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Market Watch Leaders 2020: The Best of The Best In Wine And Spirits Retailing

October 2, 2020

Market Watch is pleased to announce its 37th Annual Leaders Awards, honoring the best wine and spirits retailers in North America. This year, as the nation confronted Covid-19, with cities shut down and restaurants and bars closed, America’s wine and spirits retailers met the rising demand for wine and spirits. Market Watch Leaders were at the forefront of delivering on the surge in the off-premise as consumers isolated at home. Below you’ll find highlights from the 37th Annual Leaders Awards. Click here for the full awards presentation, including video remarks from the honorees themselves, profiles of their award-winning businesses, and a special message from Market Watch publisher Marvin R. Shanken.

The magazine’s Retailer of the Year award went to Christian Navarro, president and principal of Los Angeles-based Wally’s Wine & Spirits. Navarro has built his business around the pursuit of excellence, combining retail, restaurant, and bar components to the tune of $60 million in annual revenue.

The Industry Executive of the Year award went to Alan Dreeben of Republic National Distributing Co (RNDC). Across more than a half-century in the beverage alcohol industry, Dreeben has cemented himself as one of the great pioneers in establishing wine as part of the American lifestyle. Today, as partner at RNDC, Dreeben is overseeing the company’s sustained growth trajectory.

Seven new Leaders from six retail outfits were honored this year. Here’s a look at the Leaders Class of 2020:

  • Jason Milburn of The Kroger Co. As director of adult beverage at the national grocery chain, Milburn has taken the beverage alcohol selection and expanded it far beyond its original base of beer, adding a wide array of wine and spirits as well.
  • Jeremy Noye of Morrell & Co in New York City. Since coming to the company’s helm, Noye has modernized the business while adhering to its core mission focused on high-end, collectible, and classic labels.
  • Jonathan Blue of Kentucky-based Blue Equity. Blue oversees the Liquor Barn, Party Mart, and DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits stores, which have top-tier Bourbon selections and impressive in-store technology.
  • Tim Holden of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). Under Holden’s leadership, the PLCB has seen beverage alcohol sales steadily grow, with retail dollar sales of both spirits and wine eclipsing $1 billion in recent years.
  • Peter Granoff and Debbie Zachareas of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant & Wine Bar, Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchant, and Mission Bay Wine & Cheese in Napa and San Francisco. These business partners aim to provide their Northern California communities with a carefully curated selection of fine products, doing so through combination retail-restaurant stores.
  • Peggy Perry of Willow Park Wines & Spirits in Calgary, Canada. Perry has dedicated herself to helping the company succeed, and broadening its consumer base by offering a wide assortment of products.

Four Leaders alumni were honored for excellence in marketing, website innovation, and community service. Jason Fremstad of Walmart received the Best Marketing award, while Adithya Bathena of Super Buy-Rite Wine & Liquor won the Leaders Alumni Award for Best Website. The Alumni Award for Community Service went to Chan Cox and Robert Montgomery of Wine World.

The market’s top brands were also recognized. Casamigos won Spirits Brand of the Year, and Decoy by Duckhorn from Duckhorn Wine Co. was named Wine Brand of the Year. The Best New Spirits honor went to Skrewball peanut butter-flavored whiskey, while Château d’Esclans’ The Palm by Whispering Angel won the Best New Wine award.—Julia Higgins

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