IWSC reveals shortlist for 2023 Wine Distributor Trophy

IWSC news

Thu 23 Feb 2023

Each year the IWSC recognises individual drinks, awarding gold, silver and bronze medals to wines at its annual wine judging. Looking beyond the bottles, the IWSC is also keen to recognise the creativity of the companies that bring these drinks to the consumer. The businesses that import and distribute these bottles. These companies are distinguished by our Business Awards.

The Wine Distributor Trophy was created to recognise the wholesale, importer and distribution businesses leading the way, offering their customers the very best service in order to bring consumers the finest selection of wine.  

The judging panels for this year’s award comprised of experts from across the wine industry: Masters of Wine Junior Vianna and Sarah Abbott - as well as drinks retail consultant, Cat Lomax. Christelle Guibert, CEO for the IWSC completed the panel.

Our judges looked at the changes implemented by each entrant over the past 12 months and were all in agreement that it was a particularly strong category this year.

We are delighted to reveal our 2023 shortlist for the IWSC’s Wine Distributor Trophy:

Bancroft Wines

Our judges felt the entry from Bancroft Wines really showcased a company with a family feel, a place that was clearly a happy place to work where there is evidence of a strong company culture. A business exhibiting real energy and drive, while the team may be small, the output in terms of workload over the past year has been incredible. 

Our judges remarked on the impressive number of new producers that have been brought into the business, really expanding the range for Bancroft’s customers with recent new additions from Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain and France. A new role of Head of Operations has been created to oversee all aspects of the supply chain, with a focus on sustainability.

It was clear from the application that Bancroft is a business that prizes relationships, those with its producers, as well as with its customers and its employees – and our judges remarked on this being a new chapter for Bancroft and one with an exciting future.

Graft Wine Company

In terms of our other shortlisted entrants, Graft Wine Company may be rather smaller, but our judges remarked on it as a real disruptor in the market, which is something that is needed to keep the trade fresh, interesting and honest.  One of Graft’s USPs was its App which it hails as a wine sales person in your pocket – a tool for customers to easily access all their account information you’re your phone.

Our judges really enjoyed Graft’s focus on wine kegs, describing the offer as a great solution for by the glass menus as well as for sustainability. A business with a great sense of initiative and lots of excitement around what Graft is doing.  

Hallgarten & Novum Wines

A company with a fantastic range and a great team, our judges were impressed by the incredible amount Hallgarten Wines have achieved over the past year, particularly in the sustainability area.Ratherthan box ticking the sustainability boxes, our judges felt Hallgarten was trying to take its responsibility in a new direction with their own eco-standard rating scheme. Additionally, they are showing a strong commitment with their intention to be carbon neutral by 2023.

Beyond sustainability over the last 12 months, they have shown real commitment to their customers, launching a new magazine. Also a commitment to employees with the new diversity and inclusion team and ongoing commitment to education. A diverse and cutting-edge wine range – with 220 new wines launched in past year, our judges felt Hallgarten came across as a very human business and one they’d happily work for.

North South Wines

“What a business” one of our judges hailed as we discussed the entry from North South Wines. The panel were very impressed with what North South Wines was doing with an incredibly tight portfolio. A company showing fantastic leadership and with the entry showcasing an employee focused, happy place to work.

Really prioritising the importance of sustainability, North South Wines has submitted its application to B Corp, with an ambition to achieve sustainable development across the business including all its sales team in electric cars and using 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Liberty Wines

Our judges were rather wowed by Liberty Wine’s commitment to their customers, finding ways to ensure a reliable supply chain by investing substantially in stock holding whilst also working toward building a new warehouse, all whilst maintaining their business-as-usual high standard of service. Liberty has increased its stock holding by 30% - a multimillion pound investment for their customers.

Liberty has also expanded their range tactically for customers in order to provide the right wines during these tougher trading times.

Other impressive achievements of note include the doubling in size of Liberty’s education team and the extension of their delivery hubs. During the past year of doubling down on what the trade needs, providing certainty for their customers during uncertain times, Liberty has also brought on 38 new producers. No small feat.


The winner of the IWSC’s 2023 Wine Distributor Trophy will be announced at 10.00 on Thursday 2 March.