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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers


    Tom Martin, IWS

    Congratulations to Tom Martin, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tom:

    I am an enthusiast and former “Professor” at the Fox School of Wine in Park City, Utah. Google it.

    When the Coronavirus pandemic spread across the US, I decided to enroll in the intensive IWS2 course led by Alan Tardi. I had already passed IWS1. With little else to do, I had plenty of time to read and reread the booklet and attend the webinars. I used the Learning Objectives (LO) templates to cull information from the manual and webinars and used my completed LO documents intensively for review. I sat the IWS2 exam in early June and learned that the Wine Scholar Guild has awarded me certification with highest honors! Very exciting!

    Then, in early July my wife and I sold our home and moved to Maryland to stay safe from Coronavirus in our camper trailer on the farm of a friend. You’ll see in the attached photo a Western hat and Eastern plow as I proudly display my certificate. It is emblematic of my past and present.
    What’s next depends on how soon the pandemic subsides and opportunities to work in the trade arise. Oh, and my wife and I need to find a home before winter locks us into our trailer!

    My certifications include WSET3; FWS, IWS and Alsace Advanced Study. The WSET program got me deep into understanding wine, appellations, vineyard management techniques, and vinification techniques. The study and certifications with the Wine Scholar Guild have broadened my knowledge.

    As for what comes next, I hope to resume study for the Advanced Program for Champagne that I suspended a while ago. I am also keen to take the Spanish Wine Scholar program.

    The IWS, with two parts and many appellations and grape varieties, presented a challenge to learn and remember so much. It gave me the skill to learn and retain both basic and curious facts about geology, history, and culture. That skill will benefit me as I continue to explore the world of wine.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It gave me the skill to learn and retain both basic and curious facts about geology, history, and culture.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, Alsace Master Level

    Andrea Forbicioni, IWS

    Congratulations to Andrea Forbicioni, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrea:

    Hi, I am Andrea Forbicioni DipWSET, IWS. I live in Perth, Australia.

    I am a wine enthusiast, I am not a wine professional...yet. I work in IT right now but I wish to share my passion for wines (especially from less known grapes) and teach in an interactive way so that wine can be appreciated by everyone and not only by people with a certain level of experience or certification  I feel the wine lovers and consumers all over the world need to know more about wines coming from non-international grapes, as there is a sense of uniqueness and tipicity in them that needs to be rediscovered. In that sense, I'd like to become an ambassador for less common grapes, as there is a wide heritage of lost grapes to preserve.

    I obtained the WSET Diploma last March through the Sydney Wine Academy. That gave me a great overview on all the world's wine regions and a structured tasting approach.  At the same time, I felt I wanted to deepen my knowledge of specific countries, especially countries like Italy that are unique in terms of indigenous grapes.
    The IWS program helped me to extend my knowledge and made me aware of all the necessary information needed to understand Italian wines deeply, thanks to a 360-degree outlook on the Italian world of grapes and wines. I feel everyone that wants to become a wine expert needs to have a good knowledge of the Italian wine world, and the IWS program is a very useful tool to gain that precious knowledge. I am also thinking about enrolling to the SWS (Spanish Wine Scholar) program, to complement and deepen my knowledge gained through WSET and IWS. In a similar way to Italy, Spain is home to unique indigenous grapes, which need to be valued more than what they are currently.

    In a world where everyone uses social media to talk and post about wines, it is important to have certification(s) as a stand out point, and the IWS will certainly help me to be recognized to the outside world as an Italian Wine Scholar.  My Instagram and youtube channels are @vinomagister so please follow me as a start!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The IWS program..made me aware of all the necessary information...thanks to a 360-degree outlook on the Italian world of grapes and wines.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma

    Asami Yoshikawa, IWS

    Congratulations to Asami Yoshikawa, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Asami:

    I started my career in wine two years ago as an educator at Académie du Vin Tokyo, teaching wine appreciation courses at various levels.  I have been an actress since graduation, focusing mainly on stages and movies, with an upcoming movie screening this summer.  I became interested in Sake since a few years ago, turning into a wine enthusiast then a professional.  I then fell in love with Italian wines because of its fascinating diversity and am  currently an Italian Wine Ambassador of Vinitaly International Academy.

