AWS News – December 2023

Dec 18, 2023

IN THIS ISSUE

 

 

Natalie Dippenaar announced as new AWS executive director

She was introduced to the membership at the National Conference and officially assumed her new position on December 4, succeeding interim Executive Director John Sporing.

Looking back, and ahead, for AWS

Former interim Executive Director John Sporing wound up his tenure by reporting to attendees at the National Conference on some activities during the past year and foreshadowing some possible developments in the year to come.

Thank you, St. Louis. Winston-Salem, here we come!

Hundreds of AWS members attended the National Conference. Get a recap and see photos from this year’s event and learn about our venue for 2024!

Winemaker competitions help keep our legacy alive

See who won medals in the amateur and commercial wine competitions when judging results were announced during the National Conference in St. Louis.

2023 National Tasting Project concludes a successful year

Read about the results of this year’s NTP and get the scoop on what’s ahead for 2024.

When being judgmental is a good thing

Nearly two dozen AWS members this year attained status as Certified Wine Judges or CWJs with Merit.

Tis the season of giving

In this season of giving and sharing, you have many opportunities to make wine education and appreciation part of your efforts.

Member Service note

Registration renewal time is upon us; the National Office stands ready to help you.

Oh, the places you’ll go . . .

​Start planning your wine getaways for next year and beyond. There’s a lot to choose from!

Winemaker’s Corner: If I can make sparkling wine so can you

Kevin Kourofsky discusses how you can make a good sparkling wine in your home using the equipment you probably already own.

Obituary: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich

A winemaker who helped put Napa Valley, California, on the map, he passed away at age 100 on December 13. For his contributions to the wine industry, he received the AWS Award of Merit in 2005.

Chapter events

Your fellow AWS members have had some exceptional experiences lately; read what they’ve been up to.

Natalie Dippenaar announced as new AWS executive director

​At the National Conference in St. Louis last month, President Bill Stefan introduced Natalie Dippenaar as the new executive director of the American Wine Society.

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

She succeeds John Sporing, who has served as interim executive director since last fall. Her first official day on the job was December 4.

Dippenaar was selected from among nearly 200 inquiries that were submitted by potential candidates following the job being posted in mid-September. A Search Committee consisting of former AWS officers and/or former members of the Board of Directors then submitted 4 finalists to the Board of Directors.

“The Board unanimously agreed to have Natalie as the next executive director because of her extensive executive director experience,” Stefan said. “She has the skill set that we need to increase membership and to find non-dues revenue.”

The AWS executive director, who reports to the Board of Directors, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the AWS national office and continued implementation of the AWS strategic plan.

Dippenaar had served as the Membership and Technology Director of the 11,000-member National Court Reporters Association, with proven skills in staff and budget management, membership growth, and marketing, as well as database and website management. She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and holds a Level 4 Wine & Spirits Diploma from WSET. She is an avid wine consumer, having previously managed a wine bar for 5 years with a 450-member wine club.

You can watch Natalie’s introductory remarks to AWS members at the National Conference by clicking on the image below.

Looking back, and ahead, for AWS

Outgoing interim Executive Director John Sporing wound up his tenure by reporting to conference attendees on some activities during the past year and foreshadowing some possible developments in the year to come.

John Sporing, former interim Executive Director

John Sporing, former interim Executive Director

“What we have been doing at the National Office is trying to streamline and modernize,” he said. AWS is procuring a new software system that could be in place by mid-summer 2024; the new setup should allow members to self-provision on the website rather than having to go through the National Office. In addition, he said, an outside accounting firm is “running our books for us on a daily basis,” a function that had been handled in-house previously. “I am not a C.P.A., we don’t have a C.P.A. on staff, so it was much easier to bring somebody in who is now taking care of what was done manually” in the National Office.

Sporing said some background logistics involving the National Conference also are changing. In previous years, staff would return all supplies and materials to the National Office in Scranton. This year, the material was taken directly to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the site of next year’s conference “to save time, frustration, and money.”

Another possible cost-saving measure that the society has begun examining is whether it should have a “pure virtual office.” Sporing said he and Member Service Manager Colleen Reardon “already spend about 99% of our time” working from home. Relinquishing the physical space in Scranton, he said, would help “make sure that we’re cutting as many expenses as we can.”

Thank you, St. Louis. Winston-Salem, here we come!

Hundreds of AWS members gathered for a festive time at the National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, from November 9-11. Thank you to all the speakers, sponsors, volunteers and attendees for their contribution to its success. As the photos from the event show, it was a vivacious time.

See photos from the National Conference

Always a highlight of the National Conference is presentation of several major organizational awards.

Award of Merit

Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson

The AWS Award of Merit is the highest honor that AWS confers on wine industry practitioners, recognizing contributions that have strengthened the wine industry and improved the wine consumer experience. This year’s honoree was Joel Peterson, also known as the ‘Godfather of Zin,’ who has been a winemaker for 50 years.

Joel Peterson, Award of Merit winner

Joel Peterson accepts the 2023 Award of Merit

Joel founded and built Ravenswood Winery into a powerhouse Zinfandel brand. His latest project is Once & Future Wine, where he focuses on making small-production, hand-crafted, single-vineyard Zinfandels, resurrecting his old redwood fermenters that honor the distinctive typicity of site. Joel was a senior vice president and member of the senior executive team at Constellation Brands for 15 years.

