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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Duc Tran, FWS

    Congratulations to Duc Tran, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Duc:

    I am an enthusiast and a collector who really enjoys learning about wine. I got bit by the wine bug twelve years ago while at a fancy restaurant downtown with a couple of friends. After picking the most expensive bottle on the menu – a cult Australian Shiraz – I received the first taste, and it was absolutely heavenly. Since then, I read a lot about wine and tasted a lot of bottles, and I am a sort of consultant at my workplace. Soon enough I became enamored with French wine, and it was the French Wine Scholar program where I started focusing intently on my favourite wine-growing country.

    So far I have passed both WSET Levels 2 and 3 with distinction, and while they formed the foundation of my general wine knowledge, the French Wine Scholar program was instrumental in building the foundation of my French wine knowledge.

    I am very interested in taking Master-Level Programs for some of my favourite French regions such as Alsace and the Rhone. From the FWS I have already received a detailed overview of these regions, so the Master-Level Programs are the perfect next steps in mastering my knowledge of their wines.

    I would love to start a career in wine, and the FWS program has greatly contributed to a knowledge, understanding, and passion that I want to share with others.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I would love to start a career in wine, and the FWS program has greatly contributed to a knowledge, understanding, and passion that I want to share with others.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Leve 2, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Christopher Jon Pares, FWS

    Congratulations to Christopher Jon Pares, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Christopher

    I’m a native New Yorker, working in Manhattan restaurants since 2008. In 2011, I met a sommelier at work for the first time; it was a job I didn’t know existed. I wanted to get there myself, but I didn’t know how. Finally in 2015, while working at The Modern, I met an MS for the first time (Michael Englemann). His wine team guided the staff towards the Court of Master Sommeliers, the beginning my formal training in wine, which hasn’t ended and hopefully never will in my lifetime.

    I’m a CMS Certified Sommelier since 2018.

    I’m also an Italian Wine Scholar with Highest Honors since 2020—a course which led directly to my being invited on the 2020 Consorzio Italia del Vino SommFoundation Exploring Italy Enrichment Trip—so thank you, Wine Scholar Guild!

    After IWS I was ready for a deeper dive into France, the culinary culture that completely dominated my entire working life. This required a big shift in perspective. I couldn’t just go back to the study materials I’d already been exposed to from previous training. WSG provided that new perspective for me—and there was SO much I didn’t know I didn’t know about French wine! Now I feel a renewed passion for the country that started my wine journey.

    After feeling the course was a success for me, I can’t wait to see what the Master-level WSG courses have to offer. Looking forward to it!

    The knowledge and thoroughness that the FWS course offers is exactly the kind of thing a somm like me needs to survive, and eventually thrive, in the France-obsessed New York wine scene.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The knowledge and thoroughness that the FWS course offers is exactly the kind of thing a somm like me needs to survive, and eventually thrive, in the France-obsessed New York wine scene.
    • Position Sommelier, Oceana
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Alexander Lomas, FWS

    Congratulations to Alexander Lomas, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Alexander:

    I am wine professional based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England UK.  I currently work as a lead tutor at www.newcastlewineschool.com where I host informal tastings open to everyone of all levels and covering all styles, from all countries at varying price levels. I also host both corporate, commercial  & private events in addition to wine articles on a freelance basis.  My background began in Hospitality initially qualifying in Hotel Management before moving into the family restaurant business as a head Chef/Director. After a number of years I took a break from restaurant life pursuing the other side of my career in the arts, whilst maintaining a keen interest in wine eventually leading to WSET certification, and my current role at Newcastle Wine School where I have gone full circle, student to teacher. I’m passionate about teaching wine and understanding its history, individual culture and origin and the way that’s brought together when enjoyed in a mutual tasting experience with other wine lovers. Newcastle Wine School is focused on unbiased wine education and with no affiliations have the freedom to taste all types of wine based solely on their merit. My aim is to continue learning, sharing & enjoying wine and my FWS knowledge will definitely contribute to that.

