Meet the women dominating Manila’s wine scene.
AN OLD BOYS CLUB NO LONGER, THE EMERGING LOCAL WINE SCENE COUNTS WOMEN AS ITS NEWEST AND MOST ACTIVE PLAYERS.
THE INTERNATIONAL WINE AND FOOD SOCIETY, MANILA LADIES BRANCH
Founded in London in 1933 by André Simon, the International Wine and Food Society was the world’s first association of amateur gastronomic enthusiasts who were not involved commercially in the wine or food trade. Its vision, “to bring together and serve all who believe that a right understanding of good food and wine is an essential part of personal contentment and health and that an intelligent approach to the pleasures and problems of the table offers far greater rewards than the mere satisfaction of appetites,” has successfully brought together a worldwide membership of over 6,000 people across 30 countries.
A part of the society’s global network since 1982, the Philippine chapter, with a founding membership of 27, was chartered by Fil Juntereal. In 2001, he set up the Manila Ladies Branch, one of only two all-female branches. Today, the Manila Ladies Branch has 41 members and is led by Juntereal’s daughter, CJ Juntereal. “Much of the unique identity of the Manila Ladies Branch is due to the leadership of our founding president, Felice Sta. Maria, and her board of trustees,” says CJ. “They wanted to create a specific identity that included a cultural and social aspect, as well as one that would encourage our members to learn about wine and food. With it they created an atmosphere of fun and camaraderie that continues to this day.” With the only requirement being that those who join are equally interested in both wine and food, its members are privy to exceptional wine and food experiences in the company of like-minded women. Some of the events that have been staged over the years include wine pairingthemed dinners with Filipino, Mexican, Austrian, and Swiss menus; private dining events with visiting chefs and winemakers; cheese, salt, and olive oil tastings; and an annual Champagne-filled afternoon tea. Its largest event of the year, and the only one that is advertised to the public, is the annual Wine Crawl, held every February, where a host of wine merchants showcase their wines to hundreds of guests. Tickets are pre-sold and guests are able to taste a wide variety of wines and buy bottles at special prices. While the IWFS Manila has now opened its membership to women, the Manila Ladies Branch will continue to operate on its own. “We have created our own culture, one that is fun and dynamic, and suited to women who like to eat and drink,” CJ continues. “We can ask questions about the food and wine, and learn without fear of judgment. And most importantly, our dinners are not always all women because men are always welcome as guests.” «
From left: Nicole Morris, cJ Juntereal, Eileen Batac, Jacqueline Alleje, tina de Jesus, Minnie chiongbian, catha Server Ermitaño
WINE AND DINE the women of the International Wine and Food Society’s Manila Ladies Branch.