Hilary Millward, one of our founder members, sadly passed, recalls how the VATS Wine Club started.
"Here is what I remember about the early days -
In 1983 a lady named Doreen started a Singles Wine Club, the idea being to get singles to get together at various wine theme events. At that time the Tudor Rose restaurant in Maude St, Sandown (where the Village Walk is now) used to hold wine tastings on a Tuesday evening and one of the Singles Club outings was to one of these tastings, presented by the late B.J. Lankwarden.
At that first tasting were Rob Troup, Anne Bishop and myself. The Singles Club didn't last long, but a few of us decided that we enjoyed the tastings so we continued to go along on Tuesdays - probably about six to eight of us at first; other people joined us and the group grew. Frank Millward, Ian Buchanan, Steve Holroyd, Geoff Carter and Paul Herrmann all joined during this time.
After the Tudor Rose closed we moved to La Provence in Rosebank. This was when we became a club rather than a group of people going along to a restaurant tasting. We probably then had about twenty members. Thereafter we moved to Porto Romano in Braamfontein and became known as the VATS Club. To start with we were all single (with the exception of one married couple) and we had some pretty good parties. It was not unusual to get home from a Tuesday night tasting at 2am the next morning. Frank and I started the rot in 1989 by being the first club members to tie the knot and most of the others followed over the next few years.
Other venues have included,Traders and Porto Romano in Randburg, the Brown Derby in Rosebank, Papa Gigi in Windsor and a couple of other short lived places whose names are in the mists of time. For short periods when we were "homeless" and over the Christmas periods when restaurants didn't want us taking up their space (in those days we didn't pay for venues, they made their money from us in the pub later) we carried on the Tuesday tradition at members houses. With few exceptions we have met every Tuesday for the last twenty years." The Bryanston Country Club being the longest lasting venue and one that we have come to accept as a permanent home.
Beginners' Guide to Wine Tasting