Congratulations to Michael Busillo, IWS, for achieving highest honors in the Italian Wine Scholar exam with Southern Glazer's Wine And Spirits.
I currently work as a Talent Development Business Partner with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. In my role, I train, coach and develop our frontline sales consultants and managers to help them grow and excel in their roles. Prior to joining TD, I worked as an on-premise sales manager for our organization’s Fine Wine division.
I discovered my passion for wine in 2010 when I was part of the opening front-of-house service team at ABC Kitchen restaurant in New York City. Our brilliant Beverage Director, Bernie Sun, taught a Wine 101 class that included tasting all the wines on our by-the-glass list. It was an a-ha! moment for me and I became immediately hooked. I found it fascinating that a conversation about wine could encompass so many different subjects -- history, geography, geology, physiology… I decided to learn more by starting with the WSET Level II Wine certification while continuing to hone my skills working as a FOH and beverage manager in restaurants throughout NYC and Philadelphia. Eventually, I found my way into a fine wine sales consultant role with SGWS and fell in love with the sales and distribution side of the industry.
In the future, I hope to combine my background in fine wine and passion for developing people in a position that incorporates wine and product education in some capacity.
In addition to the IWS, I have completed the CSW, CSS, WSET Level III Wine and Level II Spirits. After passing the WSET III, I really wanted to take a deeper dive into the world of Italian wines which I found rather daunting. As an Italian-American, I also wanted to learn more about my Italian heritage through the lens of wine.
I am preparing to start either the DipWSET or CWE in the fall. Both courses require a good deal of self-guided study and the IWS set me up for success in that regard. I learned a lot simply by observing how the courses were broken down into digestible sections and how to study both effectively and efficiently on my own. That said, I am so thankful for the live review webinars! Both of my IWS instructors – Ciro and Andrea – were fantastic and instrumental in my achieving a highest honors score.
Studying for the IWS really helped to contextualize the various regions, appellations and grape varieties of Italy in a way that I could not only understand but communicate to others. Diving into the history and traditions of each region helped me understand the “why” behind the “what” and the “how” of the wines we studied. It was like learning stories rather than rote facts, which aided my long-term retention. As a trainer and aspiring wine educator, this was a huge win. Due to its scope, Italian wine can be an intimidating subject to a new learner and the IWS provided me with the knowledge and tools to make the complicated seem more approachable.