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Free Webinar: Armagnac with May Matta-Aliah

Join May Matta-Aliah, the official BNIA Armagnac Educator who has been working with the region since 2009, for an informational webinar about Armagnac.

Wednesday Feb 21st @ 12:00 noon EST

May will provide some historical background on Armagnac then bring it to the modern day to discuss some of the trends and changes that the region has been witnessing in the last decade.

Finally May will share some delicious Armagnac cocktail recipes with you to inspire you not only to enjoy the spirit neat but to have some fun mixing it up.

Register for this FREE webinar:



Instruction on how to join the webinar will be emailed prior to the webinar to all registered participants.

France’s best kept secret no more. Meet Armagnac, the oldest ‘new kid’ on the brandy block.

Armagnac is finally having its moment! The latest 2016 numbers from the BNIA, the Inter professional Bureau for Armagnac (http://www.armagnac.fr/en), shows the US firmly leading as the Number 1 export market for Armagnac, with sales growing 33% by volume and 19% in value. What was once France’s best kept secret is now everyone favorite new spirit discovery! Bartenders, importers, restaurants and retailers have all embraced this small region producing the world’s oldest brandy.

With annual production still hovering around the 6 million-bottle mark, Armagnac is the original artisanal craft spirit. 20% of distillation in the region still takes place by roving distillers that criss-cross the countryside, traveling from farm to farm to distill their wines in the late fall. Maturation takes places in century-old cellars lined with 400L barrels mostly produced from the local oak. Tucked away in the dusty corners of the cellars, you will find hand-blown bottles holding vintage Armagnac, dating back to the late 19th century in some cases.

 

Presenter: May Matta-Aliah, DWS, FWS

May Matta-Aliah, DWS, FWS

May is a firm believer in making wine and spirits education accessible to everyone from wine and spirits trade professionals to curious appreciators. Her experience includes a long-standing affiliation with the prestigious International Wine Center, where she has been teaching the classes of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, to frequently sold-out consumer classes at a variety of venues around New York City.

She has designed and taught custom courses to industry organizations and presented at large trade conferences such as Tales of the Cocktail, San Antonio Cocktail Classic, New York Wine Expo, Society of Wine Educator Annual Conference and the French Wine Society Annual Conference.

May’s numerous accreditations include the Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), she is a French Wine Scholar (FWS) from the Wine Scholar Guild, as well as the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) through the Society of Wine Educators.

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Wine Scholar Guild Top Exam Scorers for 2017

The Wine Scholar Guild is excited to announce the list of 2017 top exam scorers from around the world!

  • French Wine Scholar™: Riccardo Vanossi, FWS - 100 pts (Milano, Italy)
  • Italian Wine Scholar™: Chia-Jui Tsai, FWS, IWS - 99.5 pts (Taipei City, Taiwan)
  • Bordeaux Master-Level: Jeffrey G. Jones - 100 pts (Indianapolis IN, USA)
  • Bourgogne Master-Level: Bruce Smoller, FWS - 98 pts (Rochester NY, USA)
  • Champagne Master-Level: Andrew Belcher, FWS - 96 pts (Uxbridge, UK)
  • Rhône Master-Level: Erika Frey, FWS - 100 pts (Boston MA, USA)
  • Provence Master-Level: Jackie Ang, FWS - 98 pts (Oxford, UK)
  • Alsace Master-Level: Kari Dawson - 92 pts (Charlotte NC, USA)

Bravo!

Learn more about our recent high scorers and browse.

We also would like to wave our hat to the following three individuals:

  • Nancy Reynolds, FWS, IWS (Toronto ON, Canada)
  • Rose-Anne St. Jean, FWS, IWS (Toronto ON, Canada)
  • Donald McEachern, FWS, IWS (Park Ridge IL, USA)

For having passed ALL programs currently offered by the Wine Scholar Guild, more often than not with highest honors:

 Check out our Alumni page

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Video Preview: Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 Online format with Nancy Reynolds

Learn about the Italian Wine Scholar ™ Unit 1 | online | 14-week Instructor-Led Format

This live webinar took place live on: Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 12 noon EST (NYC)

About this webinar:

    • Find out about the Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 (northern Italy) curriculum
    • Preview of the online 14-week Instructor-Led Format format 
    • Get a feel for the emphasis and thrust of this certification program and if it is “a fit” for your professional development goals.