    I passed the WSET Level 3 in wine not long ago.  While studying for Level 3, I joined the IWS course and the Italian Wine Ambassador course of Vinitaly International Academy.  I passed both qualifications roughly at the same time.  IWS certainly helped a lot towards my qualification as Italian Wine Ambassador and vice versa too.  I am currently studying for the WSET Diploma and I am expecting too the knowledge I gained in the IWS program will help a lot especially for the section on Italian wines.

    I think the IWS program is very comprehensive.  It covers not just wines but also with extensive content on the historical, cultural as well as the legislative aspects plus many great wine maps, making the learning process far from mundane but very fun indeed.

    I am seriously considering teaching the course at my wine school sometime in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The IWS program...covers not just wines...making the learning process far from mundane but very fun indeed.
    • Position Educator, Academie du Vin Tokyo
    • Certifications WSET Level 3

    Monica Marin, IWS

    Congratulations to Monica Marin, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Monica:

    I am the Head of Education programs at The Wine House in Los Angeles. I hold a WSET Diploma and I have been in the hospitality and wine business for over 12 years.

    I hold the following certifications: Diploma WSET/FWS/SWS/IWS.  I am also continuing my studies as a Second year MW student .

    The IWS program is a great refresher on every region of Italy !

    We are looking forward to start launching the IWS program in Los Angeles !

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial A great refresher on every region of Italy !
    • Position Director of Education, The Wine House
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar, Spanish Wine Scholar

    Yung Fu, IWS

    Congratulations to Yung Fu, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Yung Fu:

    I love wines and I started a wine company, Vanilla Group Limited, with my wine lover friends to promote wines in China and Hong Kong. Being the Asian representative of wineries, we help to promote their wines in the region. We also import wines and arrange wine courses and tasting events.

    Before passing Italian Wine Scholar, I certified as WSET diploma (DipWSET) and French Wine Scholar. Studying the Italian Wine Scholar has been a very fruitful and enjoyable experience. I love Italian wine, for its diversity and quality. The IWS course gives much broader exposure and knowledge about Italian wines. There are a lot hidden gems in Italian wines, which just have been so difficult to get in Hong Kong. I really appreciate the chance that I can get to know them and try them.

    IWS set a good foundation in my pursuit of Italian wines. I look forward to share my love and passion of Italian wines to people in China and Hong Kong.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Studying the Italian Wine Scholar has been a very fruitful and enjoyable experience.
    • Position Director, Vanilla Group Limited
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar

    Vanny Whitchelo, IWS

    Congratulations to Vanny Whitchelo, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Vanny:

    Back in 2012, while I was working in marketing in the travel industry, I started taking WSET 1, 2, and 3 as a wine enthusiast. Shortly after taking level 3 I decided to actively pursue a career in the wine industry. I started off as a sales coordinator for a bit at an agency that focused on spirits and only a handful of wines. I quickly got into sales there. Now I work in marketing with a focus on digital marketing at a wine agency based in Western Canada, Trialto Wine Group.

    I like to surround myself with wine enthusiasts and aspire to continue learning about wine, with a goal of completing the WSET diploma and beyond. I’d like to start writing on my website, ittasteslikewine.com again.

    I have WSET level 3. Although the chapter on Italy was one of the longest in level 3, the IWS program dove deeper and I gained extensive knowledge in the amount of time that otherwise would’ve taken me years to acquire had I taken a more leisurely approach. I now speak confidently and with great enthusiasm on Italian wines, having enjoyed many for the program!

    After taking IWS, I’d like to take FWS and eventually complete the WSET diploma. I believe the IWS program has helped set me up for success in my studies, and I think FWS will too.

    I enrolled in the IWS program while I was on maternity leave. The way the program is set up allowed for flexibility on when I could study, something I very much needed while caring for an infant.

    I’m pregnant with my second and have the confidence I can do well again in FWS with the same dedication and support of my family.

    I believe the IWS program will help set me up for success in my future studies and professional life. It has showed me that thanks to my dedication and very important support network, I can excel in my studies and career while raising a young family. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I believe the IWS program will help set me up for success in my future studies and professional life.
    • Position Associate Portfolio & Marketing Manager, Trialto Wine Group
    • Certifications WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3

    Julie Seibert, IWS

    Congratulations to Julie Seibert, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Julie:

    I am a wine enthusiast who is transitioning to wine professional.  After a successful and rewarding career with the U.S. Federal Government, I retired at the senior executive level.  I knew I didn’t want to stop working altogether, but felt this was my time to pursue some new things that excite me.  One such thing was becoming a contract instructor, helping government officials build their practical and leadership skills, and another was to continue my own self-development by building my wine knowledge.  

