May 30, 2021

AWS News

America’s largest community of wine explorers

June 2021 Volume 35, No. 1

Executive Director’s message: The new AWS News
How we transitioned to a new format.

Marketing Committee develops future-facing agenda
The panel tackles re-launched communication and Thirsty Third Thursday tastings for non-members.

National Conference: Book your stay and prepare for registration
You can reserve a room now, with conference registration coming on July 14.

Happenings with the National Tasting Project
Learn about changes to ordering wines for the 2021 NTP, a transition in leadership, and reflections on an incredible journey.

Gearing up for Board elections
Act before a June 15 deadline regarding nominations to two important positions: Director of Education and Secretary.

2021 Commercial and Amateur Wine Competitions are on the horizon
Winemakers should submit their entries by October 15.

Member Service features promotional membership offer
Non-members can grab a special incentive through September 30 to join AWS and become eligible to attend our National Conference.

AWSEF update
The foundation awards its 2021 scholarships, seeks nominations for upcoming election of trustees, solicits contributions for its silent auction, and more.

Winemakers’ corner
Make your wine shine by bringing clarity to a hazy world.

Government affairs
Get info on direct-to-consumer efforts, a plea regarding the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and Oregon hammering of leisure activities — again.

Chapter Events is back — and needs you
Help us stay in touch with each other by sharing information about your events.

***To print the News, in most web browsers, simply click the three dots at the top right of your browser and choose print.

Executive Director’s message: The new AWS News

Welcome to your new electronic newsletter.

David Falchek, Executive Director
David Falchek,
Executive Director

The new AWS News reminds me of a communications adage: Adjust the message to the audience, don’t expect the audience to adjust itself to the message.

As you’ll read in Marshall Lipson’s accompanying article, the newly formed Marketing Committee that he leads took the concept to heart. It scrutinized the AWS News format and content and sought feedback from members through a survey — and we’re extremely grateful to the nearly 800 members who participated for helping us improve our services and offerings.

The Marketing Committee distilled the feedback into our new approach for the AWS News that was approved by the Board of Directors.

Of course, we can’t look at the future of the AWS News without acknowledging how we got here. This means thanking former editor Pam Davey for her tireless efforts. Her history and service to the organization stretches back decades. Pam’s work on behalf of the AWS includes the most basic, unheralded tasks to the greatest responsibility of all — president of the Board of Directors. As one of the AWS’s most important “essential workers,” she earned the Outstanding Member Award in 2015. We wish her all the best.

Moving forward, I’m happy to have Jack Kraft step up to serve as editor of the AWS News. Jack is a longtime AWS member and a veteran communicator with a distinguished career in publishing. He’ll help us continue to realize the vision of the AWS News and, I’m sure, unlock new potential. This will be an evolving journey and we’ll undoubtedly learn as we go. However, the important thing is that the AWS News continues, allowing us to connect and to share, bringing our national community of wine appreciators together.

That’s how we got to your screen.

David Falchek, AWS Executive Director

Marketing Comittee develops future-facing agenda

Soon after Mike Wangbickler became president of AWS, he asked me to chair a newly-launched Marketing Committee and tasked it with helping to increase membership, create greater recognition of AWS among the trades, and improve the organization membership’s age diversity.

We decided to focus on three items as our initial steps.

  • Re-launch AWS News to update its delivery system while keeping it as relevant and readable as possible. Of course, you’re reading the updated newsletter now, which grew out of a survey of members regarding the most effective delivery system and format. The AWS Board approved our recommendations at its April meeting.
  • Develop national programming targeted at a younger people for use in membership recruitment. We’ll begin a series of 4 Thirsty Third Thursday gatherings on Zoom later this month, with others following in July, August, and September. These “wine 101” tastings can help us communicate with non-members, but everyone is welcome. Watch for promotions in your inbox or on social media, and invite your non-member friends and all potential members. Looking for more information? See registration details or send us an email.
  • Increase AWS brand recognition and support within the professional wine community (that is, wineries, wine shops and wine professionals). We’ve just recently begun working on this step, so concrete plans haven’t been formed. Look for more information later this summer.

We’re always looking for ideas and for people to help. If you have a suggestion or a marketing/communications background and would like to get involved, feel free to contact me at

Marshall Lipson, Chair, AWS Marketing Committee

National Conference: Book your stay and prepare for registration

Planning is in full swing for our 2021 National Conference from November 4–6 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

You already can reserve your room at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City for the special AWS group rate by using this link. Spacious, recently-renovated rooms are available for double occupancy at $139 per night, November 4, 5, and 6. Also Certified Wine Judge, Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Super Tasting candidates and others arriving early will enjoy the special group rate of $89 per night from October 31 through November 3, and on November 7. (Taxes and fees also apply.)

