Expanding Wine Access Through Technology, Drizly's Cory Rellas Is Innovator of the Year | Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Wine Star Awards
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Expanding Wine Access Through Technology, Drizly’s Cory Rellas Is Innovator of the Year | Wine Enthusiast’s 2020 Wine Star Awards

Online ordering for things like pizza and groceries started in the mid-1990s, and by the 2010s, online delivery systems had left the old-fashioned phone call in the dust. But something had always been missing: an equally savvy means of adding the perfect pairing into the mix.

In 2012, Cory Rellas, along with cofounders Nick Rellas, Spencer Frazier and Justin Robinson, brought online alcohol delivery service Drizly to life.

With it, in just a few taps, you can pair your favorite pie with that Lambrusco you’ve been eyeing at the local wine shop without ever setting foot outside.

Since its launch, with Rellas at the helm, Drizly has grown to partner with more than 3,500 retailers across 27 states and Washington, D.C.

“The initial vision was much more about finding the intersection of technology within a regulated industry rather than ‘delivery’ or ‘on-demand,’ ” he says. “It’s an incredible and important industry, and we’re excited to build a company that can be there for people and the moments that matter.”

Rellas adds that the experience benefits brands, wholesalers, retailers and the consumer in one fell swoop.

Forward thinking by him and his team has served as a significant contributor to this growth with no signs of slowing down in the future. Though the company is still in its early days, projections for the next few years are as promising as ever, compounded by a surge in business brought on by the ripple effects of the pandemic. To wit, Drizly has grown 350% over the course of 2020.

Keeping up with a rapidly changing landscape has proven fruitful: This past April alone showed figures eight times higher than those of April 2019, a rising tide lifting all boats.

“We’ve worked hard with our partner retailers to make sure they could stay open for business in a time where many did not leave their home, and [to] take the proper communication and health guidance to make sure drivers and consumers were protected during the course of delivery.”

Rellas foresees Drizly gracefully riding the wave into the future.

“Thirty billion dollars of alcohol products annually are moving online in the next five years, and those that are generating value for the consumer are most poised to benefit,” he says. “We are focused on providing a fun, easy and personalized experience for consumers, and as we continue to be successful there, we have larger goals to build technology for retailers and the supply chain to better inform their businesses.”

In his personal life, as in his work, Rellas is on a perpetual quest to expand his knowledge without losing sight of the fun side of things, and his go-to order of late is no exception.

“Lately, I’ve been trying Italian wines and learning about the various grapes,” he says. “That said, I’m almost always including a new beer within the cart for random occasions.”

It’s that continued spirit of exploration driving growth and accessibility across the industry that makes Cory Rellas Wine Enthusiast’s Innovator of the Year. —Céline Bossart

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