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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Xavier Ligot, FWS

    Congratulations to Xavier Ligot, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Xavier:

    I am passionate about wine, a hobby inoculated by my grand-father while browsing through bottles in his cellar.

    I started studying wine at the Office Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV). This was followed by WSET 2 and 3, CSW and FWS. The French Wine Scholar program allowed me to explore France in depth, a must for any serious wine amateur. I am currently pursuing the “Certified Specialist in Spirit” certificate.

    FWS is helping me prepare for the next step. My ambition is to continue the journey with WSET4 or the Court of Master Sommelier, hopefully this year!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The French Wine Scholar program allowed me to explore France in depth, a must for any serious wine amateur.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3, Certified Specialist of Wine
    Read more...

    Joyce Leung, FWS

    Congratulations to Joyce Leung, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Joyce:

    I’m a wine enthusiast. I want to learn more about what I really like and enjoy.  FWS is my first wine course.

    FWS is a perfect combination of history, geography, geology and hard core knowledge of wine growing. I don’t plan to become a sommelier so the WSET course does not appeal to me. The Wine Scholar Guild program is an excellent alternative for me.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial FWS is a perfect combination of history, geography, geology and hard core knowledge of wine growing.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    John Ospina, SWS

    Congratulations to John Ospina, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About John:

    I began to appreciate wine early on in my youth with my family at meals. My parents were wine enthusiasts and they would allow us to have small tastes on special occasions. As an adult in my late twenties, I had a wine epiphany with a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon that put me on a path to becoming a wine lover. I moved to Washington State in my thirties and became a huge fan of many of Washington State’s top producers. When I met my wife, she also enjoyed wine and that led us to developing our passion for wine together. After many years of collecting and enjoying wines from all over the world, I decided to formalize my love of wine. I started volunteering at a top winery in Woodinville WA. I also enrolled in the WSET programs while still working at AT&T

    After 20 years at AT&T, I retired in December of 2019 to pursue a career change into the Pacific Northwest wine industry.

    I have completed up to the WSET – L3 certification as well the WSG; IWS, SWS and I am currently studying for the FWS exam. I also have a tremendous fascination of Champagne so I will likely pursue the WSG Champagne Master Level in 2021.

    The SWS program was particularly a joy because of my love of all wine and food products from the Iberian Peninsula. The SWS now allows me to have even a greater appreciation of all the fabulous wines coming out of Spain, some that I knew little about before. I feel that now having taken and passed SWS, IWS and FWS very soon, will give me a great breadth of knowledge of how the Old World wines began and evolved to where they are today, and the incredible influence they had on the rest of the wine producing regions of the world.

    Not only did the SWS program enhance my passion of Spanish wine but I believe the SWS program along with my other wine education gives me the ability to enter the wine industry with the knowledge and confidence to succeed in various areas of the wine industry .i.e. education, sales, brand ambassador, and distribution.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS now allows me to have an even greater appreciation of all the fabulous wines coming out of Spain, some that I knew little about before.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Kathleen Thomas, SWS

    Congratulations to Kathleen Thomas, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kathleen:

    I would consider myself both enthusiast and professional as they have shaken each other’s hand hand in hand over the years. I have always had an affinity towards hospitality and that led me to being offered a role as a sommelier 8 years ago. I was hooked by day 3 on the floor even though I couldn’t point to Champagne on a map; the history, intensity, and chaos of it all was inspiring to stay educated and informed, to this day!

    Until recently (Covid-19) I was the Education Manager for Hakkasan Group and thoroughly enjoyed being able to share my own passions with others while helping them enhance their skills for their guests. This has not left me now that I am not with the company as I am creating a platform of hospitality & health training that is lacking in so many of our industries. I am, like so many others right now, offering online wine education and tasting “therapy” while balancing myself, and hopefully others, with daily strength training classes (yoga, meditation).

    I passed my Master Sommelier theory exam last July and would like to complete my service and tasting portions this year, but it truly is about the journey so I will continue blind tasting at home and practice service by opening wine bottles and making cocktails to prepare; doesn’t sound that bad of a study practice right now does it?

    My credentials include Advanced Sommelier, Spanish Wine Scholar Educator, Certified Specialist of Sake, Certified Specialist of Sherry, WSET Level 2 Awards in Wine & Spirits, Certified Beer Server and Expressive Yoga Certified, RYT 200.

    Having the opportunity to take the WSG Spanish Educator course was such a breath of freshness because I was able to dive deeply into one country and their passions and purpose in the wine industry, rather than attempt to study everything about everywhere. The content is in-depth and thoughtful with just the right amount of “nerdiness” but not too chaotic.

