Congratulations to Julie Draper, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
My professional conversion to the wine industry dates back to early 2017 but I have been a wine enthusiast for most of my life. My earliest wine-related memory being of 8 year-old me sneaking a sip of my dad’s Californian Zinfandel, only to have my young palate assaulted by flavors akin to a pepper-encrusted smokehouse steak! I clearly recall holding those forbidden drops on my tongue, completely captivated by their unexpected flavors as well as by my parents’ apparent appreciation for this oddly savory liquid. Little did I know at the time that this moment of childhood fascination would come full circle many years later.
I may very well have pursued a career in wine much earlier had I not discovered my great affinity for languages in my early teenage years. Consequently, I left my home state of California at 19 to pursue my graduate degree in Switzerland, initially studying to be a translator/interpreter. Once out of college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to combine my fondness for languages with my love of culture and travel, subsequently spending the greater part of my career working in fine art in New York, Berlin and Geneva.
However, after a couple of decades of alternating between continents and two much-loved careers, wine was admittedly still very much in my thoughts (not to mention an omnipresent element in my life since I had continued to educate my palate and mind on the subject ever since my arrival in Europe). For as long as I could remember, I had wanted to pursue this lifelong passion in a more official capacity and with the infinite support of my partner, I dove in wholeheartedly and headfirst, obtaining my WSET 2 & 3 at the Ecole du Vin de France in Paris. Naturally these two levels of the WSET left me wanting to delve into more detailed study, which – much to my delight – is exactly what the Wine Scholar Guild programs offer. Being partial to France and its wines, I decided to tackle the FWS first. The independent study format is exceptionally well-conceived for people who enjoy working in depth and at their own pace. The study materials and learning objectives are very logically presented, comprehensive and intuitive.
I currently have my sights set on the WSET Diploma, with my ultimate goal being the MW qualification. With this in mind, I plan to undertake both the IWS and SWS programs in the near future as I am certain they will give me a significant step up as I move forward. In the meantime, the FWS qualification is already making a difference in my career. As a judge/reviewer for a number of French food & wine magazines and competitions, I have to be able to evaluate, describe and rate many wines in a single sitting. The vast breadth of knowledge I have acquired and assimilated through the FWS has been instrumental in making me more insightful, precise and efficient at my job. I can’t imagine doing without it now!