Since Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida’s (SWS-FL) founding in 1968, corporate sponsorship, community support and educational excellence have continued to be important charitable concerns at the Company, according to Steve Power, Executive Vice President, General Manager of SWS-FL. SWS-FL is a division of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., which is the country’s leading wine and spirits distributor. Among his many personal charitable activities, Power serves on the Board of Directors of Kids in Distress.

South Florida Division

Under the leadership of John Wittig, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of South Florida, the Company is committed to being a responsible corporate and civic member in the South Florida community in 2013 and beyond.

Florida International University - Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

In 2011, Florida International University (FIU) announced that its top-rated hospitality school had been named the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Designated in honor of the Chaplin family, the School will continue to provide cutting-edge management education for students who intend to pursue careers in the hospitality and tourism industries. Southern is a founding sponsor and host of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SoBe). Counting 2013 and since SoBe’s inception in 2002, Festival proceeds of more than $17 million have been donated to benefit FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

“This is a wonderful way to recognize our long-standing commitment to FIU,” said Southern’s President & Chief Operating Officer Wayne E. Chaplin. “We are committed to the education of the hospitality industry’s future leaders, and want to do our part to provide them with an exceptional learning experience.”

A section of the School’s state-of-the-art facilities includes the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center—a 4,500 square-foot facility that was built in 1999 and offers the latest approaches and technology for beverage tasting and analysis. Created for a variety of users, the Center is designed to accommodate students, and industry professionals including winemakers and distillers. It supports product evaluation, industry research and teaching in a specialized setting, such as that provided by FIU’s Jay W. Weiss Wine & Spirits Laboratory. The laboratory is named in honor of Weiss, a founding executive of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Further enhancing the quality of the education offered, the Harvey R. Chaplin Eminent Scholar Chair is the first and only eminent scholar chair in the country devoted to beverage management. The holder of the chair, Dr. Barry Gump, leads the Beverage Management Studies program at the School and oversees the operation of the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center.

The partnership with the Chaplin family has helped place FIU at the forefront of hospitality education, and their support has contributed to the school’s growth and development as one of the nation’s leading hospitality and tourism management schools.

In the spring of 2012, the Chaplin School opened a brand new teaching restaurant where students have access to the highest-quality kitchen facilities, wine cellar, bartending training area and expansive teaching dining room to support a hands-on, experiential learning approach. Containing thousands of the finest wines from Southern Wine & Spirits’ vast portfolio, the custom-designed wine cellar that is part of the restaurant will accommodate up to 12 guests and will be used for wine pairings and special functions. The newly-renovated 160-seat restaurant is funded by proceeds from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management is one of the highest-rated hospitality and tourism programs in the United States. Each year, over 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States and around the world choose FIU for its outstanding reputation, advantageous locations, impressive faculty, rich curriculum and fast-track career advantages in the international hotel, foodservice and tourism industries.

Step Up For Students

In 2013, and continuing to leverage the 2001 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida has directed $35 million to fund scholarships for underprivileged students in Florida over the past three years. These contributions have provided more than 9,000 scholarships for families to use toward tuition at a school that best meets their children’s specific learning needs. Through this program, beverage alcohol wholesalers are able to redirect up to 90 percent of their Florida alcoholic beverage excise tax to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program.

“Since our founding in 1968, Southern’s philosophy and culture are that people are our most valuable asset. In our enthusiastic and continuing support of this great statewide program, we hope to contribute to the education and future professional success of eligible children across the State of Florida,” said Southern’s President & Chief Operating Officer Wayne Chaplin.

SoBe Sober

In 2013 as in previous years, Southern recognizes and understands the societal challenge of underage drinking. We know a number of factors influence young people’s attitudes and behavior towards alcohol—with parental and peer influence being especially important.

As a beverage alcohol distributor, Southern believes it would be inappropriate for us to engage with those under the legal drinking age. Consequently, we do not work directly with this audience; instead, we leverage public service announcements and educational youth groups within our communities. Our approach to the prevention of underage drinking is to work with parents and adults to support targeted initiatives run by third parties with specific expertise in this area.

In partnership with D-FY-IT—a Miami based non-profit organization that has developed many effective, award-winning programs for at-risk youth—Southern has branded an underage drinking prevention campaign named SoBe Sober. This campaign is designed to combat underage drinking among Miami Dade and Broward County, Florida students through education, outreach and celebrity sponsorship endorsement programs—and has touched literally thousands of current and former high school students in the region.

Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equality

The Jay Weiss Center for Social Medicine and Health Equity was officially established in 2005 to join forces with the social medicine and health equity movements that are gaining momentum across the globe. The Center is based at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine and was established in memory of philanthropist Jay W. Weiss, a longtime champion of the underserved in the Miami-Dade community.

Lack of access to health care is responsible for preventable deaths and suffering of millions of people in today’s world. The founders of the Jay Weiss Center believe that a critical need is the development and support of physician practitioners and policy advocates who will be effective in increasing access to health care and improving the quality of life of the poorest members of our society.

In 2013, continuing a tradition of annual support since 2005, Southern Wine & Spirits donated product and funds to the fund-raising events that have been held on behalf of the center and will continue to support their efforts in 2013 and beyond.

The 2013 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Southern Wine & Spirits of South Florida is proud to partner with Florida International University (FIU) to produce the annual Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Each year more than 400 students of the FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management experience the Festival in a hands-on-way by providing logistical assistance and much needed manpower in the areas of marketing and ticketing as well as working side-by-side with world-renowned visiting chefs and winemakers alike.

All proceeds from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival benefit the FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s Teaching Restaurant and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at FIU. Through 2012, FIU and Southern Wine & Spirits of South Florida have partnered to raise more than $17 million in support of educational programs at FIU.

