Celebrating hardy varietals, one woman put Vermont on the map for winemaking

FOOD & WINE ​Spotlights Nine Groundbreaking Talents Who Are Changing The Way We Drink For The Better

Vermont Business Magazine Dotdash Meredith's FOOD & WINE announces its 2023 Drinks Innovators of the Year, recognizing nine people leading the drinks world right now with extraordinary creativity and ambition. Some, like the winemaker making exceptional wines in a climate on the very edge of where grapes can be grown, and the distiller transforming an invasive species into bourbon, are addressing climate change with creativity and verve. ​This includes Deirdre Heekin and her winery, La Garagista​ in Woodstock, Vermont.

​​Others, like South Africa’s first Black woman winemaker, and the San Diego brewer celebrating Latino culture in craft-brewing, are bringing their life experiences and stories to the table in liquid terms. The 2023 Drinks Innovators of the Year are featured now at foodandwine.com and in the April issue of FOOD & WINE on newsstands March 17.

Hunter Lewis, FOOD & WINE Editor in Chief, said, “Each of these nine trailblazers exemplifies the best of the drinks industry across wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages. These innovators are moving the drinks industry forward, fostering positive change in their communities, and making the beverage industry more inclusive, more sustainable, and more delicious. We’re thrilled to honor their achievements and outstanding products.”

FOOD & WINE Drinks Innovators of the Year 2023:

  • Ntsiki Biyela of Aslina Wines

  • Carol Pak of Makku

  • Chris Frederick and Damola Timeyin of Spearhead Spirits

  • Luke Anderson and Jake Bullock of Cann

  • Steven Grasse of Tamworth Distilling

  • Deirdre Heekin of La Garagista, Woodstock, Vermont

  • Edgar Preciado of Beer Thug Life

In his introduction for the Drinks Innovators feature, FOOD & WINE Executive Editor Ray Isle wrote, "Our Drinks Innovators personally illustrate where the entire drinks industry is headed these days. And the drinks they make are ones you can get their hands on right now. They’re what the future tastes like.” Isle spearheaded the reporting with contributors from across the Food & Wine editorial team.

The profiles of each of the winners named to the 2023 Drinks Innovators of the Year list are featured in the FOOD & WINE April issue and online here.


FOOD & WINE is the ultimate authority on the best of what's new in food, drink, travel, design, and entertaining. FOOD & WINE has an extensive social media following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. FOOD & WINE includes a magazine in print and digital; a website, foodandwine.com; a books division; plus newsletters, events, and more. At FOOD & WINE, we inspire and empower our wine- and food-obsessed community to eat, drink, entertain, and travel better—every day and everywhere. FOOD & WINE is part of the Dotdash Meredith publishing family.

NEW YORK, March 13, 2023--Dotdash Meredith's FOOD & WINE