AWS News – February 2024

Feb 14, 2024



AWS wine scoring gets an update

The AWS Education Committee recently completed one of its longstanding projects to enhance and refine the way we all evaluate wine.

A new way to learn about Finger Lakes wines

A new wine education video and other resources regarding Finger Lakes wines are available, opening the door for your chapter to a guided virtual tasting event.

The 2024 National Tasting Project is under way

You’ll soon be able to get started by visiting the National Tasting Project on the AWS website. Educational material will be available soon, and you already can order the wines.

From the desk of the executive director

Natalie Dippenaar, who became executive director of the American Wine Society late last year, reports on her early days on the job.

Grab your available AWS member discounts

If you’re looking for some benefits of AWS membership, look no further. Valuable discounts are yours for travel, expositions, and wine education classes.

Start your planning for this year’s AWS National Conference

Even though the conference is about 8 months away, you can begin planning excursions and booking hotel rooms now.

Join us for Uncork & Discover

You are invited to a virtual overview in March to learn more about benefits available to you as a member of AWS. Also, take advantage of available volunteer opportunities.

The 2024 scholarship application period opens for AWSEF

It’s time once again for interested students to apply for an American Wine Society Educational Foundation Scholarship (AWSEF), with an application deadline of March 31.

Congratulations to top amateur winemakers

See the lists of the top winners over the past 5 years and the top 50 winemakers over the many years of our annual competitions.

Winemaker’s corner: It’s time to polish your wine!

Small adjustments can make a good wine into an award-winning wine. They may also be the difference between a silver-medal and a gold-medal wine.

Chapter events

From coast to coast, your fellow AWS members have used different meeting themes and tasted some wonderful wines. Read what they’ve been up to.

AWS wine scoring gets an update

The AWS Education Committee recently completed one of its longstanding projects to enhance and refine the way we all evaluate wine.

Annemarie Morse

Annemarie Morse, Director of Education

“Our first task was to establish a common and consistent language to use for wine descriptors,” said Director of Education Annemarie Morse. Then, working with Director of Competitions Rex Bambling, the committee addressed the scoring criteria to align with that language, achieve consistency, and align to industry standards.

The ultimate goal was to provide members and AWS judges with a structured approach to a more consistent, and objective, wine evaluation.

The team benchmarked wine evaluation tools from various organizations to assemble a structured approach and construct a similar framework for the AWS. At that point, the competitions staff suggested that we also would have to adjust the existing scoring criteria.

“Commercially Acceptable” wines are now “Marginal”

One noticeable result is that the term “Marginal” replaces the term “Commercially Acceptable” in the overall scoring for a wine in the 9- to-11-point range. The AWS Wine Evaluation Scoresheet was also modified to reflect the new framework, including the terminology change.

You can find the team’s framework here, and the new AWS Wine Evaluation Scoresheet is here. The framework defines the attributes of wine evaluation and the standard descriptors selected for them, as well as graded scoring criteria for each attribute.

Both of these tools were introduced at the 2023 National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, during the “Deep Dive into Wine Evaluation” continuing education session as part of the Wine Judge Certification Program (WJCP) and were well received by those attending.

The Education Committee and Competition Staff appreciate the extensive work of the project team — Lorraine Hems, Bob Madill, Kevin Ostrowski, and Vince Williams.

We hope you’ll find this more detailed and organized approach helpful.

A new way to learn about Finger Lakes wines

A new wine education video “Finger Lakes Wine: Past, Present, and Future” is now available on the AWS channel on YouTube.

It’s part of the ongoing CRU 100 initiative to support the development of relevant, quality wine education resources that directly benefit and empower American Wine Society chapters and members across the country. The video was produced by the AWS Education Committee.Finger Lakes wine video - CRU 100

What it means to you

Plan a date and rally your chapter members for the countdown to an epic wine experience. The video allows you to see and hear about the Finger Lakes Wine Region all from the comfort of your home or other meeting venue. You can also taste Finger Lakes wines because the program enables easy wine ordering with bottles shipped right to you.

PowerPoint presentations, technical sheets, and more also will be available through your login at the secure AWS site to provide you with the resources to have a “virtual tasting and presentation” with the winemakers who made the wines.

Become a CRU 100 benefactor

AWS aspires to develop a CRU membership of 100 donors who believe strongly in our wine education mission and are willing to contribute $500 each. Additional proceeds are derived from the annual Presidential Reception held at the American Wine Society National Conference.

