My palate opened in the late 90’ies when I was working in an Enoteca in Florence and subsequently attended the 3 levels with the Italian Association of Sommelier. In 2004 I started a wine tour website a precursor to the tour operator that later became known as Grape Tours, now a leader of high quality wine tours in Tuscany (www.tuscan-wine-tours.com) and beyond. I found myself educating guests from morning to evening whilst driving them around the beautiful Tuscan wine regions, and stopping in great wineries along the way. Together with my husband Pierre Gouttenoire, previously a wine maker in France, we opened a wine school in Siena in 2010 named Tuscan Wine School. We wished to shorten the distance between the traveller and the Italian wine culture – and explaining foreign concepts in a simple way by introducing short wine tasting sessions with explanations in English for tourists. We still do this today on a daily basis, but now in Florence at the Italian Wine Institute (www.italianwineinstitute.com) – our new project.
Tell us more about the Italian Wine Institute, your wine school in Florence. What type of education experience do you provide that you think sets you apart?
The Italian Wine Institute is situated in central Florence, attached to our Grape Tours office and little wine shop Tuscany in a Bottle (www.tuscanyinabottle.com). The 3 activities tie nicely together for any curious visitor, whether a wine newbie looking for a short and economic intro or the wine savvy people who like to visit collector’s wineries. In our classroom we offer short wine tasting sessions every afternoon, but will also shortly be offering courses for people who wish to pursue certification courses, like Italian Wine Scholar.
Do you think that the Italian Wine Scholar could fill any gap in the way wine professionals can study Italian wines in Italy?
Our location in central Italy, and particularly being in the renaissance cradle of Florence, will hopefully attract not only Italians in the wine biz, but also international students who will use the opportunity to stay in Florence whilst studying – giving ample opportunity to taste wines not only during class but also at the many wine bars around town. It will be easy to access several wine regions around Tuscany with train, rental car or with organised wine tours that of course we can provide through our sister company Grape Tours.
You are based in one of Italy’s most attractive city right in the earth of Tuscany… would you package the IWS course in a way that allows students of wine from all around the world to join your school in an immersive experience? Tease us on the type of extracurricular activities one can except when visiting Florence?
Students can add on a few days to their stay and can join our group of wine professionals on a day tour through Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, etc. Seeing a territory is important to the understanding of it, so we will highly recommend the small extra investment that will engage students in Tuscany, which is an important part of the Unit 2 Italian Wine Scholar program.
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