The Story of the WFSV
. Promote an appreciation of wine, food and the culinary art
. Provide members with facilities to meet together, to bring their friends and guests, and to share the pleasures of good wine and food
. Encourage the highest standards of preparation and presentation of wine and food
. Establish and maintain a wine cellar for the enjoyment of members and their guests
. Enhance member’s knowledge and appreciation of wines from around the world
The Society started with a group of thirteen men who were either engaged in the industry or passionate consumers, who met regularly at Hosies Hotel to talk about wine, food and the industry. The purpose and the sentiment of the Society was based on the Wine and Food Society of London which had been established three years previously by Andre Simon.
The first meeting in 1936, unanimously agreed to form the Wine and Food Society of Victoria and to seek affiliation with the London organisation, which thanks to efforts of the renowned Andre Simon, already had four branches in the USA and two more branches in England.
From that time, a rich tradition was born and the Society has grown to over 60 members today.
The Society is deeply rooted in its heritage and but it has evolved over the years to embrace new imperatives – cosmopolitan food styles from around the world are explored and whilst the emphasis is on French wines, new and old world wines are enjoyed with like minded people. The purpose of the Society is still as fresh and relevant today as it was when it first took shape eighty two years ago..
We welcome your participation in the rich and varied activities of the Society
A Good Story
The genesis of the Society was on 5th August 1936, when twenty men, including the thirteen founders met to have dinner at the London Hotel. They talked about the correspondence they had had with the President of the Wine and Food Society of London, Mr Andre Simon. Just three years previously, the well known writer, wine connoisseur, gourmet and historian had established the London organisation and already his enthusiastic endeavours had stimulated four branches in the USA and two more branches in England. They agreed to interest other friends in the purpose of the Society and hold a second meeting at the Alexander Hotel on 28th September.
At this meeting, it was unanimously agreed to form the Wine and Food Society of Victoria and to seek affiliation with the Wine and Food Society of London. Thus our Society became the 8th in the world and the founding Society in Australia. As this affiliation of societies grew and spread worldwide, it became known at the International Wine and Food Society.(www.iwfs.org )
The meeting appointed Francois de Castella as President of the Wine and Food Society of Victoria and fixed the joining fee at one guinea and an annual subscription of two guineas. From this time the Victorian Society grew rapidly. It was fine and refined, elegant, celebratory and fun for all who imbibed in it. In the first year there were twelve functions: four grand banquets to which ladies and the press were invited, and eight members and gentlemen guest functions in between. This pattern prevailed for many years. The banquets were held at prominent hotels around the town such as the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. The intermediate functions were held at various restaurants such as Ricco’s, Vienna Cafe and Cafe Latin, most of which sadly, do not exist today.
The war and its aftermath took its toll on the Society – times were difficult.
In the sixties, Victor Gibson led a revitalisation of the Society. This took the Society and its heritage to new heights. Grand functions were held where His Excellency the Governor of Victoria was a regular guest of honour. Annually, there was an Andre Simon dinner with internationally renowned speakers. There were special members-own dinners with the greatest wines of the world shown at tables of the best chefs.
Around this time it was harder to get into the WFSV than almost any other Club in Australia.
In 1969, the Wine and Food Society of Victoria along with some other societies formed the Wine and Food Society of Australia. Victor Gibson was its first President and he was passionate in bringing the societies together with regular conventions and special dinners. The tradition he established is still followed today. Now this organisation is called the Federation of Wine and Food Societies of Australia and draws its society membership from around Australian and New Zealand. (www.wineandfood.org.au )
Over the eighties and nineties, the Society continued to evolve with the times. In 1982, it relinquished membership of the International Wine and Food Society to focus more on the increasing richness of local activities. Then in 1998, the members voted to change the constitution to permit and encourage female membership. Janet Barton was the first lady to take up this opportunity.
The evolution of the Society was very much mirrored in exponential changes in the wine and food industry. There were rapidly expanding choices in wine from both the new and old world, and dinners become less formal, cuisines from Asia, Africa, the Americas and all parts of Europe were readily available. For the Society, it was exciting to be able to explore all these various riches but what was important and enduring over this time, was the original purpose of the Society, particularly that of sharing the pleasures of the table plus enhancing knowledge and appreciation of good wine and food.
Today the Wine and Food Society of Victoria is strong and prosperous. The Society has held over 1,200 functions and this year we celebrate our 82nd Anniversary. We are respectful of the spirit of our founders and value our members. Each year the Society, offers eleven events with a wealth of diversity – traditional and innovative.
These events are much more than a dining outing, they are a wonderful experience.
Would you like to know more? Then please contact the Society. We are always pleased to have guests at our functions and welcome new members.