American Wine Society – 48th Annual Conference



John Hames, Executive Director American Wine Society

PO Box 279 Englewood, OH 45322

Phone: 888-297-9070

Englewood, Ohio – The American Wine Society brings a world of wine to Tysons Corner, Va. for its 48th annual national conference Nov. 5-7.

The nation’s oldest and largest organization of wine consumers released the agenda for the conference, which includes more than 40 sessions, including those from Bordeaux, Champagne, Uruguay, Portugal, New Zealand, Virginia and California.  Registration for members starts Aug. 2.

The AWS selected the Washington D.C. region because of its reputation as a food and wine center and the organization’s foundation in the region.

The conference will be at Sheraton Tysons Corner, kicking off with an opening reception hosted by the Virginia Wine Marketing Board followed by two days of informational tasting session with leading personalities and wines from top regions throughout the wine world, including a plenary session and luncheon sponsored by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and a luncheon sponsored by Wente Vineyards.

The American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition and the Amateur Wine Competition are held in conjunction with the conference. The organization’s wine judge certification training will also be held at the event.

About the American Wine Society

Founded in 1967, the American Wine Society (AWS) is the largest consumer-based organization in the U.S. dedicated to promoting wine appreciation through education. AWS is a non-profit organization of over 5,000 wine enthusiasts, from novice to expert, in 130 chapters throughout the U.S. Membership is open to any adult interested in wine. To learn more, visit us online at:

Promoting appreciation of wine through education


From Speed Tasting to Slow Sipping

I’m sure most everyone is tired of hearing how much fun we all had at the Wine blogger’s Conference, 2011 in Charlottesville, VA a few weeks ago.  So I apologize in advance for yet another post that is a result of the conference although this one is a little different.

I participated in the “Speed Tasting” portion of the conference.  Speed Tasting is sort of like speed dating.  The tasters take a seat at the table and the participating wineries go from table to table pouring their wine for you to taste and tweet about.  The night we speed tasted reds, I had the pleasure of tasting the 2009 Petit Verdot from Veritas Vineyard and Winery.  I was so impressed that I would have bought some on the spot except no wines were being sold – just tasted.  So the winemaker, Emily Hodson Pelton, and the Vineyard owner, Andrew Hodson invited me to stop by the winery on my way home from the conference.  And I am so glad I did!!!

During my visit at Veritas, I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with both Andrew and his wife, Patricia.  They both love the winery and what it brings into their lives.  The Hodson’s refer to their winery as ” Folly et Deux” – loosely interpreted as fun for two.  Their daughter, Emily, is the Winemaker and their other daughter, Chloe, is the Event Manager and is an invaluable asset in running the tasting room.

We sat and chatted in the tasting room which reminds you of an old Southern parlor with leather sofas all around and huge fireplaces on each end.  It was huge and open but still inviting, cozy and comfortable – perfect for the hot sweltering days of a Virginia summer or the nippy cold of  an East Coast winter.  We chose a discreet corner of the room so we could talk uninterrupted about wine, the conference and life.   You could look across the tasting room at all the guests sipping wine and just tell how comfortable and at home they felt; but then with more than 100,000 people visiting this winery every year, it stands to reason Veritas would know how to treat their guests.

Having opened the winery in 2000, Veritas now has around 1,500 members in their wine club and as many as 4,000 people attending some of their events.  Petit Verdot is one of their signature wines.  In the interest of full disclosure, they gave me 2 samples of the Petit Verdot for this post.  As this wine could be cellared for 3-5 years, I will put one up and save it and then revisit this post at a later date with an update on how the wine is maturing.

Veritas – 2009 Petit Verdot (Virginia, Monticello AVA)

Alcohol – 13%

Price – $29

This wine is a deep violet color with earthy aromas.  It is rich and full-bodied with hints of black fruit on the palate.  The flavors explode in your mouth so that you can enjoy every second from the initial sip to the lingering finish.

Virginia’s Take Away From the Wine Blogger’s Conference

The wine blogger’s conference 2011 (#wbc11) has come and gone, but I for one, have not come down from the excitement high I got from being part of it all.  I was ecstatic when they announced last year that the 2011 conference was going to be in my own back door (Charlottesville was only a 3 hour drive for me).  Getting to meet some of the great people I share tweets with on a regular basis and getting to taste all those greatVirginia Wines had me walking on air before the conference ever started.  They even threw in some educational sessions!  The conference schedule kept us hopping but I still had so much fun and will make every effort to attend again next year in Portland, Oregon.

So I walked away having had a great experience, some fun memories, lots of new friends, and a little more knowledge about wine; but what did the Virginia Wine Industry get from the conference?  What did the Virginia Wineries take away from this 3-day marathon of pouring wine, hosting bloggers at their wineries and doing interviews?

Virginia Wine Board:  Annette Boyd from the Virginia Wine Board  had only surface knowledge about the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to being contacted by Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures in the Spring of 2010 to see if there would be any interest in hosting the 2011 conference in Virginia.  The Virginia Wine board had just finished hosting a Drink Local Wine Conference in April, 2010.  This conference had created a lot of buzz about Virginia wines and had people talking.  There was about 30 attendees at this conference and all of them had been invited.  Even though this conference was considered successful, it paled in comparison to the Wine Blogger’s Conference that was to come.

The Virginia Wine Board is still very excited about #wbc11.  The conference was sold out.  There were only 45 attendees from California which meant the door had opened wide for attendees from “the other 46.”  Having the conference on the East coast broadened the reach of the conference and elevated it to a whole new level.   Annette has read numerous passionate discussions and blogs since the conference – some good, some not so good.  But the BIG positive is that people are talking about Virginia wines.  The “Common Wealth of Wine” is on the map!

Keswick Vineyards: Keswick Vineyards had never heard of the Wine Blogger’s Conference until it was already set up to come to Virginia but they decided to jump in head first and be part of everything that was going on over the course of the 3-day conference.  The winemaker, Stephen Barnard, realizes that there will not be an immediate impact on wine sales for any of the Virginia wineries, Keswick included.  But, like Annette Boyd, Stephen is thrilled that so many people are talking about Virginia wines.  This captive audience was far-reaching and it is impossible to measure the value of the marketing the Virginia wine industry received as a result of the conference; after all, we are still talking about it.

Even though Keswick Vineyards participated in every event the conference had to offer, Stephen’s highlight was the media tour of the winery where they served lunch to all of us and he had the chance to interact with each of us on a more personal level.

Veritas:  “In Vino Veritas” ~ “In Wine There Is Truth” Veritas Vineyard & Winery, like Keswick Vineyards, was not at all familiar with the Wine Blogger’s Conference prior to the announcement from the Virginia Wine Board that we were coming to town but they caught on quickly.  Veritas not only participated in all the events as a winery, the owner, Andrew Hodson, was actively involved in all the events.  He poured wine for the Speed Tastings, joined us for dinner and even went on the Rioja pub crawl with us.  Andrew’s take-away from #wbc11 was that it was sort of  like a “shot of steroids” for the Virginia wine industry and one of the best things to ever happen to the industry.

Everyone is in agreement that Virginia will soon be considered a destination for their wineries and a favorite vacation spot for the consummate wine lover.  Everyone I talked with would do it again and if the opportunity presents itself, they will attend #wbc12.

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