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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    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.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The French Wine Scholar program was easy to follow, full of useful information.
    • Position Dining Room Server, Supervisor, Wine and Sake Steward, ki modern Japanese + bar, Toronto
    • Certifications ,WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3, Introductory Sommelier Certificate
    Read more...

    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!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial 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.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Michael Palij, IWS

    Congratulations to Michael Palij, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Michael:

    Michael Palij is a teacher, an author, an entrepreneur, and the world’s leading specialist on emerging Italian fine wines.  A Canadian, Michael emigrated to the UK in 1989 after reading English and Philosophy at the University of Toronto and began his career in the British wine trade.  His first position with the legendary retailer, Oddbins, kindled an interest that would see him admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine in 1995 at the age of just 29.  Soon after Michael was appointed buyer for a chain of independent shops and made his first visit to Italy the same year.  He promptly fell in love with both the country and its wines and in 1997 established the independent import agency, Winetraders, which continues to import Italian wines from more than a dozen regions although its success has prompted expansion into both Spain and Germany.

    Michael’s detailed knowledge of what is arguably the wine world’s most complicated producer combined with his passionate and humorous style led to requests for tastings from wine societies, wine schools and corporations around the world.  Such was demand that in 1994 Michael established his own wine school, Winematters, which continues to operate from Oxford and is fully accredited with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) up to and including L4.  Michael is published through Dorling Kindersley and contributes the Italian section to many of their publications.

    A member of Who’s Who, Michael was also the founding fund manager for the Institute of Masters of Wine Endowment Fund.  He is a keen cyclist, runner and mountaineer.  He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and two children.

    Michael's thoughts on the IWS program:  The Italian Wine Scholar programme is both comprehensive and up-to-date.  The maps are first class and the historical background that accompanies each region is invaluable in helping frame the current viticulture panorama.  To either the keen amateur or the WSET Diploma student, the IWS should prove of great value.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The maps are first class and the historical background that accompanies each region is invaluable.
    • Position Founder and Educator, Winematters, Oxford
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, Master of Wine
    Read more...

    Mário Márcio Lescano Júnior

    Congratulations to Mário Márcio Lescano Júnior for passing the Champagne Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Mario:

    I am a wine enthusiast. I have always been passionate about wine and had a dream: to make a Professional Sommelier course. As a Major in the Brazilian Army, my dream had to wait for a while, but I was able to realize it in 2016.  What started out as a simple hobby turned into something else: through wine, I found my superpower. My power isn't in being a great oenophile, but in loving something enough to work hard at being better.  As I am quite superstitious, my aspirations now are: to successfully complete the WSET Level 4 Diploma in wines and all WSG Master-Levels.

    After finishing the Professional Sommelier course given by the Brazilian Association of Sommeliers in 2017, I passed the WSET Level 3 in wines with distinction in wines in 2018. In the same year, I started my love affair with the Wine Scholar Guild.  I signed up for the French Wine Scholar program and have graduated with highest honors.  In 2019, I finished the Italian Wine Scholar program with highest honors, the Rhône Master-Level with highest honors, the Bourgogne Master-Level, and the Spanish Wine scholar program with highest honors.  Eno Cultura, the same provider that provided my French Wine Scholar course, brought the first WSET Level 4 Diploma class in wines class to South America and I got a spot.  In 2020, I passed the D1 exam, delivered my D6 assignment about Natural Wines and I am going to take the D4 exam in October. I finished the Champagne Master-Level with highest honors, the Alsace Master-Level with highest honors and at the end of the month I will take the Provence Master-Level exam.

    I love all the programs offered by the Wine Scholar Guild.  Champagne Master-Level, in particular, will help me in the short term, as I am taking the WSET Diploma D4 exam next month. In the long run, it is a program that changed my life and the view I had of the Champagne region. I learned a lot! This will definitely help me in future courses that life will allow me to take.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It is a program that changed my life and the view I had of the Champagne region.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, WSG Wine Scholar: French; Italian; Spanish. WSG Master Levels: Rhone; Bourgogne; Alsace
    Read more...

