AWS News – April 2024

Apr 19, 2024



Wanted: Nominees for national officers of AWS

We’re just weeks away from soliciting nominees for our national officers of the American Wine Society. Watch for an email from the Governance Committee, and pitch in.

Get ready for a National Conference that will be a little different

Although the 57th AWS National Conference is nearly 7 months away, we’ve been planning for some time. Members from the Tar Heel state are gearing up to make it an amazing experience.

The new NTP website is live

It provides all AWS members with education about the regions whose wines are being tasted in 2024, as well as archives regarding previous years.

HFAC! Extended discount for French river cruise

That’s right: holy flippin’ animal crackers! The discount period for the 2025 AWS Seine River wine cruise in France has been extended to June 30, 2024.

Springtime with the Amateur Wine Competition

Planning is already under way for the next iteration of our competition. As you prepare to bottle your next vintage, remember to set aside some bottles for this year’s Amateur Wine Competition!

Winemaker’s corner: Is my wine ready to drink?

Winemaking texts rarely discuss how to tell when a wine is at its peak flavor and how to get it there. Kevin Kourofsky discusses the factors that affect the arc of wine aging.

Mark your calendar for Uncork & Discover

The next session in this ongoing series to elaborate on AWS member benefits is set for Monday, June 10.

National Office update from Natalie Dippenaar

National Conference details, insurance coverage enhancements, database updates, and office expense reduction occupy the time and attention of the AWS executive director

AWS News needs a volunteer

We’re looking for a volunteer coordinator to solicit, collect, and format food-and-wine pairings and recipes from members as part of a new feature in the newsletter.

Tennessee chapter honors longtime AWS servant-leader

Al Porrell, a former National Board President and leader of chapters in Ohio and Tennessee, was recognized for his 50 years of service.

Chapter events

What do Turkey, Israel, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, Chile, New York, Italy, Uruguay, and Argentina have in common? Their wines and more were all featured in recent AWS chapter tastings.

Wanted: Nominees for national officers of AWS

We’re just a couple of weeks away from soliciting nominees for our national officers of the American Wine Society.

We do this each year, and we’ve always been fortunate that many members have come forward to selflessly contribute their time and talents in the management and advancement of our organization.Vote icon

Once again, the Governance Committee will lead the recruiting, evaluation, and vetting of future board members who will stand for election; you can expect an email from the committee regarding nominations at about the beginning of May.

This year, we will seek members to serve in the following leadership positions, with elections this summer for terms beginning on January 1, 2025:

  • Vice President (2-year term, then 2 years as President)
  • Director of Education (3-year term)
  • Secretary (3-year term)

Finding the right people is critical to our success

When we have more candidates running for officer positions, we can provide the widest range of diversity, skill sets, and contribution of exciting ideas for the society’s current and future growth and existence — and, most important, the overall enhancement of your and your fellow members’ experiences.

What we ask you to do

When you receive the email from the Governance Committee, be sure to read the job descriptions and consider your qualifications, interest, and willingness to contribute your time and skills to leading the society. If you don’t think you’re the right person but know another member who fits the requirements, then ask that person to consider running for office.

Should you decide to become or find a candidate, simply send an email to by the deadline specified. Anyone who expresses interest in being a nominee will receive the following:

  • A form to provide a brief biographical statement for the desired position.
  • Documents that each potential candidate should review and sign, including a Consent to Serve form, the AWS Conflict of Interest policy, and the Governing Board booklet.

Get ready for a National Conference that will be a little different

Although the 57th AWS National Conference is nearly 7 months away, we’ve been planning for some time.

Diane Meyer

Diane Meyer, Conference Chair

In February, Wine Procurement Coordinator Tom Wallman, Member Service Manager Colleen Reardon, Executive Director Natalie Dippenaar, and I traveled to Winston-Salem to decide on logistics for the event. The Benton Convention Center is a beautiful space with lots of room, and we are thrilled that it is hosting our conference this year.

We discussed session rooms, wine movement during conference, the banquet hall, competition logistics, and all the many details needed to make the conference run smoothly.

We also met with more than 50 AWS members to start forming our conference committee, and they are excited to make this upcoming conference another amazing experience. I extend personal thanks to all of them.

Become involved by choosing how you wish to participate 

Start your trip planning now, too2024 National Conference logo

Schedule for 57th National ConferenceThis year’s conference is from Friday, November 1 to Sunday, November 3. (Previously, it was from Thursday to Saturday.) Sessions will be held all day Saturday and Sunday, and we are still seeking speakers.

Conference registration will open in July, but you can book your hotel rooms now using the links below. Make sure to book for Sunday night as well, you won’t want to miss the banquet on Sunday night!

Be sure to leave time for any special excursions — Winston-Salem is the gateway to the Yadkin Valley Wine Region, so consider coming early for pre-conference tours. We will be visiting a number of great local wineries, including that of our premier sponsor, Raffaldini Vineyards.

Stay tuned for more information!

Book your room at the Winston-Salem Marriott  Book your room at Embassy Suites by Hilton

Raffaldini Vineyards logo

A new website for the National Tasting Project is here

Mike Blake

Mike Blake, NTP coordinator

All AWS members can access the new National Tasting Project (NTP) website without registration.

This new site provides you with education about the regions whose wines are being tasted in 2024, as well as archives regarding wines of Sicily (2022) and the Rhone region (2023), and food and wine pairings for the various types of wines.