    I have studied numerous other Wine & Beverage related qualifications successfully including the WSET certifications of which I am currently studying the highest Level 4 Diploma.  I also attended Plumpton College the UK’s leading viticultural centre to study viticulture & Enology.
    I really enjoyed the FWS and it has definitely added value to my overall education. I love the fact that smaller appellations are included along with a comprehensive overview of history, geology & culture - for me these are the very thing that help you understand wine and which stitch everything together.
    WSET Level 4 Diploma (Currently Studying)
    FWS Highest Honours (WSG Online program)
    WSET Level 3 (Distinction)
    WSET Level 2 (Distinction)
    Plumpton College
    WINE SKILLS: Principles of Vine-growing, Viticulture & Enology (Distinction)
    OTHER
    SQA Certified Diploma in Gin: Edinburgh Whisky Academy EWA
    Certified Beer Server: Studied with the Cicerone Program Online
    National Diploma HCIMA Hotel Management: Durham New College

    I am not currently enrolled on any other WSG programs however it is my full intention to do so. I am currently in the middle of my WSET Diploma and studying the FWS has definitely been helpful in complimenting these current studies, you can never know too much! It was my first time studying with the WSG but definitely won’t be my last and has encouraged me to follow some of the other programs in the future.

    There is always more to learn about wine and for me its a continuous journey. Studying multiple styles of certification is the key to real understanding and the FWS is a great place to start. Having lived in France for a couple of years it has always been a relatively strong point in my knowledge but studying the FWS I found it a refreshing holistic view of the country and much more than just the main appellations. In addition to the course content though WSG offer something else which is important in today's working environment, accessibility -  offering a variety of study options. I was able to study the entire course and participate in a proctored exam from the comfort of my home office which proved especially important in the recent uncertain times.

    The FWS is another step forward in my aspiration to a comprehensive understanding of wine and my ability to share this with others. There's no doubt it has added value not only to my current roles but within the industry as a whole and I’d certainly recommend the program to both professionals & enthusiasts alike, passionate about all aspects of wine and I look forward to studying with WSG again in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial There's no doubt it has added value not only to my current roles but within the industry as a whole and I’d certainly recommend the program to both professionals & enthusiasts alike.
    • Position Wine Educator, Newcastle Wine School
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Kevin Welch, FWS

    Congratulations to Kevin Welch for passing the Rhône Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Kevin:

    I am a surgeon and wine enthusiast who became interested in wine after sharing a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape with my (then) future father-in-law nearly 20 years ago. Since that time, I have endeavored to learn as much as I can about French wine while trying as much French wine as I can! I have been married for 15 years and have 2 children.

    I started my formal education by obtaining a certification in WSET II in 2018. After this, I obtained my certification in the French Wine Scholar in 2019. I completed my first Master Level Course (Rhône) in 2020. I plan to complete the Master Level Courses in Bordeaux and Champagne in 2021 and Bourgogne in 2022. If I have time, I will attempt either CSW or WSET III in 2022. As a scientist and naturally inquisitive person, I enjoy learning about wine since it allows me to explore the geology, geography, chemistry, biology, and technical aspects of wine production while appreciating the human perspective and often times the proud heritage of individual regions and families that produce this incredible living beverage.

    Pursuing a Master Level course in Rhône was a fabulous way to delve into the nuances of the Rhône region. The manual is packed with information about the entire Rhône Valley, and the information is presented in an organized and concise manner. The course itself will educate one well beyond what is provided in the FWS Manual, and it serves as excellent background when exploring outside the confines of the course. One really can “dive right in” to any book or on-line reference after taking this course, as it provides a most useful foundation.

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The manual is packed with information about the entire Rhône Valley, and the information is presented in an organized and concise manner.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Marc-André Alain, SWS

    Congratulations to Marc-André Alain, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Marc-André:

    I have been a wine enthusiast for many years, but my real interest to learn more about this subject, including the understanding of where the wine I buy comes from and how it is produced, really started to develop throughout some of my travels. I have had the chance to visit vineyards and wine producers in many countries, including some well-known regions like Tuscany and Burgundy, but also in lesser-known areas like Moldova and Armenia. I still intend on making more travels oriented toward wine discoveries, as it combines some of my two biggest interests!