Your host: Nancy Reynolds, DIPWSET, FWS, IWS

Nancy Reynolds, DIPWSET, FWS, IWS 

  • Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma with Merit, January 2010.
  • Won Brian Kirkwood award for highest score for WSET Diploma Unit 3 in Eastern Canada in 2008.
  • WSET Certified Educator and L3 exam assessor.
  • WSG Italian Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar.
  • Completed all Wine Scholar Guild Master level courses.
  • Certified Tutor of Bordeaux Wines from L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux.
  • Certified Rhone Master from Inter-Rhone.

About the Italian Wine Scholar ™ online | 14-week Instructor-Led Format

Master the wines of Northern Italy through 14 weeks of self-study fully supported by a comprehensive study manual, interactive e-learning modules for each region, and 7 live review webinars.

This live and online classroom format is starting on February 27th 2018, register today!

Price: $690

Register Now

The Italian Wine Scholar ™ Unit 1 online | 14-week Instructor-Led Format includes: 
Italian Wine Scholar live online format

Plus:

  • A schedule of study with learning objectives for each region
  • The Italian Wine Scholar™ Unit 1 online exam*
  • Access to repeat-after-me pronunciation exercise
  • Online quizzes and learning games for self-evaluation
  • Downloadable maps
  • A list of recommended wines to sample on your own or in a tasting group organized by students enrolled in the online program 

This format provides the convenience and flexibility of an online study program with interactive live “classroom” instruction delivered to a global student network via computer or tablet.

We provide true tech support, stellar instruction from acclaimed instructors, a flexible schedule of study designed for busy professionals and all the necessary tools to master the wines of northern Italy.

This live and online classroom format is starting on February 27th 2018, register today!

Price: $690

Register Now

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[Live Preview] Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 Online format with Nancy Reynolds



Learn about the Italian Wine Scholar ™ Unit 1 | online | 14-week Instructor-Led Format

via live webinar on: 

Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 12 noon EST (NYC)

9 am PST Seattle, 5:00 pm UK, 6:00 pm France, 1:00 am in Hong-Kong

About this webinar:

    • Find out about the Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 (northern Italy) curriculum
    • Preview of the online 14-week Instructor-Led Format format 
    • Get a feel for the emphasis and thrust of this certification program and if it is “a fit” for your professional development goals.
    • Duration: 15 min

Register for the FREE preview webinar:

Instructions on how to access this live webinar will be emailed to all registered 48 hours prior to the webinar.

Your host: Nancy Reynolds, DIPWSET, FWS, IWS

Nancy Reynolds, DIPWSET, FWS, IWS 

  • Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma with Merit, January 2010.
  • Won Brian Kirkwood award for highest score for WSET Diploma Unit 3 in Eastern Canada in 2008.
  • WSET Certified Educator and L3 exam assessor.
  • WSG Italian Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar.
  • Completed all Wine Scholar Guild Master level courses.
  • Certified Tutor of Bordeaux Wines from L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux.
  • Certified Rhone Master from Inter-Rhone.

About the Italian Wine Scholar ™ online | 14-week Instructor-Led Format

Master the wines of Northern Italy through 14 weeks of self-study fully supported by a comprehensive study manual, interactive e-learning modules for each region, and 7 live review webinars.

This format provides the convenience and flexibility of an online study program with interactive live “classroom” instruction delivered to a global student network via computer or tablet.

We provide true tech support, stellar instruction from acclaimed instructors, a flexible schedule of study designed for busy professionals and all the necessary tools to master the wines of northern Italy. 

This live and online classroom format is starting on February 27th 2018, register today

Price: $690 
Early bird offer: save $50 if you sign-up by February 14th 2018, use coupon code: EARLYBIRDIWS at checkout page.

REGISTER NOW

 

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IWS Program Provider of the Year 2017

Wine Scholar Guild honors Toronto's Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) as 2017 Italian Wine Scholar™ (IWS) Program Provider of the Year!

IWS Program Provider of the Year rewards professionalism and perfectionism in the business of wine education and delivery of the Italian Wine Scholar study & certification program. Judging criteria includes student volume, facilities, student evaluations and the overall profile of the course offerings given by that learning institution.  These factors, together, create an award-winning environment of academic rigor and excellence.

Kudos to IWEG Director Paul Miles, IWS Instructors Nancy Reynolds and Rose Anne-St-Jean as well as the entire IWEG team!