For more information about participating, contact us at

A new National Tasting Project is under way

The 2024 National Tasting Project (NTP) has started, and this year’s theme is California Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

Any chapter or AWS member can organize an NTP. It’s fun to taste, judge, discuss, and then compare scores. Don’t have enough members in your chapter? Make it a Zoom NTP with other members or chapters!

Mike Blake

Mike Blake, NTP coordinator

If you are interested in joining this year’s NTP, you’ll soon be able to get started by visiting the National Tasting Project on the AWS website. It will feature better navigation, presentation, and score recording.

You must be an AWS member and either a chapter chair, regional ambassador, or NTP organizer to receive NTP updates. Both new and previous organizers need to register for the new NTP, and your registration request will be reviewed within one day. After your registration is approved, login via the Organizers Login and view the Organizer’s Menu for more information about education.

Educational material will be available by March 15, if not sooner.

That said, you can order wines already by visiting In the search box, type AWS24 and the NTP wines will display. At checkout, use code AWS24 for a 10 percent wine discount and a 50 percent shipping discount. You could, of course, order wines from your local retailer to save on shipping costs. Be sure to compare the vintages and regional designations because producers offer many variations.

Note: The retailer has offered the same discount to all AWS members on any wines from its portfolio until June 30. Just include the code AWS24 during checkout.

Need more information? Contact me by email at

From the desk of the executive director

Editor’s note: ​Natalie Dippenaar became executive director of the American Wine Society late last year. Here, she reports on her early days on the job.

My number one priority has been identifying and securing a location for the 2025 National Conference. We are down to the final 5 venues: in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

Natalie Dippenaar, AWS Executive Director

Our conference is large and so many hotels were unable to meet our needs — lots of space at a reasonable price that will keep us on budget and be affordable and accessible to members. Oh, and a dishwasher that can handle washing 3,600+ glasses an hour!

I have started on my goal to visit all chapters whenever I am near. See Chapter Events in this newsletter for my visit to the NoLoCo (VA) Chapter on January 14! I also squeezed in a visit to the Catawba (NC) Chapter on February 2, while on a site visit to the Winston-Salem hotels and conference center that host us for the 2024 National Conference. (Follow AmericanWineSociety on Instagram for a few highlights and vineyards we visited!)

We also met with Visit Winston-Salem, the North Carolina Winegrower’s Association, which hosted its Taste of NC conference on February 9, and NC Fine Wines.

While there, we also got together with 45 welcoming and enthusiastic members from various North Carolina chapters who have signed up to help with tours, sessions, and signing up wineries for sponsorships, competitions, and to showcase!NC volunteers NC volunteers gathering

You can access the hotel booking links for Winston-Salem elsewhere in this newsletter, and conference registration will open in early July — once the new membership database software is configured and ready for use. That is another project on the go in the background — identifying all the processes that use and integrate with the database so we can get the new software setup and ready as quickly as possible. Hopefully, this provides an immediate improvement to the registration process and to member profile portions of the AWS website.

Thank you to all who have emailed ideas and suggestions. All are welcome, and I will reply as soon as I can. Keep in mind, many will propose many different ideas and there are just two of us at the National Office to make the magic happen. I will endeavor to get to all practical, realistically possible, affordable, and needed projects, as time, resources, and budget permit!

Remember, you can help by:

  • Liking and reposting social media or inviting friends to follow and learn more.
  • Hosting incredible chapter tastings and welcoming friends, colleagues, and neighbors to them.
  • Coming to the National Conference with your whole chapter and wine friends to explore the wines of North Carolina.

The current AWS Wine Journal features the first of 3 articles introducing you to North Carolina’s history and wine scene, so be sure to take a look!

Until next time,

The best thing about being single on Valentine's Day is that you get all the wine to yourself.

Grab your available AWS member discounts

If you’re looking for some great benefits of AWS membership, look no further.

Visit Spain’s Costa del Sol & Madrid

You still have time to qualify for an AWS discount on a trip to the world-renowned Costa del Sol in Spain and visit the country’s capital, Madrid.Spain's Costa del Sol

If you book by February 25, you can save $450 on air-inclusive packages for the trip from August 24 to September 1. 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.

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, 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.


Learn about wine from an expert with an AWS discount

American Wine Society members can receive a discount for Kevin Zraly’s online Windows on the World Virtual Wine School Winter/Spring semester, which begins on February 26.

