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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Bryce Faucheaux, FWS

    Congratulations to Bryce Faucheaux, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Bryce:

    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.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules.
    • Position Sommelier, 'Justine', New Orleans
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Charlie Geoghegan

    Congratulations to Charlie Geoghegan, for passing the Bordeaux Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Charlie:

    I’m from Dublin, Ireland, where I started out in wine retailing in 2012. I later moved to Bordeaux, where I lived for three years, completing an MBA, interning at a leading winery, and eventually working freelance as a wine copywriter and marketing specialist. I have spent the last two years in London, working in international sales for a large wine group. I will shortly start a new role as Senior Copywriter with Berry Bros. & Rudd, which is very exciting indeed. My long-term goal is to be a senior leader and driver of positive change in international wine marketing.

    I hold an MBA in Wine Marketing & Management from INSEEC in Bordeaux. I have completed several programs with WSET, including the Level 3 Award in Wines and the Level 2 Award in Spirits. I became an Italian Wine Scholar last year. I’m not sure yet what’s next, though I would like to tackle the WSET Diploma sooner or later. I have really enjoyed studying with the Wine Scholar Guild, so I may well look to do French Wine Scholar or another Master-Level program in the future.

    The Bordeaux Master-Level program built upon my formal education from the Wine Scholar Guild, INSEEC and WSET, as well as my experience as a former resident of Bordeaux city and a wine professional working with Bordeaux wines in a variety of contexts. I am sure that the ML program will be hugely beneficial in any future studies such as the WSET Diploma.

    Bordeaux wines will play a major part in my new role as Senior Copywriter with Berry Bros. & Rudd. The Bordeaux Master-Level program has really helped focus my knowledge of Bordeaux, which will be of real benefit in my new role. I hope to continue working closely with Bordeaux and its wines for many years to come, so I am confident that the Master-Level program will prove to be a wise investment! 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I hope to continue working closely with Bordeaux and its wines for many years to come, so I am confident that the Master-Level program will prove to be a wise investment!
    • Position Senior Copywriter, Berry Bros. & Rudd
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Lela Sherdon, FWS

    Congratulations to Lela Sherdon, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lela:

    Certified Chef, Culinary School. Chef and restaurant owner of Lela’s Café, a French inspired bistro café, for 9.5 years, I had an extensive wine list of around 250 wines that rotated frequently. I did wine tastings daily and developed a keen palate and deep appreciation for French wines with their unique nuances and multi-layered experience of such well crafted wines from such beautiful terroir that truly honored the natural expression of the inherent grape varietals and the land in which they originated. I believe that France is in my cells in some unusual way. I have always gravitated to all things French, perhaps because my Grandmother was French or at least she always believed she was, even though she was actually born in Italy near France. She would have been proud of my French café and my French Wine Scholar achievement.

    In recent times, after I had sold my restaurant, and prior to Covid, I was working at a French upscale restaurant that was run by French Chefs and owners from Paris. Their wine list was entirely French. My job was to serve clients upscale tasting menus from Michelin Chefs and describe the chosen wine flights like a Sommelier. Doing the French Wine Scholar program was a natural progression for me. I realized quickly that I had a passion for French wine and a deep understanding of the wines and longed to learn more. I often would be given wines without any tasting notes and could taste them on the spot and could confidently describe them to the guests and how it related to the food, and then I would add the background info I learned from my French Wine Scholar program to actually be quite astute in my field.

    Due to the changes in the restaurant industry, I am currently focusing on my private Chef work with select clients and I also produce my own artisanal home brewed and fermented kombucha which is for me a connection to my love for wine. Truly great wine is a living substance, like kombucha, that is sensitive to its environment; it has personality, expression and even soul.

    Completing the French Wine Scholar program with highest honors was very rewarding. It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation. The 5-week instructor led intensive is something that was actually quite a gift to have such a unique focus during the time of quarantine. I am very grateful for the special timing of the program.

    Where I will go with this love for wine and study remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that it is a part of my passion and it will be a part of my future.  I hope to be able to attend some of the master classes in France in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation.
    • Position Chef, Lela’s Private Chef Services
    Read more...

    Andrés Medrano, FWS

    Congratulations to Andrés Medrano, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrés:

    Andrés has a background in International Business. During his second life, he has spent more than 11 years in Paris honing his food & wine knowledge. Starting in 2008 at the famous FERRANDI, school of culinary arts in Paris, he learned the hard way the fine art of pastry & cuisine, apprenticing in noted Michelin-starred restaurants. Inspired by French cuisine, he then had the opportunity to study alongside European champion chef Olivier Boudot to discover secrets of French bread-making at the international Cordon Bleu school.