Getting started for 2024

Any chapter can designate a member as their NTP organizer, who will have access to everything needed to run an NTP event.

Note that organizers need to register since the old registrations are not valid.

Wines are still available from the retailer; however, a few wines have had a vintage change. Don’t worry, since the Scoring App (still in the works) will accommodate all vintages.

Wines can be judged anytime by any member. Score a few wines and compare them to the judges’ scores and descriptors . . . because it’s all about education. You can also find the wines and score without submitting yours to us — even though we love statistics!Image of NTP website

Organizer registration

To get started, simply open the NTP website, and click Organizer Registration. (See the highlighted area in the nearby image.) Once you have supplied the information required, click Sign Up.

After we’ve verified your AWS credentials, you will receive an approval message. Then, you can use the Organizer Login link at the top right of the page to access updates, wine ordering information, a 2024 NTP presentation, technical sheets, wine descriptors – and soon, the wine scoring app.

Please let me know if you will have an NTP event in the near future. I can make a temporary spreadsheet available until the new scoring app is up and running.

–Mike Blake for the NTP 2024 Committee

HFAC! Extended discount for French river cruise

That’s right: holy flippin’ animal crackers! The discount period for the 2025 AWS Seine River wine cruise in France has been extended to June 30, 2024.

This means you can save 5% off the price of a balcony stateroom if you book before mid-year.

The 7-night cruise from May 8–15, 2025, features renowned wine expert, author, and storyteller Paul Wagner. And, of course, you’ll experience some of the best wine available while enjoying the company of your fellow AWS members.Wine Cruise to France

A fabulous itinerary

You’ll visit Paris, Les Andelys, Le Havre, Caudebec-en-Caux, Rouen, and Vernon. You’ll travel aboard the finely appointed AmaLyra cruise ship and have access to three seminars featuring wines from the Champagne, Alsace and Loire Valley regions. Plus, take part in three wine-and-food-pairing dinners led by Paul Wagner, featuring wines from those regions.

How to get started

Staterooms start at $4,599 per person, and you should book as early as possible to be assured of the best selection. For more information, click on the nearby image. To get started on this extraordinary trip, call 877-651-7447 or email

Wine and duct tape

Springtime with the Amateur Wine Competition

Planning is already under way for the next iteration of our competition. As you prepare to bottle your next vintage, remember to set aside some bottles for this year’s Amateur Wine Competition!

We always look to improve the program. While I await the final processes for our receiving point in North Carolina, I am revamping our brochure to make things clearer.

Keep an eye out in future issues of AWS News for additional updates on the competition front. I anticipate registration to begin sometime after July 4; past registrants will receive an email announcement when we are ready to begin.

If you have winemaking groups or businesses that would want competition information or wish to suggest additional improvements, please send a note ( and let me know.

–Vince Williams, CSW, CSWS, CWJM
Chair, Amateur Wine Competition

Winemaker’s corner: Is my wine ready to drink?

Kevin Kourofsky

Kevin Kourofsky

How did a talented duo of winemakers get their blended wine from a silver medal in one year to a double gold the following year? It was clear that something happened to the wine in the bottle, developing greater character and depth.

Winemaking texts rarely discuss how to tell when a wine is at its peak flavor and how to get it there. So, in this month’s column, Kevin Kourofsky discusses the factors that affect the arc of wine aging.

Read more here

Mark your calendar for Uncork & Discover

Join Director of Membership Carrie A. Garczynski and other Board members for an online 1-hour informational event on Monday, June 10 at 8 p.m., Eastern time (5 p.m., Pacific time) where you can learn more about benefits available to you.

Carrie Garczynski

Carrie Garczynski, Director of Membership

The event, part of the ongoing “Uncork & Discover” series, will provide a snapshot overview of the AWS. We will have some board members, project leaders, and a whole lot of fun people! Don’t forget the wine ~ a glass of your favorite juice required!

You can use the following link to gain access, plus a passcode (377540)

Uncork & Discover (June 10)

Can’t make this session? No problem. Watch for notice about future events tentatively scheduled for September 16 and December 16. If you have questions, simply email Carrie at

We look forward to swirling a glass with you!

National Office update from Natalie Dippenaar


As Diane Meyer mentioned above regarding the National Conference, planning is well under way and the North Carolina team is working its magic to sign up wineries for everything from the Welcome Reception to the Welcome Here program. I think it’s going to be a fantastic conference. A Sunday banquet will be a little unusual, but we are going all-out, so you won’t regret staying until the end.

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

If you can come in early, some great pre-conference tours are being planned. Also, Winston-Salem is well-located for exploring the local wine region with plenty to see and do in and around town. Among other great articles in the summer Wine Journal, look out for the one describing some of the wine regions of North Carolina.

If you know any great speakers from chapter meets or friends in the wine biz, please invite them to submit a presentation idea. If you know any great local wineries (hopefully!) invite them to showcase or compete, and if you know of anyone interested in sponsoring items like glasses or corkscrews for attendees, send them my way! It’s a year-round marketing opportunity at a great price!

We need a volunteer to be a roaming conference photographer Friday through Sunday. Ideally with some experience, but the main job description is having a digital camera and taking photos in every session of participants and speakers to be posted to the website after the event.