Kevin Zraly

Kevin Zraly

A past winner of the AWS Award of Merit, Kevin is one of the world’s most-renowned wine educators and has sold millions of wine guides. Robert Parker called him the most charismatic wine educator in the world.

As a special promotion, Kevin has offered AWS members a 20% discount per class this semester. That’s $10 off the normal $50 registration fee for one household/Zoom account. You simply need to enter 10OFF in the coupon section when you check out on the website

The discount applies to any or all of the following classes:

  • Monday, February 26. The One Hour Wine Expert™ class focuses on the four major grapes of the world and the best regions where they are grown.
  • Monday, March 4. During the One Hour French Red Wine Expert class, Kevin will lead you through a discussion and tasting of red wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and The Rhône Valley — and you will have a little fun with a Rosé from Provence.
  • Monday, March 11. In the One Hour California Red Wine Expert class, you will taste and discuss wines from Napa (both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), a cool-climate Pinot Noir and a powerful Zinfandel.
  • Monday, March 18. Taste the beauty of Italy through its wines in the One Hour Italian Red Wine Expert class.
  • Monday, March 25. In the One Hour Spanish Red Wine Class, you will have the opportunity to taste and discuss Rioja along with outstanding wines from Ribera del Duero and Priorat.
  • Monday, April 1. During the One Hour Bordeaux Wine Expert class, you will learn about the rich history of Bordeaux, some of the 65 different appellations and the phenomenal vintages of 2016, 2018 and 2019, all while tasting a Bordeaux Blanc and wines from the St. Emilion and Medoc regions as well as Sauternes.

All classes begin at 7 p.m. Eastern time, and generally run for one hour (the April 1 session is 90 minutes). Full descriptions are available through the link above.

You can purchase the featured wines through, which is an official partner for the classes. You can also purchase wines locally or take them from your own cellar. Kevin stresses that they do not have to be the exact wines, just the exact types of wine.

Cruise the Seine River in France

The discount period for our 2025 wine cruise to France has passed, but bookings are still available at standard AWS member rates.Wine Cruise to France The 7-night cruise from May 8–15 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

Start your planning for the 2024 National Conference

Start planning now for the 57th annual National Conference, running from Friday, November 1, through Sunday, November 3, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.2024 National Conference logo

To get a flavor for what to expect from this dynamic region, you can watch a video here. Look for conference session details and a full agenda in the summer.

In the meantime, you can take advantage now of special group rates for the American Wine Society at two hotels across the street from the Benton Convention Center:

Winston-Salem Marriott Embassy Suites by Hilton
Rates at the Winston-Salem Marriott are
$149 per night, plus taxes.
Rates at the Embassy Suites by Hilton are
$159 per night, plus taxes.
Book your room at the Winston-Salem Marriott Book your room at Embassy Suites by Hilton


Be sure to leave time for any special excursions — Winston-Salem is the gateway to the Yadkin Valley Wine Region — as well as our AWS offerings of Wine Judge Certification, Wine Smarts (formerly SuperTasting Series), and more.


Join us for Uncork & Discover

As a member of the American Wine Society, you’re invited to learn more about benefits available to you.

Join Director of Membership Carrie A. Garczynski and other Board members for an online 1-hour informational event on Monday March 11 at 8 p.m., Eastern time (5 p.m., Pacific time).

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 (911208)

Uncork & Discover

Can’t make this session? No problem. Watch for notice about future events tentatively scheduled for June 10, September 16, and December 16. If you have questions, simply email Carrie at

We look forward to swirling a glass with you!

Volunteer opportunities are available

We’re looking for interested people to join the Membership Committee and to be a chapter chair mentor.

The Membership Committee holds monthly meetings and actively works to improve member benefits and support regional ambassadors and chapter chairs in their efforts to serve members.

The chapter chair mentor makes himself or herself available to those who might want to start an AWS chapter, or to novice chairs who find the job intimidating. The ideal candidate for chapter chair mentor is a current or past chapter chair who can answer questions and help a new or prospective chapter chair create a desired chapter style.

To learn more about either of these opportunities, contact Carrie at

2024 scholarship application period opens for AWSEF

It’s time once again for interested students to apply for an American Wine Society Educational Foundation Scholarship (AWSEF). If you want to be sure someone, a particular club, or a university receives this year’s application announcement, please contact Isabelle Lesschaeve, Vice President, Scholarships, at

AWSEF logoThe AWS Educational Foundation was created in 1993 to aid students entering wine-related industries by providing supplementary financial resources in the form of scholarships. In 2023, AWSEF awarded scholarships of $3,500 each to 8 graduate students, bringing total scholarships awarded during our existence to more than $500,000, with 169 individuals benefitting.

