A veteran of the wine industry was recently recognized with a prestigious award.
Mel Dick, SVP and wine division president for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, received the Wine Star Lifetime Achievement Award by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Each year, Wine Enthusiast honors individuals and companies that have made outstanding achievements in the wine and alcohol beverage world.
Dick was selected for the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in pioneering the modern wine industry and building a portfolio of wines from around the world, the company reports.
Interested in the wine and spirits business early on, Dick got his start in the wine distribution world at the age of 21 in Gambarelli and Devito in New Jersey. Shortly thereafter, in March of 1958, he was hired by Gallo Wine Distributors of New Jersey. Later, in 1969, he accepted a job at Southern Wine and Spirits of America as general sales manager of wine to develop the wine operations of the company.
Primarily responsible for the establishment of all aspects of the wine trade within the company, he became VP of wine in 1972, and assumed control of organization, sales, marketing and supplier relations in all aspects of the company’s wine business.
In 1976, he became president of the wine division for Southern Wine and Spirits of America, and in 1984, he became a partner in the company. In 1991, Dick acquired the additional title of SVP of Southern Wine and Spirits of America.
“I love the business—it’s who I am, and it’s part of me, so to be recognized for doing what I’m passionate about is both humbling and rewarding,” Dick says. “I found out a long time ago that to succeed, I was going to devote all of my time to the business and to family, and not make room for anything else.”
“It’s been a wonderful life,” he adds. “I’ve made friendships with the greatest wine and spirits producers, presidents of the United States, the greatest entertainers, athletes, kings and queens, all because they loved wine and wanted to talk about it.”
Dick also improved staff education at Southern Glazer’s, the company says, enhancing the focus on training. As a result, Southern Glazer’s is approaching its goal of 10,000 employees who will have benefited from formal wine and spirits training.
He is also the recipient of numerous awards from the wine and spirits industry throughout the world. In 1984, he was bestowed the French Ordre du Mérite D’Agricole. In 2001, he received the prestigious Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor, for his outstanding contribution to the French wine and champagne, spirits and water industry and was elevated to Officier de la Legion D’Honneur in October 2010. In 2014, Mr. Dick was elevated to Commandeur du Mérite D’Agricole.
Says Wayne Chaplin, CEO of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, “It’s easy to look back 50 years and forget about what the wine business looked like. Today’s huge wine list, the huge by-the-glass list, varietal wines—all of this stuff is second nature now, but in those days, it really wasn’t. Mel saw that way before anyone else and transformed the business.”
“Mel just never took no for an answer,” Chaplin adds. “There are many life lessons that he taught me over the last 34 years that I will never forget.”
The winners of the 2018 Wine Star Awards will be announced in Wine Enthusiast’s “Best of Year” issue and will be honored at the 19th Annual Wine Star Awards, a black-tie gala, on January 28, 2019, at Nobu Eden Roc in Miami, Fla.