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 winemakers Eric Miller (then at Benmarl winery in Marlboro, NY) and Bill Wetmore of Cascade Mountain Winery in Amenia, NY.
In June of that year, the group was named by vote of members.
In August of 1980, the tasting topic was "Picnic Wines". This was followed by September's "American Cabernet Sauvignon," October's "Dessert Wines," and November's "Sparkling Wines" (including some Champagnes).
1981 was the first full year of IWAGY tastings, with the topics of Jug and Bargain Wines, Red Bordeaux, Beaujolais & 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. (Today 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 1990s, 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 “deal” 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 the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. When its ownership changed its policy about allowing beverages that weren’t purchased from the Hotel (in 2021), we found several venues that have allowed us to operate “independently.” Those venues include, at present, the Poughkeepsie restaurant Farmers & Chefs, and Casa Italiana (formerly the Italian Center) in Wappingers. To accommodate our events, the Club has purchased its own glassware (see article in “More” Tab of this website, Wine News/Tidbits subsection).