Some of the day-to-day office stuff we are working on:

  • We changed one of our insurance policies to a new carrier and took the extra step of including all chapters directly in the policy. This is more expensive but well worth simplifying the extension of coverage to chapter events.
  • New database implementation and migration is a huge project — somewhat bigger than we anticipated, but the team is chipping away and aims to have it ready by early July. Members will have a new sign-in experience just in time for conference registration. We look forward to being more efficient and managing all our data in the database instead of with the help of a variety of Excel spreadsheets! I hope to give a brief demo at Uncork and Discover on June 10, so be there for a sneak peek.
  • We are working to reduce National Office expenses, and next up is clearing our PA storage unit. With the help of Director of Competitions Rex Bambling and some local chapter volunteers, we will move the rest of our glasses to North Carolina ahead of the conference.

Member Service Manager Colleen Reardon and I went to the Eastern Winery Expo in March and were delighted to welcome some new members and connect with a number of wineries interested in hearing about competitions. Much thanks to Dave Barber and Walt Rachele for getting us set up and supporting the booth, as well as enthusiastic Syracuse chapter members who helped at the opening reception.

Thank you also to the chapters that welcomed me as I passed by. I thoroughly enjoyed a taste of Santorini with Catawba, NC, a little bit of March Madness with Perkiomen, PA, and most recently, a Sip and Mingle with Heritage Hunt, VA.

Until next time,

Volunteer needed to coordinate new food-and-wine pairing feature

Do you love how food is enhanced by the perfect pairing? Most of our members undoubtedly do. This is why we’re planning ‘Our Members’ Kitchens,’ a wine-and-food pairing feature (including recipes) in AWS News.

But, first we need a volunteer coordinator to solicit, collect, and format the pairings and recipes from members. The volunteer must be organized, able to communicate well via email with members and the newsletter editor, and to meet submission deadlines. If you’re interested in helping, email

For those of you looking to submit recipes and wine pairings, hang tight while we get the feature rolling!

If you combine wine with dinner, the new word is winner!

Tennessee chapter honors longtime AWS servant-leader

Al Porrell and Shari FassettThe Smoky Mountain (TN) Chapter recently recognized Al Porrell, a former National Board President and leader of chapters in Ohio and Tennessee, for his 50 years of service to the American Wine Society.

Al also initiated creation of the American Wine Society Educational Foundation (AWSEF) and led the National Tasting Project (NTP) among his many roles with the organization. He is still active within the Smoky Mountain Chapter, which he founded.

Chapter member Shari Fassett presented him with a special award recounting his years of service to AWS. It especially noted his role as a mentor, teacher, and dedicated servant-leader, expressed “deepest and most sincere gratitude” to Al and his wife, Yvonne, and wished them “continued success, good health, long life, endless love, abundant fine wine, and every happiness.”

Cheers to Al and Yvonne!

Chapter events

To have your chapter’s event included in the AWS News, e-mail your tasting results to Sending it to any other email address risks getting it overlooked. Be sure to follow the format specified for Chapter Events, which you can download from the AWS website. Include the cost of the wines you tasted, plus scores or rankings. This information lets other members know what you liked and which wines were good values. AND … please send us sharp, interesting pictures from your event. We would love to share those, too.


The February 15 event for the Indian Valley (PA) Chapter reinforced the idea that you can get premium quality wines from around the globe locally. No need to drive out of state or order online; the wines we tasted are available at your local Pennsylvania Wine & Spirits store. That’s what members experienced at the well-attended tasting “Best of Current Chairman’s Selections” (which often are premium wines sold at a discount).

Highlights of the tasting included a very detailed and informative presentation by Jenn Perry, chapter member and regional ambassador for southeastern Pennsylvania. Jenn walked us through well-known varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Gruner Veltliner, as well as lesser-known varietals such as Godello and Sagrantino.

We were introduced to Cabernet Sauvignons from Lake County, a lesser-known wine region due north of Santa Rosa, CA. Wines from this region included the winner of the night, a 2015 Signae Sangrantino di Montefalco and a novel Cabernet Sauvignon aged in a bourbon barrel (2020 Buck Shack Cabernet Sauvignon). Other honorable mentions included a 2017 Paolo Sordo Barolo. Host Mario McGoldrick complemented this tasting with an abundance of very thoughtful food pairings (various hard cheeses, protein dishes including charbroiled pork, Italian pasta, and oatmeal butterscotch cookies).

  • 2021 Vina Seculo Godello Castilla y Leon, $10 (5)
  • 2022 Krems Gruner Veltliner Trocken Niederosterreich, $10 (6)
  • 2021 Clay Shannon Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County, $14 (3)
  • 2017 Paola Sordo Barolo, $28 (2)
  • 2015 Signae Sagrantino di Montefalco, $20 (1)
  • 2020 Buck Shack Cabernet Sauvignon Bourbon Barrel Aged, $14 (4)

An enchanting evening unfolded in February when the Catawba (NC) Chapter was virtually transported to the sun-drenched terraces of the Mediterranean’s Santorini Island in the Aegean Sea.

Catawba NC tasting in FebruaryMargy Natalie enthralled more than 30 participants with her enlightening talk on the hidden treasures of Santorini’s wine culture. The engaging discussion immersed wine lovers and guests into the essence of Santorini’s volcanic vineyards.

Margy and her husband Ron, who serves as the AWS Secretary, recently explored the stunning Santorini Island. As chapter co-chair with Ron, Margy brought back and shared vivid, first-hand insights into the unique viticulture, flourishing in its ashy volcanic soils.

