Congratulations to Jenny van Lieshout, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
I am a wine professional and as so many other wine professionals I initially didn’t plan to work in the wine industry. After completing a Master in Business Communication, I started working for an editorial that published food and wine related magazines and books. That’s where I developed an interest for learning more about grape growing and wine making. The taste for wine was acquired long before that!
I soon followed the WSET Level 2 in Wines&Spirits and directly after the WSET Level 3 in Wines& Spirits. I then found myself at a crossroad. I would either keep wine as a hobby, or I would continue studying about wine and change career. I opted for the latter. I started the WSET Diploma Level 4 in Wines&Spirits, and began working in a wine shop, for I felt I had to work my way up the wine ladder. During my Diploma studies, a Dutch Master of Wine asked me to do him a favour and cover for him teaching a WSET Level 2 session. Slightly nervous I decided to help him out and taught about wine for the first time. I loved it! For a short time I taught for other Approved Programme Providers. I then went to WSET in London to join the Educator Course and opened my own APP in the Netherlands. In the meantime I had quit my job at the wine shop and had started importing wines from southern France and northern Spain. I was interested in learning about all aspects of the wine industry and felt I had to live and work in a wine producing country for a while. I moved to Barcelona and worked three years as Export Manager for premium Cava (now Corpinnat) producer Gramona. A very interesting period during which I learned more about the production side as well as international sales, travelling the world. During that period I successfully completed my Weinakademiker thesis (The future of premium Spanish sparkling wine). Back in the Netherlands I returned to teaching, working both for my own APP as well as for the Belgian APP WineWise, assisting the Diploma students of the Benelux. Currently I still run my APP in the Netherlands, offering mainly online courses. I combine this with the position of Export Manager for winemaker Oxer Bastegieta, a Basque producing both Txakoli and Rioja wines. Now, having completed the SWS, I hope to be teaching some classes for WineWise soon.
Currently I have no plans for following any other specific certification programs, although I am certainly not done learning about wine yet.
During my Diploma studies I learned about wines of the world. Although I have a broad interest, I think it is good to have a specialism and thanks to the SWS program that could certainly become Spanish Wines. To be able to combine my love for Spanish culture and teach about wine, would be ideal.