AWS News – October 2022

Oct 3, 2022

Executive Director David Falcheck resigns

AWS President Michael Wangbickler says an interim director has been hired to carry out a transition plan.

2022 election results are announced

You selected board members and voted to update the organization’s bylaws

Chapter chair mentoring program established

Read about a new way to get help in establishing a chapter or to receive advice for ongoing chapters.

The National Conference is almost here

More than 500 members are registered to attend, and you still have time to join them.

The latest word regarding the Amateur Wine Competition

It’s coming down to the wire.

AWSEF update: Win a huge bottle of wine from Banfi

Other news includes the Silent Auction, annual meeting, and background for the 2022 scholarship winners.

Winemakers Corner: All yeasts were wild once

Kevin Kourofsky reviews a fermentation technique intended to reflect the terroir of the region where grapes are grown or where they originated.

Fundraiser for the AWS Director of Education

A GoFundMe effort for Annmarie Morse follows a house fire that affected her family.

Chapter events

Imagination and innovation from your fellow AWS members lead to more wine appreciation.

Executive Director David Falchek resigns

A message from Michael Wangbickler, President of the American Wine Society

On September 15, American Wine Society Executive Director David Falchek submitted a letter of resignation, giving 2 weeks’ notice, effective September 29. At our meeting on September 20, the AWS Board of Directors accepted his resignation.

The future vision for the organization has changed significantly since David took on his role 6 years ago, and he decided that it would be best to step aside to enable us to begin our next stage of development. David’s contributions to the organization, including membership growth, financial stability, and digital transformation, have been instrumental in helping this organization grow to become as strong as it is today. We thank David for his many contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Looking to the future

Michael Wangbickler

Michael Wangbickler AWS President

With change comes opportunity. Over the past several years, we’ve built a strong foundation for the organization — and now, we begin a new chapter.

We have hired an interim executive director, John Sporing, to help us get through the next several months. (You can read more about John here.) He will assist mostly in executing a smooth transition and helping us stage our amazing National Conference in Bellevue, Washington, beginning later this month. In the meantime, we are searching for a permanent executive director.

There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to happen in the short term. Between the interim executive director, Member Services Manager Colleen Reardon, Conference Director Diane Meyer and her staff, and the Board of Directors, we are confident in our ability to make the National Conference a huge success.

That said, we are always open to additional assistance. If you are interested in helping with any aspects of the National Conference, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to discuss.

Thanks also to our members who make the American Wine Society such a great organization.

Further updates will follow as we work through the transition.

2022 AWS election results are announced

The results are in, and we can congratulate our newly elected members of the Board of Directors.

Eric Feldhake was elected Vice President and Rex Bambling was re-elected Director of Competitions, effective January 2022.

Eric, of Haddonfield, N.J., has been an AWS member since 2002, an officer of the Walt Whitman Chapter since 2008, an AWS Certified Wine Judge since 2016, and Board of Trustee member and counsel to the AWS Educational Foundation since 2017. He also has attained WSET 2, an Advanced Wine Certificate from The Wine School of Philadelphia, and teaches wine education for The Haddonfield Adult School and Rowan University.

Eric Feldhake

Eric Feldhake, AWS Vice President-elect

Also, thanks to over 1,400 members (21.5% of the membership) who voted, changes to the AWS bylaws were overwhelmingly approved. This threshold was significant because we needed at least 20% of the membership to cast votes to amend the bylaws.

As with ballots for board members, the amended bylaws needed a majority of those voting to determine acceptance.

The Governance Committee was tasked with both the nomination process and the election process for the third year. The vast majority (just over 99%) of the voting was done via electronic ballot. All ballots were cross-referenced for membership status and any improper votes (such as duplicate voting) were disqualified.

The accuracy and integrity were verified by the Governance Committee, and the results were reported to AWS President Michael Wangbickler and Executive Director David Falchek.

Jim Beckman
Chair, Governance Committee

Chapter chair mentoring program established

For those who might want to start an AWS chapter or novice chairs who find the job intimidating, help is here.

Carrie Garczynski

Carrie Garczynski, Director of Membership

Current and past chapter chairs representing our various chapter models can answer your questions and help you to create the chapter style you want. Choose from one or more of our models, contact the Director of Membership to get the name of the person associated with the chapter model, and get the information you need regarding:

  • Financial aspects.
  • Board structure.
  • Education.
  • Presentation.
  • Member recruitment.
  • Communication.