She highlighted the ancient grape varieties, like Assyrtiko, which have brilliantly adapted to the harsh conditions of Santorini, producing wines with remarkable minerality and crisp acidity. An intriguing aspect she shared is how the Assyrtiko vines are trained into unique, low-lying basket shapes, known as “Kouloura,” a traditional technique aimed at conserving moisture and shielding the grapes from the island’s extreme weather conditions.

Margy’s presentation not only covered the historical and geographical aspects that make Santorini wines distinctive, but also offered practical advice on food pairings and the best vintages to seek out.

Everyone had the chance to engage their senses—seeing, smelling, swirling, sipping, and savoring—Margy’s handpicked Santorini wines showcased the island’s diverse and complex viticulture. The 8 featured wines were:

  • 2022 Gavalas Winery Assyrtiko from Santorini, $43)Catawba NC February tasting
  • 2022 Gavalas Nyxtepi Nykteri, $46
  • 2021 Gavalas Winery Enalia Santorini, $77
  • 2020 Santo Wines 1911 Santorini Assyrtiko Grande Reserve, $50
  • 2021 Santo Wines 1911 Santorini Nykteri, $33)
  • 2015 Gavalas Winery Mavrotragano, $59
  • 2021 Santo Wines 1911 Mavrotragano, $50
  • 2020 Santo Wines 1911 Vinsanto (also known as Vinsantorini, $38

The event was a resounding success, expanding the horizons of Catawba’s wine lovers and adding a Greek chapter to their oenological explorations. Margy Natalie’s passion and knowledge have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the Catawba Chapter, inspiring many to further explore the rich tapestry of Santorini’s wines.

Lake Washington February tastingIn February, Chapter Chair Adrienne Dahlin arranged for Lake Washington (WA) Chapter members to become “wine club members for the day” at Martedi Winery. The event included complementary tastings and the discount offered to club members on any purchases.

Owner and winemaker Joe Miglino shared his philosophy and passion for creating wines that respect what the harvest has to offer. His wines are 100% varietal and topped up with the same varietal and vintage. Wines are not filtered or fined, and nothing is added to enhance the outcome save for some yeast for consistency and time in oak for certain varietals.

Martedi, which is Italian for Tuesday, offers a fine selection of wines that have a nod to Joe’s Italian heritage, plus a few others based on availability of grapes and a desire to do some experimentation.  The group tasted the following wines, including a special bottle of Aglianico with a cherished photo of Joe’s grandfather on the label:

  • 2020 Anna Mary Riesling, $21
  • 2022 Rose Sangue di Sangiovese, $21Lake Washington February tasting
  • 2019 Barbera, $45
  • 2019 Sangiovese, $34
  • 2019 Giovani Syrah, $36
  • 2019 Cabernet Franc, $44
  • 2008 Reserva Sangiovese, $52
  • 2015 Vinoresto Aglianico, $54

King George Society tasting in FebruaryThe King George Wine Society (VA) Chapter met on February 9 at the American Legion for “Taste of Turkey,” presented by an up-and-coming importer/distributor team, Lisa and Alexis Richmond, of Ruby Imports.

Thirty members and 3 guests tasted 7 wines, 4 of which were produced from a single variety selected from more than 600 indigenous grapes. Turkey doesn’t have appellations like in the United States, nor DOC or DOCG rules for making wine. While Turkey doesn’t allow advertising of wine, this team has made connections with producers from the regions of Çal, Cappadocia and Urla.

Wine from the Çal region highlighted the Kalecik Karasi grape, which is the most widely known grape in Turkey and is grown in clay limestone. We tasted wine influenced by yellow clay soils and from high elevations. The Emir grape had a wonderful citrus influence that was well received. Attendees were very engaged, asking many questions as no one had previously tried these wines from Turkey.

  • 2022 HUS Winery Emir, Cappadocia, Turkey, $32 (2)
  • 2019 Mozaik Winery Derya White Sangiovese, Urla, Turkey, $32
  • 2021 Erdel Winery Kalecik Karasi, Çal, Turkey, $17
  • 2020 Erdel Winery Çal Karasi, Çal, Turkey, $17
  • 2020 Erdel Winery Öküzgözü-Syrah, Çal,, Turkey $17
  • 2013Mozaik Winery Verdot-Rebo, Urla, Turkey, $32 (1)
  • 2020 HUS Winery Supernova Red Blend, Cappadocia, Turkey, $32

On Sunday, February 11, the Triangle (NC) Chapter of Raleigh met at the home of Isaac and Melissa Porter. We had 25 of our members present. The theme was Wines of Argentina.

The Porters had visited Argentina a few times prior and were very familiar with the wine characteristics and terroir of this region. Two welcome sparkling wines were provided to kick off our event — since it was Super Bowl Sunday!

A remarkable array of six Argentinian wines were sampled with some information provided about each one. These included:

  • Cruzat Brut & Cruzat Nature (the welcome wines)
  • 2022 Pielihueso (40% Torrontes, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Chardonnay), $30
  • 2021 Bodegas Rutini Chardonnay, $27
  • 2017 Bodegas Chacra Pinot Noir, $71
  • 2006 Bodegas Weinert, Malbec, $65
  • 2017 AMERI Organic Red Blend, $38
  • 2019 Siesta Ernesto Catena Zapata, Cabernet Franc, $49 (1)

Following our educational tasting event, everyone attending participated in a delicious potluck social.

The Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter met February 15 for “What’s In My Glass?” presented by Steve Rosen. Chair and co-chair Richard and Mary Berezinsky and 44 members/guests sampled 8 wines.