In order to qualify for a scholarship, a student must:

  • Be a full-time graduate student in a field related to enology, viticulture, and/or health aspects of wine with at least one semester of graduate study completed.
  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of a North American country (including, of course, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or any of the other 19 considered part of North America).
  • Not have received more than one AWSEF scholarship in the past. (Yes, a student can receive up to two scholarships from us during their academic career!)
    Larry S. Jackson, AWSEF president

    Larry S. Jackson, AWSEF president

  • Complete an online application by March 31.

The most important part of each application is the 750-word essay describing the student’s current and future research and its expected impact on the North American wine industry. These write-ups describe leading-edge innovations being pursued by students.

You can read more and download the full application instructions through our website.

We look forward to announcing the 2024 scholarship recipients this summer!

Roses are red. Wine is also red. Poetry is hard. Wine.

Congratulations to top amateur winemakers

As reported in our last issue, the 2023 Amateur Winemaking Competition in St. Louis, MO, awarded 203 bronze medals, 158 silver, 12 gold, and 25 double gold medals to 124 winemakers.

These links will take you to lists of the top winners over the past 5 years and the top 50 winemakers over the many years of our annual competitions, which incorporate results from the latest competition:

Recent AWS Top Amateur Winemakers

AWS All-Time Top 50 Amateur Winemakers

Point totals are calculated by giving 100 points for each double gold or gold medal, 58 for each silver, and 34 for each bronze. Points have been accumulating since 1975, when our records began.

Thanks to Mickey Krauss for compiling these lists.

Winemaker’s corner: It’s time to polish your wine!

Kevin Kourofsky

Kevin Kourofsky

What makes a great wine? One you like drinking, of course. But, it’s not just the flavors; a great wine draws you wholly into it, allowing you to taste all its elements in balance. These elements are called texture, the sum of the wine’s parts.

While texture begins at harvest, it’s after fermentation when the winemaker can make small changes to the most important elements of texture — becoming an artist to bring acid and tannin levels into better balance. This can be done by clearing the wine of hazes, correcting texture levels and possibly blending for balance and for extra character.

These small adjustments can make a good wine into an award-winning wine. They may also be the difference between a silver-medal and a gold-medal wine.

Read more here

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.


On November 17, the San Luis Obispo (CA) Chapter tasted an assortment of Old Vine Zinfandel wines from a variety of California vineyards that are at least 60 years old. Karl Wicka, Winemaker for Turley Winery in Paso Robles, was guest speaker. Karl has now helmed Turley’s winemaking in Paso Robles for 20 vintages and counting, landing 3 wines on The Wine Spectator’s top 100 list.

Special thanks to Jim Mueller for organizing and leading this blind tasting. Here are the results:

  • 2022 Scar of the Sea, Cucamonga Valley AVA, $35
  • 2021 Sobon Rocky Top Vineyard, Shenandoah Valley AVA, $16 (1-tie)
  • 2019 Carol Shelton-Monga Zin, Cucamonga Valley AVA, $25
  • 2020 Saucelito Canyon, Arroyo Grande Valley AVA, $65 (3)
  • 2021 J Dusi, Tempelton Gap AVA, $38
  • 2021 Turley, Templeton Gap AVA, $49 (1-tie)
  • 2021 Burlington Chandeler-Old Vine, San Joaquin County AVA, $26 (2-tie)
  • 2020 Scott Harvey, Amador County AVA, $57 (2 tie)
  • 2021 Seghesio Old Vine Zin, Sonoma County AVA, $35

Chris and Robin Zaborowski hosted the Fleur de Lis (KY) Chapter November tasting with a theme of “my favorite things.” Six wines were poured blind and given to the members for tasting. Results were:

  • 2020 Owen Roe Cabernet Franc, Rosa Mystica, Yakima Valley, WA, $32 (1)
  • 2016 Summus, Toscana, IGT, Italy, $80 (2)
  • 1994 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France, price unknown, (3)
  • 2019 Bouchard Pere & Fils, Beaune du Chateau, Premier Cru, Cote-D-Or, Bourgogne, France, $59 (4-tie)
  • 2015 Bolla, Le Origini, Amarone della Valpolicella, DOCG, Classico Riserva, Italy, $65 (4-tie)
  • 1996 Beaulieu Vineyard, George de Latour, Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, price unknown (6)

The Kish Valley (PA) Chapter met November 12 at Stonefly Cafe in Reedsville owned and operated by Scott Bubb. Thirty eight members and 3 guests delighted in a presentation from the Tenuta Torciano Wine School Tour in San Gimignano, Italy.

