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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Andrea Mcewan

    Andrea Mcewan

    Thursday, 29 October 2020 12:06

    Natalia Morrison, SWS

    Congratulations to Natalia Morrison, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Natalia:

    Over ten years ago, my husband, son and I left our home in Canada to move to Japan for a one to two-year family adventure. After having lived there almost 20 years before, my husband and I knew that our new home would be a perfect jumping-off point for touring around the area and decided early on to take full advantage of the opportunity.
    On one of our earliest trips, we lucked into a short wine tasting event and were hooked. We’d enjoyed wines since our university days, but didn’t really know much about it. Our blind tasting events at the time consisted of two wines in paper bags and having our dinner guests vote on which they liked better – still an important question!  

    Recently, with our son now an adult, our holidays are mostly wine-related – Priorat, Piemonte, Tuscany, Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Tasmania and South Africa so far. All of these trips have had unique, memorable moments most of which revolved around winemakers sharing stories of how nature, or their initial lack of experience, challenged them as they tried to grow the best grapes and make the best wines they could but how they eventually triumphed - although sometimes after colossal failures. They reinforced the great truth that life is an adventure to be experienced to its fullest without regrets from not having gone all out to succeed at something you’re truly passionate about due to a fear of failure.

    After recently “retiring” from the field of health and nutrition, I decided to take advantage of living in Hong Kong (our family had moved here after four years in Japan). I studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and got a Diploma in Clinical Acupuncture, wrote our family history, wrote a cookbook/resource guide with a lovely Filipina lady, and was asked to consider becoming a wine educator.  Since then, I have been working part-time at AWSEC Hong Kong teaching WSET Levels 1 and 2.

    After moving from Japan to Hong Kong, my husband and I looked for something we could do together in our free time. Remembering how much fun we had with the wine-tasting event on that fateful trip, we checked into wine courses in the area. We discovered AWSEC Hong Kong and began by studying WSET Level 1 in Wines. We went on to do Level 2 in Wines and Spirits, then Level 3 in Wines and then Level 3 in Sake. We also took a few interest classes focusing on German wines, South African wines, Bordeaux, Burgundy and more!

    Having the available time, and the good fortune to win a scholarship, I then decided I would dedicate some time to completing the final WSET qualification – Level 4 in Wines and Spirits. I am now half-way through the second year and learning a lot – but realizing that there’s so much more to learn.

    A dear friend I met while studying Level 4 introduced me to the Wine Scholar Guild.  We had registered to go on the Wine Scholar Guild’s study trip to Alsace this summer and were devastated when it couldn’t go on due to COVID. Instead, we decided to take the Spanish Wine Scholar course as we both enjoyed Spanish wines but knew relatively little about them.

    In WSET Level 4, the third unit covers “Wines of the World”. It’s massive and takes up the whole second year. Understandably, it cannot cover each region in depth. Instead, taking Spain as an example, it highlights key historical and regulatory factors, plus consumer demand, topography, climate and regionally-specific vineyard & winemaking components in assessing the quality and style of the wines that are made. In contrast, the Spanish Wine Scholar course was, by design, able to give me more of the comprehensive breadth and the depth I needed to really understand and appreciate Spanish wine styles from the different regions as well as the “big picture” that forms Spain and its wines. In my opinion, an absolutely invaluable complement to the WSET course of study.
    I look forward to taking the French and Italian Wine Scholar courses (as well as future offerings!)!

    The understanding I gained through this course has deepened my appreciation for Spanish wines and has increased my desire to go back to both visit and to try many more of the wines from different regions. Wine is such a great doorway to a country and Spain has a fascinating treasure trove of history, culture, gorgeous landscapes, and, of course, wines to offer its visitors. Spain – here we come!
    Career-wise? Maybe one day, after travelling further in Spain and gaining more practical experience with its wines, I hope that I’ll be asked to teach this course to students eager to learn more about Spain and its wines!

