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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Jacki Tessmer, FWS

    Jacki Tessmer, FWS
    This has greatly increased my knowledge, exposed me to a wider range of French wines, had me discover through tasting through the regions some great wines at great value.
    Jacki Tessmer, FWS, Wine Enthusiast
    Other certifications: WSET Level 2 & 3

    Congratulations to Jacki Tessmer, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jacki:

    I am passionate about learning … and learning about wine. Why do I like what I like?  If I like a certain wine what is another wine I should try?  How can I expand my taste, palate, and understanding of both how grapes are grown and wine is made.

    I also enjoy sharing that knowledge.  I’ve “moonlighted” in a wine store, helping customers find a perfect wine and doing guided tastings with a emphasis on a how to taste wine to get more out of it. Helping others understand what they like and what else they might want to try is so fun.

    I’ve also worked at a Virginia winery doing tastings and handling wine club events. Focusing in on one winery’s wine was very rewarding and our smaller size Virginia wineries allow guest to engage closely with the folks who are hands on producing the wines.

    I’m also involved with the American Wine Society, coordinating programs for the Heritage Hunt wine club chapter (one of the largest AWS chapters in the country.) Before the pandemic locked us down we held a monthly seated wine tasting, averaging about 75 wine club members, where our tasting centered around  a wine theme, exploring the wines of  a country, a Virginia Winery or various wine/ food style pairings.

    While “being in wine” is not my full time job, it is my passion and I enjoy finding ways to share my passion.

    I first learned more about wine from going to tastings at Virginia wineries or wine classes at Total Wine!  I wanted to learn more than that was giving me so I took the opportunity to do a ‘boot camp’ style wine training at the Napa Valley Wine Academy (as if you going to learn about wine why not in Napa!) I completed my WSET Level 2 (Intermediate) at NVWA in 2015.   In 2019 I was working at a Virginia winery and had the opportunity to complete my WSET Level 3 Advanced Award in wine.

    In 2020 I was booked on a Rhone River Cruise that features a Master of Wine. When it was clear that would be canceled I decided if I couldn’t learn about French wines on the cruise I’d do the French Wine Scholar program.  I am really glad I did as honestly I didn’t know that much but a very high level about French wines (and the fact I’m a fan of Rhone and “GSM blends”).  This has greatly increased my knowledge, exposed me to a wider range of French wines, had me discover through tasting through the regions some great wines at great value (can you say Loire Valley and the Languedoc?!)

    The WSET program is great, it gives you a super foundation in how to systematically approach tasting wines, understanding things like Tannins, Acid, Sugar, primary, secondary and tertiary flavors, wine growing and winemaking techniques. It’s broad – in that WSET Level 3 features all the major wine regions, but you don’t have a chance to go deep and focus on one region – like Wine Scholar Guild does with the country specific programs.

    In that way I think WSG and something like a WSET Level 2 or Level 3 is very complimentary.

    Having just passed my FWS I’m not jumping in to another wine certification – though I am intrigued by the WSG Master program!

    One of the things I did during my study for the FWS was to ‘taste along’ with the sub-regions. I mentioned this to a friend who said ‘why don’t you start a French Wine Tasting Club’ I’d like to taste along with you!  So I did. It quickly went from 4 friends to over 10 and once I completed my study they’ve begged me to ‘keep going’. So each month my personal tasting club features wines I select and present. We’re featuring other regions they are not as familiar with (Spain, South Africa) and also doing comparative grape tastings (Chardonnay from cool, moderate and warm climates, how are they the same, how are they different?!)

    We all love it. If you want something you’ve learned to stick they say the best way is to teach it!  I found that to be true.


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