American Wine Society (AWS)

Roger Leighton Named AWS Regional Vice President in 2019. He is a member of the San Diego Wine Guild and serves as Co-Chair of Logistics. 

American Wine Society Mission: To promote the appreciation of wine through education


The American Wine Society was organized in 1967 as a non-profit, educational, consumer-oriented organization for those interested in learning more about all aspects of wine. On October 7, 1967, around 200 grape growers, home winemakers, and wine lovers gathered at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s vineyard on Keuka Lake near Hammondsport, NY for the AWS’ initial meeting. In December of the same year, the thirteen charter members, led by Founder Dr. Konstantin Frank, met to determine the organization structure of AWS and elect officers. In its 49th year (2016), the American Wine Society is the largest consumer based wine education organization in North America.


Membership is open to anyone interested in wine and over 21 years of age.


In the early days, AWS members were located primarily in the eastern part of the country. As the society grew, we established chapters throughout the eastern U.S., then into the south and Midwest, and finally into western states.  Today, the American Wine Society has over 5,000 members in 45 states and 120 chapters across the U.S.


The emphasis of AWS also evolved through the years as we reached more and more wine lovers.  Most early members were winemakers and we continue to value this key segment of the society. Even today, 30% of AWS members are amateur winemakers - a fact we are very proud of. The society was focused primarily on American wines in the early years, but great wine can be made anywhere and today, AWS members want to learn about wines from all corners of the globe.


Each November the Society hosts both commercial and amateur wine competitions, using AWS certified wine judges to provide consistent, objective evaluation of each wine. The amateur wine competition started in 1975 and the commercial competition in 1986, making them some of the longest running wine competitions in the US. The Society also hosts a three-day national conference in November with two full days of educational seminars, nearly 49 to choose from. Winery owners, wine educators, and renowned wine makers are selected to present sessions during this national event. In addition, a program educating members to become AWS certified wine judges is conducted on the day preceding the seminars.