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Wine Scholar Guild at SommCon DC This July!

The Wine Scholar Guild is hosting a full-day primer on France’s northern wine regions at SommCon DC in July. Sharpen your pencils and come well-rested, you could go home a winner!

French Wine Scholar Review Day with Education Director, Lisa Airey, FWS, CWE

We will start this full-day program with a quick 20-question quiz! Bring your A-game! There are prizes to be won!

During this session, we will review the important wine regions of France’s north: Alsace, Champagne, Bourgogne, Beaujolais, and Loire.

We will go over the biggest stumbling blocks to mastery for each region and clarify the complicated bits. The program is informative, fun and interactive.

Although a stand-alone primer on France, the day also serves to introduce participants to the depth and breadth of the French Wine Scholar certification program.


Lisa Airey, WSG Education Director, Knighted by French Government

Wine Scholar Guild Education Director, Lisa M. Airey, CWE, FWS was knighted by the French government in a ceremony at the Embassy of France in Washington DC on March 28, 2018.

She was inducted as “chevalier” to the Ordre du Mérite Agricole for her contributions to French agriculture (namely, wine!).

Sylvain Maestracci, Agriculture Counselor, officiated. It was his first knighting ceremony and hard to tell who was more touched as the medal got close to the lapel.

Lisa was commended for the development of the French Wine Scholar Program which is now taught by over 50 program providers, in 53 cities, in 16 countries on 5 continents. It is also hosted as an online program in independent- and instructor-led formats.

The program is endorsed by and was developed with the support of the French Ministry of Agriculture and has been approved by the French National Commission for Professional Certification allowing any gainfully employed person in France to apply for government funding to take the FWS program in that country.  The French Wine Scholar Program is also part of Singapore’s government-sanctioned “Skillsfuture” study grants!

“Lisa Airey is someone that I am delighted to have met,” said Sylvain Maestracci. “Her efforts in promoting knowledge of French wines, her obvious fondness for sharing her immense knowledge in wine matters, and her considerable pedagogical abilities, have all brought her to the point of being inducted into the French Ordre du Mérite Agricole, which she fully deserves. The most famous French wine production regions have recognized her as a fully qualified trainer (she was one of the first Americans to be given this recognition). But beyond her obvious professional abilities, Lisa is also a very warm person, and it is a true pleasure to work with her.”


“Au nom du Ministre de l'Agriculture et de l’Alimentation, nous vous faisons chevalier du Mérite agricole.”
On behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, we make you Knight of Agricultural Merit.

We are truly thrilled to see Lisa’s talent and passion for the wines of France to be applauded by the French Ministry of Agriculture. In just a few years, the Wine Scholar Guild has created a study and certification program on the wines of France that was without precedent. Its depth and quality quickly made it an industry standard across the globe with thousands of wine professionals deepening their professional mastery of France and its wines through this program. It wouldn’t have happened without Lisa’s incredible depth of knowledge, dynamism and dedication to excellence in wine education.

Thank you so much and BRAVO Lisa!


Vin Santo, A Truly Great Dessert Wine from Tuscany

Grapes  for Vin Santo Drying in the Vinsantaia

One of the most characteristic wines of Toscana is Vin Santo. This passito is an ancient and traditional specialty produced throughout the entire region. Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages, but the prototype for this style of wine can be traced back to the Greeks and the Romans.

Most Vin Santo is made from white grapes, typically Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca Lunga. It can be made from just one of these grapes but is more commonly a blend of the two. Trebbiano provides acidity while Malvasia provides body, texture and perfume. A rare, pink Vin Santo called Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice (“partridge eye”) is made from red grapes, usually Sangiovese. Only a few producers make this pink version.


Rick Fisher: Up Close and Personal

#thespanishwineguy joins the WSG team full-time

A couple of months ago we introduced you to Rick Fisher, our Program Developer for the upcoming Spanish Wine Scholar™ (SWS) program. By way of reminder, Rick is part Catalan with a passion for his heritage and a desire to educate others about Spanish wine and food. In his spare time, he has authored the blog Bodega: Eat. Drink. Explore. ESPAÑA! (www.bodegaspanishwine.com), whose aim is to further educate readers about the amazing wines and food of Spain.

Rick has enjoyed a long career in finance and, over the past few years, found himself drawn to pursuing more credentials within the wine industry (He is currently a WSET Diploma student with Napa Valley Wine Academy). As a result of his passion for Spain and the wine business, he left his finance job last week in order to devote all of his time to the creation of our Spanish Wine Scholar™ program, whose expected launch is late-2018.

Q1. Rick, you just made a huge personal move, giving up a 20-year career in finance – to work full-time in the wine industry, more specifically to devote all your time to the development of the SWS program. How are you feeling about that decision?