A current member and former president of the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance (SVVGA), Joel also has served on the Board of Directors for the Sonoma County Vintners. A founding board member and former two-time president of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), he is also an advisor to the Historic Vineyard Society. Joel was the lead winemaker and chairman of the Heritage Vineyard project, a joint project of ZAP and UC-Davis to investigate Zinfandel clones. He is the long-time moderator for “Flights,” ZAP’s educational lecture series on Zinfandel. In 2011, Joel was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame, and he was voted as one of the “20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry” by Vineyard and Winery Management magazine.

Outstanding Member

Tom Wallman

Tom Wallman, Outstanding Member for 2023

Tom Wallman, former treasurer of the American Wine Society and still an active volunteer before, during, and after the National Conference, received this award. He served as AWS treasurer for multiple terms during a time of transition for the organization, helping to solidify its financial status and kick-start initiatives to raise non-dues revenue. At National Conference, Tom also arranges for dozens of exhibitors to share their wine each year during the Thursday welcome reception and Friday showcase. Tom and his wife, Marj, also take responsibility for logging in and delivering wine to each of the 47 sessions at the National Conference.

The award is given annually to an AWS member who has dedicated substantial time and energy to the advancement of AWS. Long and valuable service as a national officer or committee chair; contributions to the AWS Journal or other publications; significant volunteer service; or combinations of these would merit consideration for this award. You can watch Director of Membership Carrie Garczynski interview Tom about his time with the AWS at this link.

Regional Ambassador and Chapter Chairs of the Year

The award for Regional Ambassador of the Year went to Kevin McCutcheon of North Carolina, while the award for Chapter Chairs of the Year went to Peter and Leslie Staffeld of the Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter.

Kevin McCutcheon

Kevin McCutcheon, Regional Ambassador of the Year

Peter and Leslie Staffeld, Chapter Chairs of the Year

Peter and Leslie Staffeld, Chapter Chairs of the Year

The focus for each of these awards is someone who:

  • Goes above and beyond for their region or chapter.
  • Communicates regularly with updates from the National Office and/or the Board and other project leaders.
  • Reaches out to check on how you are doing as a chapter or as a member and offers recommendations and resources to help with tastings, membership, growth opportunities, events/activities, etc.
  • Is easily approachable and responds in a timely manner with a smile.

Looking forward to 2024 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina2024 National Conference logo

Finally, and not least, we announced that the 2024 National Conference will be November 1–3, 2024, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You can watch the video that will provide a flavor of what to expect from this dynamic region. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to planning and executing on next year’s event!

Winemaker competitions keep the AWS legacy alive

That’s a wrap! The 2023 Amateur Wine Competition concluded on November 8 after our judges evaluated 524 wines from 124 winemakers.

Thank you to the judges for going through the level of effort they did, and to the back-of-the-house staff for ensuring the wines were on the table before our judges even realized they wanted more! John Sporing and Colleen Reardon were great at passing information to our team. Of course, we couldn’t have done any of this without the support of the talented winemakers who submitted the results of their blood, sweat, and tears.

If you’re wondering whether your favorite amateur winemaker received one of the nearly 400 awards, you can click this button for a complete list.

Amateur Competition Results

If you know of winemaking groups or businesses that want competition information or wish to suggest improvements, send an email to Vince Williams, chair of the Amateur Wine Competition, at awc@americanwinesociety.org to let me know. See you in 2024.

Commercial Wine Competition

The American Wine Society also conducts a Commercial Wine Competition featuring both AWS trained and certified judges and professional experts from all aspects of the wine industry who evaluate submissions. You can see the results of this competition by clicking the button below.

Commercial Competition Results

2023 National Tasting Project concludes a successful year

Thanks to all of the 48 chapters participating in this year’s 2023 National Tasting Project (NTP), featuring Southern Rhone wines.

Mike Blake

Mike Blake, NTP coordinator

I hope you enjoyed the wines and the new educational materials; grape details; producer profiles and technical sheets; a food-and-wine-pairing guide plus recipes; wine pronunciations; online presentation; reference websites; and online score submission. You can see the winning wines and the national medals and average top scores by clicking on the button here.

2023 National Tasting Project results

I would love to receive your likes and dislikes about the 2023 NTP:

Looking ahead to 2024. Moving forward, next year’s NTP theme will be California Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Watch for a new NTP website with better navigation, presentation, and score recording. Any chapter or AWS member can organize an NTP. It’s fun to taste, judge, discuss, and compare scores. Not enough members in your chapter? Make it a Zoom NTP! Need more information? Contact me by email at ntp@americanwinesociety.org.

