The Decanter Power List 2013
4 Annette Alvarez Peters (6)
Assistant general merchandise manager for wine, spirits and beer, Costco, 51
You might be suspicious of a company whose 68 million-strong membership is bigger than the UK population, but American wine lovers love Costco. It’s the fifth-largest US retailer, and the largest beverage retailer. It sells alcohol in 433 stores in the US and Puerto Rico, and a further 165 worldwide; 20 new stores were opened in 2012. Wine sales reached US$1.4bn in 2012, of which 70% were domestic. Costco’s website last year started selling in the UK with 131 wines and spirits in its range, including classed-growth Bordeaux and Cristal, Krug and Dom Pérignon Champagne. Wine selections are quirky – it will sell interesting and scarce parcels from just about anywhere, often 10%–15% cheaper than other retailers. Its house brand, the Kirkland range, is well-received. Costco even has its own independent fansite, the Costco Wine Blog, focused on ferreting out the best bargains. Over all this presides Annette Alvarez Peters, usually referred to as the most powerful wine buyer in America. She was pilloried last year for claiming ‘wine is simply a product, no different from toilet paper’, but simply shrugged a shoulder and got on with the job of selling a $1.5bn worth of interesting wine.