We discussed the profiles and characteristics of 6 single varietal red wines and common food/snack pairings with each. We moved on to a fun blind tasting of each wine, asking to list the profile (visual, nose/palate, structure) and guess the single varietal. We ended with blind tastings of 2 red blends and asked everyone to identify which wines made up the blends.

  • 2020 Oak Ridge Lodi Zinfandel, $16
  • 2019 Markham Napa Valley Merlot, $29
  • 2020 Oak Ridge Lodi Petite Sirah, $16
  • 2018 Unanime Argentina Malbec, $22
  • 2020 La Mascota Cabernet Franc, $16
  • 2017 Gordon Estate Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $24
  • 2020 Conundrum Red Blend, $25
  • 2017 Unanime Argentina Red Blend, $24

On February 21, the 50 Shades of Grapes (NJ) Chapter from Vineland met for a fantastic Portuguese food and wine tasting event at the home of Linda and Nick Cashan.  We were greeted with a Dow’s 20-year Tawny50 Shades of Grape February tasting Port, and each couple brought a wine from Portugal to share with the group. Those wines were:

  • 2020 Pera Manca Vinho Branco, Alentejo, $49
  • 2121 Vallado Red Blend, Douro, $20
  • 2018 Dona Maria Gran Reserva Red, Alentejo, $49 (1)
  • 5 Year Blandy’s Sercial Madiera, $28
  • 2015 Terre de Grifo Red blend, Douro, $20

Sadly, a 2015 Fonseca Domini Plus Red blend, Douro ($40) was corked, so we did not score it.

We also enjoyed an additional white wine provided by the Cashans and ended the evening with a 2017 Dow’s LBV and 1985 Graham’s Vintage Port.

North Wake NC tasting in FebruaryOn February 25, the North Wake (NC) Chapter met at Heritage View Clubhouse in Wake Forest with 47 attendees, a new record. Included in that number were 7 guests.

Members Sally Albrecht and Jay Althouse presented “Perfectly Paso: Red Wines of Paso Robles.” Jay provided information on the topography, geography, and terroir of the Paso Robles AVA, along with a quick listing of the sub AVAs within the Paso Robles AVA. Sally then gave us information on the wineries represented in the tasting.

All wines scored above 15 on the AWS scale, putting them in the “excellent” category. One wine, the 2021 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon reached the “extraordinary” category. The wines we tasted were:

  • 2021 J Lohr Los Osos Merlot
  • 2020 J Lohr Pur Paso
  • 2021 Daou Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2020 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2021 Daou Bodyguard Red
  • 2021 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2019 Opolo Rhapsody

We also conducted our first fundraising event for our 2024-designated charity, the AWS Educational Foundation (AWSEF). We raffled 5 bottles of the Paso Robles wines donated by Sally and Jay. The raffle raised $535. We plan to continue fundraising events throughout the year, with the proceeds all going to the AWSEF.

The Northampton (PA) Chapter tasting on February 25 was actually a twin tasting of 2 wineries known for similar varietals, both beautiful wineries in the heart of two very different wine regions — Tablas Creek winery in Paso Robles, California, and Chateau Beaucastel in Chateaneuf-du-Pape (CDP) in the Southern Rhone Valley of France. Although the varietals produced by these 2 wineries are similar, it’s not surprising that their different terroirs produce somewhat different aromas and tastes. The 2014 Beaucastel Chateaneuf-du-Pape was spectacular!

Ann and Matt chose this tasting theme having visited and tasted at both wineries. Many thanks to them for sharing these wines and their experiences.

Wines 1 through 7 are Tablas Creek; wines 8 through10 are Beaucastel. Wines 1 and 2 are white; wines 3 through10 are red.

  • 2018 Esprit Blanc de Tablas, $65
  • 2022 Marsanne, $36
  • 2018 Esprit de Tablas, $75
  • 2020 Esprit de Tablas, $70
  • 2021 Mourvèdre, $55
  • 2021 Cotes de Tablas, $42
  • 2020 Syrah, $50
  • 2016 Coudoulet de Beaucastel, $38 (2)
  • 2014 Beaucastel CDP, $130 (1)
  • 2006 Beaucastel CDP, $160 (3)

February’s ‘Love is blind’ tasting for the Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter featured South African wines presented by our awesome sommelier, Dave, at The Trapp Door Gastropub. Our own Dave and Shannon Tompkins did awesome research of the wines and put 42 members and guests to the test.

The wines were tasted in pairs of different varietals. The two varietals were announced and it was up to the tasters to try to correctly identify each varietal. A fun and focused learning experience for all. Afterwards, a delicious buffet was served.

  • 2021 Mulderbosch Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc, $18
  • 2022 Paul Cluver Elgin Sauvignon Blanc, $20 (3)
  • 2022 Lubanzi Capetown Chenin Blanc, $19
  • 2021 Glenelly Stellenbosch Chardonnay, $23
  • 2021 Natte Valleij Paarl Cinsault, $20
  • 2021 Hamilton Russell Walker Bay Pinot Noir, $52 (5)
  • 2020 Kanonkop Stellenbosch Pinotage, $20 (4)
  • 2019 Rupert & Rothschild Capetown Red Blend, $23
  • 2019 Tokara Stellenbosch Syrah, $25 (2)
  • 2017 Ken Forrester Western Cape Cabernet Sauvignon, $14 (1)

Ocean Isle Beach (NC) Chapter Chairs Stan and Tess Barwikowski brought out elephants, giraffes, hippos, and rhinos to lead our chapter’s February tasting – well, at least photos of all these spectacular animals theyOcean Isle Beach February safari tasting were fortunate to see on their recent South African safari. Along the way, they sampled many wonderful South African wines and led our members on a wine safari tasting.