Holiday morning meme

When being judgmental is a good thing

At the National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, the following AWS members became newly certified wine judges or recertified as wine judges for another 5 years:

  • Alan Atkinson
  • Dennis Fraley
  • Alexa Ayubi
  • Eva Gallagher
  • Nicole Barto
  • Ryan Robinson
  • Melissa Bartlett
  • Sarah Trubick
  • Michael Blake
  • Susan Whisenhunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certified Wine Judge with Merit Program rings up a big successCertified Wine Judge with Merit logo

Congratulations also to the first recipients of the CWJ with Merit Program:

  • JoAnn De Gaglia
  • Sharyn Kervyn
  • Jeff Stabins
  • Eric Feldhake
  • Robert Madill
  • Bill Stefan
  • Carole Hackett
  • Annemarie Morse
  • Michael Wilson
  • Lorraine Hems
  • Kevin Ostrowski
  • Vince Williams

 

 

 

 

 

The Certified Wine Judge with Merit Program allows Certified Wine Judges to be recognized for their continuing educational efforts and wine judging activities each year. All candidates who register and attain 15 or more continuing education units (CEUs) within the current year will receive the post-nominal as part of their professional signature certificate, along with lapel pin. The current awardees are considered Certified Wine Judges with Merit through December 31, 2024.

We begin again in January and continue through December 15. Early submission (by October 15) is available if you wish to be recognized at our National AWS 2024 Conference. See our website for full details about the Certified Wine Judge Program, the Certified Wine Judge with Merit, and to register.

Other programs are available, too

If you plan to expand your wine certifications, or maybe just want to become a more confident wine aficionado, then our WineSmarts courses could be just right for you. Each of these 8-hour courses offers fun and interactive tasting challenges to set you up for success. Read more by clicking on the button here.

WineSmarts information

Tis the season of giving

In this season of giving and sharing, you have many opportunities to make wine education and appreciation part of your efforts.

Keep AWSEF in mind

You might consider donating to a cause such as the American Wine Society Educational Foundation (AWSEF). As a tax-qualified 501(c)(3) organization, the AWSEF welcomes charitable gifts. It has 3 fund types established to support both the operation of the Board of Trustees and to provide scholarships. These funds are:

  • The General Fund, supporting Board operation.
  • The Endowment Fund, providing Foundation scholarships into perpetuity.
  • Special Scholarship Funds, bearing the name of an individual, group, or corporation that establishes them.

Your contributions should be fully tax deductible and don’t always have to be in cash — for example, you might donate appreciated assets such as stocks, bonds, shares of mutual funds, or real estate — but be sure to consult with a tax advisor regarding your personal situation.

AWS memberships are a great gift

If you’re looking to give something a little different this year, you could pay for a friend to become a member of the American Wine Society — or spoil yourself by upgrading to a 3-year or lifetime membership. (A portion of your membership dues should be tax deductible; you can check with your tax advisor, then reach out to memberservice@americanwinesociety.org.)

Wine, and wine-themed gifts are seasonal staples

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

One of my favorite gifts, any time of year, is to share wine and the idea of wine. Most of the presents for myself and others are wine or wine-themed. Yes, even wine socks and wine ties. If you are anything like me you are probably still looking for gifts for the holidays: hostess gifts, gifts for friends and family, and let’s be honest, yourself. So, I am sharing with you a list of wine and wine-themed gifts that contains some things I own, have bought, or plan to buy soon. Just a note, when you click on the links in the document, AWS is eligible to make a small commission that will help further our cause. But I call that a win-win, giving to American Wine Society just by shopping, at no additional cost to you! Here’s wishing you all a very happy and safe holidays filled with good wine, great friends, and happy moments sharing your love of wine.

Member Service note

Colleen Reardon

Colleen Reardon, Member Service Manager

At AWS, we are in the membership renewal period. If you are not on auto-renew (always the easiest way to keep your membership up to date), it may be time to renew your membership. You should receive an email regarding how to best renew your membership, so keep an eye out for that! You can also log in to your profile anytime to make sure your information is up to date and your membership is current. If you have trouble logging in, call me at 570–344-3640, or send an email to memberservice@americanwinesociety.org. We want to make sure your membership stays active so you don’t miss any upcoming events in your local chapter.

Oh, the places you’ll go . . .

If you’re looking for a getaway in the near future, your options with AWS abound.

Visit Spain’s Costa del Sol & Madrid

Act now to reserve your spot as we travel from August 24 to September 1, 2024, to the world-renowned Costa del Sol in Spain and visit the country’s capital, Madrid.Spain's Costa del Sol This tour begins with a visit to Málaga, one of the oldest cities in Europe, known for its sunny, Andalusian lifestyle and for being the birthplace of artist Pablo Picasso. In addition to Madrid, other stops include

  • Setenil de las Bodegas, a town known for its whitewashed houses built into cliffs.
  • Romantic Marbella with its winding cobblestone streets and charming shops, cafés, and galleries.
  • Granada, the last capital of the Moors in Spain before it fell to the Catholic monarchs in 1492, featuring the Alhambra, a centuries-old palace and fortress complex that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Segovia, featuring an iconic Roman Aqueduct, massive 16th century cathedral, historic Main Square—and the Alcázar de Segovia (Segovia Castle), an impressive medieval castle with lavish interiors, a museum, and military archives.

You can save $450 on air-inclusive packages if you book by February 25. The following discounted prices include round-trip air fare from Newark International Airport, air taxes and fees/surcharges, plus hotel transfers. (Prices from alternative airports are available upon request.)

  • Double room: $4,149 per person
  • Single room: $4,649 per person
  • Triple room: $4,119 per person

Get more info and begin booking.

For pricing on bookings made after February 25, 2024, call Collette at 800-581-8942 and refer to booking #1218335.

