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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Bizhen Chen, FWS

    Congratulations to Bizhen Chen, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Bizhen:

    I am the co-founder of a wine trading and sales company, meanwhile I deliver lectures as a wine educator in a wine school. Undoubtedly my career is quite involved with wine industry, however rather than defining myself as a wine professional, I would like to use the status ‘a wine enthusiast’. I have fallen in love with wine since the legal drinking age haha! Stay thirsty, stay foolish. I believe that Enthusiasm, which leads me to the professional journey, makes a master.

    I also own these wine certification: WSET Diploma, WSET Nominated Educator, VIA Italian Wine Ambassador.
    The FWS program provides good knowledge supplement toward wine educators. It has a systematic structure with up-to-date information. The language is allusive and witty, yet easy to understand.

    The FWS program is insightful and helps to broaden and solidify my knowledge. Sincerely speaking, the program is great and I would love to introduce it to my students.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS program is insightful and helps to broaden and solidify my knowledge.
    • Position Co-Founder, Hangzhou Vinoholic Trading Co., Ltd. and Wine Educator, Hangzhou Wine Family Education & Consulting Co, Ltd.
    • Certifications WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    Erika Frey

    Congratulations to Erika Frey for passing the Loire Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Erika:

    Over the past 10 years, I have assembled a portfolio career in wine and spirits with several jobs involving education, retail and marketing.  Most of my time is spent teaching the WSET program, helping to run a boutique wine shop called Winestone, acting as one of the directors of the Boston Sommelier Society and promoting the wines of the Republic of Georgia.

    I have completed many certification programs including the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits, Certified Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier.  These studies and certifications have allowed me to create a second career in a very different industry.

    The Wine Scholar Guild programs are particularly special to me because they have provided me the opportunity to really zoom in on specific countries and regions.  I have truly enjoy exploring these areas in depth and in detail.  The Loire Master-Level was my final French Master-Level.  I have now completed all the existing WSG programs with highest honors.  It is one of my proudest achievements.

    The Loire Master-Level has given me the knowledge that helps me educate others and sell Loire Valley wines with confidence.  All of the WSG Master-Levels combined have made me a very effective teacher for the wines of France, and France is usually an important foundation for most wine certification programs.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I have now completed all the existing WSG programs with highest honors. It is one of my proudest achievements.
    • Position Wine Educator and Consultant, Wine With Erika
    • Certifications WSET Diploma. All WSG Wine Scholar and Master Level programs with highest honors: Spanish; Italian; French; Loire; Bourgogne; Sud de France; Rhône; Provence; Bordeaux; Champagne; Alsace
    Read more...

    Vanny Whitchelo, IWS

    Congratulations to Vanny Whitchelo, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Vanny:

    Back in 2012, while I was working in marketing in the travel industry, I started taking WSET 1, 2, and 3 as a wine enthusiast. Shortly after taking level 3 I decided to actively pursue a career in the wine industry. I started off as a sales coordinator for a bit at an agency that focused on spirits and only a handful of wines. I quickly got into sales there. Now I work in marketing with a focus on digital marketing at a wine agency based in Western Canada, Trialto Wine Group.

    I like to surround myself with wine enthusiasts and aspire to continue learning about wine, with a goal of completing the WSET diploma and beyond. I’d like to start writing on my website, ittasteslikewine.com again.

    I have WSET level 3. Although the chapter on Italy was one of the longest in level 3, the IWS program dove deeper and I gained extensive knowledge in the amount of time that otherwise would’ve taken me years to acquire had I taken a more leisurely approach. I now speak confidently and with great enthusiasm on Italian wines, having enjoyed many for the program!

    After taking IWS, I’d like to take FWS and eventually complete the WSET diploma. I believe the IWS program has helped set me up for success in my studies, and I think FWS will too.

    I enrolled in the IWS program while I was on maternity leave. The way the program is set up allowed for flexibility on when I could study, something I very much needed while caring for an infant.

    I’m pregnant with my second and have the confidence I can do well again in FWS with the same dedication and support of my family.

