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Wine’s Most Inspiring People 2023

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As has become a January  tradition, Wine Industry Advisor has again chosen 10 individuals from within the wine industry who showcase leadership, innovation, determination and inspiration — both within the industry and in society at large — as its Most Inspiring People honorees.

These individuals were selected from more than 100 nominations submitted by WIA members last November. It wasn’t easy, but the editorial team zeroed in on people who, they felt, have positively impacted the U.S. wine culture (and beyond) over the past year.

Below are our 2022/2023 Most Inspiring People, in alphabetical order. Thank you for the commitment, passion and motivation you inspire in our industry each day.  

Alexandra Russell, Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: One feature profile will be released per day for the next 10 business days. Links to full articles will activate as they’re published. ______________________________________________________________________

Peter Bell
Peter Bell

Peter Bell: A ‘Gentle Titan’ in the Finger Lakes

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce Peter Bell, winemaker emeritus and enthusiastic booster for the Finger Lakes wine industry, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Since bringing his winemaking expertise to New York’s Finger Lakes region in 1990, Bell has played a major role in the steady increase in wine quality across the area. His career has earned awards and accolades, but he’s probably most admired for his open mentoring style, which has influenced winemakers near and far. Congratulations Peter!

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Remy Drabkin: A Universal Drive for Holistic Equity

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce winemaker, LGBTQ+ advocate and Mayor Remy Drabkin, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Remy is a whirlwind of energy who brings determination and passion to the projects she chooses. Beyond winemaking (which she’s quite good at, by the way), she’s working to bring social and environmental equity to the wine industry and beyond. Her crowning political achievement — thus far — is being the first woman and queer-identified person elected Mayor of McMinnville, Ore. Hers is a story not to be missed. Congratulations Remy!

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Susana Cueva Drumwright
Susana Cueva Drumwright

Susana Cueva Drumwright: Mentoring Disadvantaged Students through Stanford University

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce Susana Cueva Drumwright, winemaker and philanthropist, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Through her Vida Valiente Foundation, she’s raising funds and recruiting mentors to help disadvantaged college students stay the course and earn their degrees — from Stanford University, no less! It’s a cause near to her heart: “There are people whom you come across that take a chance on you, and that can really change the trajectory of your life,” Cueva Drumwright observes. “We want to expand [our students’] view about what’s possible.” Congratulations Susana!

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Tom Gamble [Photo: Sarah Anne Risk]

Tom Gamble: Embracing and Enhancing Napa Valley’s Biodiversity

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce third-generation farmer and environmental activist Tom Gamble, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Gamble is constantly looking for new ways to improve both his vineyards and the surrounding lands. Over the years, he’s moved steadily toward organic farming while also fostering local sustainability initiatives such the Napa River Restoration Project, Fish-Friendly Farming, Napa Green and more.

“I’m doing what I’m doing for the future,” he says. Congratulations Tom!

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Robert Mazza holding SCCA special label sparkling wine, Mazza Wines national sponsor and "Official Sparkling Wine" for SCCA [Photo courtesy of Robert Mazza, Inc.]
Robert Mazza holding SCCA special label sparkling wine, Mazza Wines national sponsor and “Official Sparkling Wine” for SCCA [Photo courtesy of Robert Mazza, Inc.]

Bob Mazza: Raising the Profile of Pennsylvania Wine Since 1972

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce Robert “Bob” Mazza as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Mazza has combined a life in the vineyards (at his family’s Mazza Vineyards — now Robert Mazza Inc.) with a passion for promoting and advancing the Pennsylvania wine industry. Over the years, he’s played a key role in founding several state and national wine advocacy organizations, including the Pennsylvania Wine Association, Pennsylvania Wine Marketing & Research Program Board, and what would become WineAmerica.

Says one colleague,  “[Bob is] worried about getting something done, not who is going to get the credit for it.” Congratulations Bob!

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Steve Myers: Working Toward Gender Equity in the Wine Industry

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce Steve Myers, president of Distinguished Vineyards, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Under Myers’ leadership, Distinguished Vineyards has invested in new channels, enhanced customer experiences and acquired wineries — all while achieving consistent double-digit growth. But what truly sets Myers apart is his focus on positively impacting the people around him. 

After an eye-opening experience at a Women of the Vine & Spirits Global Symposium, Myers set about remaking his leadership team to embrace gender diversity. The result is a financially successful wine company that’s a positive agent of change.

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Elizabeth Slater

Elizabeth “E” Slater: Wine Marketing Master Extraordinaire

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce marketer, teacher, mentor and entrepreneur Elizabeth “E” Slater as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Over a more than 30-year career, Slater has honed her wine marketing skills to razor sharpness and then shared her knowledge as a teacher, speaker, consultant and industry advocate. 

But as she says, “It’s not all about the wine.” Her real superpower is her ability to connect with people, convey information and leave a lasting impression.

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Terry Wheatley: Cowgirl Grit & Wine Sisterhood

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce Terry Wheatley, president of Vintage Wine Estates, as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Trailblazing a path for women in the wine industry for half a century, Wheatley has earned a reputation for determination, innovation and true grit. This cancer survivor has led established companies and started new ventures. No matter where she hangs her hat, she brings success through leadership. 

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Emily Wines, Court of Master Sommeliers
Emily Wines, Court of Master Sommeliers

Emily Wines: Leaning in Amid Court of Master Sommeliers Crisis

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce the appropriately monikered Emily Wines as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

Following a series of scandals, the Court of Master Sommeliers’ U.S. branch was in shambles. Rather than join the mass exodus of members, Wines stepped up to lead CMS in a new direction, repairing its reputation by facing the controversy head-on. Her choice to stay and work toward transforming the organization has led to a more diverse and welcoming membership. 

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Warren Winiarski: A Lifetime of Achievement and Leadership

Wine Industry Advisor is proud to announce the legendary Warren Winiarski as one of our Wine’s Most Inspiring People Award recipients!

It’s hard to imagine what the wine world would be like if Winiarski had not seen something special in an old prune orchard in Napa, which he converted to vineyard in 1970. By 1973, wine coming from the property was earning local raves.

Winning the Judgment of Paris in 1976 for this very Stag’s Leap Winery Cabernet Sauvignon would prove to be Napa’s shining debut on the world stage. But for Winiarski, it was simply making a classic wine. 

Today considered a living legend, WIA is thrilled to include Winiarski in this year’s Most Inspiring People.

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