    I have had my sights set on the French and Italian courses but would like to wait for a time when the income status is more stabilized. These program no doubt will offer me the same quality and intensity I found with Rick’s Spanish course.

    Education is always beneficial to the progression of one’s Self. It can motivate and inspire you to find out things that were perhaps hidden before and increase your worth not only to others professionally and personally, but more so to your own beautiful Self. The WSG is an outlet to allow this flow to happen with precision, persistence, and positive feedback.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The content is in-depth and thoughtful with just the right amount of “nerdiness” but not too chaotic.
    • Position Beverage Education, WineGoddessLV
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, Advanced Sommelier
    Read more...

    Kumar Sandrasegaran, FWS

    Congratulations to Kumar Sandrasegaran, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kumar:

    I have been enthusiastic about wine and viticulture for about 30 years, since college. However, wine is a hobby as I work full time in the medical field. I have travelled to many vineyards, particularly in France and USA. I am also fluent in French. I like to teach about wine and have had many “wine parties” with friends and colleagues.

    I hope to complete Italian and Spanish Wine Scholar programs and then sit WSET III and IV. May be one day I may work as a sommelier, though working full time as a radiologist does not give me time for a second job at present.

    I have taken classes in Napa Valley Wine Academy and more recently Las Vegas Wine Academy. Gina Marano of LVWA was very helpful in getting logistics set up. Maurizio was a fantastic teacher who put in the extra mile to help us do well in the FWS. His dedication was definitely the reason I did well in the FWS.

    I have passed the WSET II. I would like to complete the Wine Scholar programs and WSET in next 2-3 years. I will probably consider the Master level programs in one or more French regions.

    FWS gave me a thorough understanding of French wine – more so than needed for WSET. Similarly, I expect the other courses (SWS, IWS) to prepare me well for WSET. Now, I have no issues in ordering a French with a meal and am the go-to wine person for my friends while at a restaurant.  I hope one day you will have an American Wine Scholar course.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Now, I have no issues in ordering a French wine with a meal and am the go-to wine person for my friends at a restaurant.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Sean Norton, SWS

    Congratulations to Sean Norton, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar program with highest honors!

    About Sean:

    I moved to California 20 years ago and immediately became a wine enthusiast.  I was making my living in enterprise software sales but found myself spending the bulk of my time outside of work learning about wine.  I started with tasting groups, a course at UC Davis, a weekend tasting room job at Ridge Winery, and used most of my vacation time to visit wine regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Tuscany, Cataluña, País Vasco, & Andalucía.  The next thing I knew, I had started a Sherry pop-up called ¿Por qué no? in San Francisco and started working on a plan to leave corporate life and work fulltime in wine.  I now work as the National Sales Director for Alexander Jules Spanish Wine Imports where I get to combine my business experience with my love for wine and I could not be happier!

    Prior to completing the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) program, I achieved the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits and became a Certified Sherry Educator thru the Consejo Regulador in Jerez.  The SWS program was extremely comprehensive and has helped me in my job as a Spanish Wine Importer.  Further, the SWS materials were of the highest quality and the curriculum was very well organized.

    I really appreciated the level of depth provided by the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) program.  I am a visual learner and often use the wonderful maps to provide context and a sense of place when talking about our imported wines.  I am absolutely in love with Spain, its wine, its food, and its people.  The SWS program brought all that together for me.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I am absolutely in love with Spain, its wine, its food, and its people. The SWS program brought all that together for me.
    • Position National Sales Director, Alexander Jules Spanish Wine Imports
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Mario Cagnetta

    Congratulations to Mario Cagnetta for passing the Bourgogne Master Level program with highest honors!

    About Mario:

    I worked as a journalist for 15 years in Northern Italy then I decided to commit myself to my other passion: wine. After working in Canada I had the opportunity to completely change my career path. Not a bad choice, at the end I had a chance to taste amazing wines.

    I consider myself as a wine professional. I love talking about wine. I love training staff and sharing my passion and knowledge with wine.

    I became a sommelier from AIS, the Italian Sommelier Association, after searching for more international certifications I enrolled in Society of Wine Educators, Court of Master Sommeliers and of course Wine Scholar Guild. I still have a strong Italian wine background but I wanted to be more confident with the rest of the world.

    When you want the reach the highest level you need to be focused on single region and sometimes to a single wine and be more specific and knowledgeable. The Burgundy Master Level program helped me to add many layers to my wine knowledge and refine my expertise when it comes to expressing one of the most intriguing wine regions in the world.

    I continue my studies, I want to become a Certified Wine Educator and possibly one day come back to my roots and write about wine.

