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The Miami Branch was founded by Dr. Louis C. Skinner Jr., a world traveler and respected authority on wine and food. In the summer of 1961, Lou and Society founder André Simon met in London. Upon leaving London, Lou traveled to Bordeaux and purchased four cases of red wine of that glorious vintage from 52 different Bordeaux chateaux [en primeur], which he received in 1963 and cellared in his home. This was reputed to be the best 1961 Bordeaux collection in the world.
In October 1961, the Miami Branch Organizational Committee convened its first meeting at Café Louis in Lou Skinner's Home. Lou declined to be the first Branch President, and the honor was bestowed upon Charles Baker. The inaugural dinner was held on March 28, 1962 at the Columbus Hotel, Miami, FL.
Lou invited friends and world-prominent oenophiles to taste his '61 vintage wines and compare their evolution in 1981, 1986 and again in 1991. Michael Broadbent reported that Lou Skinner knew more about wine and food than anyone else he had ever met. We are fortunate to have many members who were tutored in wine and food by our Branch founder. In the photo to the left, Lou Skinner and André Simon are pictured together in 1964.
In 2009, member Scott Bailey prepared a History of the Miami Branch. Interested individuals may also read and download menus and reports from the Branch's history. These are found by navigating to our "Event History".
Today's Miami Branch has seventy-eight members. Many of South Florida's most prominent oenophiles, and many others with serious interests in learning and enjoying fine food and wine participate actively. Most professions are represented, and a broad range of ages are involved. Membership is by invitation, after a prospect is introduced by a member and he attends at least 2 events as a member's guest.
Ten monthly events are held during all but summer months. Venues are chosen from Miami's outstanding restaurants and occassionally members' homes. Menus are developed by member hosts, and most wines are selected from the Branch cellar. Guests of members are welcome to many events, capacity permitting.
Annual highlights include December's "Holiday Party" and February's "Ship's Luncheon" on board a Carnival Cruise Lines ship at the Port of Miami. IWFS members from around the world are encouraged to contact the Miami Branch when visiting South Florida. We are happy to provide insight into our area's hospitality, and you may want to participate in one of our events.