Founded in 1994 by wine communications pioneers Paul Wagner, Harvey Posert, and Sam Folsom, the original concept for the Academy of Wine Communications was to lend support to wine media through its awards program and provide education on media relations to its members and other industry professionals.
The awards program kicked off in 1994, with 38 wine writers receiving the honor. The AWC was off and running.
In 1997, the AWC began a series of Internet seminars which focused on the history, uses, and marketing opportunities available via this emerging technology. It seems that even then, we had our eyes fixed on future of wine communications. Interestingly, the AWC itself didn’t launch a website of its own until 1997.
Also in 1997, Wines & Vines Magazine and the Academy of Wine Communications together launched a program to encourage novice wine writers. We held a contest and asked for written entries. Those that exhibited the best writing were published in the magazine.
In 1998, with direct-to-consumer shipping under siege (sound familiar?), wine coverage was in real jeopardy, due to the fact that sending wine samples became more restrictive. The AWC published a position paper and offered to provide appropriate identification for writers, so that they could continue to receive wines for review.
In 1999, we launched the “Wine Writer of the Month” program, whereby we commissioned one writer each month to pen a feature story to be distributed by the AWC on behalf of the writer. It was a program that was, perhaps, a bit ambitious for the time but saw a modicum of success.
By 2000, we could see that our efforts of supporting wine writing as an art was paying off. Partly as an effect of the booming economy and greater disposable incomes and partly with the growth of the internet, wine writing had increased in volume over the previous few years. Since the well-being of wine writers was the original goal of the AWC, this emphasis became a little less crucial than in the past and we began to look for other ways to support our community.
From 2001 until 2006, AWC members met on a regular basis for luncheons to see presentations from key members of the wine media. These presentations served to educate the membership on how to work with these individuals specifically and wine writers generally.
The list of past speakers at AWC Events reads like a who’s who of wine journalism and includes:
Lynne Char Bennett
Julia Flynn Siler
In March 2009, Michael Wangbickler took over as Executive Director of the organization.