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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    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...

    Rich Vanderheiden, FWS

    Congratulations to Rich Vanderheiden, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Rich:

    I am Rich Vanderheiden from Scottsdale Arizona and a wine enthusiast. My wine passion and journey began in the 1970’s in the State of Nebraska where I was a bartender and wine steward while in college and law school. My travels in the last 45 years include visiting several wine regions in France, Italy, Spain and Greece as well over 300 wineries on the west coast of the United States. Upon retirement 10 years ago, I started getting more intellectual about wine and obtained credentials with the Court of Master Sommeliers ( Level 1) and Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. During the shutdown over COVID-19 in April, it seemed an ideal time to pursue the online French Wine Scholar program along with 80 others from around the world. The FWS course content and instruction was excellent and provided a challenging and rewarding wine experience. I decided to do the course not just to pass the exam but  to dig deep to master all French wine regions. Now I am focused on doing a WSG immersion trip to Bordeaux as soon as possible and taking when available the new German Wine Scholar program.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS course content and instruction was excellent and provided a challenging and rewarding wine experience.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications CSW (SWE), WSET Level 1
    Read more...

    Jenny Landers, FWS

    Congratulations to Jenny Landers, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jenny

    I am a wine enthusiast. I have had a love for wine most of my adult life. Years ago, when I moved from NYC to Seattle, I fell in love with the wineries and tasting rooms of WA state. Since I have moved to California, and there is no shortage of wine exploration in the lovely state of California! I love planning trips to other parts of the world around wine regions, and hope to get to do so again soon!

    I have a Certificate in the Business of Wine from San Diego State University, WSET2 with Distinction, and am currently enrolled in the Spanish Wine Scholar course. I absolutely loved zooming in on France with the FWS, and really enjoyed the Wine Scholar Guild format.

    FWS has inspired me to travel to regions I have not been to yet. I have been to Champagne, Burgundy & Alsace. I look forward to planning a trip once it is safe to travel again. I’m thinking the Languedoc Roussillon and the Loire. Now that I’m studying Spain, Green Spain is calling me as well!!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I absolutely loved zooming in on France with the FWS, and really enjoyed the Wine Scholar Guild format.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Sudhakaran Ram, FWS

    Many congratulations to Sudhakaran Ram, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Sudhakaran:

    I have been a wine enthusiast for a long time (over 25 years). I have always been fascinated with food/wine/liquors and spend a lot of time reading about this and exploring food/wine around where I live. I am blessed to be living in SF Bay Area which has provided plenty of opportunities for exploring food/wine. My wife traveled through France/Germany/Austria visiting her relatives.  She wanted me experience Alsace since she had a wonderful time there. That was my first trip to Europe and I was blown away with the culture of every region having its own food/typical wine and tons of varieties of liquors. Subsequent trips to France and other parts of Europe added to this fascination. I started to collect wine/liquors from France and old world. I always focused more on other varieties than the famous international varieties of wine. This showed me what wine could be and how to enjoy it from various terroir.

    For the most part I have primarily been doing self-studies and learning about the great vineyards, famous regions, great producers. I bought a number of books on wine and studied them. I was very interested in knowing what types of wines were made in different regions. Most of my focus is of old world. In addition, I always was reading local newspaper/wine magazines about wines, wineries, up and coming regions, etc. Every opportunity I got, I tried to go visit local wineries and events to learn. I was also interested in identifying great producers making age worthy wines. This led me to start collecting a few wines, with the focus on well-made wines that aged well (both whites and reds). In addition to self-studies, I always planned my vacations around wine destinations. On one such vacation, I travelled to Bourgogne and Champagne and spent time there visiting small villages and wineries and experiencing the food/wine culture. These are absolutely fascinating since you learn a lot about the nuances of the regions when you travel there. For instance, my wife’s aunt took us to visit a Recoltant-Manipulant in Grand Cru Ambonnay was fascinating. We could sit in their home and learn about their wine philosophy and enjoy their Champagne.

    Last year one of my high school buddies from India (who is also heavily into wine and wine studies) told me about FWS and recommended that I would love the program. French wine was always on top of my studies and I immediately decided to join the FWS program offered at SF Wine School. I was absolutely thrilled with the program. Even though I knew a lot from my studies, the program provided me with a depth of knowledge about various regions, their history and the wines that was a huge complement to what I knew before. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and the history and details of AOC, grapes, terroir and food. FWS also exposed me to details of smaller regions which I normally would bypass in self-studies – places like Jura/Savoie/Southwest. This combined with the exceptional wines poured for tasting during the classes really showcased knowledge that I would not have experienced on my own.  FWS was something I enjoyed and I hope to take other certifications (IWS/SWS) in the future. Hopefully, I will be involved in the wine trade in the future – such as wine travel or wine import/exports.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I was absolutely thrilled with the program...I thoroughly enjoyed the class and the history and details of AOC, grapes, terroir and food.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    Nanci Teruko Inamura, FWS

    Congratulations to Nanci Teruko Inamura, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Nanci:

    I am a wine enthusiast. Since I started drinking wine, I always wanted to study the subject to better understand the flavors, the winemaking process, climate, soils and everything related to this World. Whenever I drank wine with my friends, I would always wonder: why does this wine have this flavor while the other wine from another country with the same grape is different, and etc…  So, my curiosity led me to this path of study. I started to look for wine classes and never stopped studying since.

    I took the WSET3 three years ago. In the future I would like to take your Italian Wines course.

    I think FWS program is more complete if you compare it to others, like WSET for example. You plunge into the history, and everything related to each region. In the future I want to start working in this business.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I think the FWS program is more complete...You plunge into the history, and everything related to each region.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Antonio Bueno Villar, FWS

    Congratulations to Antonio Bueno Villar, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Antonio:

    I’m just a wine enthusiast. No relationship with the wine industry whatsoever as a Full Professor of Physics. I think wine and physics share many common points in what respects science and arts. This is what impelled me to start this exciting journey on wine studies.

    I passed WSET Level 3 at the beginning of 2020.  I’m now enrolled in WSET Diploma. The FWS program gave me an in-depth knowledge of French wines, something one cannot get from WSET Level 3. Certainly, it would be most useful during my Diploma studies thanks to the level of details FWS offers about viticulture, winemaking techniques, and history of French wines.

    FWS opened to me a brand-new world of knowledge about French wines. Specially it drove me to pay more attention to less-known French AOCs that offer excellent value for money. There are plentiful of extraordinary French wines to discover and enjoy beyond the renowned Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône and Loire wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial FWS opened to me a brand-new world of knowledge about French wines. Specially it drove me to pay more attention to less-known French AOCs.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...
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