Interview with Paul Miles, IWEG Director

You are successfully teaching both the Italian Wine Scholar and the French Wine Scholar program at IWEG. Why is the market responding to these specialization courses?

There are a number of reasons why the market is responding to these specialization courses:  firstly, consumers in Ontario are selecting wine over other beverages in increasing numbers and with this comes a natural “thirst” for greater knowledge and information about wines from “classical” regions, which the Italian Wine Scholar and the French Wine Scholar programs provide in abundance.

Secondly, the reputation and quality of these educational programs, as well as the fact that they provide a robust “deep-dive” into arguably what are considered two of the world’s greatest wine producing countries, mean that we have found that they are perceived as excellent, “knowledge tool kits and skill enhancing” programs by people who are currently in or are thinking about taking the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits  (including some who aspire to be candidates for the Institute of Masters of Wine).

Thirdly, from a trade perspective, the Ontario wine market is highly competitive and undergoing important structural changes, for example, grocery retailers sell wine in select authorized stores. The Italian Wine Scholar and the French Wine Scholar programs provide powerful knowledge tools for trade professionals to make interesting buyer choices and innovative customer recommendations, which can help differentiate and set them apart from competitors.

How long have you been teaching WSG courses? What are your students doing with these credentials?

IWEG has been running the French Wine Scholar program since September 2012 and the Italian Wine Scholar program since September 2016.  Those of our graduates who work in the trade and have successfully taken these courses are using their acquired, specialized knowledge to make better wine buying decisions, as well more informed customer recommendations.  Those students who are wine lovers and enthusiasts are also enjoying their newly-found knowledge to make better drinking and cellaring decisions!

You’ve been in business since 1977, how have you seen wine education change over the last decade/decades in Toronto?

The Ontario trade has always recognized the need for wine and spirits education, which is why our founders, who came from diverse sectors of the wine industry, founded IWEG forty years ago as a not-for-profit, specialist education organization to satisfy this need.  However, in the last decade, demand for wine education has grown exponentially and is at a record high as more and more businesses are recognizing that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service, which will trigger repeat business as well as stronger profits.
Coupled with this, is the more recent and interesting phenomenon that wine education is no longer just for the trade professional but appeals also to the “consumer/wine lover,” who aspires to know about and drink quality wines from the world’s classic wine regions.

What type of education experience do you provide at IWEG Toronto (teaching methods, social components, support, etc) that you think sets you apart?

With over forty years of operation, IWEG is passionate about helping our students achieve their personal or professional goals. Our instructors, including two who are the globally top-ranked Wine Scholar Guild instructors, are subject-area experts and professionally trained educators, dedicated to student engagement and success.  Many of our graduates have progressed to assume leadership roles in the Drinks and Hospitality industries in Canada.

We have higher than global average pass rates for WSET courses, and offer a unique student experience, including proprietary study aids, the availability of study scholarships and field trips, experiential visits to local wineries to bring the classroom to life--all of which is only made possible by the generosity of our sponsors and trade partners.

On the community engagement front, we offer a host of monthly networking events and sought-after master-classes at the school. Finally, our student-centric approach means that our scheduling is diverse and flexible, offering in-class or online study; day or evening classes; and condensed or less intensive formats as well as custom corporate programming.

2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:

Previous Years WSG Awards:

  • 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)

 

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IWS Instructor the Year 2017

Wine Scholar Guild honors Chris Miller of San Francisco Wine School as 2017 IWS Instructor of the Year!  

IWS Instructor of the Year is an award of excellence recognizing creative and effective classroom instruction for the Italian Wine Scholar study & certification program.

The recipient is selected based upon outstanding presentation skills, organization, congeniality and a genuine and spirited dolce vita—all talents reflected in stellar student evaluations. 

Kudos to Chris!

Chris Miller

Meet Chris Miller

Chris caught the wine bug wandering the major wine producing nations of Europe, then later, working room service at a high-end hotel in London. Shortly upon his return to the States, he started his first wine job on Valentine's Day 1997 in the tasting room at the David Bruce Winery. Shortly thereafter, he started working for a large distributor and found himself, in early 2001, the Northern California Market Manager for Wilson Daniels. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles and was recruited to work as the Wine Director/Sommelier for Pizzeria Mozza where he created and oversaw an all-Italian wine list championing obscure, little known varietals. He later spent close to 4 years as the southern California Italian wine buyer for K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood where he wrote extensively for their newsletter and website.

