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Wine’s Most Inspiring People Awards

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Each year, Wine Industry Advisor chooses 10 individuals within the wine industry who showcase leadership, innovation, and inspiration. For the first time in 2021, WIA opened up the submission process to the industry at large. With over 100 nominees, the editorial team selected the top 10 individuals who they felt has truly, positively impacted the US wine culture over the past year.

Also new this year, Wine Industry Advisor is providing our Most Inspiring People with a digital badge to display on their websites, social platforms, and press announcements. 

Below are our 2021/2022 Most Inspiring People. Thank you for the commitment, passion, and motivation you inspire in our industry each day. Cheers to you. 

Stacy Briscoe, Managing Editor

Wine's Most Inspiring People badge
Wine’s Most Inspiring People badge

Editor’s Note: One feature profile is released during the first 10 business days of January, 2022. Links to full articles will activate as they’re published. ______________________________________________________________________

Ali Smith Story—Owner, Smith Story Wine Cellars

Ali Smith Story, Smith Story Wine Cellars

For those who are familiar with Ali Smith Story, Smith Story Wine Cellars, and Sandwich, it’s probably because of Ali’s undeniable dedication to engagement with her customers through both her professional and personal social media accounts—something that has been the cornerstone of her wine business from the very start. READ MORE

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Marty Clubb—Co-owner, L’Ecole No. 41

MIP 2021 / Marty Clubb, owner/winemaker L'Ecole No. 41

“I was never that interested in the wine business,” says Clubb, the long-time co-owner and managing winemaker at L’Ecole No. 41 in Walla Walla in eastern Washington. “The opportunity just came up.”

Which, three decades later, is an opportunity that Clubb has taken full advantage of. His accomplishments— not just at L’Ecole—speak to his talent and vision. READ MORE

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Cathy Huyghe—Writer, Entrepreneur, Meditator

Cathy Huyhe, award winning journalist and CEO of Enolytics

Huyghe is an award-winning journalist; co-founder and CEO of Enolytics, a data-driven business intelligence provider to beverage alcohol companies; and co-creator of content at The Balanced Glass, which sets out to give members of the industry the knowledge and tools to manage their personal wellness. She is also a two-time graduate of Harvard University, and is certified to teach hatha yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Ayurveda. She successfully juggles and balances multiple careers, along with a busy personal life—all with apparent serenity. READ MORE…

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Ron Rosenbrand—Viticulturist, Spring Mountain Vineyard

Ron Rosenbrand, viticulturist, Spring Mountain Vineyard

Two fires engulfed Spring Mountain, which “essentially vaporized” most of the estate’s historic buildings. It could have been worse, but Rosenbrand helped direct firefighters to several historic structures hidden from view. In the end, the main winery, the caves, and legendary Miravalle mansion were saved. Meanwhile, Rosenbrand’s home, just a short half-mile away, burned to the ground. Fortunately, his family escaped unharmed. READ MORE…

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Alex Ryan—CEO, The Duckhorn Portfolio

Alex Ryan, Duckhorn Portfolio

Alex Ryan knows full well that the company he runs is trying to do something that has almost never been done successfully—which makes the challenge all that much more exciting. READ MORE…

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Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters—TIME Family of Wines

Harry, Darrien, Christa-Lee McWatters
(left to right): Harry, Darrien, Christa-Lee McWatters

Tradition and progress often appear to be opposing factions, especially in our increasingly politicized world. But Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters manage to honor their family’s incredible history and legacy in Canadian wine, while fearlessly pushing their brands into the future. READ MORE…

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Dennis Murphy—Founder & Winemaker, Caprio Cellars

Dennis Murphy, owner and winemaker, Caprio Cellars
Dennis Murphy, owner and winemaker, Caprio Cellars

Since its first release in 2010, Caprio Cellars has made a name for itself producing award-winning, 100 percent estate-grown releases. Today, the winery has expanded to three vineyards, with a winemaking style focused on Bordeaux varietal blends.

But it is how Murphy has integrated intentional, focused giving into the business model of Caprio Cellars, supporting his local community and organizations that assist people in need, that has more than earned him a place among Wine Industry Advisor’s Wine’s Most Inspiring People. READ MORE…

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Donniella Winchell—Executive Director, Ohio Wine Producers Association

Donniella Winchell, executive director, Ohio Wine Producers Association

Over the last 40 years, the Ohio wine industry has grown tremendously. With an initial reputation of producing only “sweet and jammy” wines, Ohio-grown viniferas are now winning top awards in the nation’s most prestigious judging competitions. When Winchell became executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association in 1978, there were only 13 wineries. Today, that number has grown to almost 400 statewide. While it may seem like an overnight success, Winchell says it has been a wonderful journey with the help of lots of partners to build this community. READ MORE…

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Tony Wolf—Viticulturist, Educator

Tony Wolf, Virginia-based viticulturist and professor at Virginia Tech
Tony Wolf, Virginia-based viticulturist and professor at Virginia Tech

Lucie Morton says she remembers when Tony Wolf first appeared on her radar. He was a recent Cornell graduate, and she was a member of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, looking to add viticultural expertise for what was then a fledging wine industry.

It was, she says, five jobs in one: grape research scientist and extension agent, professor of viticulture, communication hub and administrator. Years later, she would tell an audience at the Eastern Winery Exposition that the man she was introducing was “a kind of Hail Mary hire” who turned out to be a “winning touchdown.” READ MORE…

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Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker
Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

Over the last year and a half, Julia Coney’s influence within wine continues to deepen, inspiring wine professionals to become more thoughtful about how their work can make a meaningful impact on the industry. The day after “Blackout Tuesday,” Coney took to her Instagram account to share her experiences of racism within the wine industry, and how simply posting black squares (or continuing to ignore the problem) wasn’t going to incite change. The two-part video (titled “Racism and the Wine Industry: Your Silence is Betrayal”) garnered over 24,000 views, and prompted long-overdue conversations and necessary action around diversity and inclusion in the beverage industry.

But she didn’t stop there. READ MORE…

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Wine's Most Inspiring People

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