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 6,500 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

2022 Board of Directors

Michael Wangbickler

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.

Bill Stefan

Vice President

Heritage Hunt Chapter, VA
Member since 2017

Bill Stefan is an AWS Certified Wine Judge, student, writer, speaker, and amateur winemaker. Bill believes in promoting the appreciation of wine through education. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine and professional member of the Society of Wine Educators; Certified Sherry Wine Specialist by the Regulatory Council of Jerez-Xeres-Sherry Denomination of Origin; Certified Provence Master-Level with the Wine Scholar Guild; and level two of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) program, passing with distinction. Bill has written numerous articles, including two papers accepted for presentation to the American Association of Wine Economists on “Super Bowl Ads: Lessons for Wine Neuro-Marketing Success” and the “Neuro-Science of Wine Flavor.” He has also spoken on wine in numerous fora, including the American Association of Wine Economists at Cornell University and Leadership Initiatives at Georgetown University on Neuro-Science in 2018-2020. As an amateur winemaker, Bill believes in learning by doing, having won numerous medals in national and international competitions, including one Best of Show, one Best Dessert Wine, 5 Double Gold, and 10 Gold Medals.

Ron Natalie

Secretary

Catawba Chapter, NC
Member since 2014

Ron founded the Catawba, North Carolina Chapter of the AWS in 2009. He and his wife Margy serve as Co-chairs. He became a wine enthusiast after running a Marathon in Bordeaux, France. Ron is a WSET Level 2 and 3 Graduate with distinction, an AWS WJCP graduate and has worked on the wine judging competition in multiple capacities since 1993. Ron founded and was president of “Save Sherrills Ford, Inc.,” a non-profit organization working on local land-use issues and was a board member of the North Carolina Woodworkers Association, where, since 2011, he has also served as their webmaster.

Richard Berezinsky

Treasurer

Myrtle Beach Chapter, SC
Member since 2010

Rich has been involved with nonprofits for most of his career, in a variety of positions including CFO and Executive Director. He has an MBA and is a retired CPA. Rich became involved with AWS in 2010 and became Vice Chair and then Chair of a Chapter with over 150 members. When he retired and moved, he and his wife, Mary, formed a Chapter in their new hometown.

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.

Carrie A. Garczynski

Director of Member Services

Denver Chapter, CO
Member since 2017

Carrie Garczynski, wine courtesan/owner of Carried Away, designs, develops and facilitates wine classes/dinners for public, private and corporate events focusing on the beauty, essence and verve wine brings to life, creating memorable experiences. With a background in corporate development and marketing, she has created numerous programs for a variety of organizations, ranging from a billion-dollar, privately-owned construction company to a quaint non-profit arts venue started in 1883. Shifting into the wonderful world of wine, she has achieved her WSET Level 3, International Spirits and Wine Guild Certified Executive Wine Sommelier, Certified Sr Wine Cellar Manager, and is pursuing her Society of Wine Education Certified Specialist of Wine and her WSET Level 4 Diploma. In addition, she has started ‘Wining With Wisdom’, an educational blind wine tasting group and is the Colorado RVP. She is a member of Women of the Vine & Spirits; Women’s Wine Guild of Colorado; Les Dégustateurs; Master Gardeners; and Evergreen Moonlight Gardening Club. When not dabbling in wine, Carrie enjoys skiing, gardening, golfing, traveling, playing outside and learning French.

Annemarie Morse

Director of Education

Finger Lakes Chapter, NY
Member since 2010

Annemarie Morse has a master’s degree in oenology from Cornell University and has worked as an assistant winemaker, retail wine consultant, wine & food writer and educator. She has taught wine courses at a college level and guest lectured at Cornell University. She is an international OIV and certified wine judge and has taught classes for and managed the AWS wine judge certification program. She has studied Italian wine studies through VinItaly International Academy, OperaWine, VinItaly, BING (Best Indigenous Native Grapes), 3IC (Italian International Indigenous Wine and Food Studies Center) Educator’s course, and Indigena (Native Wine Grapes of Italy project) and is a certified specialist in the Wine and Food of Central Italy through 3IC (with Ian D’Agata), first level Sommelier, and currently studying for WSET Level 3 exam. Through her company, Wine By Annemarie, LLC, she provides consulting services to restaurants, hosts international wine tours, and provides wine and food seminars and/or classes for the community, private and corporate clients.

