Congratulations to Bryce Faucheaux, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!
A wine professional, I’m currently a sommelier at Justine - a bustling fine dining French restaurant that resides in the heart of the French Quarter. It combines the feeling of a Parisian café with the fun unique vibe that New Orleans has to offer.
My first real exposure to fine wine was midway through high school, on a family trip to Tuscany. This exposure grew over the next several years into a passion that I carry with me to this day.
My professional career in wine started in 2016, when I was finishing up my MBA program in New Orleans. In 2014, I got my undergraduate in business and, at the time, I was not set on going back to school for a masters degree. So, for a year and a half, I worked for a news website involving college sports. When I quit that job, I applied for an accredited Masters in Business Administration program. I graduated in three semesters.
Right before my last semester in the summer of 2016, I went to France for two weeks. At the time, I didn’t have an answer of what I wanted to do with my life. Part of me had gone back to school to figure out that answer. But, on that trip, my parents said “Well, you really enjoy wine. There are things you can do career-wise with wine. You should look into that”. And that’s when the lightbulb went off.
So when I returned from my France trip, I was telling one of my close grad school friends all about my trip and how passionate I was about wine. He then told me that he could help connect me with a Master Sommelier that he knew out in Los Angeles. Over the next several months, I was able to land an internship. During Thanksgiving 2016, we flew up to Los Angeles and spent 5 days out there. My friends made a vacation out of the trip, while I was off learning some of the ropes of the wine world and having an interview for that internship.
I graduated in December, then moved out to Los Angeles in January 2017 - where I began my professional exposure to wine. With great help from veteran wine industry professionals, I was able to get my first couple of restaurant jobs in wine, and was able to surround myself with talented people.
As great of a time I had out in Los Angeles, I felt it was time to come home 13 months later ( I’m a born and raised New Orleanian). As soon as I moved back, I looked for ways to be directly and proactively involved in the New Orleans wine industry. By the summer, I had gotten a job as a wine broker with a small Italian importer. During that time, I enrolled in both WSET Level 3 Advanced and Court of Masters Level 2 Certified. I passed both on the first try, and got the highest designation with WSET. A gut feeling told me that wine class was the best way to network and open doors, and sure enough I was right. One of my closest friends today I met through my WSET class. She was there 100% of the way, allowing me to blind taste and to practice restaurant service multiple times each week in her restaurant’s wine cellar room. After a year of Italian importing, I decided I was ready to get involved with restaurants again. I took the initiative and reached out to my current restaurant group, inquiring about any wine positions.
Fast-forward to today, I’ve been a sommelier at all three of my restaurant group’s restaurants for nearly 2 years, and am approaching the one year anniversary of being at Justine. My wine director has become a close mentor in helping me grow as a person and a wine professional, which reflects the core philosophy of my restaurant group: to foster creativity and learning, and to encourage growth and education in a positive team-building environment.
As for the future, I’m making complete use of my Wine Scholar books to prepare for my Court of Master Sommeliers Level 3 path. The most important thing in my wine career has always been to try to learn as much as I can about wine, and I feel the Wine Scholar Guild is a fantastic resource for learning in a very structured way. I’m going to be taking the Italian Wine Scholar exams over the next year, and I’m going to apply for the CMS Level 3 Course this October.
I’ve passed the following wine certification programs: Court of Master Sommeliers, Level 2 Certified; WSET Level 3, Pass with Distinction; French Wine Scholar, Highest Honors; and Certified Sherry Wine Specialist.
I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules. I also love the flashcards feature on the site itself (I’m such a flashcards person that I have made flashcards of every wine textbook I own!). FWS certainly has reinforced my previous knowledge, but I also like that it covers wine regions I work with on a daily basis (i.e. Savoie, Jura, and lesser known southern France appellations)
I’ve had others, both inside and outside of the wine world, ask me my thoughts of the program, and I’ve recommended it. It’s a great thing to discuss with people interested in learning more about wine, especially in any French-centric program. I’m very excited to be starting the Italian Wine Scholar program, because it gives the same type of structure that I found with French Wine Scholar. Personally, the FWS textbook will be a valuable resource to reference back to, whenever I may need it. I also believe that the FWS program will help me in more advanced wine courses, such as WSET Level Diploma and the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced and Master levels. My next goal is to prepare for the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced level, so the knowledge gained from the FWS material will really come in handy.