In addition to his sales and marketing experience, Chris has taught for various wine schools and for private clients, worked on Sommelier teams at events such as the Masters of Food and Wine, the Pebble Beach Food and Wine, the World of Pinot and the California Culinary Institute, and has crafted and consulted on numerous restaurant wine programs. Chris has traveled exhaustively through the wine regions of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Hungary and North America. He achieved the Certified Sommelier designation from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2007.

Interview with Chris Miller

You are teaching a course about Italian wine in California wine country. How is that received?  

The Italian wine scene in the greater Bay Area is very sophisticated.  I would argue, probably as sophisticated, per capita, as anywhere in the world.  With thousands of producers of wine a couple hours north or a couple hours south (not to mention the dozens of "urban wineries" we have right smack in the middle of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, etc.), we are, as a demographic, already incredibly wine savvy.  Couple this with the fact we have some of the best Italian restaurants in the United States (Acquerello, La Ciccia, A-16, Bellotti, Perbacco just to name a mere few), people, both industry and non, are exceedingly eager to learn more and more about Italian wine.

When a restaurant can not only pour a Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato or Pallagrello Bianco by the glass, but go through three cases a week, you know you're in a special place.  So to answer the question directly... very well received! 

When and why did you choose to become an Italian Wine Scholar instructor? 

I was an American Literature major at UC Santa Cruz and was convinced my life's work would be as a professor of the humanities. I always felt like I have a genuine passion for teaching.  I've been teaching for David Glancy, the owner of the San Francisco Wine School, off and on for more than a decade.  After I returned to San Francisco from a stint in Los Angeles where I was an Italian wine buyer for a high profile restaurant and then a high profile retailer, I became the sort of default Italian wine "authority" at the school.  When we launched the Italian Wine Scholar program in 2016, I taught the first course to be offered here in California.  In a nutshell, I love teaching and I LOVE Italian wine.

To whom do you recommend the Italian Wine Scholar program and why?

I always let people know that it really does take a commitment to be successful with the Italian Wine Scholar program.  There are other programs to learn the basics of Italian wine, but I tell prospective students that the operative word in the title is "scholar." You'll have your nose buried in a book, learning things the vast majority of wine professionals and wine enthusiasts will never know, and you have to have the passion to stay committed to making that happen.  That said, once completed, the sense of accomplishment and confidence is well worth the effort. 

How do you think your instruction style or teaching methods set you apart/help your students be so successful? 

Great question.  I think the most important thing is to make it fun, and keep the humor in it.  Yes, it's serious stuff and there's a lot to learn, but if my students aren't laughing multiple times in a three hour class, I feel like I'm doing something wrong.  Wine is about to joy after all, yes?  I think I wear my passion and love of wine (all wine in general, but Italian wine in particular) on my sleeve, and my hope is that through my teaching, that passion is contagious.  

2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:

Previous Years WSG Awards:

  • 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)

 

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FWS Program Provider of the Year 2017

Wine Scholar Guild honors West London Wine School as 2017 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Program Provider of the Year!

FWS Program Provider of the Year rewards professionalism and perfectionism in the business of wine education and delivery of the French Wine Scholar study & certification program. Judging criteria includes student volume, facilities, student evaluations and the overall profile of the course offerings given by that learning institution.  These factors, together, create an award-winning environment of academic rigor and excellence.

Kudos to Jimmy Smith, FWS, owner & head tutor of West London Wine School!


Jimmy Smith, FWS teaching at West London Wine School

Interview with Jimmy Smith, FWS

Tell us about your Wine School… When did you launch it?  What courses are you offering?

West London Wine School was established in 2009. Within nine years has become one of the UK’s leading wine education facilities with over 5,000 students per year. We have been twice nominated as WSET Riedel Educator of the Year, and once been a winner as part of the Local Wine School network (2015), which places us in the top 1% of WSET educators in the world. We have 6 charismatic tutors at the school offering a variety of courses:

  • Introduction to Wine Courses (over 8 weeks, 4 weeks, 1 day, 1 evening)
  • Fine/Specialist Wine Evenings
  • FWS/IWS
  • BPET Beer Cicerone – Levels 1 & 2
  • WSET (approx. 800 students per year) – Levels 1 to 3

In your opinion, what distinguishes the French Wine Scholar program from other certification programs available in the UK?

