Wine Scholar Guild honors Tanya Morning Star Darling of Cellar Muse as 2018 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Instructor of the Year!
Instructor of the Year is an award of excellence recognizing creative and effective classroom instruction for the French Wine Scholar study & certification program. The recipient is selected based upon outstanding presentation skills, organization, congeniality and a genuine and spirited joie de vivre—all talents reflected in stellar student evaluations.
INTERVIEW WITH TANYA MORNING STAR DARLING
Tell us of your love of teaching…specifically your teaching about wine. When did you first start to lecture? How did it all happen?
As a young woman just finished with High School, I went to Paris to study French language and Art History, I then moved to New York City, where I attended New York University with a major in Theater, and the History of Performance. Over the next 10 years I supported my studies, and a first career in the performing arts, by working in restaurants in Manhattan. While studying in the WSET Diploma program in the early 2000s, I worked in a small wine shop in Manhattan where my employer, Thomas Pellechia, taught a class on the History of Wine. This class greatly inspired me. During the years that I lived in New York City I traveled in France frequently, becoming increasingly fascinated by the interplay between wine, food, history, and cultural identity.
I also realized that my skills as a performer could be applied to teaching about wine, and decided that I wanted to tell the stories of wine. In 2004 I started offering classes in the cooking school at Wholefoods Market in Seattle, where I was working as a wine buyer, and in 2012 I was hired as faculty by the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College to teach Wine History. Today, I teach full time, sharing my energy between the college and my private company, Cellar Muse.
Although I love exploring all of the wine regions of France, my most beloved region is Bourgogne. Last year I had the honor of becoming one of approximately 60 Ambassadors of Bourgogne Wines in the world, and am now officially charged with educating about Bourgogne wines in my region. My relationship with French Wine spans 27 years, and I am more excited than ever about where it will take me next.
When and why did you choose to become a French Wine Scholar educator?
Last year I had the opportunity to teach the French Wine Scholar for the first time. It was a dream come true – to dive deep into the regions of France with my students! Teaching the French Wine Scholar program is a profound joy for me, and represents the culmination of my life in wine. I am very proud that my company Cellar Muse is now the provider for the Wine Scholar programs in the Seattle area.
What type of education experience do you provide to your French Wine Scholar students (teaching methods, social components, support outside of class, etc) that sets you apart?
As a history teacher, with a background in the arts, I approach the material largely through story telling. It is also very important to me that my students are integrating information to create a dynamic picture, not just memorizing facts for an exam. I want to help students learn how to ask the right questions, and to think critically about the material, so that they will retain it throughout their lives. I take pleasure in mentoring my students in regards to study skills, and encouraging students to find the methods that work best for their own unique learning process. I also like to offer the review sessions, provided by the Wine Scholar Guild, just prior to the exam date, and students report that these sessions are very helpful. As a finale to the program, I host a French-themed potluck for students (directly after the exam), to celebrate their hard work! I also continue to taste, study and share with my alumni through my French Wine Master Class series, and the Seattle Wine Scholar Guild tasting group. The level of dedication of the students in the Wine Scholar certification programs really humbles me, and drives me to be the best that I can be. I consider it a privilege to teach at this level, and care personally about my students’ success.
You have recently started teaching IWS also. How has this first experience been?
I love teaching the Italian Wine Scholar program as well! In fact, I was certified to teach the Italian Wine Scholar before the French Wine Scholar, and am now about to start teaching the program for the third time in the Pacific Northwest. (Unit I begins February 11th in Seattle, and I still have a few spots available.) I have family in Italy, and travel there regularly, most frequently to Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria.
I am currently working on the teacher certification for the Spanish Wine Scholar, and am very excited about this new curriculum as well.
Have you completed any of the Master Level programs, if so, which ones?
I have completed both the Bourgogne and Provence Master Level programs with highest honors. I found them to be very motivating, and feel that going through the Master Level courses makes me a better scholar, and teacher. I hope some day to make it through them all! I am currently working on the Champagne Master Level, and look forward to popping lots of corks in 2019.
2018 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:
- French Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Cru Consultancy (Vancouver, Canada)
- French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Tanya Morning Star (Seattle, WA)
- Italian Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Asia Wine Service & Education Centre (Hong Kong)
- Italian Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Jimmy Smith (London, UK)
Previous Years WSG Awards:
- 2017 French Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: West London Wine School (London, UK)
- 2017 French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Hwee Peng Lim, CWE, FWS (Singapore)
- 2017 Italian Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Independent Wine Education Guild - IWEG (Toronto, CAN)
- 2017 Italian Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Chris Miller (San Francisco Wine School, USA)
- 2016 WSG Program Provider of the Year: Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, CAN)
- 2016 WSG Instructor the Year: Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS, IWS (Wasatch Academy of Wine, Salt Lake City, USA)
- 2015 WSG Program Provider of the Year: AWSEC (Hong Kong, HKG)
- 2015 WSG Instructor the Year: David Glancy MS, FWS (San Francisco Wine School, USA)