Conference registration will open July 14, with session selection information and dates to follow.

Diane Meyer

Also at the conference, you will find judging of our Commercial Wine Competition, Amateur Wine Competition, Super Tasting Series certification class, Wine Judge Certification Program, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust programming.

In addition to a full slate during the conference, we expect to have pre-conference tours to Cape May, New Jersey, and the state’s Outer Coastal Plain. Our lunch sponsor this year will be Domaine Bousquet, and other sponsors are Caesar’s Entertainment and Coravin.

If you have any questions, contact Conference Chair Diane Meyer or call the National Office during business hours at (888) 297-9070.

Happenings with the National Tasting Project

Wines of Illyria Logo

We had some unexpected changes to ordering wines for the National Tasting Project (NTP) this year. MarketView will not carry the wines for the project because of issues with our supplier.

Wineworks received only the Bosnian wines, but you can order the Croatian wines from Also, feel free to reach out to Indira Bayer directly at:

If you need the Excel packet, please email and I will send it to you. Please also use the NTP email to turn in your reporting forms to Chris. The deadline is October 4, 2021, so plan your tastings now!

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for understanding!

NTP leadership transition

Michael Blake

Because of time constraints in my personal and professional life, I have decided to ‘pass the torch’ beginning with the NTP 2022. My thanks to the National Tasting Project (NTP) committee, the American Wine Society officers and member body for allowing me the privilege of chairing the National Tasting Project since 2015.

The NTP will be in good hands as Michael Blake takes over. He brings a wealth of experience to this position as a Certified Sommelier, Certified AWS Wine Judge (CWJ), WSET level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), AWS RVP for Eastern Massachusetts, chapter founder, and experienced wine educator. We’ve been working together for a smooth transition, and you should expect exciting future NTP tastings!

Reflections on an incredible journey

My tenure has been an incredible journey, full of challenges and obstacles to overcome, but wonderfully fulfilling when it all magically comes together! I owe special thanks to Chris McCutcheon, who has put together the reporting forms and compiled the results for the NTP each year, and to Margy Natalie (2018), Vince Williams (2019) and Melissa Bartlett (2020, 2021) for their tireless and informative compilation for those years’ PowerPoint presentations.

Sharyn Kervyn

Thank you also Pam Davey, my go-to proofreader and tech guru, and the tasting committee (Dave Barber, Joe Broski, Joanne Degaglia, Eric Feldake, Jaki Giberson, Danny Klein, Sharon Levine, Larry Levine, John Mahoney, Aaron Mandel, Roger Oliva, Semerita Oliva, Gary Pavlis, Walt Rachele, Bob Rone, Diane Rone, Adrienne Turner, Bob Turner, Pat Valas and Khadija Woods) who helped select the wines for the NTP through the years. Also, special thanks to Aaron Mandel, Vince Williams, and Melissa Bartlett for their work on the NTP Zoom sessions, a first for the NTP in 2020!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the education and tasting experience the NTP offers and will continue to participate. It has always been my goal to see full participation by our chapters, and I still wish to see this transpire. I will miss chairing this project, which will always hold a special place in my heart. I am not leaving the AWS family, however, as I am on the Wine Education Committee and you will still see me around!

Sharyn Kervyn, NTP Chair; CSW, WSET3, CWJ

Gearing up for Board elections

The June 15 deadline is quickly approaching to nominate candidates for upcoming elections to the AWS Board for 3-year terms that begin January 1.

This year’s openings are Director of Education and Secretary.

If you want to run or suggest someone else, you can get the nomination form by sending an email to the Governance Committee.

Once you receive the form, then simply have 20 AWS members sign it — making sure to also include their names and addresses —before returning it to the Governance Committee along with a brief biographical statement for the candidate.

Each signature can be on a separate petition, if needed for ease of submission. The full membership will vote using an online ballot later in the summer.

2021 AWS Wine Competitions are on the horizon

Coavin logo

Calling all winemakers! Commercial and amateur winemakers are eligible to compete in the 2021 AWS Wine Competitions being held November 1-3, 2021.

As the largest consumer-based wine organization in the United States, we’re proud to have conducted this prestigious wine competition annually for more than 40 years. This year, we’re again pleased to welcome Coravin as our competition sponsor.

The deadline for submitting entries to the national office is October 15, 2021. To read more about the rules for submissions and to either make a submission online or download a paper application, simply visit the competitions page.