    More recently, I started a new Instagram account with one of my fellow WSET and SWS graduates: @wineingduo. We intend to use this media to share our discoveries, reviews and also travel experiences related to wine, mostly to talk about our visits into lesser-known wine producing regions.

    In November 2018, I graduated with distinction from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2. I feel like this program really gave me all the necessary tools and information needed to undertake a more advance program like the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS).

    The SWS program really contributed a lot to my knowledge on wines. For starters, I was very much of a novice on the subject of Spanish wines. As a result, everything was a discovery (maybe with the exception of the Rioja region). It also provided me with a very deep understanding of the wine production in Spain and what influences the wines of each region (and sub-region). I was not expecting to learn so much about climates, soils and even the names of the winds affecting the different wines.  

    I am very motivated to enroll in the French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar programs in the coming years. Most of my favorite wines come from France and Italy, so I cannot wait to learn more about all the factors that can influence the production and the taste of the wines in these countries, like I did learn about Spain.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar program really made a world of difference in the way I approach the wines from this country. I used to only pick wines from La Rioja, but now I can explore all the other regions and have a pretty good idea and understanding of what I am going to get, only with little information.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The Spanish Wine Scholar program really made a world of difference in the way I approach the wines from this country.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Kazuyo Okamura, FWS, SWS, IWS

    Congratulations to Kazuyo Okamura, FWS, SWS, IWS, for passing all three Wine Scholar exams with highest honors!

    About Kazuyo:

    Since I lived and studied International relations and Diplomacy in Paris as a student, I have been a huge wine enthusiast. Later I have worked in the financial and media communication world, I moved to Chile and studied wine and spirits in the Escuela de Sommeliers and with a program of the Court of Master Sommeliers in South America – then I started WSET, now on the way to become a DipWSET. As I always enjoy cultural links with historical backgrounds I have also obtained certain spirit related certificates. Until today I have visited around 70 countries for my research and experiences – and hope I will be able to become a contributor to the Wine world in the near future.

    Meanwhile I have been preparing and passing WSET diploma exams I have parallelly studied FWS, IWS and SWS. These have helped me a lot to gain detailed knowledge and historical and political background showing what had happened and is happening behind the scene as well as the critical facts from a different perspective. I have highly appreciated the courses which provide various learning options including members’ webinars as well as comprehensive materials, videos and quiz. I am sure the acquired knowledge and skills are to become part of my base which can be applied to practical situation going forward.
    Santé, Salute y Salud !

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial These have helped me a lot to gain detailed knowledge and historical and political background.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Alexandre Ma, SWS

    Congratulations to Alexandre Ma, SWS for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Alexandre:

    My wine dream was taking off from my dear hometown Ningxia, where you can find some pretty iconic Chinese wines. After almost a decade of studies and works from Rhone Valley to Bordeaux, London, etc., I decided to devote myself to the wine education industry, particularly for Chinese speaking wine lovers who live in France. Therefore, I created my wine education school AMA Education in Bordeaux, with my wife Phydiasse REN. One year later, we cooperated with the most influenced Chinese wine school Grapea Co. to develop WSET courses in Europe.
     
    Each year, I spend at least four months in China for an abundance of education courses and tasting events. For the rest of the time, I stay in Bordeaux.
     
    In 2016, I was lucky to win RVF World Blind Tasting Championship in the name of China. It was the first time for a non-European country to achieve this title. In 2017, the oldest wine magazine La Revue du Vin de France (RVF) invited me to be a part-time wine journalist and wine critic. It was my great honor to be the first Asian wine critic since the creation of RVF.

    After three years of impressive cooperation, I told myself that maybe it's time to do something interesting for our Chinese wine consumers, so I started to establish my personal channel AMA Wine Media, through the social network. I have to say that it's a brave challenge, but it is well worth trying.

