Congratulations to Woodie Stephenson, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
I am a wine professional working in the South Central area of the United States. I live and work in Texas, but I visit several states a year to work with our distributor partners and accounts: Louisiana, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. I studied technical writing and communication at the University of Houston, have worked for Rice University and worked in bars and restaurants as a beverage professional, and for one of Texas’ largest wine retailers, Spec’s, while learning about wine and spirits. In 2013, after completing my Master’s studies, I made the leap to working for a family-owned distributor before joining the Boisset family in 2014. My journey as a professional started when I realized that my training in technical writing and communication was most affective when I worked with wine, a subject that I was very interested in. I started by reading books and doing my own writing, but I love that wine can always be a conversation, no matter the audience.
I have studied with the Society of Wine Educators and completed the CSW and CSS program. I have a Masters in Science of Wine Business from the Burgundy School of Business (class of 2013) and while studying and living in Dijon I began my WSET studies with Steve Charter MW. It took me some time because I found it challenging to balance work and education, but I completed the WSET program and received my Diploma in Wine & Spirits in 2019. As someone who has lived and travelled fairly extensively in France, I found the FWS program very appealing as a way to reconcile a lot of my own experiences with a professional program to enhance and complete gaps in my knowledge. I found that the program helped to clear up a lot of questions I had in regards to wine laws and wine regions and has only added to my own understanding and professional confidence.
I really enjoyed the French Wine Scholar and decided to enroll in the Italian Wine Scholar program for the summer/fall session this year! Although I have flirted with the idea of applying with the Institute of Masters of Wine, I have not committed to the program at this time. I hope to use my experiences to contribute to the WSET and WSG in the future; I would love to teach and mentor wine professionals.
The French Wine Scholar program is a specialized program and I help to market and sell French wines in the US; I found the textbook to be an immensely thorough and well-researched guide. I hope my plans for the future will always include French wines. The wines of Burgundy, Beaujolais, Jura, Loire, Rhône and the South of France are a great passion of mine. I have had the opportunity to visit new areas of France professionally with Boisset (Arbois, Brouilly and Languedoc) and on my own (Alsace, Bordeaux, Loire, Rhône, Savoie) and having lived in Burgundy was a dream come true! The FWS has inspired me further to visit new areas for travel and education when time permits; I hope to return to Alsace to discover the terroirs of the Grand Cru, and to visit many areas in Southwest France, Roussillon and Provence someday.