    I believe the IWS program will help set me up for success in my future studies and professional life. It has showed me that thanks to my dedication and very important support network, I can excel in my studies and career while raising a young family. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I believe the IWS program will help set me up for success in my future studies and professional life.
    • Position Associate Portfolio & Marketing Manager, Trialto Wine Group
    • Certifications WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3
    Read more...

    Oksana Wengryniuk, FWS

    Congratulations to Oksana Wengryniuk, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Oksana:

    I work at Nightingale restaurant as a Sommelier. The restaurant has a diverse family style menu with an adventurous wine list to pair. I started working as a server, but became more and more interested with wine, and I was lucky to have many wine team members mentor me. I decided to take my WSET level 2 to start building a foundation of wine knowledge. After I took my WSET level 3 I joined the wine team as a Junior Sommelier and took my French wine Scholar. I’m hoping to take the Italian Wine Scholar course next!

    I feel the FWS course helped immensely with my confidence in speaking about French Wine. I have a better understanding of the geography and wine styles of France. The course really gave me a good context when referring to French wines on our wine list. I definitely was able to dive into French wine in far more detail than I have with other programs.  

    I think the FWS is a great thing to have under your belt as a Sommelier. I hope to take my CMS certified exam in the future and I know that FWS has given me a great foundation to do that. I look forward to furthering my knowledge in French wine and working with it everyday with the new understanding I’ve gained. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I feel the FWS course helped immensely with my confidence in speaking about French Wine.
    • Position Sommelier, Nightingale Restaurant, Vancouver
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Richard Nusser, SWS

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

    About Richard

    I am a wine enthusiast who first began to enjoy and appreciate wine when I moved from Ohio to the San Francisco area about 30 years ago.  Frequent visits to nearby Napa Valley and tasting its famous cabernets ignited my enthusiasm for wine.  Over the years I have managed to save a few bottles from some of the better vintages and enjoyed seeing how they have changed and matured with time.  Now that I have retired, I have the free time to expand my knowledge of wine and the many regions of the world where it is made.

    I have enjoyed a number of the educational programs that the Wine Scholar Guild has offered.  I have taken and passed the French and Italian Wine Scholar Programs.  I have successfully completed the Master Level Programs of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, and Rhone Valley.  Most recently I finished the Spanish Wine Scholar Program at the San Francisco Wine School which was led by Rick Fisher.  I hope to accumulate sufficient knowledge that I can successfully complete the Diploma Level of the Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

    I found the Spanish Wine Scholar Program quite informative in a number of areas.  I was not familiar with Spanish wine and had seldom drunk them.  Despite a recent trip to Spain with my sons, I was woefully ignorant of the history and geography of Spain.  The Spanish Wine Scholar Program enabled me to taste a wide selection of Spanish wines from the 17 autonomous regions.  The program did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps of my knowledge in the history and geography of Spain.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The program did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps of my knowledge in the history and geography of Spain.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Wine Scholar Programs: French, Italian Master Level Programs: Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Alsace, Rhone
    Read more...

    Aradhna Chhachhi, FWS

    Congratulations to Aradhna Chhachhi, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Aradhna:

    I’m a wine professional & enthusiast, I grew up watching my parents enjoy wine and would be very excited to taste a bit of what that beautiful glass held, I discovered so many styles of wine and started learning about it as a fun activity, but very soon got sucked in by the knowledge and experience of learning about the process of winemaking, production & the various factors that go into getting a wine from vineyard to table.

    I’ve completed my WSET Levels 1 & 2 and I wanted a more in depth, culture rich course on wine. I came across the Wine Scholar Guild and absolutely admired how focused the French Wine Scholar course was on the winemaking, wine styles, grapes, climate, food, hazards, soils & so many other factors specific to France. It gave me so many answers I was looking for while studying WSET Level 2, and it has me excited for so much more pertaining to wine.

    I plan to pursue WSET Level 3 in the future & I believe that the richness of this course has me better equipped to take on the challenges Level 3 offers, I’m also sure that when I open my books to study for Level 3, I’ll be able to connect the dots a lot better especially when it comes to the wine regions of France.