    As I began to pursue that knowledge through wine education programs, I decided I wanted to enhance my journey through experience and began working at the Vineyards and Winery at Lost Creek in Virginia.  This family-run winery gave me opportunities to not only learn about the wines, but also to gain some practical knowledge in the vineyard – to actually do what I was reading about.

    Now I’ve begun the next phase of my development, combining my abilities in adult education with my wine knowledge as I work with the owners of Lost Creek to establish wine education programs at their newest venture, Echelon Wine Bar in Leesburg, Virginia, which is due to open in April 2020.  I’m excited to be creating and teaching programs designed to make wine enjoyment accessible and fun.

    I am currently enrolled in the American Wine Expert certification program through the Napa Valley Wine Academy, and I am also interested in the Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar certification program and perhaps eventually, the WSET diploma.  I think the deep dives that these WSG and other programs offer would give me a leg up in pursuing the demanding and challenging DipWSET certification.

    While we’ll be highlighting a lot of our beautiful Virginia wines at Echelon Wine Bar, we’ll be offering wines from around the world and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to share knowledge of some of my Italian favorites with our customers.  I can’t wait to introduce them to some lesser-known Italian gems that have become my go-to wines, and to compare some of the sustainable practices used in both places.

    Going forward, I will continue to find ways to combine my practical executive leadership experience, adult education skills and more recently gained wine knowledge, including helping businesses explore leadership through the lens of wine.  Businesses are seeking novel and fun ways to experience teambuilding and study leadership concepts, and I think the wine industry not only has wonderful venues to offer, but some interesting case studies in perseverance and change, areas in which I have significant educational and practical expertise.  I would not be able to pursue these avenues without the solid wine knowledge gained through WSG and WSET programs.  To be a successful instructor of adults, you must be authentic and your knowledge and passion must be deep; adults immediately recognize when you’re “faking it.”  IWS has helped give me the necessary depth in wine to add to my credentials.

    Finally, it has opened doors to fun experiences!  I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Northern Italy in September.  Being able to say that I was an IWS student and that I worked at a winery myself resulted in a tremendously warm welcome time and again at wineries throughout Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia and the Veneto.  It has also led to many great conversations as there’s a real interest today in understanding wine in general, and Italian wines in particular.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can’t wait to introduce (our customers) to some lesser-known Italian gems that have become my go-to wines.
    • Position Wine Instructor, Echelon Wine Bar

    Walden Pemantle, IWS

    Congratulations to Walden Pemantle, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar program with highest honors!

    About Walden:

    I am both a wine enthusiast and professional. I caught the wine bug over a show-stopping pairing at Alinea restaurant in Chicago. Since then, I have worked as a cook, a food writer, an Italian wine importer, and currently, as the manager of my program provider, the Texas Wine School. Throughout the journey, food, wine, and the closeness that they bring us have been my most consistent passions. I hope to keep writing, teaching, and tasting, spreading the belief that every bottle and every bite are worth our attention.  

    I have passed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Advance level exam with distinction and am currently working through their diploma program. I have also passed my Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, earning the Walter Clore Scholarship for top score.

    Before diving full-time into the wine world, I studied the microbiology of cheese and wine as part of a summer program at Rutgers University, and completed original research on Post-Modernism in food and the culinary and oenological impacts of Thomas Jefferson on American cuisine at Rice University.

    I took Italian Wine Scholar between my Certified Sommelier exam and the beginning of the WSET Diploma program. I have found that, beyond the obvious advantage IWS offers in Italian theory knowledge, IWS simply prepares students for studying at a higher level of detail than similar wine exams. I remember being in Verona with a friend who had passed multiple sections of the Master Sommelier exam. He was telling me what he had just learned in a seminar on Lambrusco about cross-pollination between Lambrusco di Sorbara and Salamino and I remember thinking “I learned that in IWS!”