FWS courses engage the student through a greater depth of knowledge with a detailed focus on cultural, historical and geological information that other courses within the UK seldom tackle. For me, this means there is a more romantic edge to the courses that make them extremely exciting to teach. In addition, it is the focus on lesser-known regions that I am really enthusiastic about. I love sharing my passion for these places to my students. Jura, Savoie, Corsica and the SW of France barely get any ‘air time’ in the UK through education so it gives me the opportunity to share my passion of these areas to my students. My wine bar (Streatham Wine House) here in London has over 30 wines from Jura, Savoie and Corsica so access to wines to use for courses is easy.

Coupled with the above, FWS courses have wonderfully comprehensive teaching modules through powerpoint presentations and online modules--and the textbook that sets it above other courses within the UK. It is a joy to work with such detailed materials that really make our jobs delivering the content thoroughly enjoyable.

What are the professional benefits for achieving French Wine Scholar certification for those who want to enter or for those who are already in the wine industry in London/England?

With such a strong connection to France (although it hasn’t always been that way…) student’s knowledge of the wines of France are imperative. London is becoming much more dynamic with its scope of French wines and it is important that wine industry people keep up-to-date with the diversity and the changes.

As the FWS is becoming more well-known in the UK, it is becoming viewed as more important for students who wish to focus on France for their career development. Further focus in the UK is needed for the WSG to capitalize on the niche that has been found for actually offering students a comprehensive knowledge on perhaps the most important country for wine in the world (don’t tell the Italians…)

What type of experience do you provide to FWS/IWS students at West London Wine School (teaching methods, social components, support outside of class, etc) that you think sets you apart?

As I am a wine buyer for both WLWS and the bar SWH, I have a great access to wine from over 40 suppliers. Therefore, it is easier for me to obtain often hard-to-find wines and I receive samples that make my sessions much more enjoyable. On the last course, we tasted 90 wines over the 9 sessions (16 on the Loire night!). In addition, I work very closely with my cheese supplier that gives me access to over 200 French cheeses--and we always use the relevant cheeses on the correct sessions. This cultural aspect immerses the student further within the syllabus.

I also ‘try’ to cook up treats as much as possible (such as Fraises au Vin on the Bojo session) and we do a ‘Field Trip’ to the wine bar for the Loire or Bojo session as we are VERY strong on these areas at the bar (e.g. we have Bojo-Villages on tap, and our Loire list is comprised of over 40 wines and we have an oyster specialist nearby).

In addition, I run many specialist tastings that students can sign up for to help their knowledge (e.g. Jimmy’s Jura - a sell out to 40 people). I also use ‘Turning Technologies’ clickers as anonymous multiple choice questions at the start of the next session to recap their knowledge (just 15 questions).

Otherwise, if you read my reviews via TripAdvisor etc, I think you will read that I am very engaging as a tutor! 

2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:

Previous Years WSG Awards:

  • 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)

 

Read more...

FWS Instructor the Year 2017

Wine Scholar Guild honors Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS, as 2017 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Instructor of the Year!

FWS 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. 

Kudo's Lim Hwee Peng!

Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS

Founder & Head Coach, Lim Hwee Peng School of Wine c/o WineCraft Marketing & Services in Singapore

About Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS

Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS is a full-fledged wine service provider. In his role as a wine tutor, he desires to nurture a growing number of certified wine professionals through international wine certification programs that his wine school hosts in Singapore and South East Asia. Despite being a graduate of multiple international and professional wine certified programs, Lim remains a committed student of wines as he continues acquiring intimate knowledge of the wine world through regional visits.

Lim also hones his tasting skills through wine judging opportunities in Australia, South Africa, South America, Italy, and recently at the Decanter Wine Asia Award in Hong Kong. Among his professional accolades, Lim is pleased to have been awarded DUX of Advanced Wine Assessment Course by Australian Wine Research Institute.

Locally, he was also recognized by the Singapore Wine and F&B industries as a ‘Sommelier Mentor of the Year 2017’; and shortly after garnering that industry award, he was additionally acknowledged as a ‘Working Peoples’ Advocate 2017’ by the Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress for his efforts to increase professionalism among his peers.

FWS Graduation Dinner

Interview with Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS

Tell us of your love of teaching…specifically your teaching of wine. When did you first start to lecture? What led to the creation of your wine school?

