The cornerstone of the society is the individual branch. In the Americas, there are 81 branches. Individual branches vary in how they function, but all have regular events organized by the members to enjoy and learn about the magical marriage of good food and fine wine shared with like-minded friends. The knowledge and expertise of the members about food and wine provides a tremendous resource you can tap. Most groups contain a wide range of experience among their members, so you needn't feel intimidated. Members are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. Chefs will go out of their way to provide special menus when they know they have a group of interested people, providing experiences you could not otherwise easily obtain. Frequently events will take the form of a dinner in a restaurant with wines chosen to match, but many other types of events take place as well.
Most branches will allow visitors from other branches to attend their events. With over 80 branches from Alaska to the Cayman Islands, that provides a great opportunity to enhance your travel enjoyment as well as a valuable source of information about restaurants, etc.
Many but not all Branches have wine cellars. It does mean an investment in the future and allows members to taste wines that would be unavailable otherwise. It creates an asset which helps to hold the interest of members. It gives an opportunity for those with a special interest in wines to exercise their interest and talents in constructing a useful and valuable asset. Although many individuals have private cellars it gives an opportunity for them to work on a larger canvass. Wines can be purchased with tastings in mind many years ahead. Vertical tastings can be organized ( tastings of particular wines for a series of years) for the members. Similarly Horizontal tastings can be provided (tasting of similar type wines from the same year). Many of the fine wines particularly those of Bordeaux and Burgundy have become prohibitively expensive for an individual to buy but a wine tasting will allow an individual to taste, appreciate and learn about wine. Some branches have wine cellars of such fame that there are waiting lists of people who wish to join.
IWFS Americas Inc. of the International Wine & Food Society Limited carries third party liability insurance. These are in the form of a Comprehensive General Liability and a Non-owned or Hired Auto policy. These policies insure its Branches and their members against risks which they might be exposed to in carrying out the activities of the Branch, including host liquor liability. The policies also provide defence cost protection in the event of a suit.
Because of the number of members which currently is in excess of 4,200, the premium is much more reasonable than would be the case if a non-member or group of non-members wished to acquire independently such coverage for an event they were putting on. In today's world it is unwise to host such events without proper protection.
In several jurisdictions in which the BDA and its branches operate, host liability actions are becoming more prevalent in what has become a very litigious society. The cost of defending such suits is extremely high, not to mention the amount of the awards or settlement themselves. Thus if individuals wish to enjoy wine and food as a group, be it in one's home, in a restaurant, hotel or other venue, it is important that they have insurance protection against a number of possible risks but most importantly against claims arising by virtue of bodily injury or property damage, the fault for which the person suffering the loss or damage alleges is caused by an individual(s) who host(s) an event. The B.G.A. provides insurance for its Branches and their members against many such risks if such potential liability arises by reason of their duties with the Branch or by reason of activities they perform on behalf of the Branch. This benefit of membership in and of itself is very important and to a large extent warrants the cost of membership.
The Members Area of our web site is intended as a resource for the members to share their knowledge and experiences to the benefit of all, and ultimately facilitate the members' understanding and enjoyment of good food, and fine wine with like minded persons
The different branches are listed with links to web sites of individual branches where available. Branch contact information and listings of planned events are posted to allow members to attend events at other branches all over the Americas.
We have a Branch Resource Manual which is as an invaluable resource to help the branches to organize and function.
Information about past and future Festivals is provided.
Previous Newsletters with an index of articles as well as expanded versions of articles in the newsletters are available.
Restaurant Reviews provide a valuable, unbiased source of information submitted by members on where to dine in their area as well as places they have traveled to around the world.
Wine Reviews are submitted by members to provide a forum for sharing unbiased evaluation of wines.
We have an area for members to submit articles they have written about hidden gems they have found traveling or anything they think would be of interest to the membership.
The Events Calendar allows branches to share ideas on different interesting events they have had and advice on how to put them on, pitfalls to avoid, resources that are helpful, etc.
Harvest reports provide annual reports on different viticultural areas of interest to the members written by the local experts from that area.
A very handy, wallet size Vintage Chart is provided to members, updated annually by the distinguished members of the IWFS Wine Committee, which includes several Masters of Wine. It provides yearly ratings of all the major wine areas of the world going back to 1970 as well as information on vintage maturity.
You really enjoy wine and food, right? You partake of the wonders and revelations of world traveling, n'est pas? Well, then, get thee to an IWFS Festival!
One of the fine perquisites of membership in the International Wine & Food Society is the eligibility to join others of a similar persuasion, in gorgeous locales around the world - wining, dining, and traveling about. Many of us have had memorable experiences over the years, doing exactly that. Here's what one member has to say about their festival experiences:
"My wife and I traveled to our first IWFS Festival, an event in Hong Kong, in the fall of 2001. The timing couldn't have been much worse. We flew out of Los Angeles, on a virtually empty flight, for the 5-day Festival. Participants were only some 70 strong, the total having been reduced by the natural concern that followed the terrorist attacks in the US.
The group we met was from all around the world. And they were among the nicest with whom we've spent time on our travels. Certainly there was an understandable outpouring of special sympathy toward the small American contingent, but the graciousness ran much deeper. Our conversations were long and thoughtful, and our shared interests allowed for a faster intimacy.
As you can guess, we had an absolutely delightful time. We met Masters of Wine from England, Chefs from the Philippines, Winemakers from Australia, Restaurant Owners from Hong Kong, and lovers of the food & wine experience from everywhere else. The marvelous Hong Kong organizing committee gained us access to the China Club and the Hong Kong Club, private venues both. We lunched at the heavily-guarded American Club one afternoon, looking out on a 180 degree view of the bay, whilst enjoying a wine-tasting of Jaboulet Rhones, led by John Avery, M.W. The food throughout the week was worthy of your dreams, and the wines served were all eminently special.
We couldn't attend the 2002 Festival in Santiago, Chili, to our great dismay, as we heard the grand stories following the event. But we made it to the next international program in Tuscany in the fall of 2003 and, once again, were treated to a wonderful experience. Among many highlights in Italy, a tasting personally conducted by winemaker-extraordinaire Piero Antinori, of some of his best wines, stands out. Then there was the pasta-cooking demonstration in the 500-year old palazzo, where we were seated in mirrored rooms with 20' ceilings, and the trip into the countryside, where dining on nothing but a special barbequed Italian beef, the simplest of green salads, and some freshly-baked bread made for an amazing meal. We made more new friends than we can count, have shared photos and recipes between countries, and look forward to the next opportunity to visit with these people."
Festivals are sponsored annually somewhere around the world. In November, 2015, members from around the world gathered in Melbourne, Australia for our International Festival.
One of the most popular benefits of membership in The International Wine & Food Society is Wine, Food & Friends--the quarterly journal published by IWFS Americas Inc. and sent to all members in the Americas. Branches and individual members are encouraged to submit articles of general interest in the fields of wine, food, travel and camaraderie for publication. Much of WF&F is devoted to Branch events. Besides being fun for members to see news and photos of their functions in print, the reports are a valuable resource for event ideas. And if you start a new Branch, coverage is guaranteed.
Wine, Food & Friends alertsmembers to IWFS members-only international and regional festivals. IWFS scholars are profiled in WF&F. Members may submit photos to the annual WF&F Shutterbug Contest. WF&F keeps members current on IW&FS business, finances and management. Each year a Directory, available to members only, is published listing important contact information.