Dear GWS Members, Friends and Lovers of German Wines,
As President of our German Wine Society Capital Chapter, I’d like to wish all of you a very joyous holiday season, and a happy New Year! Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday at this time of year, as we all know the holidays are all the more pleasant with delicious German wines. In just a few weeks, on December 16, we will be enjoying our final event of 2017, the Holiday Dinner that has been our tradition for many years, in the magnificent setting of the Cosmos Club on Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of Washington’s Embassy Row. Many of you have already signed up, and we look forward to sharing this dinner with a large turnout of our members and friends; please be sure to register for this delightful part of a Washington holiday season. Thanks in advance to our board member Mike Fritze and Chapter Secretary Joe Aguiar, who have planned an especially fine selection of festive foods and excellent German and Austrian wines for our holiday dinner this year. We are even expecting to have some holiday music for this event!
During 2017 we have shared a wide variety of interesting wine tastings, dinners and other events, with fourteen events in total, more than one for every month and at least one event in nearly every month! This has been the largest total of annual events we have held for many years — due, of course, to being our 40th Anniversary year for the German Wine Society. The highlight of the year was bringing together the Capital, San Francisco and Delaware Valley chapters (and even representatives from Canada) for a series of three Anniversary events in June, the free-for-members reception featuring wines from all thirteen German wine regions in the main hall of the German Embassy (our largest event of the year), followed by the members meeting luncheon at the Cosmos Club, and culminating in our fantastic banquet at Elizabeth’s on L Street, with several wines from top German producers. Our chapter took the lead in organizing the Anniversary events, but with significant contributions also from the German Wine Society’s national officers, President Beth Sheligo, Secretary/Treasurer Hanne Caraher, and Board Chairman George Marling, and we elected two new Vice Presidents to the Board, myself and San Francisco’s chapter chair Barry Boothe.
We also returned to the German Embassy House for our Oktober Weinfest tasting of Mosel, Rheinhessen and Pfalz wines and dinner event in late September, a beautiful evening with fine selections provided by the Embassy chef. While I had the pleasure of planning this event as well as the three Anniversary ones, kudos for the most events in different months planned and hosted over the past year goes to chapter Vice President Christian Schiller and Annette Schiller, with their Alsace tasting in January, Sparkling Wines tasting in March, Chardonnay tasting in August and very well attended France/Germany comparative tasting of wines from Burgundy, Alsace, Baden and Pfalz in October. Annette has contributed very educational and entertaining presentations to all of these tastings.
Other notable events of the past year included the February membership meeting and wine quiz conducted by chapter Webmaster Kevin Ross, followed by the ever-popular New Vintages tasting with Phil Bernstein organized by Dave Wendler in March, a Riesling/Chenin Blanc comparative tasting led by board member Al Friedman in April, the unique tasting of wines from the countries of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and dinner at Old Europe planned by Jim Palanchar and Joe Aguiar in May, and Mike Fritze’s summer field trip returning to Otium Cellars in July. We also again participated in the EU Day celebration at the German Embassy in May with a German wine tent.
Next year, we aim to continue this trend of diverse, enjoyable and educational wine events, perhaps with more events at Washington embassies, a revival of our delicious Spargelfest dinners, more small-group salons, and other comparative tastings of German wines and those of other countries with outstanding wine heritages. Ideas for new wine events (or bringing back old favorites) are always welcome!
All these great events don’t happen by themselves, of course. A lot of work goes into them, but they can also be much fun to plan. We’re a nonprofit society, so we depend on those of our members who regularly contribute their time, effort and passion. I want to thank especially all of the members who have taken a leading role in planning and organizing events this year, as well as the others who stepped forward to help with pouring and manning wine tables at our events when needed, including David Roehm, Joe Aguiar, Al Friedman, Mike Fritze, Ken Belsley, John Edmonds, Dave Wendler, Laura Tiehen, Marilyn Scarbrough, the Schillers, and more, and others who have made venues available for our events (the Schillers, Klaus Teuter, Yolanda Mamone, Marilyn Scarbrough again, and also Dean Collins for the Cosmos Club). Several of us all contributed to bringing and serving wines on EU Day. And we also owe thanks to David Roehm as Treasurer and Cellarmaster, Kevin Ross as Webmaster, and Joe Aguiar as our new Secretary for playing key parts in keeping our chapter operating behind the scenes, and making sure that all of our events come off smoothly. This year, we also have new member Angela Marchese and Nina Willner to thank for German-style musical performances adding to the atmosphere at several of our events. Our friend Astrid Jakobs de Padua, agricultural counselor at the German Embassy, has also been an invaluable liaison for us, and we will miss her when she ends her tour of duty in the United States next summer.
Finally, thanks to all of our wine family who join in our events, and especially those who do so regularly as members, ensuring that it’s possible for us to enjoy all these great wines at reasonable prices. Our membership continued to grow this year, reaching a total of about 120, the strongest membership roster that we have enjoyed for many years. This is the best sign that we are doing much that is right! Special thanks are due here to members who have recruited others to join and passed the word about our society – Marina Gelles has been a champion here, having brought several other new guests to our events this year and convinced them to become members.
We welcome your feedback on what we are doing, why you’re coming to (or passing on) events, and how we can make them better. I look forward to seeing even more of our members offering to work with us in planning the kinds of events you want to see, or helping out with them in other ways. That’s how to make sure they keep on happening. Please plan to join us for next year’s events, and let us know what you can do to help organize, support or host them as well. That way, the magic of the holidays really can continue all year!
See you at the Cosmos Club!
Happy Holidays and all the best for 2018,