Brand Battle


The 2023 tournament will combine elements of virtual category competitions coupled with the exciting, dramatic, live, and on-stage Brand Battle Championship—taking place at Access LIVE, April 3, 2023. This can’t miss event for new and emerging wine and spirits brands will bring together the best of the best in a highly attended, Shark Tank style format. This event will showcase rising brands with unique stories, packaging and flavor profiles in an engaging digital environment for all industry tiers to see. Panels of wholesaler judges will provide valuable, thought-provoking insight and feedback on the various brands competing in the tournament.

After a successful virtual 2021 Brand Battle Tournament, Brand Battle will now host the tournament-style competition, with 8 virtual events, divided by categories, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m. EST beginning in February 2023! The ultimate live Brand Battle Championship between all category winners will be held live, on stage, at Access LIVE in Orlando, Florida on April 3, 2023 to crown the 2023 Brand Battle Champion.

Brand Battle


Are you a new and/or emerging brand with limited distribution? Do you want the opportunity to pitch your story and product to a panel of industry experts and gain exposure to hundreds of industry enthusiasts?

While most of the category competitions have closed, please email Becky Wiese at if you are a Rum or Modifier contender or if you have any other questions.

Watch the Battles

Vodka / Gin – Tuesday, February 7 @ 1:00 pm EST

Tequila / Mezcal / Cachaca – Thursday, February 9 @ 1:00 pm EST

Whiskey / Whisky / Bourbon / Scotch – Tuesday, February 14 @ 1:00 pm EST

Modifiers (Liqueurs / Mixers / Cordials) –Thursday, February 16 @ 1:00 pm EST

RTD / Hard Seltzer – Tuesday, February 21 @ 1:00 pm EST

Wine – Thursday, February 23 @ 1:00 pm EST

Rum – Tuesday, February 28 @ 1:00 pm EST

Lifestyle (Low-Alc / No-Alc) – Thursday, March 2 @ 1:00 pm EST

Brand Battle Championship – Monday, April 3 @ 4:00 pm EST on the Access LIVE Main Stage


Important Dates

December 23, 2022: Application deadline for the following categories:

  • Vodka / Gin
  • Tequila / Mezcal / Cachaca

January 6, 2023: Application deadline for the following categories:

  • Whiskey / Whisky / Bourbon / Scotch
  • Modifiers (Liqueurs / Mixers / Cordials)
  • RTD / Hard Seltzer
  • Wine
  • Rum
  • Lifestyle (No-Alc / Low-Alc / CBD)

December 9, 2022

Wholesaler Judge ApplicationsDue

December 22, 2022: Competitors and Judges to be announced for Vodka/Gin and Tequila/Mezcal/Cachaca category competitions.

January 19, 2023: Competitors and Judges to be announced for remaining category competitions.

January 10, 2023: Deadline for Vodka/Gin and Tequila/Mezcal/Cachaca contenders to have sent product to their specific judges (NOTE: If selected as a contender, you will receive detailed shipping instructions).

January 31, 2023: Deadline for remaining category contenders to have sent product to their specific judges (NOTE: If selected as a contender, you will receive detailed shipping instructions).

