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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
Thomas and Janice Cobett