    My other certifications include:
    Italian Wine Scholar – with Highest Honors
    WSET Diploma Level 4
    Master degree Wine Marketing and Management - INSEEC, Bordeaux International Wine Institute – Bordeaux
    French National Diploma of Sommelier  -  Université du Vin - Suze La Rousse, France

    I registered for French Wine Scholar just one week ago. Honestly, I didn't think about enrolling in this program because I took several diplomas in France, and I've gone to nearly every French wine region. However, when I was learning IWS and SWS, I gradually found that WSG's study programs always have some knowledge points that I haven't paid attention to; most of all, they are pretty exciting and impressive. I suppose it's probably an excellent opportunity to review and significantly optimize my French wine knowledge through the FWS program.

    The SWS program is absolutely the best and the most detailed Spanish wine study program in the World. I enrolled in it once I finished the IWS program, and I have to say that it's instrumental and helpful. Because of that, I applied to be an SWS program provider as soon as I received the result, I sincerely wish to bring this study program to our wine school. I'm confident that it will help more Chinese wine consumers and wine professionals to feel the spirit and Spanish wine. I can't wait to share a glass of nice VORS with our students.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program is absolutely the best and the most detailed Spanish wine study program in the World.
    • Position Founder & Education Director, AMA Education
    • Certifications Italian Wine Scholar, WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    Kevin Day, FWS

    Congratulations to Kevin Day, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kevin:

    I am first and foremost a wine writer, and the editor-in-chief of my own wine publication centered on French and Italian wine called Opening a Bottle, which has around 180,000 readers annually. Inspired by what I learned through the Italian and French Wine Scholar programs, I decided to start hosting informal virtual tastings with friends to share what I’ve learned, and to just have something to do that is social over the pandemic. Since September, I have shifted this to more formal sessions via my website, Eventbrite and Zoom. Ticket sales are helping to raise revenue for other contributors to write for Opening a Bottle, so I can broaden my scope beyond France and Italy.

    I fell into a passion for wine like most people: through a transformative travel experience. For me it was first in southern Tuscany in 2008 at a horizontal tasting in a wine bar in Montepulciano of multiple vintages of Poderi Sanguineto. It was there that the lightbulb went off: that each year’s conditions could be tasted in the glass. But things really took off four years later when my wife and I returned to Italy with two close friends and spent a week in Barolo. Talk about immersive learning! At the Barolo museum, they offered a comparative tasting of wines from Barolo’s different soil types, and that made me realize that wine can be the ultimate storyteller of nature and humankind’s interaction with it. I also realized that I needed to take my travel writing/travel photography aspirations and apply them to wine. I launched Opening a Bottle shortly thereafter, and have devoted much of professional life since to wine writing.

    I passed the Italian Wine Scholar Program with Highest Honors in 2019, and then the French Wine Scholar Program with Highest Honors in 2020. I gravitated to these two programs because they have a strong cultural/historical perspective, which I enjoy, but also they were very specific. I’m looking to fully know certain aspects of wine, and this is certainly the case after completing these programs. I also didn’t want to lose my voice as a writer when it comes to tasting notes and describing wine. I have a bit of a personalized approach, and I didn’t feel a need to change that with some of the other wine study programs which standardize the wine tasting approach.

    I am going to take a break for now. What I really need to do is learn Italian and some French. I have a desire to execute a book project after the pandemic, and it’ll require travel to some off-the-beaten path wine regions in Italy. Knowing Italian will be essential to pull it off.

    The FWS program has played a key role in establishing the greater context of French wine — why certain historic events led to the wines we have today, why the geography has dictated certain practices here and there. It’s a more holistic understanding of French wine, rather than the cobbled together understanding I had from hundreds of different sources.

    But on a purely consumer level, I am also excited to taste French wine now with this education as a backdrop. I’m having a great time exploring Corsican wines this month, and hope to hunt down some wines from Southwest France after the holidays. There is still a lot to explore. The journey never truly ends!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I am also excited to taste French wine now with this education as a backdrop...The journey never truly ends!
    • Position Editor in Chief, Opening a Bottle
    • Certifications Italian Wine Scholar with highest honors
    Read more...

