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.

Town & Country (Philippines) - - CONTENTS / APRIL - By Ali­cia Colby Sy Pho­to­graphs by JL Javier

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.

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