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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Sharmian Duke, IWS

    Congratulations to Sharmian Duke, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Sharmian:

    I am presently a wine enthusiast but have plans to transition into the wine industry in the new year.  I am presently in Health Care but my husband and I are moving to the Okanagan Valley soon. It is a beautiful wine region in BC. I hope to become an assistant winemaker and then who knows.

    I have been studying for about 4 years now, starting with WSET (to level 3) and UC Davis Winemaking. While waiting to start my WSET Diploma in July, I have completed the FWS and IWS and I am currently doing the SWS. I believe that these will all help to prepare me for it. I have also completed WSET level 2 Spirits and I’m starting the WSET level 3 Spirits in January.

    I have always loved Italian wines and wanted a deeper understanding of them. In my future career in winemaking I would like to experiment a little with some of the Italian methods such as for Amarone or Ripasso styles.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I have always loved Italian wines and wanted a deeper understanding of them.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Krista Mailey, IWS

    Many congratulations to Krista Mailey, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Krista:

    I am a wine enthusiast from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.   After traveling to Tuscany in 2012 I decided that I wanted to learn more about wine.  I had taken a few beginner courses with Andrea Eby who inspired and mentored me along my journey with Italian wines. The most exciting and appealing thing about studying Italian wine is the quality and diversity of Italian grapes.

    I appreciated the IWS program as it is comprehensive and engaging, and it covers in-depth knowledge of everything you need to know about Italian grapes, wine, history, geography, tradition and culture. I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved the additional resources, such as; webinars, maps, wine lists, flashcards, and vocabulary.

    I am now studying the Italian language in preparation for my future travels to Italy which were put on hold due to COVID.  

    This course has enhanced my love of great Italian wine paired with my favorite Italian food. I hope to one day have the opportunity to work at an Italian winery and be immersed into the community and culture.

    Certification:
    I have the following certifications: WSET Level 2 (2013), WSET Level 3 (2014)
    To add to my knowledge base, I plan to enroll in the Spanish Wine Scholar Program
    Cheers!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial This course has enhanced my love of great Italian wine paired with my favorite Italian food.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Joseph Zapata, FWS

    Congratulations to Joseph Zapata, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Joseph

    Experienced wine professional with a career that began as a sales associate at top independent wine retailer K&L Wine Merchants. From K&L I moved on to become an assistant wine buyer at pioneering online wine retailer Wine.com where I was a member of a wine buying team that helped to shape the landscape of Internet wine sales. Beyond wine retail, career highlights include distribution and supplier sales as a Bay Area Key Account Specialist for Wine Warehouse (a top 10 US wine distributor), a Western Regional Sales Manager for iconic Paul Hobbs Wines, a National Sales Director for Napa Valley Schweiger Vineyards where I managed three-tier sales/marketing operations for the entire US, and a Beverage Director for Auberge Resorts Collection Forbes Five-Star Solage Napa Valley and its Michelin starred restaurant, Solbar. I am currently working on a unique wine project in Lake Tahoe, where I am now based, that will launch next year.

    Wine Certifications: Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Certified Wine Educator (CWE), the Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier. I achieved these certificates prior to the FWS. The FWS has enhanced my knowledge, forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and study regions I would not have otherwise focused on in that depth, i.e., SW France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, Corsica. It would have been a great supplement for me between passing Certified Sommelier and CSW and studying for the CWE.

    I am currently enrolled in and studying for the CMS Advanced Sommelier exam which I will sit for in July 2021. The FWS was a nice compliment to my CMS Advanced Sommelier France studies. While it is a much different type of study/exam, the FWS format allowed me to look at France more systematically, dig deeper into certain areas, and be able to gauge my progress and expose weak areas that needed more attention. I plan to tackle the IWS, SWS and possibly some of the master-level programs once I pass the Advanced Sommelier. I also plan to pursue the Master Sommelier Diploma.

    I think it is a great supplement to my current studies with the CMS. Other top intermediate level programs such as SWE, WSET, CMS do not go into that level of depth. If you’re a CSW, WSET 3 or Certified Sommelier pursuing an advanced level certification such as CWE, WSET Diploma or Advanced Sommelier, I think it is a nice way to enhance your foundation knowledge and be able to approach one of the respective higher level exams with more confidence and ability.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS has enhanced my knowledge, forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and study regions I would not have otherwise focused on in that depth.
    • Position Former Beverage Director for Auberge Resort Collection, Solage Napa Valley
    • Certifications CWE, CSW (SWE), Certified Sommelier
    Read more...