A1. Nervous and excited! Deep inside, I knew this decision was long overdue, but I am incredibly excited to devote myself full-time to the SWS project. My passion for Spain and my desire to commit full-time to the wine industry just feels like the perfect marriage. I have no doubt great things are in store for the future!

Q2. Did you toast on your last day? If so, which with which wine did you toast?

A2. I did! This is a HUGE move and I needed to get started on the right foot (with wine, of course). I have been saving a special bottle of 2012 Torelló Cava 225 Brut Nature Gran Reserva. This Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) is one of only 12 wines selected as part of the Cava’s new highest-quality designation, “Cava de Paraje Calificado”. Needless to say, it was a fantastic way to begin my new journey.

Q3. With the FWS and IWS programs already in place, you have a strong model to follow as you build the SWS program. Yet, this journey to write the most comprehensive study manual on Spanish wine is NOT an easy road. What are discovering about the process?

A3. The amount of research material available about Spanish wines is dwarfed by those available for both France and Italy; but that only makes this project that much more important. With the current revival and heightened interest in the wines of Spain, people are thirsty (pun intended) for more in-depth information on Spanish wine. For me, this is a labor of love. I can’t get enough of Spain, and this is a great opportunity for me to provide others with much-needed information on some of the best wines the world has to offer.

Q4. What is the most exciting part about creating a new program featuring the wines of Spain?

A4. Due to the limited information about Spanish wines (even with the great values to be had), many people aren’t willing to venture out and try something new. My hope is this program will generate more interest in wines in which people are less familiar. So far, I am finding there is tremendous excitement around the launch of SWS. This just tells me we are doing some much-needed work here, and that is incredibly exciting for me!

Q5. What about maps? Few detailed maps of the various Spanish wine regions are available, and, yet, they are priceless study tools.  How are you going about the maps for the manual?

A5. You are absolutely correct!  My research has turned up limited high-quality, user-friendly maps on Spain. I am very lucky to be partnering with Quentin Sadler for the maps for SWS. Quentin is a seasoned wine professional and his mapmaking is absolutely incredible!  I truly believe our maps will be the definitive ones in the industry for Spanish wine.

Q6. Is there anything else you would like people to know about SWS?

A6. All I can say is “Get Ready!”  Excitement is building, and many people are anxiously anticipating our launch later this year. I am incredibly honored to be a part of the SWS development and look forward to sharing the finished product with hungry Spanish wine students!



7 Reasons to Study Bordeaux + Buying Tips


1) Bordeaux is France’s largest quality wine region and largest producer of AOC wine.

2) The quality of its vintages drives the fine wine market globally.
3) Bordeaux’s rich history, commercial significance, mercantile mindset, size, and quality set it apart from other French wine regions.


Why study Bordeaux?

Bordeaux is France’s largest appellation and largest producer of AOC wine! It has been exported since the Middle Ages. In fact, its inland port with its historic and stately, stone warehouses, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
The region has been tracked with regard to vintage year for its entire history. Collectors speak in terms of Moueix and Derenoncourt, of Thunevin and Maltus as avid fans speak of their favorite athletes. Even non-wine drinkers have heard of Châteaux Mouton, Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Haut Brion!

Vin Jaune: Time in a Bottle

Vin Jaune is Jura’s claim to fame! This stylized wine product is made from Savagnin [Blanc] and represents a wine that has undergone controlled oxidation in barrel through the action of a film of surface yeasts.


Seven Things You Might Not Know About Rhône Wines

The Rhône is France’s second largest producer of AOC wines (after Bordeaux). Its viticultural history dates back to the Romans who sculpted its terraced topography and introduced the vine.

It is in the Rhône where east  meets west. The granite and schist of the Massif Central (west) collide with the sedimentary soils of the Alps and its foothills (east)….
So, how well do you know the Rhône?


The Grapes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Almost every wine book in print speaks of the 13 grape varieties of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this count is not exactly accurate. If you factor in all of the color variants of those 13 grapes, you end up with 22 authorized grapes for this appellation!


PODCAST: Jane Hunt, MW & Andrew Jefford on Tuscany

Master of Wine Jane Hunt is interviewed by Decanter Magazine’s Andrew Jefford about Tuscany and its wines. Jane has a long, distinguished career in various aspects of the wine trade, and will be leading a Wine Scholar Guild immersion tour through some of the legendary Tuscan wine estates.


PODCAST: Christophe Tassan & Andrew Jefford on the Rhône

Christophe Tassan is interviewed by Decanter Magazine’s Andrew Jefford about the Rhône Valley and its wines. “I was born in the dining room, in hospitality,” Christophe tells us, which seems appropriate, as this interview took place in a San Francisco restaurant around the corner from The Battery, where he is currently the wine director.


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