Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention Competition Winners Announced

The WSWA 69th Annual Convention & Exposition continued on its second day with record attendance, impressive keynote speakers and exciting mixology competitions at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The General Session opened with keynote speaker Erik Qualman, author of “Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence.” Qualman provided insight into the ever-changing digital revolution and urged the audience to “leave their best digital footprint as it will last in the digital world for centuries to come.” He also stressed the importance of playing an active role in shaping one’s online influence, as everything will soon be rated – including every person.

He offered advice on being a leader in this digital age, including refraining from multitasking and focusing on output instead of input. He also encouraged taking risks, even “failing often; failing fast; and failing better.” He added that, “If someone is pushing back on your ideas, that should put a smile on your face because you are pioneering.”

The next keynote speaker, Kit Codik, CEO and co-founder of, described his web site’s success through social media. He echoed Qualman’s remarks on the pervasive lasting influence of social media.

He stressed a four-step process to a successful social media strategy:


Creating awareness through online marketing Educating visitors with interesting content, experiences and compelling messages

  • Engaging and interacting with visitors through entertaining useful content, videos and photos
  • Finally, activating visitors into local experiences

Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, served as emcee and Executive Director of the mixology competitions. In the Call For Cocktails: Mixology Competition, the winning cocktails were:

  • 1st Place: “Berry Essence” created by Kindred Spirits.
  • 2nd Place: “The Chesterfield” created by Tanteo Cocoa.
  • 3rd Place: “Cortez the Killer” created by Tanteo Tropical

In the Wholesaler Iron Mixologist Competition, the Best in Show winner was Francesco Lafranconi of Southern Wine & Spirits. He also won Best Aperitif and Best Dessert Cocktail. Andrew Pollard of Wirtz Beverage won the Best Long Drink Category.

The winning cocktail recipes 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.