And, if you are a current or past chapter chair who would like to help new and prospective chapter chairs by sharing your knowledge and experience, we would love to have you join the effort! Please contact the Director of Membership.

We look forward to swirling a glass with you at your chapter event!

The National Conference is almost here

American Wine Society 2022 National ConferenceLet’s get excited! The 55th National Conference in Bellevue, Washington, is only a few weeks away, with more 500 members registered to attend. It’s going to be an amazing event!

If you’ve already registered, you will receive an e-mail in mid-October providing more information regarding Conference specifics. This should answer many of your questions about arrival, getting to the hotel, checking in at the Hyatt, where to get your registration packet, dress code, etc.

Haven’t taken the plunge yet? There is still time to register.

Be sure you don’t miss your chance to enjoy 2 ½ days of great wines, fantastic sessions, and, most important, the chance to renew old friendships and make new ones.

Simply follow the directions below. If you are stressed or busy, you can let us know and we’ll do the work for you for a small charge if you reach out during National Office business hours (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern time). A few reminders:

  • Non-session events. Make sure you check off non-session events, including the meals that involve a choice. This ensures you have an accurate itinerary, and we have an accurate count. Plenary meals and receptions will be automatically part of your itinerary.
  • Paid sessions. Note that two available sessions incur an additional fee, which is clearly posted with the session topic. If you receive one of these paid events as part of your final itinerary, you will be invoiced. You must pay the fee before the conference to ensure your place.
  • Different attendees, different log in. If someone else in your household is registering, make sure you are logged out and that the other person logs in separately, or even better, on a different device.
  • Lots of choices remain. While some sessions are full and closed, you still have about 40 great sessions to choose from.
Step-by-Step Directions
  1. Log on to your member profile.
  2. Click on this this registration link.
  3. Click on the “Register” box. (If you have already registered, a box will open; click on “Modify an Existing Registration.”)
  4. Click on “Attendee Selections” tab.
  5. Make selections as you wish, such as A – First Choice, and so on.
  6. When you’re done, click on “Save & Proceed to Checkout.”

To help, you can easily download and/or print the conference brochure here.

Have an issue? We are here to help. Call 888-297-9070 or e-mail

And, if you need a room, you still can register at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue on Seattle’s Eastside. You won’t believe the great rates!

The latest word regarding the Amateur Wine Competition

The American Wine Society was founded by winemakers. We are just about ready to see what some of those winemakers have produced.

While you’re reading this, our team is checking in the last of the bottles and I’m busy figuring out which wine to taste first (don’t worry, I’ll share it with some of the other judges, too).

If you’re at the National Conference this year, come out and cheer on the winemakers as we announce the medals on Friday night. If you’re not going to be at the National Conference, you’ll have to wait until the list is posted on the AWS website in November.

I have been doing this competition for several years now and would love to share the work next year with someone possibly interested in taking on the role of chair of the Amateur Wine Competition in the future. If you’re wondering what this is all about, drop me a note.

Vince Williams

AWSEF update: Win a huge bottle of wine from Banfi

The Banfi Vintners Foundation again has generously donated a 5-liter bottle of 2010 Brunello di Montalcino to support the American Wine Society Educational Foundation scholarship fund. (For comparison, a 5-liter bottle equals more than 6.5 standard bottles of wine.)

Raffle tickets are available to all AWS members and friends, whether you’ll be at the National Conference in Bellevue, Washington, or not!

Help us meet our goal of raising $5,000 from raffle tickets to fund an AWSEF scholarship for 2023.Banfi wine bottle

Tickets are available for purchase, at $10 a chance, until midnight Eastern on Friday, October 21. Getting your tickets is as simple as calling…

  • Bonnie Lance at 631-806-7234
  • Walt Rachele at 443-280-2319
  • Kristen Lindelow at 256-424-3667

. . . or Venmo to Walt-Rachele

You do not have to be present to win, and we will have the bottle delivered to you. The winner will be drawn live during the AWSEF morning breakfast meeting on Saturday, October 29. Will it be your name we announce?

Questions? Please contact

Headed to the National Conference? Remember the AWSEF Silent Auction

Our traditional AWSEF Silent Auction will be held on Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Every year, our generous members, winemakers, and friends support our Silent Auction by providing donations.

