Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America to Recognize Contributions and Success of Two Industry Leaders

CONTACT: Jeff Solsby / FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / March 18, 2014


Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America to Recognize

Contributions and Success of Two Industry Leaders


Rocky Wirtz & Max Shapira to be Honored at WSWA 71st Annual Convention & Exposition


(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) will salute the long records of business success, leadership and community service achieved by two industry veterans at its 71st Annual Convention & Exposition to be held April 8-10 in Las Vegas.


W. Rockwell (Rocky) Wirtz, President of Wirtz Beverage Group of Chicago, Ill., will be recognized by WSWA with the Lifetime Leadership Award, presented each year to a wholesaler whose contribution to the association, the community and the beverage industry defines excellence, inspires loyalty and exemplifies leadership.


Max L. Shapira, President of Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., of Bardstown, Ky., will be presented by the WSWA Educational Foundation with the Sidney Frank Award, which is given to a person who has made exceptional contributions to the industry in addition to noteworthy philanthropic and community service contributions. The award is named for Sidney Frank, a leading innovator in the beverage industry who built a number of successful brands and set records for philanthropic contributions and service.


“Rocky and Max have achieved great success in their business careers and have worked equally as hard as philanthropists and community leaders. On behalf of WSWA and our members, we are proud to recognize these two giants in the industry and look forward to saluting them at our upcoming convention,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said.


Wirtz Beverage Group is a leading national distributor of wine, spirits and beer brands. The company is headquartered in Chicago with interests in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Wisconsin and Canada. Rocky also serves as President of Wirtz Corporation, with holdings in the insurance, real estate, entertainment and financial services sectors, and as Chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks.


Rocky is deeply committed to public service and philanthropy. In addition to significant financial and community contributions made by Wirtz Beverage, he also oversees Chicago Blackhawk Charities. Originally founded by his father, today the Foundation donates millions of dollars to organizations for youth programs, health and wellness, education and housing. He also established the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Endowment for Visiting Artists at Northwestern University, his alma mater.


Heaven Hill Distilleries began as a family-owned bourbon maker following the repeal of Prohibition. Under the leadership of Max and his family, the company has experienced a period of rapid expansion with extensive internal product development and brand acquisitions. Today, Heaven Hill is the country’s sixth largest distilled spirits producer and marketer by case volume with a portfolio including Evan Williams and Elijah Craig bourbons, Burnett’s Vodka line, Christian Brothers Brandy line, Admiral Nelson’s Rum and Hpnotiq Liqueur. It is the nation’s largest independent family owned and operated distilled spirits company and the world’s second largest holder of aging bourbon.


Max Shapira is the only son of Ed Shapira, one of the five brothers who founded Heaven Hill. After graduating from Washington and Lee University and earning an MBA at Harvard University, Max spent four years on Wall Street before returning to the family business in 1970. In 1996 he became president following the death of his uncle George, the last survivor of the original five brothers. Today, he and his wife Ellen are actively engaged in dozens of community and charitable activities throughout Kentucky.


Wirtz and Shapira will be recognized during an awards presentation Tuesday, April 8 at the WSWA 71st Annual Convention & Exposition at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.


WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the executive branch, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America. Member firms represent 80% of the total U.S. wine and spirits market. Information about the association is available at


# # #

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.