The import company is owned by Memphian Billy Weiss and has offices in both Memphis and Berkeley, California.
North Berkeley was one of six importers that received this distinguished wine industry recognition. The awards were announced in the winter 2019 edition.
“Of the hundreds of importers who submitted wines to our tasting panels last year —more than 11,000 wines that our panels and critics reviewed — North Berkeley Imports is among the six importers that earned the most wine recommendations and the highest ratings from our critics,” said Joshua Greene, editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.
“Their wines also earned multiple mentions in our Top 100 Wines of the Year and our Top 100 Best Buys. As wine buyers ourselves, we often look to the back of the bottle to consider who selected and imported the wine. When we trust the importer, that ups the odds that we will like the wine, and that’s why we developed our awards for the Importers of the Year. It’s helpful information when you’re deciding what to buy.”
Weiss is celebrating his 20th anniversary with North Berkeley Imports. Weiss said he bought the business, which was a neighborhood retail shop just up the street from famed Chez Panisse, in 1999 to expand his footprint in the industry. While the original retail shop still exists in Berkeley, Weiss has transformed North Berkeley into a wine import company that focuses on wines from France and Italy. His wines are carried in retail shops across the country, as well as in many of the top restaurants from coast to coast.
“We are highly involved with our farmers,” Weiss said. “We work with them to create the brands and advise on wine making. It’s a collaborative process so we decided to limit our scope to just France and Italy.”
Weiss currently works with 110 wineries in the two countries.
North Berkeley also earned four Top 100 Winery awards for exceptional overall performances by Fratelli Alessandria in Piedmont, Rocca di Montegrossi in Chianti Classico, Vadiaperti in Campania and Jean Vesselle in Champagne.
Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.
Wines for the holidays
Billy Weiss recommends the following wines for your holiday entertaining. Each is $30 or less. (Prices are from Buster’s Liquors and Wines.)
Murgo Etna Rosso 2017 ($17.99): A Sicilian red from the Mount Etna region in Italy.
Domaine Perraud Macon Villages Vieilles Vignes 2016 ($19.99): A chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France.
Le Clos de Caillou Cotes du Rhone 2015 ($27.99): A Cotes du Rhone from the Rhone Valley in France.
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