WSWT History

The beverage alcohol industry in Tennessee has a long and storied past that begins with the temperance movement and nationwide prohibition in the 1920s. That failed effort to prohibit the consumption of alcohol was overturned with the passage of the 21st Amendment in 1933. Congress established a new system for distributing alcohol – the Three-Tier System — that ensured a healthy balance between government’s control of alcohol and people’s access to it. As part of that system, the Wine and Spirits Wholesaler industry was born.

The wholesalers in each state are the critical connection between the supplier who makes the alcohol and the retailer who sells it to the public. They are responsible for ensuring that alcohol brought into the state is safe for distribution and that the suppliers pay the taxes they should. In Tennessee, wine and spirits wholesalers have worked alongside state officials and law enforcement for decades to ensure that their products do not get into the wrong hands.

The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, a statewide trade association, was founded in the late 1960s as a chapter of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. The organization was led by entrepreneurs from Tennessee’s first wholesale houses who were bound by a common concern for their shared industry. Manuel Eskind served as the organization’s first president, and founding members included Alex Barzizza, Harold “Jobe” Bernard, John Donnelly, Harry Lipman, Dan Pearlberg, Howard White, Martin Goodman, Manual Eskind, Cape Bowman, Abe Plow, Sid Perlberg, King Klein, Vic Robilio, Sr., and Marshall Lewis.

Today, WSWT is comprised of a competitive membership of beverage alcohol wholesalers and has grown to be one of the largest and most active associations of its kind in the nation.

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