    Discovering a more epicurean penchant, he then left to study for the globally recognized Wine & Spirit Education trust (WSET) level 3 qualification, a master of Champagne and the French Wine Scholar with the Wine Scholar Guild.

    Now, armed with both the skills of a Sommelier & culinary nous, he hopes to continue bringing the disciplines together as a food & wine educator in France in the near future, leading bespoke, fun, relaxed, ‘under the skin of the city’ tours around Paris’ independent delicatessens and vintners.

    He really hopes tourists will be back in France soon so he can share his food & wine knowledge and develop his educational business by taking wine travelers to visit the wine regions. Due to the current circumstances, he will be teaching a “French wines 101” online webinar in September in collaboration with context travel conversations.  He is passionate about biodynamic farming, fermented food & the history of arguably the finest cuisine in the world.

    He followed the Champagne Master Level program & WSET level 3. The FWS added a lot of new & in depth knowledge about the other French wine regions to his previous wine studies. His key to learning was tasting as many wines as possible from all French regions and comparing them. The addition of « Taste of France webinar series » to the FWS program really helped him understanding what he was tasting and kept him motivated.

    The FWS program offered a fantastic & exciting insight into every single French region. The teachings of Sharon & Lisa were truly enjoyable, precise & fun. Andrés is looking forward to following their foot steps and becoming a solid wine educator & tour guide.

    For the rest of the year, Andrés plans to continue drinking French wines & digesting everything he has learnt before moving to the IWS next year.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The teachings of Sharon & Lisa were truly enjoyable, precise & fun.
    • Position Co-Founder / Food & Wine tour guide, We Taste Paris
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, Champagne Master Level
    Read more...

    Andrea Forbicioni, IWS

    Congratulations to Andrea Forbicioni, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrea:

    Hi, I am Andrea Forbicioni DipWSET, IWS. I live in Perth, Australia.

    I am a wine enthusiast, I am not a wine professional...yet. I work in IT right now but I wish to share my passion for wines (especially from less known grapes) and teach in an interactive way so that wine can be appreciated by everyone and not only by people with a certain level of experience or certification  I feel the wine lovers and consumers all over the world need to know more about wines coming from non-international grapes, as there is a sense of uniqueness and tipicity in them that needs to be rediscovered. In that sense, I'd like to become an ambassador for less common grapes, as there is a wide heritage of lost grapes to preserve.

    I obtained the WSET Diploma last March through the Sydney Wine Academy. That gave me a great overview on all the world's wine regions and a structured tasting approach.  At the same time, I felt I wanted to deepen my knowledge of specific countries, especially countries like Italy that are unique in terms of indigenous grapes.
    The IWS program helped me to extend my knowledge and made me aware of all the necessary information needed to understand Italian wines deeply, thanks to a 360-degree outlook on the Italian world of grapes and wines. I feel everyone that wants to become a wine expert needs to have a good knowledge of the Italian wine world, and the IWS program is a very useful tool to gain that precious knowledge. I am also thinking about enrolling to the SWS (Spanish Wine Scholar) program, to complement and deepen my knowledge gained through WSET and IWS. In a similar way to Italy, Spain is home to unique indigenous grapes, which need to be valued more than what they are currently.

    In a world where everyone uses social media to talk and post about wines, it is important to have certification(s) as a stand out point, and the IWS will certainly help me to be recognized to the outside world as an Italian Wine Scholar.  My Instagram and youtube channels are @vinomagister so please follow me as a start!
     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The IWS program..made me aware of all the necessary information...thanks to a 360-degree outlook on the Italian world of grapes and wines.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    Valentina Lorenzon, SWS

    Congratulations to Valentina Lorenzon, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Valentina:

    I’m a wine enthusiast. I’m originally from Italy and I grew up in a family of wine lovers and vine growers. I have been passionate about wine for as long as I can remember and many of my family memories are linked to wine and life in the vineyard.  I love wine because it also represents the identity and heritage of a country and it’s a great way to connect with people and understand their stories.

    For me, truly appreciating wine also means learning about its country of origin, its history and its traditions. When I moved to London, a friend convinced me to attend the WSET Level 2 Award course. I never stopped learning since then.

    I have already passed the Italian Wine Scholar program, the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and the WSET Level 3 Award in Sake. The SWS program has been a great way to learn more about Spanish wines and production areas. The study material is engaging and very comprehensive and provides a great level of detail. It widened my understanding of Spanish wines and it made me even more curious and passionate about the wines of this country.