Since the 1990s, during the infancy stages of the Singapore wine industry, I have been fortunate to be exposed to and engaged with qualified local and international wine professionals, who have influenced my appreciation for the importance of professionalism, and subsequently, the relevance in certifying one’s experience and knowledge.

Since then, though the popularity of wine has grown and the reputation has become more established in Singapore, the common perception of the wine industry here was that it was a business of wheelers and dealers and sales individuals.

It was common for wine sales to be carried out with a standard pitch utilizing an increasing range of ‘fruitiness’ as differentiation between various bottles (i.e.  ‘fruity, more fruity and very fruity’).

Business was often attained through time spent drinking with potential clients, or in some extreme examples, the flaunting of one’s physical assets.

Focus was purely on sales, without efforts being spent on attaining the credibility deemed vital for a profession.

Professionalism, sustainability of a trade, or certified wine programs, etc, were literally unheard of in the early to mid-1990s.

Thus, when enrollment in the Advanced Certification course with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (UK) became available in 1998, I seized the opportunity without hesitation.

Subsequent years of exposure to the many different aspects of the wine industry have increased my competence, though unfortunately, also led me to a ‘career crisis.’

After helming the wine column for an established food and wine publication, and continuing on to take a marketing role with the Wine Institute of California, to promote California wines, it dawned on me that I'd have to decide whether I wanted to continue contributing and influencing the wine profession indirectly, or be an advocate on the importance of professionalism within Singapore wine industry.

In 2005, after some months of prayer, I took the leap of faith to kick start a vision of nurturing an increasing pool of certified professionals in Wine, F&B, Hospitality and related trade sectors (e.g. F&B/Culinary lecturers/institutions, Food & Wine Media, Food & Wine Consultants, etc), and to build up the wine profession as a sustainable and respectable vocation.

The mission that we have defined is ‘to shape minds, build confidence and make a difference’ to our profession.  We summarize these as the M.A.D. (or 'make a difference') Mission.

But, our aspiration was not limited to influencing fellow peers to take a serious stand on our profession.

We were also aiming to shape the minds of relevant authorities to re-orientate their perception of the wine industry, from an alcohol trade of a transactional nature, to a profession that could build up an individual's life and provide a sustainable livelihood.

In the initial years, we did feel our ambitions were bordering on crazy-or that our goals were too lofty.

But with hard work and blessings we are now into our 13th year of our M.A.D. mission and continue to progress.

We have helped more than 320 wine professionals and sommeliers get certified with various wine certification programs, including the Wine Scholar Guild's French Wine Scholar Program.

Those certified wine specialists can be found in all vocations in the Singapore Wine, F&B, Hospitality, and related trade sectors.

Most of the certified wine specialists are Singaporean, although quite a proportion of our program graduates also originate from parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, India, China, South Korea, Japan, France, Spain and Mexico, which makes our efforts truly international.

Our footprints can also be found in Kota Kinabalu, Penang, Kuala Lumpur (East & West Malaysia), Seoul (South Korea), Jakarta, Bandung (Indonesia), and multiple states in Thailand.

When times get tough, we are motivated by watching the professional growth of the members of our wine specialist family.

This year, we also received the great honor of having been recognized with the industry award of Sommelier Mentor of the Year 2017.

Despite being recognized, our efforts continue. It is clear that much still needs to be done, and we continue to seek partnerships with local and international wine partners.

When and why did you choose to become a French Wine Scholar educator?

Since certifying wine experience and knowledge forms an integral part of our mission, wine programs that we have introduced to the market have to be carefully evaluated, i.e. relevance and value to market, inclusiveness, etc.

Over the years in collaborating with international wine bodies, we have managed to establish a progressive program structure that offers various certifications ranging from operational-level to specialized & higher-advanced level wine courses (The French Wine Scholar program is one such program).

Due to these offerings, we are able to offer courses to both trade professionals and wine enthusiasts, based on their needs and interests.

How then do we quantify the relevance of a wine program?

A suitable program should be professionally recognized, have international stature and offer content that is inclusive in nature.   

With the ‘professionally recognized' and 'inclusive' elements, we are confident that fellow peers from a diverse background (wine retail, marketing, sales, operational, business owners, event organizers, F&B lecturers, F&B Consultants, and Wine/Food Media) can benefit from investing their time and resources into enrolling in one of our certification programs.

