Congratulations to Blake Cherrington for passing both the Rhone & Provence Master-Level exams with the highest honors!
''I didn’t grow up in a wine drinking family. We had the obligatory Sherry and Port decanters on the sideboard but, being good Canadians, our usual celebratory family drink was Seagram’s VO. It wasn’t until late in my career when I moved to the University of Dayton as Dean of the School of Engineering that I discovered the pleasures of wine. Professor Tom Davis at UD had an extensive wine cellar and twice a year he collaborated with the university chef to hold a wine dinner where they paired a number of wines with each course. I was delighted, amazed and immediately hooked. Later my colleague Jim Brandeberry, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Wright State University, introduced me to amateur winemaking. That gave me valuable experience in the production of both white and red wine.
When I retired from my full time academic career, I decided to make wine my primary hobby and immediately started seriously studying (and tasting) wine. Like any area of knowledge, I find that it is like peeling an onion and an endlessly enjoyable undertaking.
While teaching business and engineering students part-time at Georgia Tech, I departed from my syllabus one day prior to Thanksgiving and engaged the class in a brief pre-class discussion of what wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. After class, one of the students introduced himself to me as Chair of the Georgia Tech Student Center Programs Council ‘Options’ Program, a series of non-credit classes offered to Georgia Tech students for general interest. He asked me if I could teach a ‘Wine Class’ for students at Tech. To make a long story short, this Spring Semester I will offer my nine session class on ‘Discovering Fine Wine’ for the ninth year. This is my primary wine activity and a very enjoyable opportunity to educate the ‘millennial’ generation about wine. I have the good fortune of combining my two passions, teaching and wine!
When we moved to the Atlanta area in 2005, I took a class on wine from Anita LaRaia, author of ‘Pick a Perfect Wine in No Time’. After the class I asked Anita for recommendations on how to increase my wine knowledge and she told me about the Society of Wine Educators. I found their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) study manual to be an excellent introduction so I self- studied the manual, took the exam, and received that certification. Later, six of us got together to study for the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exams. That turned out to be a very challenging task but after persisting I successfully completed the CWE requirements in 2013. In 2009, I also completed a professional Spanish wine certification program given by the Wine Academy of Spain and was certified as a Spanish Wine Educator.
In many respects I consider the Provence and Rhone ML programs coupled with the Wine Study Immersion Tours to be ‘capstone’ experiences taking me to the most in-depth knowledge of these two areas it is possible for me to obtain. My previous studies have allowed me to develop broad knowledge of world-wide wines, and the ML programs have allowed me to develop intensive knowledge of the wine regions of particular interest to me.
The Combined ML programs and Wine Study Immersion Tours have been incredibly informative and enjoyable. This question I am now considering is where next? I will be looking at the ML programs and Immersion Tours to see which of the other learning opportunities I will want to pursue in coming years.''