    I’m currently studying for the WSET Level 4 Diploma. The SWS program complemented well the WSET material and helped me gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of Spanish wines,  from both the theory and the tasting point of view.

    Thanks to the SWS program, I learnt more about the wide variety of Spanish grapes and styles. It was particularly interesting to find out more about the less known wine regions.  I also enjoyed the program because it puts wine within the wider cultural and historical background of the country. I’m a strong believer in continuous learning and the SWS has been a great experience that motivated me to expand my knowledge further. It was also very motivating to meet other wine enthusiasts and professionals who are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about it. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The study material is engaging and very comprehensive and provides a great level of detail.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Ednajar Tavares Macedo Filho, SWS

    Congratulations to Ednajar Tavares Macedo Filho, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Ednajar:

    Definitely I am a wine enthusiast. It all started about 12 years ago when I decided to read and try to understand about what I was drinking. The books succeeded one another and every book made suggestions about new literature, each one greater and becoming more and more enlightening.  It is no surprise that drinking soon became tasting. A whole world has opened in front of me. The knowledge has the ability to transform and enhance what a glass of wine can offer to you. It is not anymore just about the challenge of discriminating the bouquet, the balance, the elegance, the persistence and evolution of a wine. It is now about history, tradition and above all hard working from the vineyard to the cellar. I am really glad of having the opportunity to discover and explore this whole new world!

    I passed the WSET Level 3 Award in Wine in 2017. In 2018 I passed the Intermediate Level in Formación del Vino, del Brandy y del  Vinagre de Jerez y de la Manzanilla. Last year (2019) I was granted the certification of French Wine Scholar and I have just finished the Spanish Wine Scholar. I must say that it is a never ending  journey. A really good one!  By now I am in the middle of Italian Wine Scholar, it is awesome!

    The Spanish Wine Scholar transforms your knowledge about Spanish wine and gives you a solid and special attention to the most important and detailed aspects that a wine lover and those who will apply to other certifications need so much.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The Spanish Wine Scholar transforms your knowledge about Spanish wine and gives special attention to the most important and detailed aspects.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Elizabeth Yabrudy Istúriz, SWS

    Many congratulations to Elizabeth Yabrudy Istúriz, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Elizabeth:

    I am a journalist with a M.Sc. in Electronic Publishing from City University London. Currently I am an Independent Professional, but I spend most of my time as a Wine Educator/Wine & Spirits Consultant for Celicor Boutique, one of the most respected wine and spirits retailers in Venezuela.

    My formal interest for wine began in 2008, when I decided to study in the Academia de Sommeliers de Venezuela (member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, ASI) to become a Professional Sommelier. After that, I co-owned a wine school for non-professionals, while researching the next path in my development. I then decided to continue my formation with the Society of Wine Educators, to officially become a wine teacher.

    I enjoy and respect working in the wine industry. It is a continual learning process in a nonstop career. I am very lucky because every day I managed to combine my passion for wine with my professional title as Journalist and Electronic Publisher, now powered by the opportunity of being a Certified Wine Educator. I am always meeting people who can learn from my experience and my knowledge, and fall in love with wine just as I did more than ten years ago.

    I am a Sommelier (2009) from the Academia de Sommeliers de Venezuela, member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, ASI. I also own three certifications from the Society of Wine Educators: Certified Specialist of Wine (2014), Certified Specialist of Spirits (2016), and Certified Wine Educator (2018), winner of the Banfi Award for earning the highest score of the year in the Certified Wine Educator exam.

    Being part of the first Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) for Educators court was very special, not only for the gained knowledge, but also for the experience of being able to contribute -even in a minimum portion- to the launch of this Certification. I have always been a fan of Spanish wines and I now have a deeper understanding of the country and its wines, which is a perfect complement for my current wine development and for my future wine studies.

    Being able to comprehend Spain as a country and its wine industry, allows me not only to share the knowledge with my current students at this moment, but also in the future as an instructor of an Approved Program Provider. The knowledge obtained is also a great preparation for future certification programs that I could take.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I now have a deeper understanding of the country and its wines, which is a perfect complement for my current wine development and for my future wine studies.
    • Position Wine Educator/Consultant, Celicor Boutique
    • Certifications CWE, CSW & CSS (Society of Wine Educators), Certified Sommelier
    Read more...