2024 Eastern Winery Exposition (EWE)

Eastern Winery ExpoAWS members receive a 10 percent discount to this 3-day event that takes place from March 12–14 in Syracuse, New York. You can register at this page. To receive your discount, simply use code 24AWS.

The largest industry event east of the Pacific states, EWE provides Eastern U.S. and Canadian wineries, vineyards and suppliers with an easily accessible, low-cost professional meeting place, trade show, and Eastern-focused conference. It will feature an exhibit hall with over 200 exhibiting companies, 40+ Workshop & Conference sessions, including a special track of marketing sessions from the License to Steal® wine marketing conference, and numerous opportunities for meeting the experts; sharing wine, knowledge, tips and techniques; networking, learning, socializing, equipment purchasing—and, of course, wine tasting.

Cruise the Seine River in France

Remember that you have only until December 31 to save 5 percent on a balcony stateroom for our 2025 wine cruise to France. (Of course, bookings for this AWS-sponsored cruise will still be available afterward at standard AWS member rates.)Wine Cruise to France The 7-night cruise from May 8–15, 2023, 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.

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. Staterooms start at $4,599 per person, and you can book now for the best selection. And don’t forget that discount before year end!

Get cruise details here

Wine improves with age; the older I get, the better I like it.

Winemaker’s corner: If I can make sparkling wine, so can you (Kevin’s very practical guide to bubbles)

Kevin Kourofsky

Kevin Kourofsky

Many myths surround sparkling wine, especially Champagne. Some involve its origin (it wasn’t in France). Another is that sparkling wine is difficult or dangerous to make, or that you need expensive equipment. Not so.

Kevin this month discusses how you can make a good sparkling wine in your home using the equipment you probably already own and using tablespoon and gallon-to-liter measures rather than grams or hectoliters.

Read more here

Obituary: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich

Mike Grgich

Mike Grgich

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, a celebrated winemaker who helped establish Napa Valley as one of the world’s premier wine-making regions, has died. Grgich, who was 100, died in his sleep on Wednesday, December 13, at his home in Calistoga, California, according to his winery, Grgich Hills Estate.

In 2005, he was the recipient of the AWS Award of Merit, one of the most prestigious awards in the wine industry, which recognizes someone who has made significant contributions to the industry. This person does not need to be an AWS member, and his or her contributions can be in winemaking, marketing, education, grape growing, or writing.

Grgich was born on April 1, 1923, in Desne, Croatia. His father was a winemaker, and one of his earliest memories was stomping on the grapes at harvest time. After emigrating to the United States, Grgich worked for several wineries before joining Chateau Montelena in 1972. In 1976, Grgich’s 1973 vintage Chateau Montelena Chardonnay shocked the wine world, winning first place in a blind tasting in Paris. The following year, Grgich parlayed his success into his own winery, teaming up with Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. Coffee Family to create Grgich Hills Cellar in Rutherford.

You can read more about his life and legacy here, here, here and here.

Chapter events

To have your chapter’s event included in the AWS News, e-mail your tasting results to chapterevents@americanwinesociety.org. 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.
SEPTEMBER

The Kish Valley (PA) Chapter met on September 10 at Stonefly Cafe in Reedsville, PA. Twenty-nine members and 7 guests attended. The chapter was led on a “tour” of Italy and a sampling of  wines from the northern region of Piemonte (Piedmont).

Geographically, the Alps shield the Piedmont region of Italy from very cold air masses, yet the area does have colder winters than most of Italy. A majority of the vineyards are planted on south-facing hilltops in order to reap the sun’s benefits. Overall, the climate is dry. The facilitator for the evening’s presentation was Debra Dellaposta WSETA Award Wine CMS Intro Sommelier and managing partner of Della Vino Imports in Altoona, PA.

Ms. Dellaposta selected 5 wines for the group to taste and score. Three of the wines were 100 percent Nebbiolo (a rose, a sparkling, and a red Barolo); the fourth wine was from the Barbera d’ Alba region, crafted with Barbera grapes; and the final wine selected was from Arneis (little rascal) grapes. Nebbiolo is a thin-skinned, late ripening grape with high tannins. We discovered that the Barbera grape has little tannins and is the most widely planted grape in the Piedmont Valley region. The Arneis grape has made a comeback in recent years and is “easy” to drink with nice fruit and acidity. Results, from the highest to the lowest scores, were:

  • Barbera, $25 — high acidity, low tannins, most widely planted grape in the Piedmont region, known as the Cabernet Sauvignon of Italy. Aged in oak.
  • Barolo (Galina), $59 — one of Italy’s finest wines, Nebbiolo grapes.
  • Nebbiolo Rose, $19, and Arnis, $18, tied for 3rd place.
  • Nebbiolo sparkling, $30.00 — fruit and floral notes, similar to Pinot Noir. five hours on the skins.