    Dan Wright, SWS

    Congratulations to Dan Wright, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Dan

    I am the winemaker of Unsworth Vineyards in the newly minted sub-region of the Cowichan Valley within the burgeoning wine region of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. We produce numerous wine styles with a growing focus on cool-climate Pinot Noir. I started working at Unsworth Vineyards in 2016 after winemaking internships in the Willamette Valley, Marlborough, Niagara Peninsula (Canada) and Orange (Australia).  

    I aspire to understand how all of the decisions that are made from pruning to bottling impact the final wine. In doing so, I aspire to bring out the best that each vineyard site and season has to offer.

    During my undergrad in Biochemistry at the University of Guelph, I took an elective 4th year introductory course to Oenology and Viticulture that was part of their hospitality program but was taught by a microbiology Professor Emeritus who had direct knowledge of many of the worlds great wine regions. It inspired me to pursue a career in wine. At the recommendation of my professor, I went on to complete a post-graduate certificate of Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University. During my studies at Brock, I also pursued parallel wine appreciation tasting style courses including a certificate of Ontario’s Wine Appellations. After settling on Vancouver Island, I continued my studies completing the WSET level 3, WSG’s Champagne Master Level and now of course the Spanish Wine Scholar.

    I believe that it is very important to my career as a winemaker to continue to taste as widely as possible and always be learning outside of my bubble. The WSG courses are great for this especially when facilitated by Cru Consultancy’s Sharon McLean.

    One of the main things that keeps me motivated is how there is more than a lifetime of learning to be had in all the different subjects related to wine: history, geography, geology, agriculture, chemistry, biology, business, marketing, etc. You never know when a little tidbit of knowledge will help colour in the picture of understanding. I certainly found this with the SWS program.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial You never know when a little tidbit of knowledge will help colour in the picture of understanding. I certainly found this with the SWS program.
    • Position Winemaker, Unsworth Vineyards
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Champagne Master Level
    Read more...

    Andrew Lincoln, SWS

    Congratulations to Andrew Lincoln, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrew:

    I currently work in the industry and was born into a Napa Valley grapegrowing family. After graduating from UC Davis in evolutionary anthropology with a minor in art history, I took a job at a “wine-centric” restaurant while I was thinking about graduate school. This exposure led me to a tasting room job for Artesa Vineyards and Winery. I quickly became beguiled by anything and everything related to wine! My passion was rewarded with being granted the position of “Wine Education Lead” for the winery’s hospitality team. In this role, I give presentations on new wines and wine regions, conduct comparative tastings, educate staff and act as the main “go to” person for wine-related questions. With an accumulation of more credentials, I aspire to teach and become more involved in the culinary side of the wine industry, with a special emphasis on plant-based food and wine experiences.

    I hold a Level 2 WSET certification. Taking the SWS course was one of the best career choices I’ve made. It deepened my passion and understanding for both wine and the wines of Spain by providing a comprehensive, yet approachable framework of material while maintaining academic depth and rigor. There’s something utterly magical about looking at a glass of wine and understanding what went into it; the historical, social, geological and economic factors that coalesced into the creation residing in your glass. I have SWS to thank for enhancing this appreciation.

    I am currently enrolled in FWS. Upon completion, I plan to take IWS before transitioning to WSET for Level 3 and eventually Diploma. There’s a unique depth of information in SWS and WSG courses that is both rewarding and useful as a student of wine. It increases your breadth of understanding and allows you to draw cross-regional comparisons when discussing wine production, its history and geographical factors influencing it.

    I use the knowledge I’ve gleaned from SWS everyday when I’m working the tasting room floor. Whether its discussing a guest’s trip to Spain, or talking about regional expressions of Tempranillo with the hospitality team, my SWS experience has made me better at my job. I also realize that I am at the beginning of this learning journey and that I derive great joy from being a “student of wine”. My goal is to continue my education and share that knowledge with others in a manner that is approachable, fun and useful, as well as expanding my knowledge into the utilization of wine for ethically and sustainably-sourced food experiences. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I use the knowledge I’ve gleaned from SWS everyday when I’m working the tasting room floor...my SWS experience has made me better at my job.
    • Position Wine Education Lead, Artesa Vineyards and Winery
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...
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