For Immediate Release Contact: Brad Vassar
Executive Vice President, General Manager
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.
Telephone: (305) 625-4171
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. Appoints Francesco Lafranconi as Director of Mixology
Award-Winning Mixologist To Lead Country’s Largest Distributor Team of Highly Trained Mixologists and Spirits Specialists
MIAMI September 21, 2006 – Brad Vassar, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the country’s largest wine and spirits distributor with operations currently in 26 states, announced the appointment today of Francesco Lafranconi as the Company’s Director of Mixology.
The corporate level appointment is effective immediately. Mr. Vassar said, “Southern Wine & Spirits of America has a long history of spirits and wine education leadership, and we are extremely proud that someone of Francesco’s professional stature and qualifications is more than prepared to take on the challenges and responsibilities of this new corporate position. Going forward, Francesco’s role will be to work in conjunction with our National Accounts team to assist our customers in developing creative cocktail programs. He will also work in conjunction with our Company’s six expert Mixologists from Maui to Miami to produce ‘Best-in-Class’ training materials for Southern Wine & Spirits salespeople and our customers throughout the country.”
Ken Kribel, Vice President, National Accounts, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, added, “Francesco’s appointment underscores Southern’s overall commitment to and relentless drive for delivering outstanding customer service. Francesco will work closely with our team of six talented Mixologists.” Mr. Lafranconi will report to Mr. Kribel.
Mr. Vassar said, “Previously serving as Director of Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada’s Academy of Spirits and Fine Service, which he founded, Mr. Lafranconi has presided over a unique educational program in the United States, where during his tenure he has trained over 1000 bartenders through his 12-week academy.” According to Mr. Vassar, during his distinguished career, Mr. Lafranconi has won several prestigious international cocktail competitions including the most famous in the world: The Bacardi-Martini Grand Prix World Final in 1998 among 43 countries, the J. White Course in Singapore and two Italian national finals to name a few. In addition, Mr. Lafranconi has a deep professional commitment to education, and he is very proud of having trained many of the hospitality and distribution industry’s most respected Mixologists.
Mr. Lafranconi said, “I am very honored and excited about my new position at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, and to be part of a world-class company that places a premium on education, training and customer service. During my tenure at Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada, and thanks to the support and leadership of Larry Ruvo, its Senior Managing Director, I have had the privilege to train and work alongside some of the most talented Mixologists in the world. I very much look forward to working with Southern’s supplier partners, its customers and my fellow Mixologists around the country to keep driving creativity and service to new levels of professionalism.”
Prior to joining Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada, Mr. Lafranconi worked at many of the world’s leading hotels and bars, including the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, The Palace Hotel in Gstaadt, Switzerland, the Intercontinental Hotel in Cologne, Germany, Harry’s Bar and Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy, as well as stints in Singapore and Australia. Mr. Lafranconi is also the Chairman and co-founder of the United States Bartenders Guild (U.S.B.G.)-Nevada Chapter- and an active member of the International Bartenders Association (I.B.A.), recognized in more than 50 countries worldwide.
According to Mr. Lafranconi, he will be working closely with, among others, Ms. Bridget Albert, Mixologist and Spirits Specialist at Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois; Jason Gerard, Mixologist and Spirits Specialist at Southern Wine & Spirits of Arizona; Allen Katz, Mixologist and Spirits Specialist, Southern Wine & Spirits of New York; David Nepove, Mixologist and Spirits Specialist at Southern Wine & Spirits of California; Armando Rosario, Mixologist for Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada; and Arturo Sighinolfi as the Mixologist and Spirits Specialist at Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida in its South Florida Division.
Mr. Vassar added that under the direction of Mr. Lafranconi, all of Southern’s Mixologists and Spirits Specialists will continue to provide industry-leading education programs and marketing materials to staff and on- and off-premise customers as well as access to an extended set of experts through special events and trips.
According to Mr. Vassar, “Southern also has a steadfast commitment to wine and spirits support and education. Among our 26 state operations, Southern employs seven Master Sommeliers and 250 certified wine professionals—more than any other wine and Spirits distributor in the United States. Indeed, our commitment to innovation—for both our suppliers and customers’ benefit—is unmatched. So we are very proud of this heritage and we know Francesco will carry on this tradition, an attribute that truly differentiates Southern from the competition,” Vassar added.
Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributor, with current operations in 26 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. On a national basis, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. employs more than 10,000 team members.