Wine left over from the National Tasting Project meeting held in August was used for September’s raffle by the Cleveland (OH) Chapter. It was a 2019 Southern Rhone Guigal Gigondas won by Lesley Ko. Wines tasted were:

  • 2021 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias Baixas, D.O. Spain, $23 (4 tie)
  • 2016 Bodegas Montecillo Crianza Tempranillo Rioja, D.O. Spain, $15 (3 tie)
  • 2018 Noster Inicial Priorat (70% Garnacha, 25% Carignane, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), D.O. Spain, $23 (1)
  • 2019 Ego Bodegas Fuerza Jumilla (75% Monastrell, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon), D.O. Spain, $19 (2)
  • 2020 Juan Gil Silver Label Jumilla (100% organic Monastrell), D.O. Spain, $19 (3 tie)
  • William Humbert Dry Sack Medium Sherry, (Palamino & Pedro Ximenez Grapes), Jerez-Xeres-Sherry D.O. Spain, $22 (4 tie)

As a chapter with a long history, we were honored in September with 3 members who have been part of our Cleveland Chapter since the 1970’s. Please see photos below of our founding members from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s who have continued to be the backbone of our chapter. We wouldn’t be here without your leadership.

OCTOBER

The Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter met October 19 for ‘Haunted Wineries,’ presented by members Larry and Joann Garner. Chair and co-chair Richard and Mary Berezinsky and 45 members/guests boarded the ghost train for stops all across the U.S.A. at 7 wineries reputed to be haunted.

Our 8th stop was at Recas Castle winery in Transylvania, Romania, Dracula’s home. At each stop, we heard a ghost story as we tasted the wine. The night ended with an Amontillado sherry in homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado while listening to the song, ‘The Raven’, another Poe poem that was set to music in Northeast PA in the ‘60s by a band called The Glass Prism.

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling, $10
  • Dry Creek Fume Blanc, $17
  • Trefethen Chardonnay, $21
  • Miles Wine Cellars Ghost Wine, $16
  • Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $33
  • Biltmore Christmas Red, $11 (2)
  • Stories & Spells Witching Hour Red Blend, $15 (3)
  • Recas Castle Feteasca Neagra Spicy Romanian Red Blend, $7 (1)
  • Don Benigno Amontillado Cream Sherry, $14

Multi-chapter tasting in MarylandThe Frederick, Carroll County, Ellicott City and Baltimore chapters in Maryland got together in October for a wonderful afternoon tasting of the Medoc region of Bordeaux. They were also joined by some friends from the Northern Loudoun County and the Northern Neck chapters in Virginia.

We owe a special thanks to Robert Cavanaugh, of Adventure Wine, who put together this very special tasting.   Robert provided an excellent showing of all 8 appellations that comprise Medoc: St. Estephe, Margaux, Pauillac, Medoc, Haut Medoc, St Julien, Listrac and Moulis.   He took care in pulling together a great line up for us and presented those 8 appellations in a fun, down to earth educational style sharing  new information on the Medoc region.

It was equally fun was finding new favorites and trying wines we may never have the chance to taste unless we made a trip to Bordeaux.  Wines tasted include:

  • 2018 Chateau Le Fleuron de la Tessonnier
  • 2018 Chateau du Retout
  • 2020 Chateau Martinho
  • 2021 Chateau Violette
  • 2019 Chateau Larrieu-Terrefort
  • 2016 Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre’
  • 2019 Chateau La Fleur Peyrabon

The Dayton (OH) Chapter on October 13 explored the world of Merlot (well at least from the U.S. and France). Claudia Rocklin presented a blind tasting of Merlots from California, Washington, and France.

Part of the evaluation was to see if we could guess the country of origin; some folks had more success than others. In addition to sampling the wines we discussed the “Sideways Effect” based on the 1994 movie’s impact on Merlot sales. Based on Claudia’s research, the sales of Merlot were already dropping prior to the movie’s debut,; but Pinot Noir in general and from California’s Central Coast in particular saw a huge bump in popularity that has not gone away.

Our results support the idea that Washington is the best area for Merlot for value and overall quality, but we were not disappointed by any of the wines.

  • 2019 Chateau Billeron Bouquey, $18
  • 2019 Bernard Griffin Merlot, $18 (best value)
  • 2018 St Francis Merlot, $ 22
  • 2020 L’Ecole 41 Merlot, $27
  • 2018 Chateau Teyssier St. Emilion, $30
  • 2018 Clos Pegase Merlot, $25
  • 2018 Gundlach Bundschu Merlot , $50
  • 2018 Long Shadows Pedestal Merlot, $65 (favorite)

On October 22, the North Wake (NC) Chapter held a meeting and tasting at Heritage View Clubhouse in Wake Forest with 19 members and 4 guests attending. Member Mike Rowe presented a tasting of “White Wines of the Old World.” Mike distributed a very informative fact sheet on 5 European white wines. We discussed the various terroirs and the winemaking styles and techniques — with particular emphasis on the characteristics of the 5 grapes used in the wines we tasted: Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay:

  • 2022 Columna Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain, $19
  • 2022 Philippe Portier Quincy Sauvignon Blanc, Loire, France, $24
  • 2021 FX Pichler Burgstall Riesling, Wachau, Austria, $43
  • 2021 Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Montlouis ‘Clos Michet’ Chenin Blanc, Loire, France, $38
  • 2020 DuPont Fahn Chaumes Des Perrieres Blanc Chardonnay, Burgundy-Meursault, France, $49

At the monthly tasting of the San Luis Obispo (CA) Chapter on October 20, Mike Botwin led us through an open tasting of the wines of Sicily. We tasted and discussed 8 wines from around the island. All were produced from wine grape varieties that are indigenous to Sicily.

