IWAGY’s first-ever tasting event was held in April of 1980. It took place when the Club was as-yet-unnamed, and was held at the Fishkill Inn (presently Sapore Steak House in Fishkill, NY); its subject was Wines of the Hudson Valley. There were some 25-30 people in attendance, including Eric Miller (then winemaker at Benmarl winery in Marlboro, NY) and Bill Wetmore of Cascade Mountain Winery in Amenia, NY.
In June of 1980, the group was named by vote of members. The name choice that got the second most votes was “Vat 80”.
In August of 1980, the tasting topic was "Picnic Wines". This was followed by September's "American Cabernet Sauvignon", October's "Dessert Wines" at The Commons Condos Clubhouse in Fishkill, and November's "Sparkling Wines" (including some Champagnes) at the Van Wyck Homestead Museum, also in Fishkill.
1981 was the first full year of IWAGY tastings, with the topics of Jug and Bargain Wines, Red Bordeaux, Beaujolais and Nouveau Wines, White Burgundies and Other Chardonnays, Rosés, Gewurztraminers, American Chardonnays, Chenin Blanc (including a clam bake), Mosel Rieslings (with our first-ever guest speaker, Mort Tavel), and Chateau Esperanza Wines (from the Finger Lakes, with winemaker John Lebeck, our second guest speaker).
In our early years, the Club struggled with finding guest speakers (still a challenge today), and finding venues to hold tastings. We ran several wine tastings at private homes, and often asked attendees to bring their own wine glasses. About the middle of our first decade of existence, we were fortunate to convince the local (Wappingers Falls) restaurant Greenbaum & Gilhooley to allow us to rent their upstairs event room for many of our tastings. [In 2019, this spot is now the restaurant “Heritage”.] In doing so we solved the problems of glassware and a central location, as the Club’s membership was then about equally split between Fishkill and Poughkeepsie areas. Eventually, around the early 1990’s, the late Brian Smith was able to negotiate a deal for us with the CIA- (he was then one of the CIA’s wine instructors, and a frequent guest speaker at our events). This allowed us to rent the newly-outfitted Wine Spectator Room. We continued to use this room for most of our events until the CIA changed its policy of renting rooms to outside groups around 2007. After a few attempts at finding a new “home”, we settled on our current venue-of-choice, the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.