A charming and enthusiastic sommelier and instructor generously shared s 7 wines and several extra extra virgin olive oils and a balsamic vinegar with the chapter members and guests.

The history of Tenuta Torciano, located in the heart of Tuscany, spans 3 centuries and 13 generations. The estate encompasses 3 wineries and 4 vineyards as well as olive groves. Fifty-six different wines are produced along with over a dozen olive oils and vinegars.

For our class tasting, 5 red wines and 2 whites were presented. The red wines included three “super Tuscan” varieties: They were Bartolomeo, Cavaliere, and Baldassarre. The other 2 reds were a Merlot and Morellino Di Scansano. The white wines were Vernaccia San Gimignano and “Peacock” Vermentino. All the wines were deliciously enjoyed, along with savory Tuscan appetizers.

The top four wines all scored closely, with the favorites being:

  • 2018 Bartolomeo Super Tuscan, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Sangiovese, $68
  • 2020 Morelllino Di Scancano, 100% Sangiovese, $35
  • 2022 Merlot, $45
  • 2016 Cavaliere Super Tuscan, 70% Sangiovese grape and 30% Merlot, $60


The holiday tasting in December for the Cleveland (OH) Chapter was hosted by Jan and Tom Cobett and Rudy and Terry Koisher at the Meadowood Homeowners’ Assoc. Clubhouse in Strongsville. The tasting featured wines from the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery in Finger Lakes, New York.

Jan and Tom gave us a brief history of Dr. Konstantin Frank and the AWS Cleveland Chapter, which Tom founded. They reminded us that AWS members can get a 20 percent discount when buying Dr. Frank’s wines from the winery.2021. The Dr. Frank wines we tasted were:

  • 2021 Grüner Veltliner, $19
  • 2021 Rkatsiteli (red horn), $19
  • 2020 Old Vine Pinot Noir, $27 (2)
  • 2021 Salmon Run Meritage (64% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon.), $17 (3)
  • 2020 Saperavi, $30 (1)
  • NV Célèbre Rosé Méthode Champenoise (55% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 11% Pinot Meunier), $25

The Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter met December 21 for “New Vs. Old World Wines.” The presenters were Kurt Cowles and Kim Mack from the Myrtle Beach Total Wine & More.

Chapter chairs Mary and Rich Berezinsky were joined by 36 members/guests. We tasted 8 wines, some from the Old World (France, Spain, Italy) and some from the New World (Argentina, Australia, and the United States). In addition, we started with a mulled gluehwein made by Larry and Joann Garner, and ended with a delectable eggnog made by Bill and Marie Woodward.

  • NV St. Renie Blanc de Blanc Brut Cremant (Old World), $16
  • 2022 Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet (Old World), $12
  • 2022 Val Do Sosego Albarino Rias Baixas (Old World), $19
  • 2020 Donnachiara Falanghina Resilienza (Old World), $20
  • 2020 Finca Flichman Malbec Misterio Reserva (New World), $16
  • 2020 San Gregorio Las 75 Vendimias (Old World), $19
  • 2020 Ringland Barossa Shiraz (New World), $22
  • 2021 Amici Cabernet Sauvignon Napa (New World), $50

The Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter Ho-Ho-Ho Holiday festivities were held at the Aster Event Center, where 70 members and guests enjoyed themselves — which included sharing table of a wide variety of wines. The appetizers, dinners and desserts were delicious. Thanks Jan Thomas and Ann Vlot for planning this wonderful event.Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter December tasting Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter December tasting

Bonnie and Dean Scott hosted the Silent Auction (wine items donated by members) and Joe Pugliese coordinated the 50/50 drawing. A total of $1,441 was collected to benefit the AWS Education Fund Scholarship for graduate student recipients researching viticulture, enology, or grape related agricultural studies.