Here are the wines we tasted:

  • Vintage Description Region/AVA Price Votes* Rank
  • 2022 Torre Mora “Scalunera” (100% Carricante) DOC Etna Bianco, $28 (2)
  • 2021 Carruso & Minini “Naturalmente Bio” DOC Sicilia/Catarratto, $20
  • 2021 Feudo Maccari DOC Sicilia/Grillo, $18
  • 2019 Tornatore “Pietrarizzo” (100% Nerello Mascalese) DOC Etna, $43 (3)
  • 2018 Zisola (100% Nero d’Avola) DOC Sicilia/Noto Rosso, $30
  • 2021 Planeta DOC Sicilia/Vittoria/Frappato, $29
  • 2020 Feudo di Tresa (60% Nero di Avola/40% Frappato) DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria, $27 (1)
  • NV Pellegrino “Dry” (blend of Grillo, Catarratto, and Inzoli) DOC Marsala Superiore, $16

For October, 40 Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter members received lots of “treats” from Mark and Kathy Breloff, who doled out wine tastings from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Included were two Pinot Gris wines, two Chardonnays, five Pinot Noirs and the “trick” was the final blind mystery wine, which once revealed was a White Pinot Noir.Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter tasting in October

Mark and Kathy led great discussions and were knowledgeable of the region, which they had visited multiple times. Afterwards, a delicious buffet-style dinner was enjoyed at Teresas’ Italian Restaurant.

Although all 10 wines were enjoyed, the top ones were four 2021 Pinot Noirs (Rose Rock, $40; Rosonance, $41; Chehalem Mountain, $32; and Willamette Valley, $24) and a 2019 Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir, $25.

In lieu of our normal Friday wine tasting in October, the Catawba (NC) Chapter sponsored a Tony Lawrence Wine Weekend at the home of chapter chairs Ron and Margy Natalie. This is the largest and longest event we have ever tried. What a weekend!!!

We had a long weekend ahead of us with 4 wine-and-food paired meals:

  • Friday night – BBQ and Zinfandel
  • Saturday lunch – Mediterranean and Rosé
  • Saturday evening – BYOB Paella
  • Sunday Bubbles and Brunch! What was I thinking?!?!

This event was just too robust to fit into a traditional Chapter Events format, but you can read the full recap here.

NOVEMBER

The Southport (NC) Chapter met on November 3 at the St. James Community Center. It was hosted by Dave and Vicki Caruso (co-chairs). Our meeting had 50 members in attendance. The theme was “Thanksgiving Meal Wine Pairing.”

We reviewed the latest AWS national news as well as the AWS activities and sponsored cruises in 2024. We reviewed the local wine events in North Carolina and celebrated birthdays of our members.

We discussed the types of appetizers, main courses/side dishes, and desserts that we have during a Thanksgiving meal. We talked about wines that are refreshing and acidic enough to stand up to the heavy dishes but won’t overpower any of the Thanksgiving food.

Wine from Spain, France, the U.S., and Portugal were paired with the meal. Members brought holiday food pairings to taste with each of the wines. All enjoyed the evening.

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

  • Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava Brut, $34 (1)
  • 2015 Quinta do Crasto Late Bottled Vintage Port, $28 (2)
  • 2020 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel, $26 (3)
  • 2019 Chateau Rayne Vigneau Le Sec de Rayne Vigneau, $25
  • 2018 Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, 15
  • 2021 Chateau Thivin Brouilly Reverdon, $30
  • 2021Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, $40

In early November, roughly two dozen members of the Perkiomen Valley (PA) Chapter and guests gathered at the home of Chris and Frank Giesa to sample right-bank Bordeaux-style wines from around the globe.Perkiomen Valley (PA) Chapter

The right bank of Bordeaux is known for its clay, limestone, and gravel – producing among the world’s finest Merlot and Cabernet Franc blends. They typically feature silky tannins and flavors of plum, spice, and meat. The wines (with favorite ranks in parentheses) were:

  • 2019 Chateau Roque Le Mayne Castillon from Bordeaux, France, $23
  • 2017 Balnaves blend from Coonawarra, Australia, $28
  • 2020 Lagone ala Vecchia from Toscana, Italy, $20 (1)
  • 2019 Rubert & Rothschild Classique from South Africa, $23
  • 2017 Cedar + Salmon red wine blend from Walla Walla, Washington, $24 (2)

Thanks to everyone who participated!

The Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter met November 16 for “Bordeaux, the embodiment of French savoir faire!” The presenter was Mary Clair Bretz.

Have you ever been asked: do you prefer the Right Bank or the Left Bank of Bordeaux wine? Do you know why? Chair and co-chair Richard & Mary Berezinsky and 45 members/guests sampled several left and right bank wines simultaneously to discover which their palates preferred.

