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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    SWS

    Karin Rockstad, SWS

    Congratulations to Karin Rockstad, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Karin:

    I am a Spanish to English translator specializing in wine. I help Spanish and Latin American wineries showcase their terroirs, vines, winemaking practices, and of course, their amazing wines to English-speaking consumers. During my years living in Spain, I fell in love with the gastronomy there and decided to add it to my translating repertoire. I’m happy to be able to share that with other people who don’t speak Spanish.

    I have passed the WSET Level 3 with merit. The SWS program complemented WSET more specifically to Spain, obviously. It was great to learn more about the smaller DOs.
     
    I am currently studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine and will be enrolling in the FWS program with Vine Lab in the fall. I’m also refreshing my French and Italian language skills and may add those to my translation business. The FWS and IWS would definitely help with that.

    I have poured wines at tastings throughout the Minneapolis area and distributors are interested in getting more quality Spanish wines here. Several of their salespeople were in class with me, and we believe getting the word out about SWS can help in getting people even more excited about Spanish wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was great to learn more about the smaller DOs...SWS can help in getting people even more excited about Spanish wines.
    • Position Spanish to English Translator for the wine trade, KRocks Translations
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Neil Teague, SWS

    Congratulations to Neil Teague, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Neil:

    I am a Wine Enthusiast. Living in Adelaide, South Australia, within 90 minutes drive of 4 major wine regions (Clare Valley, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale), I have always had an interest in wine, and holiday travel usually includes visits to wine regions amongst other attractions. Over the last 10 years, I have visited and tasted in wine areas of France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Chile, Argentina, Canada and USA. Many of the wines from small producers are made in such small quantities, that they just don't make it to Australia, so it is delightful to be able to taste these wines in their local wine region and to learn about some of the local grape varieties that are sometimes rarely seen in Australia.

    In the last few years I have increased my wine knowledge by following the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) study program, and obtaining my WSET Level 1, 2 and 3 Awards in Wines and Spirits, which gave me a broad knowledge of the major wines of the world. I then joined the Wine Scholar Guild to delve into greater detail about Old-World wines, and obtained the French Wine Scholar (FWS) and recently the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS). I am also keen to explore the Italian Wine Scholar program and possibly some of the master-level French wine programs.

    The SWS course material, printed and online, is well written and structured and I would highly recommend it to anyone that wants to expand their knowledge of Spanish wine.
    After following the SWS program, and learning so much about not just Spanish wine, but also the history and geography of Spain, I am very keen to visit a number of Spanish wine regions to learn more about them and to enjoy the wonderful food and wine of Spain.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS course material, printed and online, is well written and structured.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 1, 2 and 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Mary Pittman-Jones, SWS

    Congratulations to Mary Pittman-Jones, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Mary:

    Prior to moving to the UK in 1983, I was neither a wine enthusiast nor a professional. I was an English literature teacher, but upon arriving in Clapham in the 1980s, I was fortunate to work at a wine bar and restaurant owned by a wine enthusiast, Derek Orme, who noticed my interest in his wine list (truth is, I was absolutely lost in his 200+ list of wines from all over the world) and paid for me to start working toward the Wine Spirit Education Trust Diploma. I worked in the trade throughout the 80s managing Derek’s wine bar/restaurant and later a wine shop in Chelsea.  At the time that I was studying at WSET, the Master of Wine qualification was open only to UK citizens, so, being American, I finished my wine study with the Diploma.

    When my husband changed jobs, I returned to teaching, this time in France and then later in the United Arab Emirates. We recently retired back to London, and I wanted to update my wine credentials.  I needed a course that would build on my previous knowledge but also inform me on the latest changes in viticulture, vinification methods, and wine law. As soon as I found the Wine Scholar Guild courses by searching online, I felt they were exactly what I was looking for. Whether I come out of retirement to work in the trade again or whether I just pursue my desire to find wines that I have never tasted before, the Wine Scholar Guild has given me a firm understanding of Spain, its regions, the strengths and challenges of wine production in the 21st century, and an appreciation of the incredible work that is being accomplished by winemakers all over the country.