    Tina Isbell, SWS

    Congratulations to Tina Isbell, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tina

    Wine education is my primary passion, for which I started my company Vino Hound. Tastings evolved into international wine tours, which are such a joy to organize and lead. Seeing clients connect with wine makers and their wines on their own soil is so fulfilling!  Working with Brookhaven Wines in Atlanta, a boutique wine experience, allows me to bring my knowledge to another audience of enthusiastic consumers.  And now that I’ll be living part-time in Portugal’s Douro Valley, opportunities are endless for on-the-ground educational tours and experiences in Europe.

    I hold WSET 3 Advanced certification. And from WSG, Master Level certificates in Champagne, Bordeaux and Rhone, as well as French Wine Scholar.

    Since I’m establishing residency on the Iberian peninsula, it was obviously important to ensure I have a solid understanding of the wines and regions.  SWS was a valuable addition to that foundation.  COVID-19 postponed my Spring 2020 tour of N. Spain wine country, but we are optimistic regarding rescheduling, and I can’t wait to share my SWS knowledge with my fabulous group of new & returning travelers.  And with Spain barely an hour from my new home in Portugal, deeper exploration of the vineyards is assured!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can’t wait to share my SWS knowledge with my fabulous group of new & returning travelers.
    • Position Wine educator, wine tour organizer & leader, retail sales, Vino Hound LLC & Brookhaven Wines
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, WSG Master Levels: Champagne, Bordeaux, Rhone
    Read more...

    Matthew Citriglia, SWS

    Many congratulations to Matthew Citriglia, SWS for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Matthew:

    I’ve been in the hospitality and beverage industry for over 40 years. I got my start at the age of fourteen, stocking beer and wine in my dad’s beverage store. My experience includes many years in both on and off premise as well as wholesale sales and management. Currently, I am the Director of Wine & Spirits Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Florida. Before Covid, I traveled extensively and lectured on a variety of wine and spirit topics. Champagne is my beverage of choice, and I enjoy it best when served in a flute! When I am not traveling, I spend most of my time with my family or in a yoga studio upside down.  

    I became a Master Sommelier in 2002 and served on the Board of Directors until 2016. During my time with the Court, I have been deeply involved with the creation and development of examination and education programs. I also have great compassion for students attempting the feat and spend considerable time mentoring candidates as well as providing career and life coaching advice. Besides CMS, I have taken dozens of certifications, most recently the Spanish Wine Scholar. I take them for the challenge and to keep me sharp. The learning never stops nor does the opportunity to pay it forward.

    I took the program to view its quality and determine if SGWS Florida should add it to their continued education certification options. It was an excellent course and, depending on COVID, I plan to launch a SWS course this spring for interested sales consultants.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was an excellent course and, depending on COVID, I plan to launch a SWS course this spring for interested sales consultants.
    • Position Director of Wine & Spirits Education, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits
    • Certifications Master Sommelier, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Michael Markarian

    Congratulations to Michael Markarian, for passing the Champagne Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Michael:

    I work as a sommelier at Chez Billy Sud, a classic French bistro in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. I previously lived and studied in Tuscany, and have a passion for Italian wine, food, and culture, in addition to French wine and cuisine.

    I am currently studying for the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Exam, and I wanted to strengthen my knowledge in certain areas, such as Champagne and Burgundy. Taking the Champagne and Bourgogne Master-Level programs helped deepen my understanding of those regions, especially in relation to house styles, producers, vintages, and winemaking and viticulture practices.

    Since I work in a French restaurant, Champagne is very important! Starting an evening with Champagne can make any day of the week feel like a celebration and a special occasion. I hope to bring in more Champagne for our guests and give them an outstanding hospitality experience.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Taking the Champagne and Bourgogne ML programs helped deepen my understanding of those regions...house styles, producers, vintages, and winemaking and viticulture practices.
    • Position Sommelier, Chez Billy Sud
    • Certifications Bourgogne Master Level
    Read more...

    Maxime Dubois, FWS

    Congratulations to Maxime Dubois, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Maxime:

    My passion for wine came quite late. Although French, I came from the part of the country dominated by apples, home of Calvados and (perhaps) the best cider in the World: Normandy. As I developed a passion for the restaurant industry and decided to study restaurant management, I discovered this whole universe that wine had to offer to me! A never-ending source of discoveries and pleasure!  

    In 2017, I decided to eventually leave the restaurant industry and co-create a project called Food Vinebrations. It took me to 15 countries around the World to meet food and wine producers and sometimes work with them to get a more hands-on knowledge.  Of all places, I fell in love with Vietnam where I came back in early 2019 to join the team of Celliers d’Asie & Red Apron as Marketing Manager & Wine Educator.

    I truly discovered wine and its World of knowledge while studying restaurant management at Ecole Ferrandi in Paris. Back then, we were solely focusing on French wines, with brief mentions of International iconic appellations like Chianti or Rioja. After graduating, I moved back to Ireland where I had worked before, to manage a newly opened Wine Bar & Restaurant called the Dublin Wine Rooms. Upon arrival, I realized that, if French wines were important, they weren’t exclusive. To develop my knowledge of other wine producing countries, I have passed the Introductory & Certified levels of the Court of Master Sommeliers.