We encourage everyone to check out the Auction and bid on several items. Stop by often throughout the day to check on the bidding!

Note: Bidding will close at 4:15 p.m. Friday, just after the last sessions of the day start, and winners will be notified via text message.

AWSEF Annual Meeting on the Saturday of the National Conference

The AWSEF holds its annual business meeting for all members at the Saturday buffet breakfast, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. We look forward to seeing everyone so we can share updates on how we’ve been doing. Best of all, we’ll share a video featuring all of the 2022 scholarship recipients.

Read about the 2022 AWS Educational Foundation Scholarship recipients

In our last newsletter, we announced the 2022 AWS Educational Foundation scholarship recipients.

Scholarship Recipient Degree sought University
AWSEF/Banfi Auction Amanda Fleming M.S. University of Arkansas
Cleveland, OH Hannah Charnock Ph.D. Brock University, Ontario
North Alabama, AL Alex Gunn M.S. Brock University, Ontario
Carroll County Chapter,
G. Hamilton Mowbray Memorial Scholarship
Bernadette Gagnier Ph.D. Washington State University
Central Pennsylvania Region Jared Hrycan Ph.D. University of British Columbia Okanagan
AWSEF April Mahovlic M.S. University of British Columbia Okanagan
Bucks County, PA, Chapter Meredith Persico Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University

Now, you can learn about the research of these very talented and hard-working students, each of whose scholarships total $3,500.

Read more here

Winemakers’ corner: All yeasts were wild once

Kevin Kourofsky

Kevin Kourofsky

In the modern era of winemaking, we understand that fermentation of sugar into alcohol is done by yeast and not by magic — though some of us still marvel at this great gift of nature. This issue, Kevin Kourosfsky reflects on the approach to successful indigenous fermentation employed by Phil Plummer, head winemaker at Montezuma Winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Plummer’s technique is intended to reflect the terroir of the region where grapes are grown or where they originated.

Read more here

Fundraiser for the AWS Director of Education

Annmarie Morse and her family lost their home near Ithaca, New York, to fire on August 24.

A friend of hers started a GoFundMe effort to help them support their immediate needs and provide some financial relief after their loss. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the effort has raised nearly 300% of its stated goal of $5,000.

Chapter events

The Bristow (VA) Chapter met on July 17 for tasting of Côtes du Rhône (CDR) wines presented by Jerry Fisher, the Northern Virginia RVP. The presentation included a discussion of the variety of Rhône grapes, the 4 levels of Rhône wine quality, the 18 named Rhône villages, the 7 Southern Rhône crus, and the 8 Northern Rhône crus. Although there was a strong preference for the Northern crus, all were considered excellent wines, and most were under $20.

  • 2020 Domaine de la Solitude CDR Blanc, $21
  • 2021 Guy Mousset CDR Rosé, $15
  • 2019 Famille Perrin CDR Rouge Reserve, $12
  • 2019 Famille Perrin CDR Villages, $13
  • 2015 Domaine de Presidente CDR Villages Carianne, $17
  • 2018 Domaine du Mistral CDR Villages Plan de Dieu, $14
  • 2019 Ortas Cave de Rasteau Tradition CDR Villages, $20
  • 2017 Pierre Henri Morel CDR Villages Signargues, $15 (3)
  • 2019 Domaine Coudoulis CDR Cru Lirac, $19 (2)
  • 2015 Kirkland CDR Cru Chateauneuf-du-Pape, $18
  • 2020 Terroir Daronton Cru des CDR – Vacqueyras, $18
  • 2019 Famille Perrin CDR Cru Vinsobres Les Cornuds, $21
  • 2019 St. Cosmé – CDR Cru Crozes-Hermitage, $43 (1)
  • 2018 Maison Denuziere CDR Cru Saint-Joseph, $35

The Fleur de Lis (KY) Chapter’s July 2022 tasting was hosted by John and Judy Reilly. The theme was ‘Name that Varietal.’ Six wines were poured blind and given to members for tasting. All wines were from Prospice Winery in Washington state, which was co-founded by John and Judy’s son, Matt. Results, from highest to lowest scores, are listed below.