Retiring Co-Chairs Peter and Leslie Staffeld recognized members who held a tasting or contributed in other ways to the success of the chapter. 2024 welcomes newly elected chapter chair Kevin Campbell, co-vice-chairs Kathy and Mark Breloff, and Treasurer Joe Pugliese. [PHOTOS]

Monterrey (CA) Chapter December tastingThe Monterey (CA) Chapter held its holiday “Mingle Jingle” on December 1 at Lepe Cellars and Winfield Art Gallery in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Eighteen members and guests attended this event.

In addition to founding Lepe Cellars, winemaker/owner Miguel Lepe, who studied enology and viticulture at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, continues to make wine for several Monterey County wineries. He was a gracious host, educating our group on his wines and the specific vineyards from which he sources his grapes.

We tasted 7 Lepe Cellars wines representing 5 distinct AVAs within Monterey County.

  • 2021 Lepe Cellars Chardonnay, River Ranch Vineyards, Carmel Valley AVA, $38
  • 2022 Lepe Cellars Sangiovese Rose, Merit Vineyards, San Antonio Valley AVA,$30
  • 2022 Lepe Cellars Pinot Noir, San Saba Vineyard, Monterey AVA, $40
  • 2021 Lepe Cellars Pinot Noir, McIntyre Vineyards, Santa Lucia Highlands AVA,$55
  • 2021 Lepe Cellars Zinfandel, Wellong Vineyards, San Antonio Valley AVA, $42
  • 2021 Lepe Cellars Syrah, Zabala Vineyards, Arroyo Seco AVA, $55
  • 2020 Lepe Cellars Petit Verdot, Merit Vineyards, San Antonio Valley AVA, $49


The Napa Solano (CA) Chapter met January 6 to taste wine from Reustle Prayer Rock Winery, pairing its wines against their European counterparts.

Reustle Prayer Rock Winery is a 200-acre property in the Umpqua valley in Oregon and has set the Northwest winegrowing region afire with its many accolades and awards, both national and international.

Being from the rainy Northwest, Stephen and Gloria Reustle felt quite at home with the rainy day here. Fortunately, it did not keep our intrepid members at home. The tasting began with their Gruner Veltliner served as a welcome wine. Then, we did a blind tasting with wines served in pairs.  The pairings and favorites by scoring were:

Gruner Veltliner

  • 2022 Prayer Rock “Green Lizard”
  • 2022 Alzinger (favorite)

Pinot Noir

  • 2021 Reustle Pinot Noir Reserve, $48 (favorite)
  • 2021 Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1r Cru Pinot Noir, $99


  • 2021 Dumien Serette Cornus Syrah
  • 2021 Reustle Syrah Reserve (favorite)


  • 2020 Cuentavinas Alomado Rioja (slight favorite)
  • 2021 Reustle Tempranillo (2020 is sold out)

The afternoon finished with a 20-year-old Quinta Das Carvalhas Tawny Port, paired with delicious desserts and chocolate!

This was a lovely winetasting led by the charming couple from the Reustle Prayer Rock Winery. The room was packed and filled with smiles and happy members.

The Lake Washington (WA) Chapter met on January 7 to compare Malbecs from France and Argentina. Chapter chair Adrienne Dahlin hosted the group at the Puget Sound Yacht club where the group tasted the following wines:

  • 2019 Luca Old Vine Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina, $32
  • 2014 Lagarde Bodega Primeras Viñas, Mendoza, Argentina, $40 (purchased in Argentina; it could cost more in the United States)
  • 2021 Alamos Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, $11
  • 2020 Le Malbec d’Hervé, Pays D’Oc, France, $15
  • 2019 Pigmentum Georges Vigourou, Malbec, Cahors, France $15
  • 2019 Château de Mercues Geroges Vigouroux Malbec de Cahors, France, $30

The mix of vintages and terroir made for an interesting comparison of this full-bodied red wine.

The Northern Loudoun County (NoLoCo) (VA) Chapter met on January 14 at the home of Lara Watts and Robert Saye. John Sporing presented wine varietals from South Africa.

Natalie and John at NoLoCo tasting in JanuaryA highlight of the meeting was welcoming Natalie Dippenaar, the new AWS executive director, to her first local chapter meeting. This was also an opportunity to have both Natalie and John Sporing, the outgoing interim executive director, attend the same event.

John is an expert on South African wines, due to leading many wine trips to South Africa and maintaining relationships with winemakers. In presenting wine varietals from there, he explained the system of wine regions, districts, and wards, and led the group through tasting the following 6 wines.

