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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    IWS

    Kathy Merchant, IWS

    Congratulations to Kathy Merchant, IWS for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kathy:

    I fell in love with the experience of wine 25 years ago on my first visit to Napa Valley. From then on, I have organized most of my international travel around opportunities to learn more about wine. In 2008, even though I was still working as the CEO of a charitable community foundation, I decided to get serious about wine studies and enrolled in WSET. Upon graduation with a Diploma in 2011, I created a four-part wine business strategy based in Cincinnati that includes education, events, travel, and writing. My wine blog, international in scope, is www.vinoventurescincinnati.com.

    My wine certifications include WSET Level III Award and Level IV Diploma in Wine & Spirits; Certified Specialist of Wine from the Society of Wine Educators; and both the French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar from Wine Scholar Guild.

    I found the FWS and IWS programs to be highly beneficial deep-dives into two of the world’s most important wine regions. I think of France as the “mother ship” of all wines, especially in the New World where indigenous wine grapes are rare. Understanding France helps you understand the world. Italy is the glorious and complex opposite, endlessly fascinating because it offers so many ancient and traditional grapes unique to that country. Italy is the country I love most in the world of wine, so it was almost a guilty pleasure to pursue IWS certification!

    I find that my target audiences – wine enthusiasts who want to experience a broad range of wines without being intimidated by the vastness of the product – get the same type of satisfaction from learning about Italian (and French) wines that fuels my joy for those regions. Whether I am providing fun events such as a bridal shower, more formal education, writing about wine, or guiding wine tours, the IWS program provides a strong foundation.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Italy is the country I love most in the world of wine, so it was almost a guilty pleasure to pursue IWS certification!
    • Position Principal, Kathy Merchant LLC, dba Vino Ventures
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, WSET Diploma, Certified Specialist of Wine CSW, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Jonny Gibson, IWS

    Congratulations to Jonny Gibson, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jonny:

    I am a wine educator with a 30 year career in drinks marketing, wine buying and wine education. I have been running two wine schools for the past seven years in the UK - Sussex Wine School and Kent Wine School. My particular wine passions are the mountain wines of northern Italy, south west France and Provence. You never stop learning in wine and I am currently studying for the Spanish Wine Scholar exam.

    I passed my WSET Diploma in 2001 and teach WSET up to Level 3 at both wine schools. We also teach both the WSG French and Italian Wine Scholar courses. These courses give our students something very special to move onto after WSET Level 3 and I personally enjoy teaching them very much. The mix of history, geography, culture and the extensive wine detail are ideal for delivering an engaging class and course.

    The IWS program and the 2018 IWS Educator trip to Trentino, Franciacorta and Lugana have hugely improved my knowledge of Italian wine and reignited my passion for Italian wine. We have increased the number of Italian wine tastings and events held at both wine schools significantly in the last year.


    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The IWS program and the 2018 IWS Educator trip to Trentino, Franciacorta and Lugana have hugely improved my knowledge of Italian wine and reignited my passion for Italian wine.
    • Position Owner, Sussex Wine School and Kent Wine School
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar with highest honors
    Read more...

    Mike Dutch, IWS

    Congratulations to Mike Dutch, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Mike:

    I suppose it is inevitable that I would have an interest in wine having lived in London between 1987 and 1996 and traveling frequently in Europe and Asia during my career in the information technology industry.  I’m now interested in entering the wine business, leaning more towards backend operations than the front-end side.  While I started training in 2011 to increase my appreciation of wine, I have continued my education to help transition to a wine professional.

    My first instructor was David Glancy MS who created and taught an in-depth program at a culinary school leading to my certified sommelier credential.  I also had the privilege of taking the California Wine Appellation Specialist program from David at his San Francisco Wine School.  This is where I became aware of the Society of Wine Educators, the Wine & Sprits Education Trust, and the Wine Scholar Guild (called the French Wine Society then).  I’ve since added the Certified Specialist of Wine, WSET Level 3 Advanced Certificate, French Wine Scholar, and now the Italian Wine Scholar to my “toolbelt”.  My goal is to complete all WSG offerings (Master-Level certifications and Spanish Wine Scholar post nominal) and the WSET diploma.