The ‘international stature’ requirement ensures program graduates are able to seize professional opportunities offered in both local and international markets.

The French Wine Scholar (FWS) program ticks all those boxes.

More importantly, the FWS program is run by a team of true professionals led by Julien Camus and Lisa Airey.

Whether it is in the area of program administration, or communication between Wine Scholar Guild (WSG) with our team, the WSG team is a class above many we have worked or are working with.

WSG office treats us as an equal and exclusive partner, is sensitive and considerate of the unique market dynamics that we are coping with and managing, and provides flexibility and confidence for us to build up the credibility of the FWS program in Singapore.

Those traits, in my view, could only be carried out by individuals and an organization that is truly dedicated to professionalism and believes in what they are doing.

So for the current success of FWS program in Singapore, credit must also go to Julien, Lisa and WSG team members for continuing to nurture our rapport and build on the close partnership that we sincerely treasure.

We are indeed very fortunate to have Wine Scholar Guild as our program partner.

You have gotten the FWS program accredited in Singapore (“Skills Future”), tell us more about that…

Singapore is a market with complex social and cultural traits.

Firstly, Singapore is not a homogeneous society, and there is sensitivity to a profession that is alcohol-related.

Although the island state is populated mostly by ethnic-Chinese, Singapore is also home to Malay, Indian, Eurasian ethnic groups.

One might mistakenly assume that English is Singapore’s national language, since English is commonly used in day to day communication, on public signposts, transport infrastructure, and by international businesses. Truth is, Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) is our national lingo.  

Being a tiny island nation in Asia and South East Asia region (we are a mere 5.4 million population; Bangkok (a city) alone is about 9.6 million, just to give some perspective), to survive and thrive, Singapore has to stay nimble and competitive.

In essence, Singapore has to stay ahead of competition, and its people have to
remain constantly equipped with skills and knowledge that will keep them employable.

Skillsfuture is one of those initiatives, conceived primarily to nurture an attitude of lifelong learning among Singaporean. With this program, the cost of continuing education and skill upgrading is subsidized by the government.

Hence, courses or programs that are approved as part of Skillsfuture listings have to be of value and relevance to the present and future employment landscape.

With these objectives met, Skillsfuture was able to accredit French Wine Scholar program as part of its subsidy programs, eligible for all Singaporeans 25 years and older.

This year (2017), our services to wine and related industries were recognized by the Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) with a ‘May Day Working Peoples’ Advocate’ award.

In enhancing our collaborations with the governing authorities, we will also be launching several initiatives in 2018 to assist peers in upgrading their skills and knowledge.

Stay tuned for more announcements!

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?

We structure our learning experience, primarily, with the aim to guide FWS program participants in achieving a positive or an excellent result for their exam attempt.

Additionally, to spice up our presentation on Geography, Geology, and other less  ‘enjoyable’ subjects we also shared anecdotes of our first hand-encounters in some of the French wine regions that we have visited (e.g. Alsace, Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Rhone Valley, etc).

We also include a pair of fine wine glasses as part of the learning package. FWS program participants benefit from exposure to a range of judiciously selected French wines that exhibit the best characteristics of each region.

At the end of each tutorial session, a ‘happy hour’ involving an informal discussion is organized for the participants, so that comfortable engagement can be had on a one to one basis.

Beyond the classroom, we have created regional study trips that will help the graduates in further enhancing their wine learning journey.

Together, with Australia Wine Research Institute, we have worked to impart the fine art of wine judging to French Wine Scholars and other certified wine specialists, so as to elevate their professional technical wine assessment skills, and be on par with international demand.

Program graduates are offered opportunities to be involved in some aspects of our industry projects, so that graduates are able to appreciate and learn on a first-hand basis the many factors that lead to success.

As a strong advocate for continuing education, we also lead by example by attending international courses, and we work hard in doing well, so as to project a professional image of the Singapore wine industry.

In one such overseas program, we were privileged to be recognized as DUX of an Advanced Wine Assessment Course, a certification program that aims to equip Australian winemakers and other wine professionals for the role of wine judging.

We constantly seek opportunities to enhance our offerings and contribute to the increased professionalism of the individuals in the wine industry.

Hence, our M.A.D. mission remains a work in progress, and it will only advance with continued support from our partners, such as Wine Scholar Guild.

2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:

Previous Years WSG Awards:

  • 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)

 

Read more...

