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The American Wine Society

There’s always more to learn about wine

We are passionate wine explorers—both beginner and expert—who believe wine discovery is a fun and lifelong adventure that should be shared. Our 7,000 members are largely wine consumers, but also amateur and professional winemakers; chefs, restaurateurs and foodies; educators and students; journalists; wine suppliers and wineries.

We quench our thirst for wine knowledge through local tastings—there are 180 AWS chapters across the United States, and through regional and national wine events and formal training and wine courses. Each event is an opportunity to make new friends, share a glass of wine and learn about the history, culture and traditions involved in making and drinking wine.

Discover more about what is in your glass.

A history of sharing wine knowledge

The first American Wine Society meeting took place in Western New York at the vineyard of Dr. Konstantin Frank on Keuka Lake near Hammondsport on October 7, 1967. The inaugural meeting included 200 grape growers, home winemakers, and wine lovers. As AWS grew, the emphasis evolved to a shared vision of appreciating wine from across the globe and learning more about it.

Winemakers are integral to AWS

Most early members of the Society were winemakers, and the American Wine Society continues to value this key segment of our membership. Even today, a significant number of the members are amateur winemakers—a fact we take great pride in mentioning. Some of our amateur winemakers go on to commercial winemaking.

“Wine-growing and wine-drinking are attached at the roots to the most widespread and longest-lived civilizations the earth has known.”
– Hugh Johnson, author of the World Atlas of Wine

Wine exploration never stops

After a half century, the American Wine Society is still going strong, and growing every year. The subject of wine is nearly limitless and touches on geography, history, sociology, and science. Wine has survived civilizations, war, and famine. It has accompanied explorers, homesteaders, kings, and commoners; both in daily living, and in our most exceptional celebrations.

Come discover wine with AWS!


AWS Bylaws

2020 Board of Directors

Joseph Broski

Princeton Chapter, NJ
Member since 1998
Joe developed an insatiable curiosity about wine in his late 20s (pre-internet days) and had the good fortune a few years later to meet others who shared his passion. He joined the AWS in 1998, and progressed through the leadership roles. Today, Joe belongs to several local, regional, and national wine groups. His reviews of books on wine can be found on Vacations are not without winery tours in the European countryside.

Michael Wangbickler
Vice President

Napa, CA
Member since 2009
Before following his heart to wine country, Mike followed his head to Silicon Valley where he spent eight fast-paced years in communications. Armed with a “live to eat” motto and an evident passion for wine, Mike entered Balzac’s life 14 years ago and became the agency’s President in 2016. In 2019, he launched the Hit the Bottle Podcast, a practical guide to beverage marketing through the lens of strategy, technology, and leadership.

A disciple of Walt Disney, Mike strives to get the most out of himself and his team. He believes leadership, imagination, and innovation require a level of fearlessness and he encourages his team not to play by the rules. They are driven by the stories that inspire people to share in a dream. It’s this philosophy that has guided successful campaigns for more than 70 global wineries and regions from a dozen countries. Mike holds a WSET Level 4 Diploma. He is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) and WSET Certified Educator.

Leanne Wheeler

Hartford Area Chapter, CT
Member since 2011
Leanne is an AWS Certified Wine Judge and has completed levels one and two of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) program, passing both with distinction. Leanne is a wine educator and serves as an instructor at Manchester Community College as well as for Level 1 of the AWS Super Tasting Series. Most recently, Leanne took on the role of competition director for the Amenti del Vino Annual International Wine competition. She enjoys traveling to wine regions to satiate her thirst for knowledge.

Thomas Wallman

Dayton Chapter, OH
Member since 1996

Rex Bambling
Director of Competitions

Northern Loudoun County Chapter, VA
Member since 2003
Rex completed the AWS Certified Wine Judge training program in 2011. While judging in local, regional, national, and international wine competitions, he became interested in all aspects of wine competitions. For the past four years, Rex has been coordinating the back room activities for the AWS competition held at the national conference. During these years, he has applied his background in software development to computerize many of the tedious and labor-intensive steps that are required to organize the wines, present them to the judging panels, and process the scoring results.