    If there were further courses available that would allow me to go deeper into each Spanish region, to learn more about individual producers and their methods in the vineyards and wineries, I would take them.  I had a wonderful experience with Rick Fisher in the online course, who brought his passion for all things Spain into the region by region study.

    I took the Wine and Spirit Education Diploma between 1984-1987 in London at the Upper Thames Street site.  When we returned to live in London in 2019, I wanted to refresh and update my knowledge of wine after being out of the trade for 30 years. Since my main interests are in Spanish, French, and Italian wines, the SWS seemed perfect for me. In just 15 weeks, I feel as if I have a solid foundation on the Spanish wine industry in 2020.

    When the quarantine is over, and we can return to London, I will take more SWS courses.  Right now we are in quarantine in our house in the Pyrenees-Orientales, on the Spanish border. Our internet access is not robust enough for me to follow an online course right now.

    I learned an enormous amount of information in an organized manner through this course. I can talk competently about the similarities and differences in wine styles across Spain and the impressive number of indigenous grapes that lend Spanish wines their distinctive character. I have already taken advantage of the knowledge in purchasing wines at the huge Grau wine store in Palafrugell, Catalonia, just before the quarantine began – wines that I never would have purchased previously. I look forward to exploring more after the pandemic has subsided and sharing my good finds with friends and relatives.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I learned an enormous amount of information in an organized manner through this course.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    John Ospina, SWS

    Congratulations to John Ospina, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About John:

    I began to appreciate wine early on in my youth with my family at meals. My parents were wine enthusiasts and they would allow us to have small tastes on special occasions. As an adult in my late twenties, I had a wine epiphany with a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon that put me on a path to becoming a wine lover. I moved to Washington State in my thirties and became a huge fan of many of Washington State’s top producers. When I met my wife, she also enjoyed wine and that led us to developing our passion for wine together. After many years of collecting and enjoying wines from all over the world, I decided to formalize my love of wine. I started volunteering at a top winery in Woodinville WA. I also enrolled in the WSET programs while still working at AT&T

    After 20 years at AT&T, I retired in December of 2019 to pursue a career change into the Pacific Northwest wine industry.

    I have completed up to the WSET – L3 certification as well the WSG; IWS, SWS and I am currently studying for the FWS exam. I also have a tremendous fascination of Champagne so I will likely pursue the WSG Champagne Master Level in 2021.

    The SWS program was particularly a joy because of my love of all wine and food products from the Iberian Peninsula. The SWS now allows me to have even a greater appreciation of all the fabulous wines coming out of Spain, some that I knew little about before. I feel that now having taken and passed SWS, IWS and FWS very soon, will give me a great breadth of knowledge of how the Old World wines began and evolved to where they are today, and the incredible influence they had on the rest of the wine producing regions of the world.

    Not only did the SWS program enhance my passion of Spanish wine but I believe the SWS program along with my other wine education gives me the ability to enter the wine industry with the knowledge and confidence to succeed in various areas of the wine industry .i.e. education, sales, brand ambassador, and distribution.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS now allows me to have an even greater appreciation of all the fabulous wines coming out of Spain, some that I knew little about before.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Kathleen Thomas, SWS

    Congratulations to Kathleen Thomas, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kathleen:

    I would consider myself both enthusiast and professional as they have shaken each other’s hand hand in hand over the years. I have always had an affinity towards hospitality and that led me to being offered a role as a sommelier 8 years ago. I was hooked by day 3 on the floor even though I couldn’t point to Champagne on a map; the history, intensity, and chaos of it all was inspiring to stay educated and informed, to this day!

    Until recently (Covid-19) I was the Education Manager for Hakkasan Group and thoroughly enjoyed being able to share my own passions with others while helping them enhance their skills for their guests. This has not left me now that I am not with the company as I am creating a platform of hospitality & health training that is lacking in so many of our industries. I am, like so many others right now, offering online wine education and tasting “therapy” while balancing myself, and hopefully others, with daily strength training classes (yoga, meditation).

    I passed my Master Sommelier theory exam last July and would like to complete my service and tasting portions this year, but it truly is about the journey so I will continue blind tasting at home and practice service by opening wine bottles and making cocktails to prepare; doesn’t sound that bad of a study practice right now does it?