    I was lucky enough to have been guided though my Italian Wine Scholar studies by online instructors Nancy Reynolds and Alan Tardi, and IWS author Maurizio Broggi. They helped me “break the code” on Italian wine which epitomizes the warmth and diversity of the wine world.   I’m looking forward to bringing my training and passion to the wine trade, contributing practical value, and making new friends.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial My instructors helped me “break the code” on Italian wine which epitomizes the warmth and diversity of the wine world.
    • Position Retired software engineer and product manager
    • Certifications French Wine Scholar with highest honors, WSET Level 3, Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine CSW
    Read more...

    Salvatore Sicilia, IWS

    Congratulations to Salvatore Sicilia, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Salvatore:

    My passion for wine started here in London working in the restaurant business but I guess it’s more a DNA sort of thing as my grandfather owned a vineyard and a tiny winery in Cosenza, Calabria (Italy). I have realized how many things wine can tell while in Spain on a wine trip. I was in Haro visiting the Bodega R. Lopez Y Heredia. I remember that as soon as I walked in I felt the same smell I’ve smelled in my grandfather winery and this took me to my childhood. I think that each wine has a story to tell but at the same time it can listen to your stories bringing back memories and so on. It’s just amazing.

    I work as assistant manager at Dehesa on Ganton Street, we serve Italian and Spanish tapas and wines. The list is a balanced selection of wines that tries to deliver the Mediterranean experience to Londoners. I have started not long ago to help with the selection of the wines for the new lists coming to the Salt Yard Group shortly, we are trying to focus on Indigenous variety from Italy and Spain and I think we are doing a great job.

    I have completed the first 3 levels of the WSET program, all of them at the West London Wine School. I think that the Italian Wine Scholar has helped me to gain that detailed knowledge I needed. The course is really well presented, we had loads of great wines to taste and we covered every single Italian region, it almost felt we were on a vacation in Italy on each lesson.
    I am planning to enroll for the Spanish and French scholar, I think that the IWS gave me a lot in terms of knowledge and that’s what I am looking for from the other 2 courses.

    The IWS pushed me to take down the wall of “commercial” grape varieties that was between me and those amazing indigenous varieties we have out there. I now look, search and taste wines in a different way. This has helped me a lot in the everyday life as a restaurant manager, I can now describe and suggest loads of different wines to my customers. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The course is really well presented, we had loads of great wines to taste and we covered every single Italian region, it almost felt we were on a vacation in Italy on each lesson.
    • Position Assistant Manager at Salt Yard Group
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Luciano Radmil, IWS

    Congratulations to Luciano Radmil, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Luciano:

    I am a certified Sommelier, I work in a hotel. In 2012 I went to a wine tasting...and after that I never stopped, I''m always reading about wine, watching videos about wine etc... drinking wine too!!

    I taken the following courses : WSET levels 1,2&3, French Wine Scholar and the Certified Sommelier from the CMS.

    Italy has so many wines that you never heard of! Regions like Umbría, Abruzzo, Campania, Puglia still pretty much unknown for most wine lovers around the world. Thanks to the IWS, that's not the case anymore.

     

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Regions like Umbría, Abruzzo, Campania, Puglia still pretty much unknown for most wine lovers around the world. Thanks to the IWS, that's not the case anymore.
    • Position Sommelier at Ballyfin Demesne Hotel
    • Certifications WSET levels 1, 2, 3
    Read more...

    Michael Barber, IWS

    Congratulations to Michael Barber, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Michael: 

    I’m definitely a wine enthusiast! I first got into California wine after visiting friends but grew to love old world wines, especially Italian wines as my family is originally from Lake Como and Sicily. I love that there are hundreds of Italian varietals that grow nowhere else in the world.

    This is the first wine certification class I’ve taken but I’m going to take on another challenge and start WSET level 3 next month. After that, probably French and Spanish wine Scholar and then WSET level 4.

    I feel that the IWS course will help to serve as a great foundation for future studies.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I feel that the IWS course will help to serve as a great foundation for future studies.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    HF George Mak, IWS

    Congratulations to HF George Mak, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About George : 

    First of all, it is my pleasure to be invited to do this interview.

    I am a registered nurse working in a nursing home, so wine has absolutely nothing to do with my actual career. I do somewhat involve in wine as a judge member in Hong Kong Wine Judge Association, a non-profit organization which judges wine according to local palate.