While South Africa is known primarily for its outstanding Chenin Blanc and Pinotage wines, their winemakers produce some other tasty varietals. We marveled at the magnificence of massive elephants and towering giraffes while learning about Groot Constancia’s travels enroute to the Cape of Good Hope, which led to the production of the favorite wine of Napoleon as well as many kings and queens. Stan and Tess brought a bottle of this special wine home with them which was included in a basket offered for donations to the chapter’s scholarship fund.

The menagerie of wine tasting began with more electrifying photos from their safari.

  • 2021 The Black Smith Barebones Colombar (100% Colombard), $25
  • 2022 Simonsig Chenin Blanc, $15
  • 2023 Leopards Leap Chenin Blanc, $20
  • 2021 Leopards Leap (82% Chardonnay 18% Pinot Noir), $17
  • 2020 Leopards Leap Shiraz, $30
  • 2021 Spier Wine Farm Pinotage, $17
  • 2020 Neethlingshof The Owl Post Estate Pinotage, $30
  • 2021 Leopards Leap Pardus Red Blend (39% Merlot, 31% Cinsault, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon), $33

Many members shared they are ready to pack their bags and experience South African wines in their local habitats. It’s time to safari!


The Southport (NC) Chapter met on March 8 at the St. James Community Center. It was hosted by co-chairs Dave and Vicki Caruso. Our meeting had 58 members in attendance. The theme was “Wines from Australia”.

We reviewed the latest AWS national news as well as the local AWS activities and sponsored wine cruises in 2024/2025. We provided detailed information on the upcoming National Conference in Winston-Salem. We also reviewed the local wine events in North Carolina and celebrated birthdays of our members.

We discussed the history of wine in Australia, the appellations, terroir, wine laws, label requirements, and the top red/white grape varietals. The membership brought food pairings to complement the wines that were tasted. All enjoyed the evening.

The following wines were discussed, tasted, and ranked by the membership:

  • 2021 Cirillo The Vincent Grenache, $34 (1)
  • 2022 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon, $23 (2)
  • 2018 Langmeil Three Gardens Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro, $23 (3)
  • Jansz Premium Rose, $26
  • 2021 First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz, $20
  • 2021 Penley Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
  • 2022 Tim Smith Bugalugs White, $24

The 50 Shades of Grapes (NJ) Chapter held its March event at Pirone’s Restaurant in Hainesport New Jersey on March 7. Wines of Chile were expertly paired with Italian cuisine, a fun twist for this lively event!

The group did not score the wines, but the favorite of the evening was a 2015 Vigno Carignan, a wine not available for purchase in America. The lineup was as follows:50 Shades of Grape tasting in March

  • 2023 Santa Rita Central Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2023 Vistamar Casablanca Costa Valley Chardonnay Viognier
  • 2015 Vigno Maule Carignan
  • 2021 Vista Mar Maule Valley Carmenere
  • 2021 Carmen Gran Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

We ended the evening with a Pirone special dessert and coffee service.

The Dayton (OH) Chapter held a tasting of wines from Saint-Émilion on March 8. John Hames organized the tasting and led members through a presentation on the classification system used there and the controversy that occurred between the 2012 and 2022 rankings. He explained why three of the top four wineries in 2012 withdrew and did not participate in the 2022 rankings.

Members then went through a blind tasting of 8 wines, including basic AOC wines, Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classé, and Premier Grand Cru Classé. After tasting, they voted for their favorite wine and the 2010 Château Troplong Mondot Premier Grand Cru Classé won, edging out the Château Fombrauge Grand Cru Classé by just one vote.

After some discussion on each wine, John revealed the prices and we voted for best value. This time, Château Fombrauge easily won since it cost roughly half of what Troplong Mondot does. The wines tasted were:

  • 2019 Château Billeron Bouquey, $22
  • 2019 Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac Grand Cru, $40
  • 2019 Chateau Troplong Mondot Premier Grand Cru Classé, $125
  • 2020 Château Fleur Cardinale Grand Cru Classé , $85
  • 2019 Château La Caze Bellevue, $22
  • 2019 Château Les Légendes, $43
  • 2018 Château La Closerie de Fourtet Grand Cru, $55
  • 2016 Château Fombrauge Grand Cru Classé, $65

The Keuka (NY) Chapter met on Sunday, March 10, at Vineyard View Winery in Keuka Park, NY. Owners Adam and Nikki Folts welcomed us warmly. They are a nice young couple, 5th generation owners of Folts farm. There they grow 26 varieties of grape as well as other fruits. Nikki presented 5 wines:

  • Passion, a bubbly made from hybrid grapes, $20
  • Rosé of Cabernet Franc, $19
  • A neutral French-oak-barreled Chardonnay, $19
  • Marquette, $27
  • Cabernet Franc, $29

These were accompanied by a charcuterie board of locally prepared products. We voted for our favorites and had a tie between the Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc!