  • 2022 Chateau Haut Guillebot Grand Vin de Bordeaux Blanc (Welcome Wine), $13
  • 2020 Clos des Lunes Lune D’Argent Grand Vin Blanc Sec Bordeaux, $25
  • 2019 Chateau Du Retout Grand Vin De Bordeaux Medoc, $20
  • 2019 Chateau Jeandeman Fronsac, $20
  • 2019 Chateau de Chantegrive Graves, $25
  • 2014 Chateau Garraud lalande de Pomerol, $25
  • 2020 Chateau La Tour De Bessan Grand Vin de Bordeaux Margaux, $35
  • 2019 Chateau La Rose Perriere Grand Vin De Bordeaux St. Emilion, $30

The Blowing Rock (NC) Chapter, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, is a relative newcomer to the American Wine Society. We have just passed our 1-year anniversary and the chapter continues to grow as we refine our monthly tastings.

Comparatively, we are a small group of only 30 members. Our membership includes everything from experienced wine drinkers to those who are new to learning and experiencing a wide range of wines.

We are fortunate to have a retired gourmet chef as part of our group who has several wine certifications and is eager to share her knowledge and experience that has been polished over a 30-year career.

Our November tasting included a food pairing that was specifically themed for pairing wine with what would be expected for Christmas finger foods and appetizers:

Wine and food pairings:

  • Pierre Sparr Brut Rose with crispy fried chicken wings
  • Anne & Amie Pinot Gris with petite potatoes stuffed with grilled artichoke, leeks and shrimp
  • Clos de Mez Mademoiselle with mejiol dates stuffed with chorizo and blue cheese
  • Brunello Poggio Apricale with arancini with prosciutto and tomato eggplant jam
  • Painted Fields Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled polenta with beef Bolognese

(Thanks to Sara Hord who created the pairing invites you to visit her website at https://everythingsaralicious.com/ for pairing ideas and recipes.)

Additionally, our wine education included a brief overview of the pros and cons of “organic wines”. The presentation included a comparison of U.S. and European requirements to label a wine as “organic.” If your chapter would like to include this as a part of your wine education, please feel free to email the chapter chair at jdheard75@gmail.comto get a copy of the slides (please indicate if you would like it sent via google slides or PowerPoint).

We would like to wish all the chapters Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year. If you are ever in western North Carolina, please drop us a line and perhaps join us in a tasting. Cheers!

On November 19, the North Wake (NC) Chapter held a meeting and tasting at Heritage View Clubhouse in Wake Forest with 20 members attending. Member Randy Screen hosted a tasting of 6 North Carolina wines. Our guest speaker was Dr. Mark Hoffmann, associate professor and small fruits/viticulture extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University.

North Wake (NC) Chapter tastingDr. Hoffmann works with North Carolina winemakers to assist them in creating the best viticultural practices for growing vitis vinifera and native grapes in North Carolina. Among the many challenges are climactic conditions and biological pests. North Carolina State’s Horticultural Department lists 167 wineries in the state, although there may be as many as 187. The state produces between 1.2 million and 1.3 million cases of wine annually. Cabernet Franc may be the easiest European red grape to grow in North Carolina.

One of the wines we tasted was from the Black Spanish grape (also known as Lenoir or Jacquez), which is believed to be a hybrid of a native Southeastern grape and an undetermined vinifera. It has been grown successfully in Texas.

The wines tasted were:

  • V. Jolo Twinkles Sparkling Wine, $21North Wake (NC) Chapter wines
  • 2022 RayLen Dry Riesling, $17
  • 2021 RayLen Reserve Petit Verdot, $28 (3)
  • 2021 RayLen Category 5 (red blend), $24 (2)
  • 2021 Childress Black Spanish Red Wine, $45
  • 2019 Childress Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $36 (1)

On Sunday, November 19, the Venice (FL) Vinos Chapter held a tasting at the home of Sandra Brookshire in Venice. The theme was “A Tour of California,” and 16 members shared wine and food and great company!

  • Iter Rose sparkling wine, Napa, $14
  • NV Kitchen Sink white blend, Santa Rosa, $15
  • 2021 Smith Bench Chardonnay, Monterey, $20
  • 2022 Angeline Pinot Noir Mendocino County, $17
  • 2018 Line Shack Syrah, Paso Robles/Monterey, $23
  • 2021 Hunted Zinfandel, Lodi, $17 (best value)
  • 2020 Courtney Benham Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa/Sonoma, $29 (best wine)

The November tasting for the Northampton (PA) Chapter featured Greek wines. Our host Alicia Hayden did a fabulous job of sourcing and presenting the wines for this tasting.

All of the attendees appreciated the wines (white and red) with most of the scores in the 16 to 18 (on the AWS 20-point scale) range. Alicia’s slides provided very educational and informative information as we proceeded through the tasting of the wines.

After the tasting we were treated to a tasty meal of Greek-themed foods! Cheers and kudos to Alicia for this tasting!

White wines

  • 2018 Domaine Glinavos Zitsa Brut, $30
  • 2022 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko, $49
  • 2022 Argyros Santorini Estate Assyrtiko, $46
  • 2022 Domaine Papagiannakos Old Vines Saviatiano, $20
  • 2022 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia, $20

Red wines

  • 2018 Magoutes Xinomavro, $30
  • 2019 Kir-Yoanni Ramnista Vineyard Xinamavro, $32
  • 2021 Skouras Saint George Agiorgitiko, $20
  • 2020 Gaia Estate Red Agiorgitiko, $55
  • 2020 Alpha Estate SMX Red Syrah Blend, $36 16.81 (3)
  • 2015 Domaine Nerantzi Syrah, $47

Dessert wines

  • 2015 Argyros Vinsanto First Release, $85 (2)
  • 2004 Hatzidakis Vinsanto 16 year, $39 (1)
DECEMBER

The Shallotte (NC) Chapter held a catered holiday dinner on December 6 with 22 people in attendance, with 6 guests. Speaking with the guests, it was determined that we could be gaining 3-4 new members. The dinner was an outstanding success.