  • 2018 Prospice Syrah Resurgent Vineyard, Walla Walla, WA, $45 (1)
  • 2018 Prospice Mourvèdre Alder Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, WA, $45 (2)
  • 2017 Prospice Cabernet Sauvignon Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla, WA $50 (3)
  • 2017 Prospice Petit Verdot Quinn Branch Vineyard, Red Mountain, WA, $50
  • 2017 Prospice Cabernet Franc Phinny Hill Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills, WA, $50
  • 2018 Prospice Merlot, Walla Walla, WA, $50

The Lehigh Valley (PA) Chapter members and guests ended the season with “Wines of Summer” at Bergeist Vineyard in Kutztown, home of Dean & Bonnie Scott. The event began with appetizers and sampling of wines, produced from the grapes at Bergeist Vineyard — Traminette, Pinot Gris, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc made by Dean Scott, and Riesling just released at Folino Estate Winery, made by Darrin Scott. Darrin started the tasting by “sabering” the first wine. Darrin described the process and history of sabering and then demonstrated the technique on a Sparkling Riesling from Dr. Loosen Winery. He then coached AWS member Matt Green on sabering a bottle, which he did successfully. A fun way to start the tasting. The 9 wines tasted came from 7 different countries. The top 3 wines were:

  • Loosen Sparkling Riesling, Germany, $17 (1)
  • Weis Heart of the Lake, Finger Lakes, N.Y., $20 (2)
  • Monte Velho Alentejho,Portugal, $33 (3)

The Lone Star DFW (TX) Chapter met on August 20 for the 2nd Annual Wine Olympics hosted by Bruce and Cyndi Hermann. This event has quickly become a member favorite with its friendly competition.

Lone Star TX membersMembers were randomly assigned countries in advance, enabling them time to research their wine, and 14 countries were represented.

For the first round, 2 countries were paired at random, and members were asked to choose their favorite. The winners of this round went on to the second round where the wines were scored using the AWS wine evaluation chart. Gold, silver and bronze metals were then presented to the three highest scoring wines.

In addition to the wines listed below, which progressed to the second round, the following countries were also represented: Austria, South Africa, New Zealand, Uruguay, Spain, Portugal and Canada.

  • Germany: 2018 Kruger Rumpf Reisling, $20
  • USA: 2018 Woodward Canyon SMG, $60 (3)
  • France: 2014 Gigondas Laurus Grenache-Syrah, $28
  • Italy: 2018 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva, $34
  • Australia: 2018 Penfolds Max’s Cabernet Sauvignon, $20
  • Chile: 2016 Le Petit Clos Valle de Apalta Cabernet Blend, $50 (2)
  • Argentina: 2019 Cocodrilo Corte Blend Cabernet Blend, $40 (1)

On Sunday, July 17, the North Alabama Chapter gathered for its first ever Black Glass Tasting. They used their senses, other than sight, to explore varietals and blends from around the world. They started the afternoon’s events with a classic Aperol Spritz Aperitivo.

Then came the blindfolds and black glasses! As each wine was poured the members donned their blindfolds to ensure they had no hints. Each two wines were paired with the same food. Wines were paired based on profiles but may have been a red and then a white, or a white and then a red.

After each two wines members guessed the types of wines and then it was time for the reveal! Members had an opportunity to try a taste to see how well their ideas matched reality. Six different wines were paired with foods that “went” with their flavor profiles but may break the “rules.”

The group came with a sense of adventure. Guessing was much of the fun and there was no “wrong” answer.

The Venice (FL) Vinos held a tasting on Sunday, July 17, at the home of Stephanie Edens. The theme was wines from Paso Robles, California. Fourteen members and guests shared appetizers and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together.

  • 2020 Hall Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, $20
  • 2020 Cobble Creek Chardonnay, $16
  • 2020 Daou Rose, $20 (best white category)
  • 2020 Dirt Diva Red Blend, $16
  • 2019 Sextant Cabernet Sauvignon, $28
  • 2020 Double Black Zinfandel, $15 (best red and best value)

The Myrtle Beach (SC) Chapter met August 18 for Wine in the Movies. Chair and co-chair Richard and Mary Berezinsky and 44 members/guests watched movie clips and tasted the wines that are mentioned in the movies.