    Now that I’m a certified French Wine Scholar, I plan to create experiences for wine enthusiasts on French Wine tasting in partnership with French wine vineyards. I’m already in touch with a few vineyard owners in France.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Now that I’m a certified French Wine Scholar, I plan to create experiences for wine enthusiasts on French Wine tasting in partnership with French wine vineyards.
    • Position Founder, Tannin by Aradhna
    • Certifications WSET Level 1, WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Julie Seibert, IWS

    Congratulations to Julie Seibert, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Julie:

    I am a wine enthusiast who is transitioning to wine professional.  After a successful and rewarding career with the U.S. Federal Government, I retired at the senior executive level.  I knew I didn’t want to stop working altogether, but felt this was my time to pursue some new things that excite me.  One such thing was becoming a contract instructor, helping government officials build their practical and leadership skills, and another was to continue my own self-development by building my wine knowledge.  

    As I began to pursue that knowledge through wine education programs, I decided I wanted to enhance my journey through experience and began working at the Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek in Virginia.  This family-run winery gave me opportunities to not only learn about the wines, but also to gain some practical knowledge in the vineyard – to actually do what I was reading about.

    Now I’ve begun the next phase of my development, combining my abilities in adult education with my wine knowledge as I work with the owners of Lost Creek to establish wine education programs at their newest venture, Echelon Wine Bar in Leesburg, Virginia, which is due to open in April 2020.  I’m excited to be creating and teaching programs designed to make wine enjoyment accessible and fun.

    I am currently enrolled in the American Wine Expert certification program through the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and I am also interested in the Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar certification program and perhaps eventually, the WSET diploma.  I think the deep dives that these WSG and other programs offer would give me a leg up in pursuing the demanding and challenging DipWSET certification.

    While we’ll be highlighting a lot of our beautiful Virginia wines at Echelon Wine Bar, we’ll be offering wines from around the world and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to share knowledge of some of my Italian favorites with our customers.  I can’t wait to introduce them to some lesser-known Italian gems that have become my go-to wines, and to compare some of the sustainable practices used in both places.

    Going forward, I will continue to find ways to combine my practical executive leadership experience, adult education skills and more recently gained wine knowledge, including helping businesses explore leadership through the lens of wine.  Businesses are seeking novel and fun ways to experience teambuilding and study leadership concepts, and I think the wine industry not only has wonderful venues to offer, but some interesting case studies in perseverance and change, areas in which I have significant educational and practical expertise.  I would not be able to pursue these avenues without the solid wine knowledge gained through WSG and WSET programs.  To be a successful instructor of adults, you must be authentic and your knowledge and passion must be deep; adults immediately recognize when you’re “faking it.”  IWS has helped give me the necessary depth in wine to add to my credentials.

    Finally, it has opened doors to fun experiences!  I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Northern Italy in September.  Being able to say that I was an IWS student and that I worked at a winery myself resulted in a tremendously warm welcome time and again at wineries throughout Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia and the Veneto.  It has also led to many great conversations as there’s a real interest today in understanding wine in general, and Italian wines in particular.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can’t wait to introduce (our customers) to some lesser-known Italian gems that have become my go-to wines.
    • Position Wine Instructor, Echelon Wine Bar
    Read more...

    Walden Pemantle, IWS

    Congratulations to Walden Pemantle, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar program with highest honors!

    About Walden:

    I am both a wine enthusiast and professional. I caught the wine bug over a show-stopping pairing at Alinea restaurant in Chicago. Since then, I have worked as a cook, a food writer, an Italian wine importer, and currently, as the manager of my program provider, the Texas Wine School. Throughout the journey, food, wine, and the closeness that they bring us have been my most consistent passions. I hope to keep writing, teaching, and tasting, spreading the belief that every bottle and every bite are worth our attention.  

    I have passed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Advance level exam with distinction and am currently working through their diploma program. I have also passed my Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, earning the Walter Clore Scholarship for top score.

