Inside the Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition

Meet the two millennial women inspiring the palate of the young adult beverage connoisseur.

Millennials are revitalizing the adult beverage world like never before. That’s why Amanda Greenbaum and Olivera Markovic, two millennial women who have made big waves in the wine industry, set out to create a spirits competition unlike any other. I talked with the founders themselves to get the scoop on why the annual Los Angeles-based Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits competition is the place to be for those in the industry. Taking place April 1, 2020 in Marina Del Rey, California the competition is an event that’s piquing alcohol entrepreneurs’ attention.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the competition? What was your vision and the inspiration behind it?

Olivera Markovic: I entered the wine and spirits industry in 2016, working with and learning from well-respected wine and spirits critics. I worked as a Wine Director for a wine subscription company and did some consulting work for different brands. As I made my way through the wine and spirits industry, including the tough distribution game, I realized the importance of the millennial consumer to this industry. Moreover, I realized the lack of focus on this specific audience, even though millennials are the largest alcohol-consuming generation in the market. So, one day I came up with the idea to create a tasting event that hires millennial judges to evaluate all wines and spirits entered to raise brand awareness of the winning products amongst the millennial generation. Our overall vision is to create a competition that millennial consumers can identify with and trust. Additionally, we are looking to partner with a charity to increase community engagement and promote impactful collaborations within communities.

Q: How did you two meet and start working together?

Amanda Greenbaum: I was in Napa for an event and I was staying at our mutual friend’s place for the evening. She and I got onto the topic of how- now that I am a certified sommelier- one of my goals is to judge a wine competition. She connected me to Oli, who was running the Millennial Award Show, letting her know that I could be a potential judge. Oli, being as brilliant and forward-thinking as she is, had other ideas. After getting lunch at Elephante in Santa Monica, she asked me to help her run the show, and be the head judge. So I told her I’d love to help her run the competition in exchange for consulting advice for my boutique winery, AJA Vineyards. One thing led to another and we really connected. We just had great energy, extremely excited at every meeting. We rebranded the Millennial Award Show as the Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition, and are excited to be building up the company together, as business partners and now co-presidents. Our dynamic is really unique since we’re ten years apart in age. Oli comes from Europe and I’m from the States, so that combined with our age difference gives us a unique and more complete perspective of the millennial generation.

Q: How did you choose the venue for the event?

OM: Sisley Spa USA provides high-quality products and experiences that match our mission to redefine luxury and quality. We’re targeting a similar market, so a collaboration was an organic idea. Together we promote an elevated experience.

Q: What do the big winners take home?

AG: Our big winners are awarded “Best in Show,” “Best in Class,” and double gold medals! Our goal is to get the public to really understand what these medals and victories mean for the quality of the product. You can look at a gold medal on a bottle of wine and assume it’s good but have no idea what that competition stands for or who enters! It’s our goal to share these big wins with consumers, so they know what to look for in stores!

Q: Why do you think Millennials are such a great market for the spirits industry? Are there any specific types of spirits that millennials have revitalized?

OM: Currently, we live in an “experience” economy. As consumers, we’re all about the experience that we receive with the funds we provide. Being able to share those experiences on social apps have contributed to this quite a bit. And the majority of people on these social apps are between the ages of 24 and 38. These are the millennials, the active drivers of the current economy.

AG: Millennials, as we said before, are all about the experience. They want a show, and they want something interesting. That being said, old fashioned cocktails and speakeasy type bars have been a lot more popular lately. Some interesting types of spirits that have been “rebranded” and are “coming back into style” are gin, mezcal, and chartreuse (an herbal liqueur), and currently, hailing the alcohol aisles are wine coolers– today known as hard seltzers. Millennials are all about craft products with natural ingredients. On the wine side, there’s absolutely been a noticeable shift in palate. Old World wines and a lighter body are coming back. Our parents’ generation was spearheaded by the heavy 14.5% Napa Cabernets and buttery chardonnays. Now, you’d be surprised how often a German riesling or a dry rose is preferred.

Q: Who are the judges and what are their qualifications?

OM: It’s very important to hire the right mix of millennial judges. Some of them are professionals, for example, beverage directors, sommeliers, wine journalists and food bloggers. Others are lifestyle influencers, actors, and YouTube personalities, who, at the end of the day, enjoy sipping wine like everyone else.

AG: We believe that this eclectic group provides a proper representation of the millennial generation, being that some of us are very well versed in the industry, and some of us (most of us) are not. But we want to be that competition that helps consumers pick the right beverages when going into the store.

Q: What will take place during the event?

OM: During the event, our judges will blindly evaluate the entered wines. After separate evaluation, teams of four judges will discuss their scores, creating the ultimate score of the wine. The winning products will be revealed to the judges after the tasting for them to share with their following and potentially introduce to their wine programs. We will also be conducting one-on-one interviews with the judges asking them about the process, their wine preferences and their general excitement about the competition.

Q: How many people do you expect to attend?

AG: The attendance is limited to the judges, our volunteers, the Sisley Spa staff, and a few others. Unlike most competitions, this is not open to the public. The results and how they’re promoted are really what’s important to the structure of the competition.

For more information on this year’s competition, check out

The Millennial Wine Beer & Spirits Competition
April 1st, 2020 at Sisley Spa Marina Del Rey, CA

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