Turning 50 is always something special.
When a loved one turns 50, we plan a party. Family, friends and companions gather for food and drink and all the good things life has to offer. Glasses are raised and the birthday child is toasted to a fine second act of their life. We rejoice in those who are still with us and commemorate those who are sadly departed. We celebrate together, as a community and a family.
It’s been 50 years since the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale first gathered in Reims in the summer of 1969. Those fifty years have seen tremendous growth and accomplishment, at the international, national and personal level. So we’ve planned a grand party to celebrate. It seems fitting — the ASI is more than just a fond part of our lives, after all. We are family.
But planning a party for an organization is a bit different than planning it for a person or even a business. The ASI is formed from 55 active national association members, 4 observer and 6 applying observer countries across all continents. While some are newer and some older, each of them can and should bask in their role in bringing the ASI to this historic milestone.
Even that is only part of the story. There is no ASI without the thousands of sommeliers who are the backbone of the member organizations. The association’s work — bringing together the national sommelier associations, advancing the profession, defending its ethics and educating consumers — is organized centrally, but cannot be enforced from the top down. It lives or dies based on whether the sommelier members actively carry out and promote its ideas. 50 years is fine proof that we as sommeliers are up to the task.
So this gathering in Reims is ultimately about you and you are part in something magnificent and historic. 50 may sound like a big round number, but for an organization like ours it represents just the start. Instead of feeling old, we should all feel welcomed and embraced. By the international organization, by your national organization, and most importantly by the wonderful colleagues who await you in Reims, the cradle of our work.
I call upon the many presidents of our member organizations to spread the word far and wide to their members about this unique opportunity. After all: anyone can celebrate with champagne. It takes sommeliers to celebrate with champagne IN Champagne.
If you need more convincing, simply look at this issue’s main article, which provides details on the fantastic program of master classes, tastings and tours that will be on offer!
President, Association de la Sommellerie Internationale