Amateur winemakers, get ready!

We’re open for registration, so please urge all your winemaking friends to be part of our competition. We also plan to have a one-page flyer posted to the AWS website that you can leave at your local winemaking supply shop, so keep an eye out for it.

As winemakers, you are the reason this organization began, so show us what you’ve got. Decide which wines you want to submit for the competition. (Incidentally, this is a great way to get professional feedback if you want to try something new.) Also consider volunteering to conduct a presentation at the conference; coax the next generation of amateur winemakers.

We’ve incorporated aspects that we liked from last year’s modified format into this year’s competition. Using Coravin® Wine Preservation System not only made handling the wines over multiple tastings easier for staff, but also saved you on the number of bottles you had to send in… we’re keeping that! We also instituted procedures to enhance our first go-round last year with electronic scoring.

As in past years, the brochure tries to make sure the rules and procedures are clear; if I missed the mark, give me a shout at Now, let’s get ready for Atlantic City!

— Vince D. Williams, Chair of the Amateur Wine Competition Committee

Member Service features promotional membership offer

Katie Kearney, Member Service director
Katie Kearney

 Be sure to tell your friends to take advantage of a promotional half-year -membership rate that lasts only until September 30.

Any new member who joins AWS before then will pay just $35 for membership through the end of the year. That’s nearly 30% less than they’d normally pay. This is an especially good time to join us because only members can join you at our conference in November in Atlantic City. Interested individuals can get this deal through our website.

In other news:

  • Our chapters are starting to meet again both in person as well as via Zoom. If you would like to use the national office’s Zoom license, please contact me at Also, if your chapter meets in person, please send some images for us to use on social media.
  • The roster of current AWS members stands at 5,845.

Stay safe and cheers!

Katie Kearney, Member Service manager

AWSEF update

The American Wine Society Educational Foundation is busy on a number of fronts.

2021 scholarships awarded

Last month, the AWSEF Board of Trustees met to determine our 2021 scholarship recipients –not a simple task given the caliber of graduate students applying. Seven students, three PhD candidates and four master’s degree candidates, will receive scholarships of $3,500 each. We are notifying them and verifying their eligibility, and we’ll share their photos and information about their research in an upcoming newsletter.

AWSEF logo

Since its inception in 1994, the AWSEF has awarded 154 scholarships totaling $463,000 to students in 23 different universities across North America. This year, scholarships were funded by: Banfi Wines, the North Alabama, Cleveland-OH, Lehigh Valley-PA, Smoky Mountain-TN, NE PA Regional, and Thomas Jefferson-KY chapters.

Thank you to all who have made these scholarships possible for these talented and very hard-working students. At the AWS conference in November, we will feature a compiled video of all our winners, which really brings home the accomplishments and ongoing research of these students.

Educational Foundation Board election

The next election for AWSEF Trustees will be this summer for 4-year terms to begin January 1, 2022. Per the AWSEF bylaws, the Board of Trustees consists of 6 elected Trustees, the current AWS President, and general counsel. The following Trustees will be either completing their term and/or are up for reelection: Larry Jackson (Secretary), Christine Murphy, and Bonnie Lance.

We invite you to consider running for a position on our Board, which works with the AWS to support its education mission. You do not need any special educational qualifications, just enthusiasm, dedication, and a desire to help.

The election timetable is as follows:

June 30: Applications due.

September 1–30: Elections conducted via Survey-Monkey’s online survey platform as an email to each member.

By October 15: Candidates notified of election results.

November 6: Successful candidates introduced at the AWS Conference at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City during the annual AWSEF Saturday breakfast. The winners of the election will be invited to attend the Sunday, November 7, in-person board meeting from 9a.m. – noon.

Candidates should prepare 2 short paragraphs of about 75 words each. The first paragraph should emphasize the candidate’s qualifications (years of AWS membership, committee activities, wine related or other nonprofit board activities, etc.) The second paragraph should indicate goals the candidate would like to accomplish, if elected.

Send all material, including name, address, phone number(s) and email address to me at Please contact me for more information regarding the duties of Trustees, the application process, or election procedures.

Silent auction 2021

Christine Murphy is collecting donations for the AWSEF silent auction to be held at this year’s AWS conference. If you know that you have items that you would like to donate, please feel free to reach out to her at The “Giving” tab on our website home page will take you to additional information for participating in the silent auction.

We will also hold an online raffle for folks unable to attend the conference, just as we did in 2020. I’ll announce the raffle prize in an upcoming newsletter.

We’re grateful for your support because we cannot fulfill our mission without donors!