    Thursday, 29 October 2020 11:50

    Alberto Martinez Interiano, SWS

    Congratulations to Alberto Martinez Interiano, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Alberto:

    I started my journey in wine studies in 2017 as a serious wine enthusiast, and I recently completed the 3 WSG certifications (French, Italian and Spanish Wine Scholars). This April, I also finished my WSET Diploma, which I passed with Merit.

    The WSG certifications were an invaluable asset to my DipWSET studies.  I highly appreciated the in-depth focus in each country and the overall academic rigor of the programs. I can say that they definitely gave me a head start in preparing for the grueling Diploma curriculum.
    Last year I also traveled to Jerez, Spain and became a Certified Sherry Educator, which I am one of 21 in the US.

    Now, I’m starting my journey as a wine educator, and became part of the Wine Scholar Guild approved instructor community with Cellar Muse wine school in Seattle.

    As a Latin American, I’ve always been passionate about Spanish wines.  The SWS opened my eyes to a lot of new up-and-coming wine regions (i.e. Sierra de Gredos, Méntrida, Cangas, Tenerife) and many other undiscovered gems.

    I’m thrilled about spreading the word of the incredible breadth, quality and uniqueness of Spanish wines and can’t wait to be walking in a Spanish vineyard again as soon as I can! 

    Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:34

    Lindsay Schwietz, FWS

    Congratulations to Lindsay Schwietz, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lindsay:

    I am both a wine professional and a wine enthusiast. I have worked in restaurants for over twenty years, growing up as a host, then server, bartender, supervisor. I’ve always enjoyed wine, but it was a special manager at a pub I worked at six years ago that encouraged me to take my WSET Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits. My interest was peaked.  Since then I’ve had a constant desire for more wine knowledge (and of course tasting some of those wines as well!). I’ve passed my WSET Level 3 Advanced Award in Wines with Distinction and the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Course & Examination.

    Working at ki modern Japanese + bar has opened my eyes to the world of sake, and under sake samurai Michael Tremblay I have taken my WSET Level 1 Award in Sake and his newly developed Sake Scholar course which examines the sake and shochu regions of Japan in depth. At ki I regularly guide guests through sake flights and help them with their sake and wine selections.

    I had planned to spend the summer in France traveling through wine regions, but alas COVID happened. Hopefully in a few years I will get that opportunity again. As for future plans, I will further my career working with wine and sake, both in the restaurant setting and hopefully in the winery. And, of course, I will continue my wine education, delving deeper into the world of this beautiful beverage we love.

    I plan to take both the Italian and Spanish Wine Scholar programs, as I thoroughly enjoy the format. The French Wine Scholar program was easy to follow, full of useful information, and the online study modules helped visualize the facts from the textbook.

    The knowledge I gained from taking the French Wine Scholar program has been extremely useful working the floor of a high-end restaurant. I love to use both the practical knowledge of the French wine regions and also the historical stories table-side when speaking about the wines on our list.

    Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:17

    Eugene O’Brien, SWS

    Congratulations to Eugene O'Brien, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Eugene:

    I am a wine enthusiast. I was always interested but intimidated by the wine lists at restaurants when I used to entertain clients so I would usually end up ordering a Chardonnay or a Cab.  The worst was when a client would ask me to recommend a glass or bottle of wine! When I moved to Southern California I finally had an opportunity to start taking wine classes. First, I was motivated by fear to learn, now I am motivated by passion!

    After I passed the WSET Level III course, I wanted to dig deeper and someone recommended the wonderful courses offered by the Wine Scholar Guild. I first passed the FWS course. After that, I was hooked. The course layout was great: not only were we learning about the wines, but also the geography, geology, culture and history of the different wine regions! I followed up my FWS certificate with the IWS certificate, and now, my SWS certificate.

    Next, I would like to start taking the French region-specific courses offered by the WSG. I think what I learned about the exchanges and influences shared between France and Spain over the years will help me as I move forward in delving deeper into the various French wine regions.

    The course study manual and website continue to get better and better. Rick Fisher and the WSG put together a great study manual that made learning, at my pace and my preferred way of learning, a pleasure. Having passed the SWS course gives me confidence that I can tackle the next level!

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