    My credentials include Advanced Sommelier, Spanish Wine Scholar Educator, Certified Specialist of Sake, Certified Specialist of Sherry, WSET Level 2 Awards in Wine & Spirits, Certified Beer Server and Expressive Yoga Certified, RYT 200.

    Having the opportunity to take the WSG Spanish Educator course was such a breath of freshness because I was able to dive deeply into one country and their passions and purpose in the wine industry, rather than attempt to study everything about everywhere. The content is in-depth and thoughtful with just the right amount of “nerdiness” but not too chaotic.

    I have had my sights set on the French and Italian courses but would like to wait for a time when the income status is more stabilized. These program no doubt will offer me the same quality and intensity I found with Rick’s Spanish course.

    Education is always beneficial to the progression of one’s Self. It can motivate and inspire you to find out things that were perhaps hidden before and increase your worth not only to others professionally and personally, but more so to your own beautiful Self. The WSG is an outlet to allow this flow to happen with precision, persistence, and positive feedback.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The content is in-depth and thoughtful with just the right amount of “nerdiness” but not too chaotic.
    • Position Beverage Education, WineGoddessLV
    • Certifications WSET Level 2, Advanced Sommelier
    Read more...

    Sean Norton, SWS

    Congratulations to Sean Norton, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar program with highest honors!

    About Sean:

    I moved to California 20 years ago and immediately became a wine enthusiast.  I was making my living in enterprise software sales but found myself spending the bulk of my time outside of work learning about wine.  I started with tasting groups, a course at UC Davis, a weekend tasting room job at Ridge Winery, and used most of my vacation time to visit wine regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, Tuscany, Cataluña, País Vasco, & Andalucía.  The next thing I knew, I had started a Sherry pop-up called ¿Por qué no? in San Francisco and started working on a plan to leave corporate life and work fulltime in wine.  I now work as the National Sales Director for Alexander Jules Spanish Wine Imports where I get to combine my business experience with my love for wine and I could not be happier!

    Prior to completing the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) program, I achieved the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits and became a Certified Sherry Educator thru the Consejo Regulador in Jerez.  The SWS program was extremely comprehensive and has helped me in my job as a Spanish Wine Importer.  Further, the SWS materials were of the highest quality and the curriculum was very well organized.

    I really appreciated the level of depth provided by the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS) program.  I am a visual learner and often use the wonderful maps to provide context and a sense of place when talking about our imported wines.  I am absolutely in love with Spain, its wine, its food, and its people.  The SWS program brought all that together for me.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I am absolutely in love with Spain, its wine, its food, and its people. The SWS program brought all that together for me.
    • Position National Sales Director, Alexander Jules Spanish Wine Imports
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    Jonelle Noelani Yacapin, SWS

    Congratulations to Jonelle Noelani Yacapin, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jonelle:

    It began with a dinner party in college.  Nothing fancy.  Just affordable wine from the grocery store.  Soon friends in the restaurant industry introduced me to a world of wine.  I then also fell into that industry.  It was thrilling trying new varietals and exploring new wine regions.  I abandoned my pursuit of a Degree in International Studies to nourish my curiosity in food and beverage.

    I am now a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers, FWS, IWS and SWS.  I also earned an Associate’s Degree in Wine Marketing and Sales.  The certification programs from the Wine Scholar Guild have given me a deeper understanding and appreciation for these wine regions.  I also really enjoyed the organization of the course, manual and online materials.  The information was the most up-to-date and directly from the source.
        
    I’m on the fence about pursuing the Advanced Sommelier certification but may pursue some Master Classes from the Wine Scholar Guild.  I like the framework and the ability to concentrate on a particular wine region.

    Realistically, my future wine studies may be more in the form of immersion.  I want to travel the world, taste the wine, eat the food, meet the people and see the vineyards.  The SWS program has definitely helped me to connect the dots in my travels as I see, taste and eat things first hand.

    Wine has become a big part of my life and I’ve always loved Spain.  I hope to visit more to try wines from its many regions to reinforce and expand upon what I’ve learned through the SWS program.  Maybe seek out some of those rare sweet wines and bottlings that don’t make it to the US.

    Currently, I am seeking to gain more skills to strengthen my marketing background to help wineries and wine regions to engage consumers.  Maybe through wine tourism.