    In order to talk and write about wine you need to have a lot of in depth knowledge. I was impressed about Don Kinnan knowledge. He is very inspiring and he helped me a lot to dig deeper into the world of Burgundian wine.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The Burgundy Master Level program helped me to add many layers to my wine knowledge and refine my expertise.
    • Position Manager- Head Sommelier at Buca Cucina
    • Certifications Spanish Wine Scholar, Champagne Master Level, Provence Master Level, Bordeaux Master-Level, Italian Wine Scholar, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Sharmian Duke, FWS

    Congratulations to Sharmian Duke, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Sharmian:

    I presently work in health care but have been planning for a career change. I have always been a wine enthusiast but started studying around 4 years ago. I plan to do the WSET Diploma this fall so I want to study as much as I can before that. Next year I plan to move to our local wine region here in BC called the Okanagan Valley to start a career in winemaking.

    I started with WSET and completed up to level 3. Then I completed the UC Davis Winemaking program. I am currently enrolled in WSET 2 Spirits and the Italian Wine Scholar. If I have time to finish the Spanish Wine Scholar before September I will do that as well. I believe that having knowledge of many wines and their regions will make me a more well-rounded winemaker.

    I really enjoyed the FWS course and I learned a lot. Just as I finished we had a large wine festival in my city and the focus was France. Having the knowledge of the regions and grape varieties made it so easy to navigate and choose which I wanted to try. This course really built on what I had learned in WSET and I’m sure it will help me with the diploma.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial This course really built on what I had learned in WSET and I’m sure it will help me with the diploma.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3,
    Read more...

    Jonelle Noelani Yacapin, SWS

    Congratulations to Jonelle Noelani Yacapin, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jonelle:

    It began with a dinner party in college.  Nothing fancy.  Just affordable wine from the grocery store.  Soon friends in the restaurant industry introduced me to a world of wine.  I then also fell into that industry.  It was thrilling trying new varietals and exploring new wine regions.  I abandoned my pursuit of a Degree in International Studies to nourish my curiosity in food and beverage.

    I am now a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers, FWS, IWS and SWS.  I also earned an Associate’s Degree in Wine Marketing and Sales.  The certification programs from the Wine Scholar Guild have given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for these wine regions.  I also really enjoyed the organization of the course, manual and online materials.  The information was the most up-to-date and directly from the source.
        
    I’m on the fence about pursuing the Advanced Sommelier certification but may pursue some Master Classes from the Wine Scholar Guild.  I like the framework and the ability to concentrate on a particular wine region.

    Realistically, my future wine studies may be more in the form of immersion.  I want to travel the world, taste the wine, eat the food, meet the people and see the vineyards.  The SWS program has definitely helped me to connect the dots in my travels as I see, taste and eat things first hand.

    Wine has become a big part of my life and I’ve always loved Spain.  I hope to visit more to try wines from its many regions to reinforce and expand upon what I’ve learned through the SWS program.  Maybe seek out some of those rare sweet wines and bottlings that don’t make it to the US.

    Currently, I am seeking to gain more skills to strengthen my marketing background to help wineries and wine regions to engage consumers.  Maybe through wine tourism.

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program has definitely helped me to connect the dots in my travels as I see, taste and eat things first hand.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, FWS, IWS
    Read more...

    Heather Ritchie

    Congratulations to Heather Ritchie for passing the Bourgogne Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Heather:

    I am a wine enthusiast, and with my twin sister (who has been sharing this wine journey with me) have explored the wine regions of France, Italy, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, California and Canada’s Okanagan, Niagara and PEC County wine areas.  We have also gone on the Wine Scholar Guild’s specialty trips to Burgundy, Piedmont, the Loire and Alsace.  

    I have passed the following wine certification programs prior to the ML Burgundy:
    Nov 2013, Certified Specialist of Wine, Society of Wine Educators
    Jul 2014, Italian Wine Specialist, North American Sommelier Association
    Jul 2014, WSET Level 2 (with Distinction)
    Jan 2015, French Wine Scholar (Highest Honors)
    Oct 2016, Master of Terroir, North American Sommelier Association

    The ML program was the most in-depth, rigorous wine study program I have undertaken to date and a natural progression from the French Wine Scholar program.  ML Burgundy knowledge gave me an invaluable appreciation and understanding of one of the most complex and historically significant areas of the wine world.   

    I am planning on taking WSET Level 3 and potentially the Wine Scholar Guild’s ML Bordeaux certification.  The ML Burgundy course, with its focus on geology, wine styles and producers, provides a framework/template/systematic approach to my future wine studies.  

    The ML program was such an enjoyable learning experience that it is challenging me to develop more rigorous knowledge of other wine regions.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The ML program was such an enjoyable learning experience that it is challenging me to develop more rigorous knowledge of other wine regions.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications CSW, Society of Wine Educators, WSET Level 2, FWS (Highest Honors)
    Read more...
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