  • 2020 Glenelly Unoaked Chardonnay, $18
  • 2022 Excelsior Sauvignon Blanc, $12
  • 2021 Bellingham Old Vine Chenin Blanc, $28
  • 2021 Kanonkop Pinotage, $53
  • 2020 Raats Cabernet Franc, $50
  • 2021 MR de Compostella, $85

The Shallotte (NC) Chapter inaugural 2024 monthly meeting was titled “Wines of Argentina You Did Not Know,” presented by Chris Menker of Advintage Distributing. In attendance were 25 people, which included 3 guests.Chris Menker of Advintage Distributing

Chris reviewed the history of wine making in Argentina, starting with disputed dates in the 1500s. We learned that the wine-growing area is protected by the Andes’ mountains and are situated at high elevations with minimal rain fall. The irrigation is obtained from the melting snow from the mountains as well as some rainfall. This is a high-plains desert, subject to hail that annually erases about 20 percent of the crops.

We also learned that Argentina entered the international wine trade about 25 years ago due to the Malbec boom. However, there are a wide range of varietals grown, some common and some native.

In all, we sampled 6 wines with food pairings. Some of the wine surprised our members. They ranged from sparkling to blended wines.

All the wines were rated using the AWS Wine Evaluation method. The results were:Shallotte, NC, tasting

  • 2020 Michelini i Mufatto, Gualtallary Malbec Cabernet Franc, $32 (1)
  • 2018 Bodega Hinojosa, H Malbec Gran Reserva, $20 (2)
  • 2019 Montesco, Parral (40% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Bonarda), $22 (3)
  • NV Almacita, Brut Sparkling (100% Chardonnay), $17
  • 2022 Zorzal, Pinot Noir Rosé Terroir Único, $11
  • 2019 Via Revolucionaria, Torrontés Brutal, $28

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

The Venice (FL) Vinos Chapter held a tasting on January 14 hosted by Theresa Sentel at her community center activities room. The theme was wines from Australia/New Zealand and was attended by 28 members and guests.

  • 2022 Cottesbrook sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $20 (best wine)
  • 2021 Staete Landt Duchess, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, $33
  • 2020 Snake & Herring Tough Love, Chardonnay, Australia, $26
  • 2021 Fern Ridge Pinot Noir, New Zealand, $22
  • 2020 Davey Family Shiraz, Estate McLaren Vale, Australia, $22
  • 2020 Fossick Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Australia, $15 (best value)
  • 2019 Knappstein Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valle, Australia, $20

The Emerald Coast (FL) Chapter met on January 21 at Pam Davey’s home to find out “What is wine worth.” Debbie Edo and Judith Zitizewitz co-hosted us in this special tasting where we experienced 6 wines.

Tasting them in pairs by varietal, we tried a sub $20 bottle and an over $50 bottle. The group weighed in on Pinot Noir, Amarone, and California Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the end, many of us had to admit that perhaps what is in the bottle is not always worth the price tag to the drinker. But we all agreed we should each drink what we like, regardless of the price tag.

1st pairing

  • 2021 Bella Glos Clark and Telephone Pinot Noir, $46
  • 2021 Caliveda Pino Noir, $17

2nd pairing

  • 2021 Nero Oro Nero d’Avola Apassimento Terre Siciliane, $14
  • 2018 Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico, $60

3rd pairing

  • NV Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon, $19
  • 2021 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon, $80 (top-ranked overall)

Chapter chair Stan Barwikowski welcomed a full house to a new year of wine education and tastings at the January membership meeting of the Ocean Isle Beach (NC) Chapter. Members were pleased to hear that our chapter scholarship fund has grown to $2,749 as we await our first scholarship applications from viticulture and enology students at Surry College and Appalachian State in North Carolina.Ocean Isle Beach (NC) tasting in January

Reservations are open for travel with members of the Ocean Isle Beach AWS Chapter when we explore the Columbia and Snake Rivers in April 2025 on a wine cruise with American Cruise Lines. Proceeds from cruise line benefits will support the Ocean Isle Beach AWS Scholarship Fund.

