Congratulations to Joseph Zapata, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
Experienced wine professional with a career that began as a sales associate at top independent wine retailer K&L Wine Merchants. From K&L I moved on to become an assistant wine buyer at pioneering online wine retailer Wine.com where I was a member of a wine buying team that helped to shape the landscape of Internet wine sales. Beyond wine retail, career highlights include distribution and supplier sales as a Bay Area Key Account Specialist for Wine Warehouse (a top 10 US wine distributor), a Western Regional Sales Manager for iconic Paul Hobbs Wines, a National Sales Director for Napa Valley Schweiger Vineyards where I managed three-tier sales/marketing operations for the entire US, and a Beverage Director for Auberge Resorts Collection Forbes Five-Star Solage Napa Valley and its Michelin starred restaurant, Solbar. I am currently working on a unique wine project in Lake Tahoe, where I am now based, that will launch next year.
Wine Certifications: Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Wine Educator (CWE), the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier. I achieved these certificates prior to the FWS. The FWS has enhanced my knowledge, forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and study regions I would not have otherwise focused on in that depth, i.e., SW France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, Corsica. It would have been a great supplement for me between passing Certified Sommelier and CSW and studying for the CWE.
I am currently enrolled in and studying for the CMS Advanced Sommelier exam which I will sit for in July 2021. The FWS was a nice compliment to my CMS Advanced Sommelier France studies. While it is a much different type of study/exam, the FWS format allowed me to look at France more systematically, dig deeper into certain areas, and be able to gauge my progress and expose weak areas that needed more attention. I plan to tackle the IWS, SWS and possibly some of the master-level programs once I pass the Advanced Sommelier. I also plan to pursue the Master Sommelier Diploma.
I think it is a great supplement to my current studies with the CMS. Other top intermediate level programs such as SWE, WSET, CMS do not go into that level of depth. If you’re a CSW, WSET 3 or Certified Sommelier pursuing an advanced level certification such as CWE, WSET Diploma or Advanced Sommelier, I think it is a nice way to enhance your foundation knowledge and be able to approach one of the respective higher level exams with more confidence and ability.