    Before diving full-time into the wine world, I studied the microbiology of cheese and wine as part of a summer program at Rutgers University, and completed original research on Post-Modernism in food and the culinary and oenological impacts of Thomas Jefferson on American cuisine at Rice University.

    I took Italian Wine Scholar between my Certified Sommelier exam and the beginning of the WSET Diploma program. I have found that, beyond the obvious advantage IWS offers in Italian theory knowledge, IWS simply prepares students for studying at a higher level of detail than similar wine exams. I remember being in Verona with a friend who had passed multiple sections of the Master Sommelier exam. He was telling me what he had just learned in a seminar on Lambrusco about cross-pollination between Lambrusco di Sorbara and Salamino and I remember thinking “I learned that in IWS!”

    I think the level of knowledge I gained in IWS will continue to be my standard for what it means to have an in-depth knowledge of any given region. I have always loved Italy, and I hope that my IWS certification might mark the beginning of my role as someone looked at as an Italian wine specialist among my wine community.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The level of knowledge I gained in IWS will continue to be my standard for what it means to have an in-depth knowledge of any given region.
    • Position Manager, The Texas Wine School
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Catherine Gregg, FWS

    Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Catherine Gregg, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Catherine:

    I am a wine enthusiast who sees wine as a metaphor for life.  It’s symbolic as well as it’s material nature provides me with a lens to ponder mysteries and be fully present to the present moment.

    I’ve completed the WSET Level II Wine and Spirits certifications, and I’m currently enrolled in the WSG Italian course.  The FWS program deeply and widely expanded my knowledge of French wines and helped me better understand the role of wine in human history.  Studying for the FWS Certification enabled me to explore this exciting place where the art and science of winemaking has been defined for the entire world.  

    My plan is to complete the Italian, and then the Spanish courses through WSG, and then do the Level III course through WSET.  

    I am combining two of my passions:  spirituality and wine-tasting - by offering workshops and seminars entitled “The Spirituality of Wine-Tasting.”  These workshops bring together the mindfulness involved in wine-tasting along with the delight of appreciating the vast complexity of French wines.  I believe there is a natural connection between our inner need for meaning, and our body’s wonderful gifts of taste, sight, smell, hearing and touch.  Wine-tasting using a variety of French wines from different regions highlights the particularities and the unity of all things.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS program deeply and widely expanded my knowledge of French wines and helped me better understand the role of wine in human history.
    • Position Priest, The Episcopal Diocese of Nevada
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Ken Coleman, SWS

    Congratulations to Ken Coleman, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Ken:

    Although not in the wine profession, I've been an enthusiast since my college years when my father became interested in wine. We would go on excusions to wine shops in Chicago together and he would let me taste during dinner whatever new wine he was opening. I still vividly remember the first time we tried a wine from Burgundy, a bottle of Clos De Tart, my father and I looking at each other with an expression that just said  Wow.

    After graduating college, at the age of 22, I travelled to Europe and spent some time in the Burgundy and Bordeaux areas visiting some  of the favorite estates of our family. I hitchhiked from Dijon to the Cote de Nuit, walked into Domaine La Romanee Conti without an appointment and somehow got a private tour and tasting. Obviously,  that would be impossible today.  After returning from Europe I somehow was able to join a wine tasting group in Chicago hosted by a prominent wine importer where every member was much older, more experienced and knowledgable than I. It was a great learning experience for me.

    My wife and I currently take a wine related trip every year. We have been to Spain the last two years.

    I also have a WSET3 certification. I found the WSET courses compliment the Spanish Wine Scholar course. The WSET goes very in depth into vintification. WSG covers all of the important appellations including their history.

    I love Spain and believe Spanish wines have unbeatable price to quality.  Without the Spanish Wine Scholar course I could never have penetrated the depth, history and diversity of the wines of Spain. Going forward, the knowledge I gained from my SWS certification will make my wine travel to Spain more rewarding.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Without the Spanish Wine Scholar course I could never have penetrated the depth, history and diversity of the wines of Spain.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...
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