    In 2019, I have passed my WSET Level 3 with Distinction (I am now a WSET Educator in Vietnam & soon FWS Instructor). As I was discovering more and more areas of the Wine World, I realized that if a good overall knowledge was important, a precise and detailed knowledge of Historical leading producers was vital. That’s when I enrolled for the FWS, and it truly delivered beyond my expectations!

    The FWS is a very precise and exhaustive program, providing all the tools to apprehend the wines of France and their diversity. It’s been a great adventure to prepare for it, and I really enjoyed both the manual and the online resources!

    One thing though, studying for FWS really made me want to study IWS & SWS too! While most programs focus on overall knowledge of the whole wine World, it’s great to find a program that gives very specific details and in-depth knowledge.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It’s been a great adventure to prepare for it, and I really enjoyed both the manual and the online resources!
    • Position Marketing Strategy Manager / Wine Educator, Celliers d’Asie / Red Apron
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Introductory Sommelier Certificate, Certified Sommelier
    Read more...

    Luigia (Erh-Shan) Tsai, FWS

    Congratulations to Luigia(Erh-Shan) Tsai, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Luigia:

    I’ve been working in the wine industry for 12 years since 2008, at the beginning I didn’t know anything about wine and I thought I could still do that job well (as a marketer) I soon realized I was wrong, that’s why I started learning wine in more systematic ways.

    Sometimes I was told that attending classes is a waste of time and money, but my learning experience tells me that, no matter how many books you have read and how many bottles you have tasted on your own, learning from someone else is always beneficial! Now as a brand ambassador / wine educator, I really enjoy sharing what I have learned, and I’ll keep learning and sharing.

    I’ve been studying for WSET level 4 Diploma, I feel FWS provides a very handy tool for me to learn through French regions in depth.   

    I really love the textbook which contains a lot of images that I had not seen before, although I’ve passed the exam, I’ll still use this book as a guide for me to go through French wine regions. I particularly enjoy the history part, which brings me plenty of why, how and when questions, this encourages me to dive deeper into the wine world.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I really love the textbook...although I’ve passed the exam, I’ll still use this book as a guide.
    • Position Brand Ambassador, Treasury Wine Estates
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Mariana Peres, FWS

    Congratulations to Mariana Peres, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Mariana:

    I am a wine enthusiast, I once heard that studying wine is addictive, I couldn’t agree more!

    I have passed this year the WSET level 3, I started the French Wine Scholar simultaneously.

    I am currently enrolled in Spanish Wine Scholar and I intend to start the WSET Diploma next year. I believe FWS helps a lot, the information and material provided is amazing!

    The more you learn the more you want to learn!

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The information and material provided is amazing!
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Christopher Jon Pares, IWS

    Congratulations to Christopher Jon Pares, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Christopher:

    I’m a native New Yorker, and a server 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—and that changed my life. I wanted to get there myself, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t get a chance to start studying wine formally until 2015 while working at The Modern; there I met an MS for the first time, and his wine team guided us towards the Court of Master Sommeliers, thus starting my formal training in wine.

    Thanks to the The Modern’s fantastic staff training, I passed the Court’s Introductory exam in 2015 without any formal study—but I was so busy at work that three years went by before I took the Certified! In 2018 I took the Intensive Sommelier Training course with Scott Carney, MS, arming myself with the skills necessary to quickly pass the Certified level and immediately take a job as a sommelier at Oceana Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

    Finally working as a sommelier on the floor, I quickly discovered where my weaknesses were. This led me to the Wine Scholar Guild courses, which allow me to advance my knowledge while studying on my own schedule. Italy in particular was a weak point of mine and now, because of IWS, it’s more of a strength.

    I also recently passed FWS with highest honors, which filled in my knowledge of unfamiliar regions of France and furthered my understanding of familiar regions. I look forward to doing the same with SWS. I’m now interested in WSG master-level programs as well, which I believe will be a great help towards studying for the Advanced exam with the Court, which is an important goal of mine.

    Italy was my weakest point, and now it’s my favorite wine country! As a direct result of IWS I’ve already done private Italian wine consultations for a couple of collectors. I also can’t wait to work with a more Italian-focused wine list in the future, something I was afraid to do before IWS. Essentially, whatever makes me a better somm is something I’m interested in, and deeper knowledge has never hurt me on the floor in my experience.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Italy was my weakest point, and now it’s my favorite wine country! I also can’t wait to work with a more Italian-focused wine list.
    • Position Sommelier, Oceana
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...
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