    Emiko Kayama, SWS

    Congratulations to Emiko Kayama, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Emiko:

    Yes, I am a wine enthusiast. I have been a wine lover for a long time and started to study wine in depth 5 years ago. I was inspired to learn more about wine by visiting beautiful wineries in different wine regions around the world, and tasting their wines. By hearing about the wines and wine-making from the winemakers, I was inspired to learn more about the fundamentals of wine-making so that I could fully appreciate the wines. Although my current profession is unrelated to the wine industry, I have had the opportunity to work for WSET as a freelance Japanese translator and represent a South African winemaker in Asia in the past.

    Prior to the SWS, I have done WSET Level 3 in Wines and Spirits, WSET Level 3 in Sake, and French Wine Scholar.

    I am planning to enroll in the Italian Wine Scholar course when my schedule is finalized. In fact I was looking to enroll in the IWS first and did not know about the SWS. When I found out about the SWS, the deadline for enrolment with AWSEC in Hong Kong, where I met the most inspiring tutors and students, was coming up. The timing worked out perfectly for me and I enrolled immediately.

    Due to the COVID-19, we have not been able to physically travel, however my virtual trip to each of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain was so much fun and gave me plenty of ideas on where to visit and what wine to look for on my next trip there when we are able to travel. I am very happy that I was able to learn in depth about Spanish wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial My virtual trip to each of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain was so much fun and gave me plenty of ideas on where to visit and what wine to look for on my next trip.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Danny J O'Neill, FWS

    Congratulations to Danny O'Neill, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Danny:

    I am a wine professional who has been in the industry for 13 years working in retail, wine education, wholesale, and now for Winebow Imports. I manage California and Nevada for Craft + Estate, Winebow’s import division covering wines from France, Greece, and Austria. The portfolio I represent is diverse and eclectic, ranging from historic Burgundian domaines to Austrian natural wine pioneers and much more, so it is easy to stay passionate about what I sell. I spent most of my career my hometown of Boston, with a couple of years in Baltimore, and I have been Los Angeles based since 2017. I did not grow up in a wine drinking household, but have always had an interest in geography, history, and music, all of which have been relevant in some way to my education and development as a wine professional.

    I completed Levels 2 through 4 of Boston University’s Wine Studies program. I studied under Bill Nesto, MW, and graduated Level 4 with Merit in 2012. The program was modeled after the WSET, but split from affiliation with that program some years prior to my attendance. I am interested in taking WSET (at least Level 3, possibly Diploma) as a refresher and to achieve a more nationally / internationally recognized title. After completing BU Level 4, I taught 2 semesters of “Introduction to Wine & Beverage” at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Cambridge, MA. I enrolled in FWS at the beginning of the pandemic to make use of some newfound free time, and since it had been 8 years since I had any formal wine education. It provided a much needed refresher, especially as my career gravitates toward French imports as the primary wines I need to have in depth knowledge of.

    Most of the wine I sell in my current position is French, and much of the course material was a refresher, but it helped greatly to dive into regions with complex geography like Burgundy. My primary take-aways were about the history of these regions and various ancient peoples’ influence, as well as important info about regions I do not currently sell professionally (our book is mainly Burgundy and Bordeaux, with just 1 producer each from Rhone, Loire and Champagne). I loved learning about Jura and the Southwest in particular!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I loved learning about Jura and the Southwest in particular!
    • Position Craft + Estate Territory Manager, Winebow Imports
    Read more...

    Richard Milot, SWS

    Congratulations to Richard Milot, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Richard:

    Having transited from professional soldier to wine professional six years ago I quickly realized how critical it was to go beyond the enthusiasm and to establish a modicum of credibility to better support our dynamic wine import agency. After my Sommelier Certification and the WSET 3, the WSG offered just the right framework for that purpose. Following the FWS, I found the Spanish Scholar to be a coherent progression given the two countries historical and commercial ties. SWS also provided quite an educational challenge and fuel for passion.

    I much appreciated the Spanish Wine Scholar program for its framework, its use of authoritative sources in developing a relevant package and its access to a rich web-based material. Rick Fisher was an invaluable seminar director.  Gracias senor Rick !!! I find myself much better equipped to represent our Spanish ‘’vinadores’’ and act as an ambassador for this most dynamic, diverse and engaging wine producing country. I remain a humble student of wine working towards becoming a fully certified wine educator.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial SWS provided quite an educational challenge and fuel for passion. Gracias senor Rick !!!
    • Position Consultant-sommelier, Importation Vins Sélects Privée (IVSP)
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, Alsace Master Level
    Read more...

