We predict that 2009 will be a star-studded year for THE TASTING PANEL. Whether we scout them out or they happen upon us, our publication has a reason to reach out for these stars because they have special meaning to us: We are proud to be able to call them our readers.
I believe this is the most exciting way to begin our New Year, in an on-going celebration of the talented people who comprise our industry—from Joe Lima, Category Manager of Raley’s supermarkets, whom we salute as our Buyer of 2009, to the knowledgeable, forward-thinking Sonoma and Napa “20 Stars of ‘09” who will be honored with a major feature story in our upcoming March issue, to our not-yet-revealed 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
Next month, our cover story, “Bar Stars,” enlists eight mixologists from around the country who have been selected for their cocktail-crafting prowess.
This will also be a year to show off the stars who are giving back, such as Southern Wine & Spirits of America, whose “40 for 40” program not only touched 40 deserving charitable organizations—a relevant and generous gesture on SWS’s 40th anniversary—but also allowed 40 of the company’s employees to help choose the recipients.
In a challenging economy, it is the skillful and dexterous mixologist, the able and educated wine and spirits buyer, the efficient distributor, the virtuoso winemaker, the resourceful sales manager and the expert in his or her field who will forge ahead, pave the way and draw expanded boundaries for our industry. Whether we are affected by cut-backs or, in ideal cases, remain recession-proof, THE TASTING PANEL is happy to be able to continue to provide a platform that offers kudos where kudos are due.
So, no, I don’t think we are overworking the word “stars.” I rather like its implication that we can and should place deserving people on a pedestal, where they will find the attention they merit. After all, we’re the voice of the industry—your voice—and, as you already know, we’re certainly not your grandfather’s trade magazine!
I look forward to including many of you in the pages of THE TASTING PANEL this year. Keep us informed of your plans and aspirations, your new projects and your recent successes, so we can inform the rest of the country.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year!