Brand Battle

Quick Details


  • 8 separate virtual competitions, divided by category
  • 5-6 competitors per category
  • 5-6 wholesaler judges per category
  • Virtual competitions to take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 pm EDT, Spring 2023
  • 1 final best in tournament Competition, The Brand Battle Championship will take place live and on-stage at Access LIVE on Monday, April 3, 2023.
  • Prizes will be awarded to the 2023 Brand Battle Champion AND Category Winners
  • All selected contenders receive benefits for 2024 Convention & Exposition
  • Entry fees vary on membership levels and Access LIVE participation (see below).
Brand Battle
  • Any wine, spirit, low-alc/no-alc, or hard seltzer brand new-to-market or emerging in the U.S. may enter. Product must have been recently introduced in the U.S. in 2020 or later or have limited distribution (less than 5 states). 
  • All new product launches since August 2022 are welcome to submit an entry. Widely distributed products launched before August 2022 are welcome to submit an entry. Widely distributed products launched before August 2022 are not eligible.
  • Company must have a TTB license, and the product must have a Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval (COLA).
  • All product entries must be listed on a completed registration form, the entree fee(s) must be paid in full, and a 2-3 minute video submission must be received by dates noted in application. Failure to submit any of these items properly may result in disqualification.
    • Entry fees, per category entered, are as follows (all entry fees are non-refundable):
      • FREE for Associate Members exhibiting at 2023 Access LIVE
      • $500 for non-Associate Members exhibiting at 2023 Access LIVE
      • $150 for Associate Members not exhibiting at 2023 Access LIVE*
      • $650 for non-Associate Members not exhibiting at 2023 Access LIVE*
    • *If a non-exhibiting contender decides to exhibit, the difference between the non-exhibiting fee and the exhibiting fee will be credited towards their booth/suite.
  • All entrees submitted accurately and on time, will be reviewed and considered for the competition.
  • Category winners must be present at Access LIVE for the final Championship round. If you are yet registered, please do so here.
  • Presenter must be 21 years old or older.
  • Raise your brand's profile, prestige, and credibility with industry decision-makers and influencers.
  • Opportunity, if selected as a competitor, to showcase your product to top wholesaler decision-makers from across the country and receive valuable feedback.
  • All entrants are featured in the Tournament directory, whether or not selected as a competitor.
  • Competitors are promoted in advance of and throughout the tournament. All competitors also receive digital images to promote their participation in this tournament.
  • Establish confidence that your product has what it takes to excel in a dynamic marketplace.
  • Learn how to improve your marketing, product and pitch.
  • Gain insider insight into what makes brands successful.
  • We work with our media partners to highlight the competitors and winners.
  • Winners receive benefits in 2023, as well as at Access LIVE in 2024.

The following details the criteria the Selection Committee will evaluate when reviewing all applicants and determining competitors in each category. 

Selection Committee will do the following for each entrant: 

  • Review the entry form and product description. Assess if the story or product is unique, new, trendy, and/or classic. 
  • Watch the entry video to determine if the presentation dynamic and the story and/or product compelling.
  • Selection Committee will choose 5-6 competitors per category based on information provided in the entry form and video.
  • All entrants will be notified, whether or not they are chosen to move forward as a contestant.
    • Entrants selected to compete during the virtual event will receive detailed instructions on how to send samples of their product to the judges for their competition.

As a winner of a category or the overall tournament, you will receive many benefits in addition to the bragging rights that your product was “Best in Category” or “Brand Battle Champion.” Being a winner will give the industry confidence that your brand is a rising star positioned for success in the industry!

Each Best in Category Winner receives: 

  • Complimentary 2023 WSWA Access LIVE TASTE Table ($650 value)
  • $500 discount off a 2024 WSWA Access LIVE HQ Exhibit Booth with priority placement opportunity
  • Interviews with select media
  • Best in Category digital award file for use in marketing collateral
  • Promotion on WSWA website, in email marketing and on social media
  • Automatically entered to participate in the final Brand Battle Championship Event, live on stage at Access LIVE, Monday, April 2, 2023.

Brand Battle Champion receives: 

  • The same awards as each category winner, PLUS the addition of 1 (one) complimentary 10”x10” Exhibit Booth at the 2024 Access LIVE ($3,500 value) in lieu of a $500 discount.
  • Brand Battle Champion Award, mailed to winner
  • Brand Battle Champion digital award file for use in marketing collateral
  • $1000 cash award
  • Invitation to sit on the WSWA Access Craft advisory board.
  • Additional exposure to industry experts!

Criteria to be a judge:

  • Must work for a WSWA wholesaler member in good standing or a retailer in the wine & spirits industry.
  • Must be at least 21 years old.
  • Must be able to receive samples at your wholesaler warehouse in advance of the competition. 
  • Must have an expert understanding of the specific category you are interested in judging. Ability to articulate specific characteristics that make brands successful and insight into new products that will have a strong chance at succeeding in the marketplace.
  • Must be willing to spend up to 60 minutes on a run-through preparation webinar and up to 90 minutes the day of the tournament on a virtual platform.
  • Consent to the tournament being recorded for viewing at a later time.
  • Industry designations are a plus, but not required.