2017 Instructors and Program Providers of the Year Announced!

The Wine Scholar Guild is pleased to annonced the winners of its Instructor and Program Provider of the Year Awards.

Instructor of the Year is an award of excellence recognizing creative and effective classroom instruction for the French or Italian Wine Scholar study & certification programs. The recipient is selected based upon outstanding presentation skills, organization and conviviality —all talents reflected in stellar student evaluations. 

Program Provider of the Year rewards professionalism and perfectionism in the business of wine education and delivery of the French or Italian Wine Scholar study & certification programs. Judging criteria includes student volume, facilities, student evaluations and the overall profile of the course offerings given by that learning institution.  These factors, together, create an award-winning environment of academic rigor and excellence.


2017 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Instructor of the Year!

Lim Hwee Peng CWE, FWS (Singapore)

Founder & Head Coach, Lim Hwee Peng Sch of Wine c/o WineCraft Marketing & Services in Singapore, is a full-fledged wine service provider. In his role as a wine tutor, he desires to nurture a growing number of certified wine professionals through international wine certification programs that his wine school hosts in Singapore and South East Asia. Despite being a graduate of multiple international and professional wine certified programs, Lim remains a committed student of wines as he continues acquiring intimate knowledge of the wine world through regional visits. Read more...


2017 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Program Provider of the Year

West London Wine School (London, UK)

West London Wine School was established in 2009 and within nine years has become one of the UK’s leading wine education facilities with over 5000 students per year. We have been twice nominated as WSET Riedel Educator of the Year, and once been a winner as part of the Local Wine School network in 2015, which places us in the top 1% of WSET educators in the world. Read more...


2017 Italian Wine Scholar™ (IWS) Instructor of the Year!

Chris Miller (San Francisco, CA)

 

In addition to his sales and marketing experience, Chris has taught for various wine schools and for private clients, worked on Sommelier teams at events such as the Masters of Food and Wine, the Pebble Beach Food and Wine, the World of Pinot and the California Culinary Institute, and has crafted and consulted on numerous restaurant wine programs. Read more...


2017 Italian Wine Scholar™ (IWS) Program Provider of the Year!

Independent Wine Education Guild - IWEG (Toronto, ON)

IWEG Drinks Academy is the original and only Canadian school to offer all programs and qualifications of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) - including the flagship “Level 4 Diploma” program - leading to internationally recognized certification in Wine, Spirits and Sake. IWEG is the recipient of the prestigious WSET Lifetime Achievement Award for spearheading establishment of the WSET programme in Canada and for excellence in wine and spirit education since 1977. IWEG also offers the Wine Scholar Guild's French Wine Scholar (FWS) and Italian Wine Scholar (IWS) courses. Read more...

2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:

Previous Years WSG Awards:

  • 2016 WSG Program Provider of the Year: Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, CAN)
  • 2016 WSG Instructor the Year: Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS, IWS (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, USA)
Read more...

Spanish Wine Scholar Program Update!

At long last, we have begun development of our Spanish Wine Scholar program!

The program is spearheaded by Rick Fisher, a San Diego resident of Catalan descent. Rick’s passion for his Spanish heritage and a desire to educate others about Spanish culture, food, and wine led him to create Bodega: Eat. Drink. Explore. ESPAÑA! (www.bodegaspanishwine.com) in 2009. He joined the Wine Scholar Guild in June of 2017 to build our Spanish study and certification program.

“I’ve spent many years focusing on Spain,” states Rick. “I’ve travelled extensively throughout the country while tasting and blogging about this dynamic landscape, its wines and its culture. Although the Spanish Wine Scholar program is a new Wine Scholar Guild initiative, for me, it’s the closing of a circle. Spain is where I began my wine studies. Now, I’ll be giving others a guided curriculum. I can’t tell you how good that feels.”

“We are delighted to have Rick join the team,” states Lisa M. Airey, WSG Education Director. “His energy level could power a small country and his enthusiasm is contagious. It is so nice to have him on board to drive this project to the finish line. And right now, that finish line looks like autumn of 2018.”

The Spanish program will mirror the existing French and Italian Scholar programs with a full-color manual with illustrative graphics and proprietary maps, e-learning modules, and pronunciation exercises. It, too, will be available in either independent study or classroom format.

Are you attending Sommcon in California or Spain’s Great Match in NYC? Rick will be there! If you want to introduce yourself, reach out to Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more...

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