Jay Bileti
Director of Member Services

Sonoita Chapter, AZ
Member since 1993
Jay has been closely involved with wine since he was a child (helping both of his Italian grandfathers make wine). He worked his way through college as a restaurant wine steward and retail wine sales clerk. He is one of four International Wine Masters in the world. He has studied viticulture and winemaking around the world, is very active on the wine competition circuit and has written for multiple wine publications.
He previously served as RVP of Arizona and as a chapter chair.

Aaron Mandel
Director of Education

St. Louis Chapter, MO
Member since 2008
Aaron is a wine educator, wine judge and student of wine. He started his formal wine education with the Society of Wine Educator's Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) in 2008. He earned AWS Wine Judge Certification in 2011 and took over running the program in 2012. Aaron has judged numerous competitions in the United States and annually judges the International Wine Challenge in London. He has taught WSET and CSW classes and worked as both an instructor and mentor for students in the sommelier program (although he spills too much wine to teach service). He has earned his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is currently enrolled in the Master of Wine Program.

David Falchek
Executive Director

Electric City Chapter, PA
Member since 1999
David Falchek became the executive director of the American Wine Society in 2016. Prior to that he served two terms on the AWS board as director of membership services. David began writing about wine in the early 1990s in the Finger Lakes and his work has appeared in wine trade publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management, Beverage Media, and Practical Winery and Vineyard and Edible. He frequently judges regional, national and international wine competitions. David is serving a second term on the American Society of Association Executives public policy committee. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Organizations. In 2019, he received a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Scranton Kania School of Management. He serves as treasurer of The Scranton Downtown Federal Credit Union.

Katherine Kearney
Member Service Manager

Electric City Chapter, PA
Member since 2016
Katie Kearney joined the National Office staff as the Member Service Manager in December of 2016. Prior to her time with the AWS Katie has worked at several non-profits since beginning her professional career in 2009. She worked in neighborhood revitalization, adult literacy and ESL. She spent the early part of her career working in the museum field. Katie has a history degree from Wilkes University, loves to knit, travels to historic sites whenever she has time and enjoys cooking for her family and friends.

AWS 2019
Award of Merit

Randall Grahm

Randall Grahm received the 2019 Award of Merit at the AWS National Conference on Nov. 2 in St. Pete Beach, FL.

In an acceptance speech, Mr. Grahm humbly and humorously discussed several particularly vivid career failures over the past 35 years, as well as plans for the future at his estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista, CA. But the audience of 600 applauded him for his decades of innovation and successes.

He has influenced wine styles, packaging, and marketing in enduring ways, including via his pioneering experiments with Rhone grape varieties, his early embrace of Stelvin closures, and his innovative marketing, as with his flagship Rhone-style blend, Le Cigare Volant.

Mr. Grahm has been at the forefront of introducing new grape varieties, hastening the adoption of alternate closures, and marketing wine in fun, innovative ways. He is known as one of the industry’s great characters, but he has also been a force in shaping the wine industry for the better. When asked for a comment on this, his most recent accolade, Mr. Grahm said, “I am greatly honored by this acknowledgment from the AWS, but respectfully suggest that the real hard work is still yet to be doon. I look forward to many more productive years in this industry.”

The AWS’s Award of Merit is the highest consumer honor conferred on individuals in the wine industry, recognizing contributions that have enhanced wine appreciation and enjoyment. Since 1974, the AWS has presented this award annually to leaders in winemaking, viticulture, marketing, journalism, or merchandizing.
Konstantin Frank, 1971 Hudson Cattell, 1991 Gordon Murchie 2011
Charles Fournier, 1972 Andrew C. Rice, 1992 Jim Bernau 2012
Leon D. Adams, 1973 Vernon L. Singleton, 1993 Dick Naylor 2013
Willard B. Robinson, 1974 Lucie T. Morton, 1994 Gina Gallo 2014
Philip and Jocelyn Wagner, 1975 Alex and Louisa Hargrave, 1995 Chuck Wagner 2015
Maynard A. Amerine, 1976 Warren Winiarski, 1996

Peter Mondavi Sr.