We’re looking for a very special volunteer…

Kristen Lindelow

Someone in our membership can help the AWSEF Board spread the word on various social media outlets — Facebook, Instagram, etc. — about our mission. If you’re comfortable with multiple outlets and would enjoy helping us promote the work we do, please contact me or any of our Trustees.

We have a Facebook page that needs much more frequent posting and an Instagram account that needs to have life breathed into it. Any other programs are game, too. We have several audiences: graduate students in fields related to wine, professors and other professionals who work with these students, our membership (all AWS members), and parties interested in donating or fundraising for the foundation.

This is not an elected position, but a new Board volunteer position. If you are interested in applying for an elected position in the future, this is a great way to get acquainted with the Board and what we do.

Kristen Lindelow, President of AWSEF

Winemakers’ corner: Make your wine shine by bringing clarity to a hazy world

There is an old saying that we savor first with our eyes. A hazy, cloudy or murky wine is not an attractive wine. Wine should have a limpid, clear quality. Clarity is defined as including the qualities of coherence, transparency and purity.

Kevin Kourofsky

Fining agents are the workhorses that make this possible in wine, tools that allow a winemaker to clear a cloudy wine, balance an astringent one and help correct issues of color, bitterness and aroma. Sometimes they can even correct several problems in one application. Fining agents can be a winemaker’s magic powder. It is magic, indeed, to have a cloudy wine “fall bright.”

Read more on my blog about how fining agents can help make that happen.

Kevin Kourofsky, Kourofsky Wine

Government affairs

COMMENT ABOUT COVID: One of the good things that came about because of COVID-19 restrictions was a renewed interest in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) wine sales.

Both the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Trade Commission recently supported the reasonable expansion of winery DTC shipping. Nearly every state has passed, or is considering, legislation to allow wineries and even retailers to ship wines directly to consumers using common carriers like FedEx or UPS.

Most of the new laws make complete sense and are easy to enforce. Unfortunately, some of the states proposed laws that were difficult to understand and impossible to enforce. Fortunately, private, non-profit organizations act as the watchdog for DTC activities and do a great job of pointing out those proposals that simply do not make sense.

Free the Grapes! (founded in 1998) is a national grassroots coalition of wine lovers and wineries that seeks to remove bans and streamline restrictions in states that prevent consumers from purchasing wines directly from wineries and retailers. Its website has a list of current DTC Legislative Activities. Choose Find Your State from the main menu to learn about legislation that’s passed or is proposed in a particular state. About two-thirds of the states have approved or are actively planning for DTC legislation. While you are at the site, you can also sign up for the group’s newsletter.

SCOTUS: It seems that once the U.S. Supreme Court has decided the unquestionable legitimacy of a state law, that particular state law becomes immune from violation of the Commerce Clause detailed in the U. S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3).

A good example is the right of an alcoholic beverage retailer to ship into any state from any state. Many states now allow in-state retailers to ship alcoholic beverages direct to the residents of the state. At the same time, these states don’t allow out-of-state retailers to ship alcoholic beverages to the resident of the state.

Supremacy clause illustration

This preference for in-state retailers seems to conflict with the Commerce Clause regarding interstate shipments. Yet, several lower court alcoholic beverage commerce decisions did not recognize the Supreme Court decisions and made up their own standards for a given state.

Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal law preempts state law, even if the laws conflict. A federal court may ask a state to stop certain behavior if it conflicts with federal law. I do wish that Congress would sort this out so that any winery or retailer can ship from any state into any other state.

OREGON: Even though Oregon hasn’t documented any super-spreader incidents at restaurants in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown announced another ban on indoor restaurant dining starting April 30.

Tom Cobett
Tom Cobett

“Restaurants are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and customers dining indoors,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association. “The Governor should stop blaming restaurants as the source of COVID-19 spikes. It is blatant discrimination against our local businesses. Instead, we should focus on what we know will work — vaccinating all Oregonians.”

Remember that Oregon also recently proposed a 1,600% increase in the state excise tax on alcoholic beverages. Fortunately, that issue quickly lost traction.

Tom Cobett,

Chapter Events is back — and needs you

Adrienne Turner, Chapter Events editor

Nothing says community as much as sharing experiences and stories. With the relaunch of AWS News, we have an opportunity to reconnect as we hold in-person events again along with virtual ones.

You can help by sharing notes and tales from your local tastings, and we’d love to hear them.

To be included in the AWS News, e-mail your tasting results to me at
Please 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.

AWS News StaffWe welcome your comments and suggestions.
Jack Kraft,
David Falchek, Publisher