    Sachiko Kaitsuka, IWS

    Congratulations to Sachiko Kaitsuka, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Sachiko:

    I’m not a professional,but just a wine lover.  The more I know about wine, the more fun it is to drink wine.  I enjoy reading books about wine, watching TV, and searching the internet. Of course, it's fun to drink a wine of interest and talk about it with a friend who likes wine. Someday, I would like to visit the wine region in Italy.

    I have the following certifications:
    ・Wset Level 3
    ・Wine Expert(Japan Sommelier Association)
    It was very interesting to study the History of the Italia and about soils.

    Through studying IWS, I got the motivation to study more. I also like Italy and Italian wine more.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Through studying IWS, I got the motivation to study more.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Natalie Valdez, SWS

    Congratulations to Natalie Valdez, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Natalie:

    I am a Pilates instructor by trade and a serious wine enthusiast.  The world of wine amazes me; the more I learn the less I realize I know.  Every day I learn something new and continue to uncover so much knowledge in this subject.  My favorite regions used to be Oregon and New Zealand, but after taking WSG’s courses, I have a new love for old world wines.

    I passed WSET’s courses, completing level 3 in August 2018.  I also passed the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja’s Master of Rioja exam that same year.  Earlier this year, I completed WSG’s FWS with Highest Honors and went right on to SWS.  SWS added so much depth to my small knowledge base of Spanish wines.  I absolutely love the attention to details that SWS brought about; the course gave me such a large working pool of information that I didn’t want to simply memorize, but understand at a great depth.

    I just completed Italian Wine Scholar’s Northern Italy Unit 1 course with highest honors and am currently enrolled in IWS’s Central/Southern Italy Unit 2 course.  My goal is to complete the trifecta before the end of 2020 and not have this year be completely cancelled due to Covid :).  Later this year I am hoping to take CMS’s introductory course and next year I plan on enrolling in WSET’s Level 4 diploma course.  In addition to these courses, I love taking classes at Florida Wine Academy whether its a Bordeaux Masterclass, Sake course, and of course all they offer during Miami Champagne Week every October.

    The SWS program has already been helpful in my IWS studies.  For example, the format is familiar and I hope to attain similar results.  The text, coursework, online learning modules, and outline of learning objectives really set students up for success.  Also, it is a great base for when I begin WSET’s Diploma next year.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I absolutely love the attention to details that SWS brought about.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Oliver Budack, SWS

    Congratulations to Oliver Budack, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Oliver:

    My hospitality career spans over 35 years. I have worked in Germany, the South Pacific and Australia (my place of residence). Wine is my obsession and hospitality is my profession.

    My parents have a great passion for food & wine and my father is the ultimate ‘wine tragic’. Sitting together for hours on a large table and sharing a meal with family and friends are the corner stones of my upbringing. This gives me the deepest joy and satisfaction. It was just a natural progression for me to become a hospitality professional.
    It is my lifelong quest to engage with people who are passionate about food and wine. My philosophy is how to get the BEST from food and wine, by creating a relaxed atmosphere for my guests and taking them on a journey beyond their expectations. It’s about fun, unlocking the senses, creativity and inclusiveness.

    In 2014 I completed my WSET Level 3 in Melbourne - Australia, followed by becoming a certified Sommelier, studying at the German Wine and Sommelier School in Berlin.
    The SWS program enabled me to gain an in depth understanding of all major Spanish wine regions.
    I particularly liked the historic and cultural elements in the curriculum. This information helped me to form a much more holistic view about the regional varieties and wine styles.

    I will enroll into the next FWS program as soon it is available. The SWS program taught me how to structure my studies and be methodical about them.

    The SWS program has given my passion for Spanish wine a massive boost and I am very eager to deepen my Spanish wine knowledge further.

    My career is inseparable connected with a desire of lifelong learning. The world of wine is ever evolving and I can only be at my best by keeping my knowledge abreast.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program has given my passion for Spanish wine a massive boost and I am very eager to deepen my Spanish wine knowledge further.
    • Position Venue Manager, Maxwell Wines
    • Certifications Certified Somelier, WSET Level 3
    Read more...
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