On March 15, the San Luis Obispo (CA) Chapter tasted an assortment of Carignan wines from Paso Robles, Mendocino, Sardinia, France, and Chile. They were:

  • 2021 Castoro “Reserve” Paso Robles, Templeton Gap, $30 (1)
  • 2021 Robert Hall “Cavern Selection” Paso Robles, Templeton Gap, $50
  • 2022 Red Door Ranch Paso Robles, Templeton Gap, $52
  • 2019 Lioco (70-year-old vines) Mendocino, $39 (2)
  • NV Sans Wine Co., (50- to 100-year-old vines) Mendocino, $18
  • 2019 Porter Creek (70-year-old-vines) Mendocino, $39
  • 2019 Santadi “Rocca Rubia” (old vines) Carignano del Sulcis, Sardinia, $30
  • 2019 Tessellae (old vines) Cotes Catalanes, France, $16 (3)
  • 2018 Terra Noble (65-year-old vines) Valle del Maule, Chile $18

As the calendar turned to March, the attention of the Perkiomen Valley (PA) Chapter turned to the hardwood — and not just oak barrels.Perkiomen Valley Chapter in March

On March 16, Joe and Shelly Straub hosted 24 members and guests (including AWS Executive Director Natalie Dippenaar) in a tasting that matched up wineries owned by NBA champions Channing Frye (Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016) and Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat, 2016 and 2017). The wine pairings were:

  • Wade Chenin Blanc, $21, versus Chosen Family Chardonnay, $32 (winner, Chosen Chardonnay)
  • Wade Rose’, $18, versus Chosen Family Rose’, $22 (winner, Chosen Family Rose’)
  • Wade Cabernet Sauvignon, $26, versus Chosen Family Pinot Noir, $34 (winner, Wade Cabernet Sauvignon)

The Frederick (MD) Chapter met on March 23 at the home of Ron and Wendy Weiss for a tasting featuring the Wines of Israel. Twenty-five members and guests were present.

In researching this unfamiliar wine region, we learned that wine has been made here for thousands of years, but only in the last 20 to 30 years have they greatly improved their winemaking processes and, in turn, the quality of the wine. Many of their wines now receive high accolades and high scores.

There is a good variety available in the U.S., but mostly from the two regions of Galilee and Judean Hills. For a country the size of New Jersey, they have many diverse micro-climates, and produce mostly red Bordeaux blends, with some Rhone varietals.

  • 2021 Psagot Sinai, $30
  • 2021 Psagot The Land, $40
  • 2021 Shiloh The Legend, Fiddler, $41
  • 2021 Pelter Trio, $45
  • 2019 Covenant Israel Syrah, $75
  • 2019 Covenant Israel Cabernet Sauvignon, $90

The Triangle (NC) Chapter in Raleigh celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 17, by saying ‘cheers’ to wines from Down Under. We met at the home of Al and June Decker, our chapter chairs, with 25 members present. Not only was the day in Raleigh gorgeous, but the wines were spectacular.March tasting for Triangle NC Chapter

The theme — Wines from Down Under — highlighted a remarkable array of 6 Australian wines, which were sampled with some information provided about each one. The wines tasted were:

  • 2022 Delinquente Tuff Nutt Pét-Nat, $22
  • 2022 Shaw And Smith Sauvignon Blanc, $26
  • 2018 Glaetzer Wallace, Shiraz-Grenache, $28
  • 2021 Penfolds Shiraz Bin 28, $32
  • 2021 Molly Dooker Gigglepot Cabernet Sauvignon, $55
  • 2021 Penfold’s BIN 389 Cabernet Shiraz, $64

A lovely potluck social was shared after the tasting.

The Fairfield (CT) Chapter of met on March 20 at the home of Charlotte and Chris Mihok. Thirty-six people showed for a tasting of Tenuta Torciano wines from Tuscany, Italy.

Luca and Luigi discussed proper wine tasting techniques, glassware, Italian laws, and wine pairing. They also brought some of their balsamic and truffle olive oil to pair as well. Overall, we all had a great time tasting and learning about wine.

  • The wines tasted were:
  • 2022 Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, $45
  • 2019 Morellino di Scansano DOCG, $35
  • 2022 Merlot IGT, $45
  • 2019 Cavaliere IGT (Super Tuscan), $59
  • 2018 Bartolomeo IGT (Super Tuscan), $68
  • 2017 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, $108

Lake Washington tasting in MarchThe Lake Washington (WA) Chapter held one its best chapter meetings on March 24 at the beautiful home of Bob and Maureen O’Hara. The theme was Israeli wine and was especially meaningful as it was Purim, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of an official of the Achaemenid Empire named Haman.

Bob and Maureen kicked off the meeting with a slide show of their trip to Israel and then provided 6 wines to taste. Chapter members signed up to bring pre-defined complementary food items intended to pair with the wines. The delicious feast included shawarma, falafel, hummus, babaganoush, salad, baklava, and Turkish delight!

The wines tasted were:Israeli wines

  • 2021 Yarden Chardonnay, Galilee, $23
  • 2021 Psagot Merlot, Jerusalem, $48
  • 2020 Shiloh Cabernet Sauvignon, Judean Hills, $68 (the group favorite!)
  • 2016 Harel Syrah, Judean Hills, $30
  • 2020 Psagot Red Blend, Jerusalem, $40
  • 2015 Cana of Galilee Red Blend, Galilee, $25

On March 24, the North Wake (NC) Chapter held a meeting and tasting at Heritage View Clubhouse in Wake Forest. Not even an unexpected power outage could put a damper on the event hosted by Jay Davis: “Exploring South America.”