    Hong Kong, as an Asian wine hub, is blessed with ZERO tax for wines. This allowed this pleasurable drink, and a fabulous combination of art and science, to be appreciated widely in this metropolis. I seriously believe this is a bridge for building friendship and connection in the city, which indeed, worked for me.

    As from my title, I am a WSET Diploma graduate (just graduated with merit in April 2018), I also completed Wine Scholar Guild’s French Wine Scholar Program, as well as THREE Master-Level Certificate from Wine Scholar Guild: Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Rhone. I also did Certified Specialist of Wine. Yet, I also completed several other programs involving German wines, South African wines, etc.

    Indeed, I have to say that my passion for wines started from the French Wine Scholar Program. Back in 2014, after completing my Masters program in a local university, I contacted my current wine school, AWSEC Hong Kong, which is also the only provider for WSET Diploma program here, for something interesting and challenging to carry on for studying. By coincidence, I enrolled in the FWS program and immersed myself into this eye-opening world. Being the mother of various great wines of the world, studying French wines facilitated me to appreciate great wines from the new world. This hunger for knowledge and pleasure grew like a snowball which pushed me to further pursue the titles which I currently hold. As I had said, all of which are for personal enjoyment. Wine world is ever-evolving such that I am never tired of exploring it via these wine classes.

    Italian wines are angels and devils combined: Angel as for the great diversity with various hidden treasures with outstanding quality wines from various regions. Yet, it is widely perceived as a devil, especially for wine students, for this diversity. I still record the fact that I prayed for ZERO Italian wine questions appearing for my WSET Level 3 exam as I always got bogged down by the 20 Italian wine regions (I can never recall anything except Barolo and Chianti) when I was doing it.

    I did my IWS Unit 1 alongside with my WSET Diploma. I must give my most sincere altitude to my tutor, Ms. Jennie MACK of AWSEC, for her passion and superb quality teaching, which guided me throughout this daunting task. Upon completing the Unit 1 for IWS, the fogs in my brain for Northern Italy all dispersed like magic. As a contrast, I prayed for questions for Piemonte and Veneto to appear in my Diploma theory exam! I would appreciate if the IWS Unit 2 was available in classroom format in AWSEC before I completed my Diploma such that any Italian wine questions would be a piece of cake.

    After completing the WSET Diploma, the only thing to move forward is Masters of Wine. Yet, as I am out of trade, I cannot do it. I would appreciate if there are any training programs available locally or online such that I can train myself up to become a wine educator. I strongly believe I currently have enough input from these preparation work, and am ready to take a certificate, and to start off in involving in the wine education career.

    Nevertheless, I am excited to learn that WSG will be launching Masters Program for Loire and various Italian wine regions. Most importantly, Spanish Wine Scholar will come soon and it is for sure, a must-do program for me in 2019.

    IWS banished all my fear and misconceptions which many wine lovers in Hong Kong have when it comes to appreciating Italian wine. This means that my cellar would be flooded by them in a foreseeable future. As hidden gems, many outstanding wines are only offered in modest price in our current market, this is awesome for consumers. Besides considering to be a wine educator, possible wine careers could be ambassadors for Italian wines, or consultants of it, all of which are possible only after completion of this serious and comprehensive wine program.

    Again, it was my honour to be invited to write this! Salute to WSG, AWSEC and Jennie!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial IWS banished all my fear and misconceptions which many wine lovers in Hong Kong have when it comes to appreciating Italian wine.
    • Position Judge Member at Hong Kong Wine Judge Association
    • Certifications DipWSET, FWS, CSW
    Read more...

    Rex Ting-chia Ting, IWS

    Congratulations to Rex Ting-chia Ting, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Ting-chia :  

    As an editor of iCheers (the top 1 wine e-commerce platform in Taiwan), I am passionate to introduce the viticulture and wines around the world to the customers here. Besides, I am also a wine educator, who love to share the knowledge and the latest information of wine to my student. I believe that teaching wine classes is one of the best ways to keep improving myself in this industry. And I am always enthusiastic to learn everything about wine and explore the wider and deeper global wine context.

