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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    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...

    Jin Zhang, FWS

    Congratulations to Jin Zhang, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jin:

    I got bitten by the wine bug on a study aboard trip in Oaxaca, Mexico. I met a group of fellow culinary school students and bonded quickly over the fantastic local cuisine and wine from Baja. Mexican wine may have been an unexpected inspiration, but the setting and company amplified the experience, and I came back eager to learn more about wine. As a culinary professional, wine training has sharpened by palate and challenged me to come up with wine pairings.

    I have been certified as a Hospitality/Beverage Specialist by the Society of Wine Educators (February 2019) and passed my level I exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers (April 2019). The FWS program helped me focus on French wine as well as grasping more than just the most common regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux.

    I am currently studying for Certified Specialist of Wine exam as well as Level II Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Having recently participated in the FWS program, I feel better prepared for the French wine portion of exam material.

    Understanding France as a wine region lays a strong foundation for all future wine studies. It is also the region featured most often on restaurant wine lists. Having advanced-level knowledge of French wine will make me stand out in future wine-related career opportunities.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Having advanced-level knowledge of French wine will make me stand out in future wine-related career opportunities.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Level 1 Court of Master Sommeliers
    Read more...

    Jae Joon Nam, SWS

    Congratulations to Jae Joon Nam, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Jae Joon:

    I am a wine enthusiast who has been enjoying and studying wine since 2014 due to intellectual curiosity about the wine that appears in the opera.

    I have attended the Wine Academy since 2014 and have passed various wine certification programs including the Junior Sommelier course and Bordeaux, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, and South Africa. I passed the Sud de France's Master-Level Certificate (With Honors) in 2018 and the FWS Certification Program in 2019.  And I passed the SWS certification program in 2020. In the case of the SWS program, it helped us understand Spanish wine in depth as we could study the different varieties of wine in Spain.

    I enrolled in the IWS Certification Program, which starts in August 2020, and I am also studying for the WSET Level 3 course, which is scheduled to take the certification exam in October. It will help you understand wine more in three dimensions through the SWS program.

    It will help me broaden my view of wine, not just traditional French and Italian wines, but also a variety of Spanish wines, such as hidden jewels, while studying the SWS program.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It helped us understand Spanish wine in depth as we could study the different varieties of wine.
    • Position Owner, Korean Restaurant
    • Certifications French Wine Scholar, Sud de France Master Level
    Read more...

    Michelle Stelmach, SWS

    Congratulations to Michelle Stelmach, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Michelle:

    I have become a wine enthusiast over the past dozen years or so.  And since I enjoy learning new things all the time, taking courses in wine education made sense.  And for me, my love of Spain as a country made it easy to choose the Spanish Wine Scholar program.  I have walked the pilgrimage (Camino de Santiago) and got to walk through some amazing regions!  (And I’m sure some of the vineyards right along the camino path are used to losing a couple of bunches of grapes to some hungry pilgrims.

    I started with level 1 in the WSET, then completed my level 3 WSET.  Now I have the SWS under my belt.  The SWS adds a great deal of depth to my understanding of Spanish wines and the lovely country itself.  I considered taking another course, perhaps FWS or IWS, but I need to consider the cost and time.  I did spend a lot of time studying and memorizing to get my SWS with highest honors.

    I would enjoy working in the wine industry, but as yet have not found exactly where I fit in.  I do live in a smaller community where there are not too many options.  I host the occasional wine tasting party with friends which is always well received. Having earned this certificate definitely boosts my confidence regarding Spanish wine!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS adds a great deal of depth to my understanding of Spanish wines and the lovely country itself.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Evan Robert Fraser, SWS

    Congratulations to Evan Robert Fraser, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Evan:

    I was fortunate enough to able to turn my job in the alcohol beverage industry into a career after meeting employees, members of the beverage trade, and local winemakers who radiated passion for the work they do. I currently hold the position of Product Consultant with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and work in a customer facing environment, introducing our customers to what is new and exciting in the world of wine while providing specialist-level information about regions and wines of notoriety.

    The process to achieve this position involves extensive study and testing. My passion for wine is rooted in looking for ways to make a complicated subject as simple for newcomers as possible; to help people understand the history and the elements that contribute to the liquid they are about to enjoy. My future aspirations involve working with others who wish to take the next step in their beverage education, along with expanding my role as an ambassador for the wine industry in Ontario.  

    The majority of my wine and beverage studies have involved work with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and The Wine Scholar Guild (WSG). I currently hold the Level 3 Award in Wine and Spirits certification through WSET and the Italian Wine Scholar (IWS) and the recently introduced Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) certifications through the WSG. I have had the pleasure of studying with the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG) in Toronto, Canada and cannot recommend enough the work and study environment they provide to students.   