David Falchek, CAE

Executive Director

Electric City Chapter, PA
Member since 1999

David Falchek, CAE, became executive director of the American Wine Society in 2016. Prior to that he served two terms as AWS director of membership services. David began writing about wine in the early 1990s in the Finger Lakes, and his work has appeared in several national and regional publications. David currently serves on the Small Staff Association Advisory Committee of the American Society of Association Executives, following two terms on the ASAE Public Policy Committee. In 2019 he received a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Scranton Kania School of Management. In 2021 he became a Certified Association Executive. He serves as treasurer of The Scranton Downtown Federal Credit Union and as a member of the City of Scranton Board of Ethics. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Organizations.

The AWS is proud to have earned the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar by Candid, the nation’s leading source of information on nonprofit organizations. With this designation, the AWS joins fewer than 5 percent of the nation’s 1.8 million nonprofits who have committed themselves to the highest standards of disclosure and accountability.

AWS 2021 Award of Merit

Kevin Zraly

Kevin Zraly received the 2021 Award of Merit at the AWS National Conference on Sept. 6 in Atlantic City, NJ.

Kevin Zraly is an award-winning wine writer and one of the world’s foremost wine educators. Kevin has been teaching wine for 50 years, sharing his passion with thousands of eager students from all walks of life. He has written eight books about wine and food, including his annually updated Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, which has sold more than four million copies – making it the number one wine book in the United States. In the fall of 2020, he released the 35th anniversary edition of the book.

He also co-authored the definitive book about red wine – aptly named Red Wine – with The World Wine Guys, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen. Kevin is the youngest person to receive the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award (2011), recognized for his commitment to making the study of wine accessible and fun to all as well as for his monumental contributions to the world of food and wine. He is also one of only three people from the world of wine to receive this recognition – the other two being Robert Mondavi and Ernest Gallo.

Wine students and industry peers alike will tell you that it’s Kevin’s approach to wine and wine education that makes him a highly sought-after educator, speaker and writer. He emphasizes individual preference, enjoyment and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, and shares the techniques, language and specifics of tasting wine in a way that is accessible to everyone – whether they be a novice or experienced oenophile.

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.

Past AWS Award of Merit recipients

Konstantin Frank, 1971Hudson Cattell, 1991Gordon Murchie, 2011
Charles Fournier, 1972Andrew C. Rice, 1992Jim Bernau, 2012
Leon D. Adams, 1973Vernon L. Singleton, 1993Dick Naylor, 2013
Willard B. Robinson, 1974Lucie T. Morton, 1994Gina Gallo, 2014
Philip & Jocelyn Wagner, 1975Alex & Louisa Hargrave, 1995Chuck Wagner, 2015
Maynard A. Amerine, 1976Warren Winiarski, 1996Peter Mondavi Sr., 2016
G. Hamilton Mowbray, 1977Arnulf W. Esterer, 1997The Frank Family, 2017
Harold P. Olmo, 1978Vincent Petrucci, 1998Paul Wagner, 2018
George W.B. Hostetter, 1979Justin Morris, 1999Randall Grahm, 2019
Andre Tchelistcheff, 1980Ann C. Noble, 2000
Alexander Brailow, 1981Peter M.F. Sichel, 2001
Robert Mondavi, 1982Marian Baldy, 2002
Louis P. Martini, 1983Sharron McCarthy, 2003
Douglas & Marlene Moorhead, 1984Jonathan Newman, 2004
James F. Gallander, 1985Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, 2005
Philip Hiaring, 1986Angel Nardone, 2006
Richard P. Vine, 1987Jacques Recht, 2007
Harriet Lembeck, 1988Kent Rosemblum, 2008
Charles M. Crawford, 1989Zelma Long, 2009
Nelson J. Shaulis, 1990Eric & Lee Miller, 2010

AWS 2021 Outstanding Regional Vice
President Award

Gerard H. Fisher

The 2021 Outstanding Regional Vice President (RVP) award was given to Gerard H. Fisher, long time active member of the Heritage Hunt, VA Chapter. Gerard is a very visible leader on the chapter, regional and at the national level.

Serving as RVP for Northern Virginia, Gerard has been a great ambassador for the American Wine Society.

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