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program has definitely helped me to connect the dots in my travels as I see, taste and eat things first hand.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, FWS, IWS
    Read more...

    Jeni Wilson, SWS

    Congratulations to Jeni Wilson, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Jeni:

    I guess I´m a bit of everything, a winelover, an educator and a wine professional. I came to La Ribera de Duero as a winelover and an English teacher and combined the two facets to make myself the perfect job.

    In the last year I have finished my WSET Diploma with Merit and managed to study Spanish Wine Scholar too which I really enjoyed. We also held the first French Wine Scholar course here at Vintage Class in Spain with Marie Wallerand as teacher, so I became a student again. I hope to take the Italian Wine Scholar in Italy next year when we can travel. I wish I had done these courses before doing the WSET Diploma. I think they are a great preparation and complement.

    As a Wine Education centre in Spain, I feel SWS brings a valid certification for knowledge about Spanish wine which has been missing in the industry. I hope it will be translated into Spanish. I work a lot promoting Ribera del Duero where I live so hope we can attract wine lovers to come and stay here for a few days to study SWS, taste the gastronomy and see wineries first hand to taste great Spanish wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I feel SWS brings a valid certification for knowledge about Spanish wine which has been missing in the industry.
    • Position Director, Vintage Class
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Andrew Belcher, SWS

    Congratulations to Andrew Belcher, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Andrew:

    I am a wine enthusiast. I have been attending the various courses at West London Wine School since just after it started up over 10 years ago; I also attend courses at some of the wine shops in London and regularly attend the Decanter wine events in London. I have travelled to a number of wine regions across the globe from US to Australia.

    I love the back stories to the wines irrespective of whether they are classed as “New“ or “Old” World. I like to travel to various wineries, luckily with English Sparkling wine doing so well more local opportunities are available.

    Prior to undertaking courses with the Wine Scholar Guild, I undertook a number of the WSET courses up to and including the WSET Diploma. With the Wine Scholar Guild I have taken the French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, Champagne Master, Bordeaux Master, Rhone Master and more recently the Spanish Wine Scholar exams.  I am now enrolled in the WSET Level 3 Spirits course which I am currently due to undertake in June.

    I found the Spanish wine course very interesting and as per other Wine Scholar Guild courses at West London Wine Scholar was introduced to a number of new areas and wine styles. I will be continuing to learn more about wine and spirits this year.  Currently signed up with a number of remote wine courses.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I found the Spanish wine course very interesting and... was introduced to a number of new areas and wine styles.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, WSG Master Levels: Rhone, Bordeaux, Champagne
    Read more...

    Richard Nusser, SWS

    Congratulations to Richard Nusser, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Richard

    I am a wine enthusiast who first began to enjoy and appreciate wine when I moved from Ohio to the San Francisco area about 30 years ago.  Frequent visits to nearby Napa Valley and tasting its famous cabernets ignited my enthusiasm for wine.  Over the years I have managed to save a few bottles from some of the better vintages and enjoyed seeing how they have changed and matured with time.  Now that I have retired, I have the free time to expand my knowledge of wine and the many regions of the world where it is made.

    I have enjoyed a number of the educational programs that the Wine Scholar Guild has offered.  I have taken and passed the French and Italian Wine Scholar Programs.  I have successfully completed the Master Level Programs of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, and Rhone Valley.  Most recently I finished the Spanish Wine Scholar Program at the San Francisco Wine School which was led by Rick Fisher.  I hope to accumulate sufficient knowledge that I can successfully complete the Diploma Level of the Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET).

    I found the Spanish Wine Scholar Program quite informative in a number of areas.  I was not familiar with Spanish wine and had seldom drunk them.  Despite a recent trip to Spain with my sons, I was woefully ignorant of the history and geography of Spain.  The Spanish Wine Scholar Program enabled me to taste a wide selection of Spanish wines from the 17 autonomous regions.  The program did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps of my knowledge in the history and geography of Spain.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The program did a wonderful job of filling in the gaps of my knowledge in the history and geography of Spain.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Wine Scholar Programs: French, Italian Master Level Programs: Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Alsace, Rhone
    Read more...
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