    The information that I have learned from taking courses in the Wine Scholar Guild has been invaluable to the work I do; the detailed analysis of varietals, wine laws, appellations, geography found in the Spanish Wine Scholar and the Italian wine Scholar make them essential certifications for any trade professional and those looking to further their wine knowledge. Moreover, the WSG courses perfectly augment the work that I have done in the WSET so far and will be beneficial to my future certifications.  

    Taking the SWS has reminded me to look at the industry with a critical eye: one must always evaluate how the interplay between climates, regions, and social mores contribute to a country’s wine heritage and wine culture wholly. In the coming year I will focus my attention on beginning studies in the WSET’s Diploma program through IWEG along with exploring courses offered through Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and focusing on the Ontario wine industry.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar Certification has reinforced for me the importance of being a well-read individual in the wine world; to be able to speak to the finer points of the world’s most important wine regions instills my customers with confidence in the products I have selected. The in-depth information in the Spanish Wine Scholar is invaluable and provides expert level knowledge for an ever-evolving wine industry.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The in-depth information in the Spanish Wine Scholar is invaluable and provides expert level knowledge for an ever-evolving wine industry.
    • Position Product Consultant, Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Lise Kupke, SWS

    Congratulations to Lise Kupke, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lise:

    I currently work at a job unrelated to wine:  I am a Senior Information Security officer at The World Bank, where I have worked for 27 years.   I am a huge wine enthusiast:  I have always loved tasting wine wherever I travel, love the expression of the grapes, the terroir, the vintner and winemaking techniques that go into each bottle.  I also love the history behind the wine, the estate and the winemaker for every bottle.   So…..
    My aspiration is to retire from my WB job, and work in the wine industry, probably as an educator.  I already moonlight a local Wine School, teaching some intro and WSET classes……

    I have Diploma WSET which was completed last June, 2019  awarded in January, 2020 in London.  I also have earned the FWS, Lustau Sherry Specialist, the SWS and am now working on the IWS.  The SWS gave me a deeper appreciate of wines from Spain.  I already knew I loved them, but this gave me a whole new level of understanding and taught me some wines that had not been on my radar.

    All of the WSG classes are well put together, with excellent detail.  They are designed to make learning easy.  I believe that my WSET Diploma would have been a lot easier had I taken the SWS and IWS first!  (The FWS helped me tremendously in achieving the Diploma).  The focus is a bit different, but the amount of knowledge acquired from these in depth programs are certainly a foundation on which to build detailed industry study, research and experience.

    As my goal is to be a wine educator at a school or wine store,  all of this knowledge, reference material and ideas will be invaluable!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial This gave me a whole new level of understanding and taught me some wines that had not been on my radar.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Guanyi Sun, FWS

    Congratulations to Guanyi Sun, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Guanyi:

    I became passionate about wine after having worked a few years in the hospitality industry. I like that wine is a combination of science and art, so I wanted a career change. I went back to university again to study viticulture and oenology to become a winemaker.

    I have passed WSET 3 and I am currently enrolled in the Master Level of Bourgogne. FWS has provided me with an in-depth knowledge for French regions and culture. It allows me to better appreciate terroir and will surely set a solid foundation for the future master level study.

    The program has helped me to better associate the influence of terroir on wine quality which is very useful from a winemaker’s point of view. The textbook will be a great reference for future study on French wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The textbook will be a great reference for future study on French wines.
    • Position Vintage Winemaker, Pernod Ricard Winemakers
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Tábor István, FWS

    Congratulations to Tábor István, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tábor: 

    I have been a wine professional for some years now and am the owner and general manager of a wine-based ‘portfolio’ in Hungary.  This includes two online wine magazines, a WSET APP wine school, an online wine shop and numerous regular wine tasting events. My main aim is to improve my everyday performance in the wine business

    I am currently devoting a lot of time to my wine studies. I have already passed the WSG Champagne master program and am now preparing to take the WSG Spanish Wine Scholar exam. In addition, I am studying for the WSET Diploma at their London Wine School, for the Online Certificate in Wine Business Management at the Sonoma State University and the online American Wine Expert course at the Napa Valley Academy. Moreover, I plan to enrol for the WSG Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 and 2 (15-week instructor-led format) in fall 2020. Besides my wine qualifications, I have a masters in economic sciences, faculty of finance and accounting, and an MSc in Law.

    The French Wine Scholar program has helped me better understand the French wine regions, different wine categories and styles, and their historical and economic background. I was able to supplement what I had already learned about France in the WSET Diploma program and am now able to better see the big picture. The FWS program has also motivated me to enroll in the other six master programs (Loire, Alsace, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Rhone and Provence).

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS program has also motivated me to enroll in the other six master programs.
    • Position CEO and Owner, Trinety Media Ltd
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Champagne Master Level
    Read more...
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