The Decanter Power List 2013
5 Mel Dick (4)
Senior vice-president, Southern Wine & Spirits of America; vice-president of wine division, 77
Any wine that Southern Wine & Spirits decides to distribute will end up the length and breadth of the US. With revenue of US$9bn and 11,600 staff, representing 1,600 wine, spirits, beer and beverage suppliers, and marketing and distributing over 5,000 brands, the company has massive influence over which wines Americans have in their glasses. By virtue of its size and clout, and experience in the market, it can cut through the bureaucracy of inter-state shipping regulations. To date, Southern operates in 35 national markets, and is constantly seeking out distribution deals in states where selling is hampered by import laws. Over this vast market landscape presides Mel Dick, who joined Southern in 1969. A bulldog spirit must be useful: Southern faces hostility from vested interests keen to preserve the three-tier system and keep out national distribution chains. This year the company found itself obliged to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees among legislators and politicians running for office.