The 2014 South Beach Wine & Food Festival is scheduled for: February 20-23; for more information about tickets, please log onto:

SWS of FL and SWS Voluncheers

In 2013, Southern Wine & Spirits of South Florida has launched our Employee Volunteer Program, SWS VolunCheers. The purpose of SWS VolunCheers is to encourage employees to Sponsor local non-profit agencies and work alongside each other in support of social and environmental issues to improve the quality of life within the communities which we live and work.

In 2012, SWS VolunCheers supported the following initiatives:

  • Donating 30 dresses to the South Florida Chapter of Becca’s Closet, a non-profit that provides prom dresses to low income high school students

  • Working with The United Way of Miami-Dade campaign to raise $38,194 through employee donations and fundraising activities

  • Contributing 45 cases of back-to-school supplies to Brentwood Elementary School in Miami Gardens (where SWS Corporate and warehouse offices are located)

  • Participating in Hunger Action Month by supporting Feeding South Florida (local chapter of Feeding America) thru food collection drive, fundraising activities and volunteered at the Feeding South Florida warehouse. Feeding South Florida provides food and essential non-food items to over 500 charities in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties

Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida – North Florida Division:

“In 2013, corporate sponsorship, community involvement, and educational excellence continue to be the cornerstone of SWS of North Florida’s social responsibility activities,” according to Barry Zeidwig, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of North Florida.

JACKSONVILLE: The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation’s mission is to assist children and their families who are stricken with Leukemia and other childhood cancers by providing emotional and financial support to help reduce the stress with treatment and to improve their quality of life. To do this, Southern Wine & Spirits sponsors an annual Wine Gala and a Celebrity Golf Tournament which are the area’s most anticipated events of their type each year. Local restaurants, celebrities and SWS suppliers combine their efforts to attract more than 1,000 attendees to the events which continue to grow in size and scope. Because of the huge success in Florida, the Foundation has now expanded to New York as well. As of 2013, the Foundation has helped hundreds of families with grants totaling about $4 million.

PENSACOLA: Taste of the Beach

In 2013, Southern Wine & Spirits is the exclusive wine partner in the annual “Taste of the Beach” collection of wine tasting events held in Florida’s beautiful “Emerald Coast Resort Area” each November. The multi-faceted “Taste of the Beach” wine weekend features a well-designed series of wine and food pairings, charity auctions, winemaker dinners, and outdoor wine tastings which benefit the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

The Foundation’s mission is to connect wine enthusiasts and philanthropic minded citizens for the purpose of raising money for children in need through wine events. Through benefitting charities the proceeds raised by the foundation support and give hope to at-risk children, including those afflicted by health issues and abuse.

Established in 2005, the Foundation has impacted the lives of countless needy children along the Emerald Coast; hosted dozens of world class wine and culinary celebrities, and become one of the fastest and most talked about charity foundations in the nation.

ORLANDO: WineQuest

In 2013, Southern Wine & Spirits continues to be the sole sponsor of this annual series of events. While WineQuest is both an entertaining and educational experience, it also serves as a benefit for Quest Inc. For nearly 50 years, Quest has helped people with disabilities achieve their dreams of going to school, having a job, and living on their own. Quest inspires and empowers Central Floridians with disabilities by offering opportunities to learn, live, work, and play. Through Quests’ comprehensive family services, children and adults imagine and achieve their full capabilities.

ORLANDO: Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida

In 2013, Southern Wine and Spirits established an endowed scholarship fund at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida. The “Pinnacle Vodka Endowed Scholarship” fund will exist in perpetuity, with a portion of the annual earnings being made available for scholarship awards. The Scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding full-time undergraduate student in the Rosen College of Hospitality Management interested in beverage management within the College’s Food Service Department.

In 2013, the Pinnacle Vodka Endowed Scholarship recipient is a senior and Dean’s list student, Ms. Amelia Salafrio, a student with 7 years of professional experience in the food and beverage industry.

TAMPA: 2012 The Brandon Foundation/Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival

Southern Wine & Spirits is a long-time partner of the Brandon Foundation’s Community Outreach efforts. Founded in 2003, the Brandon Foundation’s primary mission is to improve the quality of life and shape the future of their community by creating public awareness, developing resources, and supporting the initiatives that address local needs. To date the Foundation has distributed approximately $1.5 million dollars to local charities.

In September 2012, Southern Wine and Spirits, with the assistance of the Brandon Foundation, re-launched the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival. This popular event now incorporates the annual Southern Charm Wine & Food Gala and a spectacular indoor/outdoor Grand Tasting newly tagged as: “The Wine Down in Downtown.” Together these two exciting sellout events are destined to become the Tampa Bay area’s pre-eminent wine and spirits festival. Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida-North Division’s large number of supplier partners, local restaurateurs, and other business leaders have all united to create a new and different venue with all profits going to as many as 50 registered charities supported by the Brandon Foundation.

For more information about The Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival, please visit the Festival website at

TAMPA: YMCA and other Charitable Groups

Rich Spiro, General Sales Manager, Costal Wine and Spirits of Florida, a division of SWS of Florida, is active in the Tampa area community and serves on the Board for the YMCA of North Tampa. He is an active sponsor of YMCA’s annual Caribana Fund Raising event every year, as well as volunteering at the local Metropolitan Ministries where Rich donates many hours to the holiday food and toy drives. Southern’s Tampa managers and employees also participate in the “Paint Your Heart Out” Tampa Bay outreach to help the elderly and the poor clean up their properties and paint their houses. Rich has been active in volunteer coaching for the city of Temple Terrace and Chamberlain High School. Rich is also an Honorary Hillsborough County Deputy which enhances his commitment to continued community service and support programs - especially those supporting, mentoring and coaching Tampa Bay area youth.