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A Look Back at Industry Pioneer Fritzi Haskell

Posted by Beau Farrell on Feb 27, 2015 10:23:00 AM

CEO Jack Farrell Looks Back at Haskell's Founder Fritzi Haskell

The name on our stores has a long tradition and a wonderful history. It's the name of Fritzi Haskell. "Fritzi was a real pioneer in the wine business. She brought in the first container of wines into the USA after prohibition," says CEO of Haskell's Jack Farrell. "She was promoting wine while the rest of the country was getting over moonshine and bathtub gin."

Industry Icon and Pioneer


Though she was often the lone woman visiting wine cellars and sniffing corks, Fritzi became an industry icon and was on a first-name basis with many European wine houses. Says Farrell, "When you consider she was a woman and from a small city in the middle of the country....what a remarkable achievement."

Where It Began

Fritzi – who was married to boxer and convicted bootlegger Benny Haskell – took the helm of their first store in downtown Minneapolis in 1934. Benny's legal past had gotten in the way of him obtaining a liquor license, so Fritzi did instead. Benny managed spirits (under-the-radar), while Fritzi became the company's figurehead and wine expert.

"In 1936 when the rest of the country was drinking gin fizzes, she was scouting the great vineyards of Europe to get people accustomed to drinking wine," says Farrell.

Being the first to bring foreign wines into the United States after Prohibition wasn't the only reason Fritzi was a pioneer. In 1967, Haskell became the first woman to address the Wine and Spirits Guild of America

Changing of the Guard

Fritzi sold the company to Farrell in 1970, who kept her pioneering spirit alive, being the first to bring in Nouveau Beaujolais to America and the second retailer to offer wine futures. Also, Haskell's was the first out-of-state client for many American wineries, including Caymus, Diamond Creek, and Concannon

Cheers to you, Fritzi. We hope we're making you proud.

Photo credit: StarTribune.com

Wine Sale Catalog


Founded in 1934, Haskell’s has championed fine wines for over 80 years. We have 13 wine stores in Minnesota, two delis and one restaurant. As one of the top wine shops in North America, Haskell’s is known for legendary service and one of the finest collections of wine, beer and spirits. Led by Chairman and CEO Jack Farrell, and the Farrell family, Haskell’s continues to be at the forefront of the wine scene throughout the world. Haskell’s also can ship wine, beer & spirits all throughout the world, the U.S. and we deliver locally.

Topics: Vintage Haskell's