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