As we began our exploration of the fine wines of Spain, our education and tasting focus was on the 2 northern regions of D.O.C. Rioja – Alta and Alavesa. The presentation was highlighted with photos from wineries personally visited by Stan and Tess Barwikowski and fascinating facts of the intricate underground cave systems of the wineries. Wines sampled were:

  • 2020 Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana Asua Rioja Bianco, 100% Viura, $17
  • 2021 Bodegas del la Marquesa Valserrano Rioja Bianco, blend of Viura and Malvasia grapes, $18
  • 2019 Bodegas Eguren Spanish Tempranillo, 100% Tempranillo, $14
  • 2020 Asua Asua Crianza, 100% Tempranillo, $20
  • 2020 Castillo Clavijo Rioja Tempranillo, 100% Tempranillo, $14
  • 2015 Bodega Montecillo Centenaria Reserva, 100% Tempranillo, $23
  • 2015 Castillo Clavijo Gran Reserva, 90% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano, $25

It was most educational to taste such a nice variety of wines produced from the Tempranillo grape where flavors of each were unique based on the terroir and winemakers’ technique. Wine pairings included a selection of Spanish cheeses and olives which accentuated the flavors of each wine extremely well.

¡Salud por la buena salud! Cheers to good health!

On January 28, the North Wake (NC) Chapter met and tasted at Heritage View Clubhouse in Wake Forest with 41 members and 5 guests attending.

Member Greg Hedrick presented 6 value wines from Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the world. All of those wines were scored between 90 and 92 points by Wine Spectator. Five of the 6 that we tasted were under $25.

We tasted 3 whites and 3 reds. Greg provided excellent information on all 6 wineries as well as the terroir of the various regions.North Wake (NC) Chapter

  • 2022 Muralhas de Moncao Vinho Verde Alvarinho/Trajadura, Portugal
  • 2022 Botani Old Vines Moscatel, Sierras de Málaga, Spain
  • 2022 Diatom Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California
  • 2021 Bodegas Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
  • 2020 Clos Berenguer Carignan/Grenache Noir/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon, Priorat, Spain
  • 2016 Coto de Imaz Grand Reserva Tempranillo/Graciano, Rioja, Spain

We rated the Coto de Imaz Grand Reserva Tempranillo/Graciano the highest on the AWS scale. Notably, it was the one wine that cost more than $25.

Attending as a guest was Kyle Freedman, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University in the Department of Horticultural Science. He is a recipient of an AWS Education Fund scholarship. He spoke to us about his research in viticulture and the value of the AWS scholarship.

Our chapter has selected the AWS Education Scholarship Fund as our charity for this year and plans are in place for several fund-raising activities. We were pleased to have Kyle in attendance, and he will be the presenter at our May meeting.

On January 19, the San Luis Obispo (CA) Chapter tasted Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles and Australia. Our guest speaker was Victor Roberts, owner and winemaker at Victor Hugo Winery in Paso Robles.

We started the evening with an open tasting of Victor Hugo 2020 Opulence, an elegant “right bank” blend of Bordeaux grape varieties. We then went on to our blind Cabernet Sauvignon tasting:

  • 2021 J. Lohr “Hilltop,” Paso Robles-Genesco Dist. AVA, $35 (2)
  • 2018 Evans & Tate, Margaret River AVA, $45
  • 2020 Chapel Hill, McClaren Vale AVA, $35
  • 2020 Domaine Portet, Yarra Valley AVA, $20
  • 2021 San Simeon, Paso Robles AVA, $26
  • 2020 Victor Hugo, Paso Robles-Templeton Gap AVA, $32 (1)
  • V. Austin, Paso Robles AVA, $20
  • 2019 Terrawatta, Eden Valley AVA, $40
  • 2020 Cass- “Estate” blend, Paso Robles-Genesco Dist. AVA, $55 (3)

“We the People” of the Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter tasted 9 wines from Virginia for our January event attended by 38 members and guests. Eight of these wines are from the Monticello AVA near Charlottesville, Virginia, and winners of the prestigious Governor’s Cup-Gold Medal.

The wines from the tasting were:Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter, January tasting

  • 2015 King Family Vineyards Meritage, $72 (1)
  • 2019 Barren Ridge Petite Verdot, $40 (2)
  • 2019 Jefferson Vineyards Reserve Petite Verdot, $43 (3)
  • 2019 Pollak Vineyards Meritage, $42
  • 2019 Michael Shaps Wineworks Meritage, $50
  • 2021 Pollak Sauvignon Blanc, $26
  • 2022 Barboursville Vermentino Reserve, $19
  • 2022 King Family Vineyards Viognier, $30
  • 2021 Eastwood Chardonnay, $28

After the tasting, a delicious buffet from Teresas’ Italian Restaurant was served. A second event in January was a wonderful BYOB at the new Ayat Restaurant in Allentown. All enjoyed sharing wine and conversation.

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