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Top 10 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry

Find out how are the top 10 influential wine people in the U.S. From winemakes to bloggers and sommeliers, these are the people impacting how wine is made, marketed, sold, and purchased.

The decision to purchase a particular bottle of wine or order a certain type of wine from a restaurant menu may not be as random as you might think.

From winemakers and highly-skilled wine connoisseurs to bloggers and occasional wine drinkers, there are people who either directly or indirectly influence the wine industry.Here are the top 10 most influential people in the U.S. wine industry today:

1. Robert Parker
Robert Parker is the wine world’s equivalent of what Mr. Blackwell once was to fashion. Parker has had a significant impact on the wine industry for three decades now, from the true aficionado to the average consumer.

Parker uses a once innovative – now industry standard – 100 point ratings system to score various vintages. He wields his influence through his Wine Advocate newsletter, which is free of advertising. Parker remains the single most influential name within the U.S. wine industry.

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2. James Laube
As the lead writer and taster for Wine Spectator, James Laube is no stranger to either sophisticated or casual U.S. wine drinkers and manufacturers. Laube, who has invoked the ire of some California wine drinkers with his assessments of the West Coast’s nectar of the vine, has been welding his influence for nearly 30 years.

As a testament to Laube’s influence, his reviews have impacted wine sales from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Laube’s influence is further cemented with three best-selling books.

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3. Annette Alvares-Peters
Annette Alvares-Peters may not be a household name in the world of wine, but she does have firsthand experience as the merchandise manager for wine, spirits, and beer for Costco.

About half of the wholesale store’s sales derive from wine products. Alvares-Peters has the responsibility of selecting the wines – spanning more than a hundred labels – that accounted for more than $1.3 billion in wine sales in 2011 alone.

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4. Gina Gallo
Yes, Gina Gallo is a part of the world’s largest family-owned winery, E. & J. Gallo Winery. Described as a spokesperson, winemaker, and “all around wine supporter,” Gallo represents 24 wine brands sold to various retailers, restaurants, and wine drinkers across the country.

The wineries of Gallo account for thousands of acres of grapes and sales of more than 70 million cases per year. Offering a variety of wines, including higher end vintages, has made Gallo a well-respected name around the world.

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5. Wayne Chaplin
As President and CEO of Southern Wine and Spirits, Chaplin helms the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributor. The company distributes wine in 34 states plus the District of Columbia, which accounts for an annual revenue of nearly $10 billion.

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6. Rob Sands
As President and CEO of Constellation Brands, Sands distributes wine in 125 countries through 30 facilities and employs more than 4,000 people. Popular Constellation brands include Franciscan Estate and Clos du Bois. Revenue for 2011 was more than $3 billion.

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7. Marvin Shanken
Shanken has plenty of influence thanks to his premier wine magazine, The Wine Spectator. Considered one of the most significant wine publications in the world, a positive write-up in the The Wine Spectator can do wonders for a brand’s sales figures.

Shanken further extends his influence with other food and wine publications, including Market Watch and Food Arts. More than 3 million people read The Wine Spectator alone.

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8. Adam Strum
Adam Strum’s influence comes from his work as Editor and Publisher of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He also heads up the largest group of wine commerce and media companies in the world. Wine Enthusiast alone has nearly a million readers.

The heart of Strum’s influence comes from the magazine’s website, which offers a variety of wine storage solutions and accessories. Catalogs are distributed to more than 300 million wine-related publications around the world.

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9. Matt Kramer
Matt Kramer has been delighting readers with a more casual approach to the world of wine since 1976. The wine columnist for The Oregonian has earned a reputation for his no holds barred approach to writing about the industry, including assessments of various vintages, wineries, and industry trends.

Kramer has published seven books and has helped put several small wineries on the map.

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10. Doug Frost
With the rare distinction of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, Frost is in high demand as a writer, speaker, and wine judge. As a contributor to the Oxford Companion of Wine, Frost has earned a reputation as a true wine expert.

He has influenced countless casual and professional wine connoisseurs with witty and humorous texts in numerous publications.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: <a href=””>Bottles Of Wine</a> by George Hodan

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