    I think the level of knowledge I gained in IWS will continue to be my standard for what it means to have an in-depth knowledge of any given region. I have always loved Italy, and I hope that my IWS certification might mark the beginning of my role as someone looked at as an Italian wine specialist among my wine community.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The level of knowledge I gained in IWS will continue to be my standard for what it means to have an in-depth knowledge of any given region.
    • Position Manager, The Texas Wine School
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3

    Amanda Menahem, IWS

    Congratulations to Amanda Menahem, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Amanda:

    I started off with an amateur interest in wine. I had always been a food and wine lover but had  spent most of my working life in the corporate world. My hobby became more serious when I was asked to start a food section for a local business magazine. At the same time I began learning about wine at the Sussex Wine School and discovered a huge passion. I relished discovering new wines that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. I love that there is so much to learn and it opened up a whole new world of knowledge and discovery for me. Eventually I went on to open a restaurant which won ‘Best Wine List’ in local food awards. It was wonderful to be able to apply my passion and knowledge in a very real way. I no longer have the restaurant but have continued to focus on learning about wine.

    I started with an informal world of wine program at Sussex Wine School and then went on to study the Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 2 and 3 awards. I then completed the French Wine Scholar with Wine Scholar Guild. I found that this gave a much more in-depth appreciation of the wines of France. Wine Scholar Guild allows you to specialize in a region which although challenging, gives much more depth. I followed this with the Italian Wine Scholar which I enjoyed even more as I discovered a particular passion for Northern Italian Wines and love all things Italy!

    I am now studying for the level 4 Diploma with WSET. I have found that by learning about wine I am learning about the world. I hadn’t realized how much I would learn about Geography, History and biochemistry! It's truly wonderful.

    I really feel that the IWS provides a level of detail and specialism that even the level 4 WSET doesn’t cover. You are able to ‘deep dive’ into the wines of a particular region, even the less familiar. For example, I enjoy knowing how the wines of a specific village will differ from other villages because of the location, soil and aspect variations. On the Italian Wine Scholar I discovered a love of Nebbiolo based wines and I now know which different regions of Italy that I can find these wines and which are the best villages for the particular style I prefer.
    I intend to continue my learning about wine and this includes completing further Wine Scholar Guild courses. I hope to use these in a professional capacity in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Wine Scholar Guild allows you to specialize in a region which although challenging, gives much more depth.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, WSET Level 3, FWS

    Devon Lochhead, IWS

    Congratulations to Devon Lochhead, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar program, with highest honors!

    About Devon:

    I started working as a barman for a fine dining restaurant at 19 years old, while a student. This restaurant, coincidentally, happened to have the largest wine list in our Province (Eastern Cape) and all wines were, conveniently, served by glass. Our boss was a good tutor/mentor and we were a close team - often staying behind after service to taste/drink and discuss the open bottles at the end of the evening. This was my introduction to “good” wine and where the bug bit! I eventually became the wine steward of this restaurant.

    After graduating, I followed my passion for wine and moved to Hong Kong to work in the industry. My wine career began with Kedington wines and I started studying my WSET courses and French Wine Scholar. I then had the opportunity to move to a Top Restaurant Group in Hong Kong where I was appointed the Sommelier of their flagship restaurant. I worked my way up to Head Sommelier of this group and then decided to go back to my roots and promote South African wine in Asia.

    I currently work as the Regional Manager in Asia for DGB Pty. Ltd, which is currently South Africa’s largest private Wine, Spirits & Craft Beer producer and distributor with a focus on enhancing the image of Premium South African wine.

    I aspire to continue studying in order to understand this subject further and have rather ambitious goals set for the future.

    I have completed my WSET courses, passing my Diploma in July 2018. I have also completed my French Wine Scholar which provided a great deal of focus and understanding to that particular part of my Diploma program.

    I have recently enrolled in the Spanish Wine Scholar program and do plan on studying further. I believe that the IWS will provide a great deal of value and offers confidence & comfort when tackling the intricacies of Italy in my future studies

    It has allowed me to explore new regions/territories of Italy, their extraordinary wines and unique varietals that they have to offer. This will provide an advantage moving forward as you can now apply this knowledge and introduce fellow wine enthusiasts to wines that they may not have considered previously. It also allows you the privilege of sharing this knowledge with others.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It has allowed me to explore new regions/territories of Italy, their extraordinary wines and unique varietals that they have to offer.
    • Position Regional Manager (Asia), DGB Pty. Ltd
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar
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