New Wine Product award.

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