    Before passing the harsh but meaningful IWS, I already acquired FWS certification and WSET Level 3 Award in Wine. Undoubtedly, the complex and knowledgeable IWS study fulfill my understanding of Italian wines. It provides me with a clear image and systemic context of Italy wine. And now I am not afraid of its complicated regulation, kaleidoscope-like appellations, and difficult pronunciation anymore.

    AS a WSET Diploma candidate, IWS program did help me to pass some of the units. Now I have a more complete understanding of Italian wines. Furthermore, it also increases my passion to explore more Italian wine region and culture.

    The IWS program does help me a lot to cross some barriers of being a wine expert. It not only provides a comprehensive understanding of Italian wine, which had been troubled me for a long time because of its complexity, but also increases my endurance, perseverance, and self-discipline. Now I am more confident to move forward and ready for adventuring further the immense wine world.

    “J’apprends donc je suis. Je comprends donc je serai.”

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Undoubtedly, the complex and knowledgeable IWS study fulfill my understanding of Italian wines. It provides me with a clear image and systemic context of Italy wine.
    • Position Editor & Wine Educator at iCheers Taiwan & Art Of Wine Taiwan
    • Certifications FWS, WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Mike Bradley, IWS

    Congratulations to Mike Bradley, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors with Wasatch Academy of Wine!

    About Mike :  

    I’m a wine enthusiast – and I have also had long running passion for European history and Ancient Roman/Greek civilizations. I find so much meaning in Old World wines, especially those from Italy. The region, the producer, the grapes – all tell a story and often one that can be traced back generations – if not millennia!

    One of the great pleasures of taking the Italian Wine Scholar course has been the element of discovery – discovering new and exciting wines and the winemakers as well as learning about the provenance of the grapes, viticulture practices, and the history and geography from which these wines have come from. It gives me a whole different understanding and appreciation of Italian wines and the role of wine in Italian history and culture.

    Other than various winetasting classes and self-study, the IWS program has been my first formal wine educational tuition and I plan to enroll in future Wine Scholar Guild programs..

    It has given me a greater understanding of Italian wines and their production and qualitative criteria indicated by the labels. It is impossible to know every producer, but the IWS program provides a foundation to appreciate the characteristics of any Italian wine and its provenance. Most importantly, the IWS program has helped understand how to best enjoy Italian wines with food, family and friends.
    I’m keen to continue my IWS program studies and am interested in pursuing the Master level course.

     

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It is impossible to know every producer, but the IWS program provides a foundation to appreciate the characteristics of any Italian wine and its provenance.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    Miu Yee Mirriam Wong Wong, IWS

    Congratulations to Miu Yee Mirriam Wong Wong, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors with AWSEC!

    About Mirriam:  

    I am a wine enthusiast. (I am not in the wine field, I am a dentist.) I like to
    taste all kinds of alcoholic beverages, including wine, spirit, Japanese saké …. I love to
    learn all the knowledge behind them. I find so much fun in food and wine matching. I
    also enjoy visiting vineyards, wineries, distilleries, saké and beer breweries whenever I
    travel.

    In wine, I have completed WSET Level 4 Award in Wines and Spirits in 2014 and the
    Barossa Master course in 2015.
    In Japanese saké, I have completed WSET Level 3 Award in Saké, the Saké sommelier
    course held by the Saké sommelier Association and I have also passed the Saké Service
    Institute examination in Japan and became an “International Kikisake-shi” in 2016.
    To me, the IWS program is not just any complement or any “add-on” knowledge. It
    gave me a completely new dimension. It was really eye-opening. I love the depth it
    took me to. I love all the fine details within. I love all the interesting historical facts
    and explanations. I love all the colourful maps! I could feel the enthusiasm of the
    program providers. They really wanted to lead us into the fantastic world of Italian
    Wine!! I gained so much through out the courses. Even now, I still refer back to the
    two books from time to time. There are so many treasures in them for me to dig up.

    I am not currently enrolled but might do the Spain program in the near future.
    After the IWS program, I start to realise how thirsty I am in wine knowledge and how
    deep I prefer to learn.

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I love the depth it took me to. I love all the fine details within. I love all the interesting historical facts and explanations. I love all the colourful maps! I could feel the enthusiasm of the program providers. They really wanted to lead us into the fantastic world of Italian Wine!
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, WSET Level 3 Award in Saké, International Kikisake-shi
    Read more...
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