North Wake NC tasting in MarchPrior to the event, Jay provided well-researched and informative documents about South America’s wine regions and grapes, as well as the history of viticulture and wine making in South America. Historically, there have always been close ties between South America’s wine industry and Europe. Jay also provided information on each of the wines we tasted, along with tasting notes and suggested food pairings.

We tasted wines from the 3 largest wine-producing countries in South America: Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Included were 7 wines, one white, and 6 reds.

Regarding scoring, Jay said: “There was a battle royale right down to the wire for the top spot this time between wines number 6 and number 7, with wine  number 6 taking the top honors by a slim margin. If it were a foot race it would have been a photo finish. All the wines scored in the excellent or above category with wine 6 and 7 both scoring in the extraordinary category.”

  • 2023 Bodega Garzon Albariño Reserva, Uruguay
  • 2020 Pisano PRF Tannat Reserva, Uruguay
  • 2022 Viña Carmen Gran Reserva Carignan, Chile
  • 2021 Viña Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere, Chile
  • 2022 Ricominciare Cabernet Franc, Argentina
  • 2019 Mascota Vineyards Unánime Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina
  • 2021 Catena Zapata D.V. Catena Tinto Historico (red blend, mostly Malbec), Argentina

Cue the music. Bubble machine on. Tiny bubbles in the air and through the loud speaker. Back by popular demand, the Ocean Isle Beach (NC) Chapter featured ‘Wine and A Song Part 2’ in March!

Taking a clever musical spin on wine education, chapter chairs Stan and Tess Barwikowski found songs that paired well with wines and led the members on a sing-along adventure at our gathering.

Guests sipped and sang while learning about some unique wines. The Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon – introduced by country singer Emily Reid’s song “Wine” – was the favorite of the evening, especially with the lyrics “we both get better with time.”

Selections poured with their accompanying musical introduction were:Ocean Isle Beach tasting in March

  • Don Ho “Tiny Bubbles” paired with Iter Brut Sparkling Wine (from Italian natives now producing wine in Napa Valley), $13
  • 3 Dog Night “Joy to the World” paired with 2022 Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc (a very stylistic label with a leaping frog), $33
  • Frank Sinatra “I Will Drink the Wine” paired with Saladini Pilastri Falerio (an Italian white blend), $13
  • Eric Burdon & War “Spill The Wine” paired with Praia Vinho Verde (a Portuguese effervescent wine), $17
  • Chuck Berry “Bordeaux in my Pirough” paired with 2020 Chateau Bellevue (an old-world red with pencil shaving aroma), $13
  • UB4 “Red Red Wine” paired with 2019 Complicated Red Blend (it is complicated), $23
  • Emily Reid “Wine” paired with 2021 Carmen Gran Reseva Cabernet Sauvignon (a Chilean wine), $16

Proving it does not matter your music preference, there is a wine and a song for each to enjoy!

Lehigh Valley Chapter tasting in MarchIt was ‘game on’ for Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter team to “taste the difference” during March.

Our coaches, Kathy and Mark Breloff, led more than 30 team members on a great blind tasting of 5 different California varietals of wine at 2 different price points and provided tasting notes for each varietal.

So which price prevailed? It was a mix. For the Chardonnay, the Zinfandel and the blend, most team members were able to correctly identify the more expensive ones. However, for the Merlot and the Cabernet, most team members did not.

  • 2021 Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Chardonnay, $14
  • 2022 Lloyd Chardonnay, $50
  • 2021 Oak Ridge Zinfandel, $15 (5)
  • 2021 Martinelli Zinfandel, $59 (4)
  • 2021 Conundrum Red Blend, $19
  • 2021 Chaos Theory Red Blend, $50 (3)
  • 2020 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Merlot, $21
  • 2020 Stags’ Leap Merlot, $44
  • Austin Paso Robles Cabernet, $22 (2)
  • 2021 Austin Hope Paso Robles Cabernet, $50 (1)

Good food, friends and wine flowed at Delizioso Italian Grill. Coach Ann Vlot hosted another BYOB win!! Afterwards a delicious buffet at Teresas’ Italian Restaurant was served. Kathy and Mark planned and coached a wonderful event.


What's in my glass? Blind comparisonThe April meeting of the Shallotte (NC) Chapter on April 3 was titled “What’s in My Glass,” presented by Steve Rosen from the Ocean Isle Beach Chapter. In attendance were 21 people, including 1 guest.

Everyone had a chance to hone their wine-tasting skills and sensory perception. Steve Rosen did an excellent presentation. Blind tasting notes were distributed to all attendees so that they could reasonably identify the wines, which were presented in pairs.

Astonishingly, most attendees identified most wines, albeit, with some surprises. All the wines were rated using the AWS Wine Evaluation method. The results were:Comparing glasses

  • 2020 La Mascota Cabernet Franc (Argentina), $16 (1)
  • 2020 Oak Ridge Zinfandel (Lodi), $17 (2)
  • 2018 Unamie Malbec (Argentina), $26 (3)
  • 2019 Markham Vineyards Merlot (Napa), $26
  • 2020 Oak Ridge (Lodi) Petit Sirah, $17
  • 2017 Gordon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, $25

All the wines were purchased at Calabash Art & Curio Shop in Calabash, North Carolina.

AWS News Staff We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Jack Kraft, Editor
Chapter Events Editor
Mike Blake, NTP Coordinator
Kevin Kourofsky, Winemakers’ Corner
Larry S. Jackson, AWSEF
Diane Meyer, Conference Planner Diane@AmericanWineSociety