We passed appetizers accompanied with Mercat Cava Brut sparkling wine before our dinner. The first course was a wedged salad (iceberg lettuce, scallions, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese and blue cheese dressing) paired with a 2022 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. The main course was a seared filet with roasted pan Perdue, English peas and a red wine demi-glace. This was paired with a 2021 One Stone Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. Our desert was Cranberry pound cake with thyme roasted apple and vanilla bean ice cream. This was complemented by NV Sandeman Founders Reserve Tawny Port.

No one left hungry!

The membership presented a token of appreciation for our chapter leadership. Our response was “We would not be a successful chapter without you, our members! Thank you.

The Venice (FL) Vinos Chapter held a Christmas Party tasting on Sunday, December 10, at the home of Vicki and Dennis Sliepen in Venice. The chapter provided wines and catered food for the event. The wines consisted of favorites voted on throughout the year at monthly tastings, as well as some other selections. Thirty-three members enjoyed Italian pasta and sides provided by the attendees.

  • Maison J.B. Fau Cremant de Limoux Brut, France, $21
  • 2022 Rocca Felice Roero Arneis, Italy, $18
  • 2020 Chateau de Chantegrive Caroline Blanc, Graves, $30
  • 2021 Conscious Pinot Noir, Oregon, $16
  • 2021 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France, $37
  • 2022 Pazzia Primitivo Puglia, Italy, $15
  • 2020 Courtney Benham Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $29

Members of the Keuka (NY) Chapter gathered on December 14 at the Stonecutter’s Lounge at Bellhurst Castle Winery.

Chapter co-chairs Bill and Candace Jo Farnham and the Chapter Revitalization Committee, Linda and Dean Schuler, drilled down into records, data, and rosters from chapter activities from 2019 through 2023.

Everybody present enjoyed a sampling of some wines from Bellhurst Castle and various hors d’oeuvres from the Stonecutter’s menu.

These last four years have been challenging, but we worked on strategizing plans to make 2024 a more active year and improve local publication of information about the AWS, our chapter, and what we offer in the hope of attracting guests who might evolve into new members.

No one left hungry! The membership presented a token of appreciation for our chapter leadership. Our response was “We would not be a successful chapter without you, our members! Thank you. The Venice (FL) Vinos Chapter held a Christmas Party tasting on Sunday, December 10, at the home of Vicki and Dennis Sliepen in Venice. The chapter provided wines and catered food for the event. The wines consisted of favorites voted on throughout the year at monthly tastings, as well as some other selections. Thirty-three members enjoyed Italian pasta and sides provided by the attendees.

  • Maison J.B. Fau Cremant de Limoux Brut, France, $21
  • 2022 Rocca Felice Roero Arneis, Italy, $18
  • 2020 Chateau de Chantegrive Caroline Blanc, Graves, $30
  • 2021 Conscious Pinot Noir, Oregon, $16
  • 2021 Clos Saint Michel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France, $37
  • 2022 Pazzia Primitivo Puglia, Italy, $15
  • 2020 Courtney Benham Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $29

Perkiomen Valley (PA) tasting in DecemberThe December tasting of the Perkiomen Valley (PA) Chapter featured the holiday drink that never loses its allure: Champagne. The roughly 2 dozen members and guests who attended also partook of fantastic food fare prepared by our host, Lori Law.

The champagnes were:

  • Dalys Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Champagne (100% Chardonnay), $34
  • De Saint-Gull Le Tradition Brut Champagne, $34
  • Montaudon Brut Champagne, $37
  • Champagne Gerin Grande Reserve Brute, $30
  • Mailly Brut Reserve Grand, $40

Members of the Keuka (NY) Chapter gathered on December 14 at the Stonecutter’s Lounge at Bellhurst Castle Winery. Chapter co-chairs Bill and Candace Jo Farnham and the Chapter Revitalization Committee, Linda and Dean Schuler, drilled down into records, data, and rosters from chapter activities from 2019 through 2023. Everybody present enjoyed a sampling of some wines from Bellhurst Castle and various hors d’oeuvres from the Stonecutter’s menu. These last four years have been challenging, but we worked on strategizing plans to make 2024 a more active year and improve local publication of information about the AWS, our chapter, and what we offer in the hope of attracting guests who might evolve into new members.

AWS News Staff We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Jack Kraft, Editor AmericanWineSocietyNews@gmail.com
Chapter Events Editor ChapterEvents@AmericanWineSociety.org
Mike Blake, NTP Coordinator NTP@AmericanWineSociety.org
Kevin Kourofsky, Winemakers’ Corner carolynandkevinathome@gmail.com
Kristen Lindelow, AWSEF President@AWSEF.org
Diane Meyer, Conference Planner Diane@AmericanWineSociety