    Tan Shu Tong, FWS

    Congratulations to Tan Shu Tong, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Shu Tong:

    I am a wine enthusiast who is trying to better my understanding of wines, however, my job, though not exactly in the wine industry, is still related to wine. As an Air Sommelier cum Flight Attendant, I advise discerning passengers on the choice of beverages, especially wines, to pair with the food. At the same time, there are also sharing sessions onboard with fellow colleagues, so that they understand the types of wine we have for the different flight routes.

    It took me around 2 years (of flying/working experience) to get into the highly selective in-house program – Air Sommelier Program. We were trained to understand wines, and to further dissect it into the nuances in terms of science (chemical compounds), law (legal classifications), market (trends, challenges, opportunities), entrepreneurship (designing a wine business). Most importantly, it piqued my interest in an explorative manner through the projects, and it widened my view of wines.

    I aspire to gain more experiences in the world of wines. This could be to enroll myself in a wine degree (eg. International Wine Business at Hochschule Geisenheim University), work in a vineyard for a while, be part of the winemaking team, or in the restaurants managing the wine menu and service. Basically, to immerse myself in the wine industry, be it front-of-house or back-of-house, all around the world.

    Prior to the FWS program, I had the following:
    •    WSET Level 3 Certificate from WSET, UK
    •    Introductory Sommelier Certificate
    •    Hospitality Beverage Specialist Certificate from Society of Wine Educators, USA
    The FWS program gave me a fresh perspective of French wines through the showcase of regions, and in-depth details. Moreover, the various study aides such as the maps, online study modules, pronunciation practices, themed webinars, and collaborations, on top of the textbook, serve as a thorough study strategy with reinforcement on the topics. All in all, it put me in a better position to read French wine labels, recognize the different French regions, and to taste a greater variety of French wines.
    Currently, I am enrolled in programs related to other beverages too, such as:
    •    Italian Wine Professional from Italian Wine Central
    •    Intermediate Coffee Series from Specialty Coffee Association
    •    Certified Sake Sommelier from Sake Sommelier Association
    Planning to take up certifications like:
    •    Certified Specialist of Wines from Society of Wine Educators
    •    Certified Sommelier from Court of Master Sommelier
    •    Looking forward for a German Wine Scholar if Wine Scholar Guild plans to have it
    The strong foundation that FWS has given me will be an advantage for me to take on other more specialized wine education and certifications. It will also serve as a good reference thereafter.

    Knowing my French wines better allows me to dive deeper into the known regions, and explore wines from less known regions. This gives me an edge to explain French wine in its entirety, and not limited to the prominent labels in the market. At the same time, it forces me to compare and contrast the wines made in France. For instance, I just did a rose tasting with some colleagues, ranging from 2018 Symphonie, Chateau Sainte Marguerite, Cotes de Provence-La Londe AOC Cru Classe and 2018 Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence AOC, to 2016 Lavau, Tavel AOC and 2018 M. Chapoutier, Cotes du Rhone AOC. Suffice to say, rose wines are definitely not so simple to us anymore.

    In my job, it gives me more things to share with the passengers and colleagues. In the future, it would be a good complement to my other studies, and I could also apply the knowledge in other functions. Most importantly, the knowledge will be the fundamental blocks for me to learn and explore more.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial This gives me an edge to explain French wine in its entirety, and not limited to the prominent labels in the market.
    • Position Air Sommelier / Flight Attendant, Singapore Airlines
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Introductory Sommelier Certificate
    Read more...

    Matt Frazier, FWS

    Congratulations to Matt Frazier, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Matt

    Wine took on a special meaning for me when I was laid off from a longterm job. With a sudden clean slate, I dove into wine (not literally, but nearly) and soon realized there would always be something new to enjoy, appreciate, and learn. As a lifelong musician, I also discovered many connections between music and wine. Both are easy to enjoy, of course, but like great art, wine can also seem intimidating or overwhelming. So I’m now on a mission to make wine (and art) more accessible.

    My first round of wine education was a sales and marketing certificate from the Northwest Wine Academy. I then completed WSET2 and WSET3 before the FWS program. I teach occasional classes through an informal culinary school in Seattle and find that I’m constantly referencing wine styles back to France. The FWS content provided me a chance to increase my perspective on and confidence about the world’s most important wine producing country. I’m not sure what further wine studies may be in my future, but I’m sure the FWS experience will always provide that important reference.

    As a small winery owner, I spend as much time as possible interacting with customers directly and helping them explore their own wine curiosity and preferences. I expect the FWS program material will help me also make historical and cultural connections for my customers in these interactions.


    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS content provided me a chance to increase my perspective on and confidence about the world’s most important wine producing country.
    • Position Founder/Owner, Drum Roll Wine
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3
    Read more...
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