  • 2020 Burt Reynolds Zinfandel (Welcome Wine), $20
  • 2020 James Dean Red Blend (Welcome Wine), $20
  • 2019 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay “Bottle Shock,” $67
  • 2020 Gilles Blanchet Single Vineyard Pouilly-fume “There’s A Girl in My Soup,” $30
  • 2020 Gentilini Ribolla of Cephalonia “For Your Eyes Only,” $23
  • 2017 Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva “Silence of the Lambs,” $30
  • 2019 Firestone Merlot “Sideways,” $23
  • 2019 Coppola Diamond Collection Claret “Diamonds are Forever,” $13
  • NV Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut “Casablanca,” $55

The Piedmont (SC) Wine and Vine Chapter met on August 21 at the Eagle Mountain Vineyards and Winery in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Twenty members attended a tasting of 8 wines at the newest winery in South Carolina, owned by two winemakers from California (Russ Gardiner and George Bursick).

At the present time the wines are all from California while the grape vines mature in South Carolina. The wines were served with a charcuterie box. All of the wines were relatively high in alcohol with an average of 14.5 percent.

  • 2020 Blanc d Blanc Sparking Chadonnay, $38
  • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, $20
  • 2019 Chardonnay, $25
  • 2021 Chardonnay, $34
  • 2021 Rose of Pinot Noir, $26
  • 2020 Merlot, $29
  • 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, $39
  • 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, $48

Four chapters were represented at a special tasting held April 14 at the Pavilion venue of one of the oldest wineries in Virginia, Ingleside Vineyards, to experience another opportunity to learn about the Wines of Illyria. Seventy-four attendees from the Northern Neck Uncorked, King George, Fredericksburg and Cork and Fork Chapters heard from Indira Bayer, who was a featured speaker at the 2021 NationalFour VA chapters members Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and whose Wines of Illyria were selected for the recent NTP.

Indira is an engaging speaker who shared many pictures of vineyards from her home as she highlighted characteristics of the grapes used in producing the 9 wines we all got to sample. She compared two different winemakers and two different styles of making wine from the same grape. For many, this was the first time being exposed to an American Wine Society educational tasting and feedback was extremely positive.

  • 2019 Stone Cuvee White, $14
  • 2019 Tamjanika White, $15
  • 2019 Carski Blatina Rose, $14
  • 2016 Blatina, $16
  • 2016 Emporia Blatina, $16
  • 2018 Vranac Red $14
  • 2016 Emporia Vranac, $16
  • 2015 Trnjak Red, $25
  • 2016 Carski Emporia Deep Red Cuvee, $48

The Northampton (PA) Chapter held the NTP tasting presented by Debbie Weaver. The tasting included slides and educational material detailing Sicily as an up-and-coming wine production area. The top 3 scores went to:

  • Donnafugata Passito $45 (1)
  • Donnafugata Sur Sur $24 (2)
  • Acante Nero d’Avola $22 (3)

The St Luis Obispo (CA) chapter held a Zinfandel tasting produced in three AVAs that are known for their outstanding wines: Paso Robles, Amador County, and Dry Creek in Sonoma.

The guest speaker was Brock Waterman, co-owner and winemaker at Brochelle Cellars in Paso Robles. The evening started with a bonus open tasting of his 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was enthusiastically received.

Zinfandel grapes clusters tend to ripen unevenly. Brock commented that the reason Zinfandel vines are usually “head-trained” (not grown on trellises) is that shaping the vines into a goblet shape exposes the center to more sunlight to encourage the berries to ripen more evenly.

Top votes went to Ridge, E.Bench, Mauritson, Seghesio Cortina, Brady, and Brochelle.

On Sunday, September 11, the Venice Vinos (FL) Chapter held a tasting at the home of Isabelle Gordon. The theme was wines from Lava Cap Winery in the Sierra foothills of California. Seventeen members enjoyed wine paired with an ample assortment of sides brought by the attendees. As a bonus, Rick Gerdus shared a magnum of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Halter Ranch Winery in Paso Robles. The Lava Cap wines tasted were:

  • 2020 Chardonnay, $22
  • 2019 Barbera, $22
  • 2018 Merlot, $22
  • 2019 Zinfandel, $22
  • 2018 Petite Sirah, $30
  • 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, $22 (best wine and best value)

Adrienne Turner

Adreienne Turner, Chapter Events Editor

To have your event 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.

–Adrienne Turner, Chapter Events editor

AWS News Staff We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Jack Kraft, Editor
Adrienne Turner
Mike Blake
Kevin Kourofsky
Kristen Lindelow
Diane Meyer Diane@AmericanWineSociety