G. Hamilton Mowbray, 1977 Arnulf W. Esterer, 1997

The Frank Family


Harold P. Olmo, 1978 Vincent Petrucci, 1998

Paul Wagner 2018


George W.B. Hostetter, 1979 Justin Morris, 1999  
Andre Tchelistcheff, 1980 Ann C. Noble, 2000  
Alexander Brailow, 1981 Peter M.F. Sichel, 2001  
Robert Mondavi, 1982 Marian Baldy, 2002  
Louis P. Martini, 1983 Sharron McCarthy, 2003  
Douglas and Marlene Moorhead, 1984 Jonathan Newman, 2004  
James F. Gallander, 1985 Miljenko "Mike” Grgich, 2005  
Philip Hiaring, 1986 Angel Nardone, 2006  
Richard P. Vine, 1987 Jacques Recht, 2007  
Harriet Lembeck, 1988 Kent Rosemblum, 2008  
Charles M. Crawford, 1989 Zelma Long, 2009  
Nelson J. Shaulis, 1990 Eric & Lee Miller 2010  

AWS 2019 Outstanding
Member Award

Thomas and Janice Cobett

The 2019 Outstanding Member award was given to the Cobetts, long time active members of the Cleveland (OH) Chapter. accomplished amateur winemakers and instructors. Tom and Jan are very visible leaders in their chapter, region and at the national level. They serve as judges, program presenters and competition coordinators. They co-chaired the very successful 2000 National Conference in Cleveland.

Jan has served as Regional Vice President, National Secretary, Vice President and President, and is the Chair of Financial Review. Tom was Chairperson, Amateur Wine Competition for several years and is now the Government Affairs columnist for the AWS News.
Margaret Jackisch, 1976
Ed Van Dyne, 1991
Alcide (Al) L. Porell, 2006
Aldus Fogelsanger, 1977
Alton L. Long, 1992
Robert (Bob) Miller, 2007
J. Edward Schmidt, 1978
Linda M. King, 1993
Willis Parker, 2008
Albert W. Laubengayer, 1979
J. Randy Hurteau, 1994
Alexis Hartung, 2009
John McGrew, 1980
Thoms C. Iezzi, 1995
Tom Castronovo 2010
Philip F. Jackisch, 1981
Hal Kohn, Jr., 1996
Dave Barber, 2011
Richard J. Cooper, 1982
John and Anne Stavisky, 1997
Joyce Vecchiolli, 2012
George McRory, 1983
Matt and Carol Kristofik, 1998
Samuel D. Streiff 2013
Elmer S. Phillips, 1984
Raymond A. Hartung, Jr., 1999
Les Sperling 2014
Marvin J. Yiengst, 1985
Eugene J. Spazini, 2000
Pam Davey 2015
Robert T. Olsen, 1986
John (Mick) Hasson, 2001
 Tom King 2016
Richard D. Scheer, 1987
Tao Porchon-Lynch, 2002
 Peter Cisek, 2017
Jane H. Moulton, 1988
George Wilson, 2003
 John Hames, 2018 
Karl A. Northrup, 1989
Frederic Butcher, 2004
Elizabeth M. Lincoln, 1990
Kenneth P. Brewer, 2005

AWS Educational Foundation

Operating seperately from its parent American Wine Society organization, the American Wine Society Educational Foundation (AWSEF) advances the viticultural and enological sciences to achieve a world-class North American wine industry. The Foundation relies on AWS members to help provide academic scholarships and research grants to full-time graduate students in North America based on academic excellence and genuine interest in pursuing careers in wine-related fields. Learn More


Contact us

American Wine Society
PO Box 889
Scranton, PA 18501
(888) 297-9070