I travelled to Portland, Oregon, in November 2012. I had been invited to present two seminars at the American Wine Society’s National Conference, held over the weekend of 9-11 November 2012.
The American Wine Society (AWS), whose stated mission is “to promote the appreciation of wine through education”, was formed in 1967 as a non-profit, educational, consumer-oriented organisation. The driving force was Dr. Konstantin Frank, the now iconic winegrower who proved that vinifera grapes could succeed in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region.
Some 200 people, wine lovers, growers and home winemakers came to an inaugural meeting at Dr. Frank’s winery in October, 1967, and a subsequent meeting of thirteen charter members nailed down the structure of the organisation. The AWS was incorporated in 1973 in the state of Michigan, and bylaws legally established officers and the structure of the Society. Today the AWS has more than 4,000 members and120 chapters in 45 US states.
If you’re interested in wine, are in the USA and are not already a member of the AWS then check out their website for chapters near you. And if there isn’t one, then consider forming one yourself. Some chapters concentrate on home winemaking, others on tasting the world’s wines and all on growing members’ knowledge and appreciation of wine. However you can be a member of the AWS without being in a local chapter.
As well as the benefits of meeting with like-minded people and increasing your knowledge of wine, members receive a printed magazine, an e-newsletter and discounts at wine shops and wineries. If you want to get serious, AWS offer courses with certification in wine and judging. Home winemakers can submit their produce to AWS competitions.
And then there is the annual conference with three days of events and seminars on all aspects of wine.
Details of the American Wine Society and National Conference are at www.americanwinesociety.org
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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle.