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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    SWS

    Marc-André Alain, SWS

    Congratulations to Marc-André Alain, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Marc-André:

    I have been a wine enthusiast for many years, but my real interest to learn more about this subject, including the understanding of where the wine I buy comes from and how it is produced, really started to develop throughout some of my travels. I have had the chance to visit vineyards and wine producers in many countries, including some well-known regions like Tuscany and Burgundy, but also in lesser-known areas like Moldova and Armenia. I still intend on making more travels oriented toward wine discoveries, as it combines some of my two biggest interests!

    More recently, I started a new Instagram account with one of my fellow WSET and SWS graduates: @wineingduo. We intend to use this media to share our discoveries, reviews and also travel experiences related to wine, mostly to talk about our visits into lesser-known wine producing regions.

    In November 2018, I graduated with distinction from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2. I feel like this program really gave me all the necessary tools and information needed to undertake a more advance program like the Spanish Wine Scholar (SWS).

    The SWS program really contributed a lot to my knowledge on wines. For starters, I was very much of a novice on the subject of Spanish wines. As a result, everything was a discovery (maybe with the exception of the Rioja region). It also provided me with a very deep understanding of the wine production in Spain and what influences the wines of each region (and sub-region). I was not expecting to learn so much about climates, soils and even the names of the winds affecting the different wines.  

    I am very motivated to enroll in the French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar programs in the coming years. Most of my favorite wines come from France and Italy, so I cannot wait to learn more about all the factors that can influence the production and the taste of the wines in these countries, like I did learn about Spain.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar program really made a world of difference in the way I approach the wines from this country. I used to only pick wines from La Rioja, but now I can explore all the other regions and have a pretty good idea and understanding of what I am going to get, only with little information.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The Spanish Wine Scholar program really made a world of difference in the way I approach the wines from this country.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Alexandre Ma, SWS

    Congratulations to Alexandre Ma, SWS for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Alexandre:

    My wine dream was taking off from my dear hometown Ningxia, where you can find some pretty iconic Chinese wines. After almost a decade of studies and works from Rhone Valley to Bordeaux, London, etc., I decided to devote myself to the wine education industry, particularly for Chinese speaking wine lovers who live in France. Therefore, I created my wine education school AMA Education in Bordeaux, with my wife Phydiasse REN. One year later, we cooperated with the most influenced Chinese wine school Grapea Co. to develop WSET courses in Europe.
     
    Each year, I spend at least four months in China for an abundance of education courses and tasting events. For the rest of the time, I stay in Bordeaux.
     
    In 2016, I was lucky to win RVF World Blind Tasting Championship in the name of China. It was the first time for a non-European country to achieve this title. In 2017, the oldest wine magazine La Revue du Vin de France (RVF) invited me to be a part-time wine journalist and wine critic. It was my great honor to be the first Asian wine critic since the creation of RVF.

    After three years of impressive cooperation, I told myself that maybe it's time to do something interesting for our Chinese wine consumers, so I started to establish my personal channel AMA Wine Media, through the social network. I have to say that it's a brave challenge, but it is well worth trying.

    My other certifications include:
    Italian Wine Scholar – with Highest Honors
    WSET Diploma Level 4
    Master degree Wine Marketing and Management - INSEEC, Bordeaux International Wine Institute – Bordeaux
    French National Diploma of Sommelier  -  Université du Vin - Suze La Rousse, France

    I registered for French Wine Scholar just one week ago. Honestly, I didn't think about enrolling in this program because I took several diplomas in France, and I've gone to nearly every French wine region. However, when I was learning IWS and SWS, I gradually found that WSG's study programs always have some knowledge points that I haven't paid attention to; most of all, they are pretty exciting and impressive. I suppose it's probably an excellent opportunity to review and significantly optimize my French wine knowledge through the FWS program.

    The SWS program is absolutely the best and the most detailed Spanish wine study program in the World. I enrolled in it once I finished the IWS program, and I have to say that it's instrumental and helpful. Because of that, I applied to be an SWS program provider as soon as I received the result, I sincerely wish to bring this study program to our wine school. I'm confident that it will help more Chinese wine consumers and wine professionals to feel the spirit and Spanish wine. I can't wait to share a glass of nice VORS with our students.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program is absolutely the best and the most detailed Spanish wine study program in the World.
    • Position Founder & Education Director, AMA Education
    • Certifications Italian Wine Scholar, WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    Dan Wright, SWS

    Congratulations to Dan Wright, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Dan

    I am the winemaker of Unsworth Vineyards in the newly minted sub-region of the Cowichan Valley within the burgeoning wine region of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. We produce numerous wine styles with a growing focus on cool-climate Pinot Noir. I started working at Unsworth Vineyards in 2016 after winemaking internships in the Willamette Valley, Marlborough, Niagara Peninsula (Canada) and Orange (Australia).  

    I aspire to understand how all of the decisions that are made from pruning to bottling impact the final wine. In doing so, I aspire to bring out the best that each vineyard site and season has to offer.

    During my undergrad in Biochemistry at the University of Guelph, I took an elective 4th year introductory course to Oenology and Viticulture that was part of their hospitality program but was taught by a microbiology Professor Emeritus who had direct knowledge of many of the worlds great wine regions. It inspired me to pursue a career in wine. At the recommendation of my professor, I went on to complete a post-graduate certificate of Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University. During my studies at Brock, I also pursued parallel wine appreciation tasting style courses including a certificate of Ontario’s Wine Appellations. After settling on Vancouver Island, I continued my studies completing the WSET level 3, WSG’s Champagne Master Level and now of course the Spanish Wine Scholar.

    I believe that it is very important to my career as a winemaker to continue to taste as widely as possible and always be learning outside of my bubble. The WSG courses are great for this especially when facilitated by Cru Consultancy’s Sharon McLean.

    One of the main things that keeps me motivated is how there is more than a lifetime of learning to be had in all the different subjects related to wine: history, geography, geology, agriculture, chemistry, biology, business, marketing, etc. You never know when a little tidbit of knowledge will help colour in the picture of understanding. I certainly found this with the SWS program.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial You never know when a little tidbit of knowledge will help colour in the picture of understanding. I certainly found this with the SWS program.
    • Position Winemaker, Unsworth Vineyards
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Champagne Master Level
    Read more...

    Andrew Lincoln, SWS

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

    About Andrew:

    I currently work in the industry and was born into a Napa Valley grapegrowing family. After graduating from UC Davis in evolutionary anthropology with a minor in art history, I took a job at a “wine-centric” restaurant while I was thinking about graduate school. This exposure led me to a tasting room job for Artesa Vineyards and Winery. I quickly became beguiled by anything and everything related to wine! My passion was rewarded with being granted the position of “Wine Education Lead” for the winery’s hospitality team. In this role, I give presentations on new wines and wine regions, conduct comparative tastings, educate staff and act as the main “go to” person for wine-related questions. With an accumulation of more credentials, I aspire to teach and become more involved in the culinary side of the wine industry, with a special emphasis on plant-based food and wine experiences.

    I hold a Level 2 WSET certification. Taking the SWS course was one of the best career choices I’ve made. It deepened my passion and understanding for both wine and the wines of Spain by providing a comprehensive, yet approachable framework of material while maintaining academic depth and rigor. There’s something utterly magical about looking at a glass of wine and understanding what went into it; the historical, social, geological and economic factors that coalesced into the creation residing in your glass. I have SWS to thank for enhancing this appreciation.

    I am currently enrolled in FWS. Upon completion, I plan to take IWS before transitioning to WSET for Level 3 and eventually Diploma. There’s a unique depth of information in SWS and WSG courses that is both rewarding and useful as a student of wine. It increases your breadth of understanding and allows you to draw cross-regional comparisons when discussing wine production, its history and geographical factors influencing it.

    I use the knowledge I’ve gleaned from SWS everyday when I’m working the tasting room floor. Whether its discussing a guest’s trip to Spain, or talking about regional expressions of Tempranillo with the hospitality team, my SWS experience has made me better at my job. I also realize that I am at the beginning of this learning journey and that I derive great joy from being a “student of wine”. My goal is to continue my education and share that knowledge with others in a manner that is approachable, fun and useful, as well as expanding my knowledge into the utilization of wine for ethically and sustainably-sourced food experiences. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I use the knowledge I’ve gleaned from SWS everyday when I’m working the tasting room floor...my SWS experience has made me better at my job.
    • Position Wine Education Lead, Artesa Vineyards and Winery
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Istvan Tabor, SWS

    Congratulations to Istvan Tabor, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Istvan

    I have been a wine professional for some years now and am the owner and general manager of a wine-based ‘portfolio’ in Hungary.  This includes two online wine magazines, a WSET APP wine school, an online wine shop and numerous regular wine tasting events. My main aim is to improve my everyday performance in the wine business

    I am currently devoting a lot of time to my wine studies. I have already passed the WSG Champagne master and French Wine Scholar programs and am now preparing to take the WSG Italian Wine Scholar Unit 1 exam. I have also recently passed the American Wine Expert (AWE) exam at the Napa Valley Academy. In addition, I am studying for the WSET Diploma at their London Wine School and for the Online Certificate in Wine Business Management at the Sonoma State University. Moreover, I have also enrolled for the WSG Italian Wine Scholar Unit 2 and plan to finish my Italian Wine Scholar studies (units 1 and 2) next spring.  Besides my wine qualifications, I have a masters in economic sciences, faculty of finance and accounting, and an MSc in Law.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar program has helped me discover Spain as a wine country, thoroughly understand the different rungs of their quality pyramid as well as their diverse wine categories and styles.  The detailed historical background and wine growing environment (climate, topography, soils, etc.) in the study guide really surprised me. One of my key motivators was this up-to-date study guide, as it is a brand-new program at WSG.  I really believe that our enthusiastic SWS instructor, Rick Fisher, made this journey unforgettable for me and the other students.  His passion and love for Spain and Spanish wines has remained with us too.  Next year, I would like to complete all the WSG programs (Wine Scholar Certifications and Master-level programs).

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I really believe that our enthusiastic SWS instructor, Rick Fisher, made this journey unforgettable for me and the other students.
    • Position CEO and Owner, Trinety Media Ltd
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, Champagne Master Level
    Read more...

    Tina Isbell, SWS

    Congratulations to Tina Isbell, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tina

    Wine education is my primary passion, for which I started my company Vino Hound. Tastings evolved into international wine tours, which are such a joy to organize and lead. Seeing clients connect with wine makers and their wines on their own soil is so fulfilling!  Working with Brookhaven Wines in Atlanta, a boutique wine experience, allows me to bring my knowledge to another audience of enthusiastic consumers.  And now that I’ll be living part-time in Portugal’s Douro Valley, opportunities are endless for on-the-ground educational tours and experiences in Europe.

    I hold WSET 3 Advanced certification. And from WSG, Master Level certificates in Champagne, Bordeaux and Rhone, as well as French Wine Scholar.

    Since I’m establishing residency on the Iberian peninsula, it was obviously important to ensure I have a solid understanding of the wines and regions.  SWS was a valuable addition to that foundation.  COVID-19 postponed my Spring 2020 tour of N. Spain wine country, but we are optimistic regarding rescheduling, and I can’t wait to share my SWS knowledge with my fabulous group of new & returning travelers.  And with Spain barely an hour from my new home in Portugal, deeper exploration of the vineyards is assured!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can’t wait to share my SWS knowledge with my fabulous group of new & returning travelers.
    • Position Wine educator, wine tour organizer & leader, retail sales, Vino Hound LLC & Brookhaven Wines
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, WSG Master Levels: Champagne, Bordeaux, Rhone
    Read more...

    Matthew Citriglia, SWS

    Many congratulations to Matthew Citriglia, SWS for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Matthew:

    I’ve been in the hospitality and beverage industry for over 40 years. I got my start at the age of fourteen, stocking beer and wine in my dad’s beverage store. My experience includes many years in both on and off premise as well as wholesale sales and management. Currently, I am the Director of Wine & Spirits Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Florida. Before Covid, I traveled extensively and lectured on a variety of wine and spirit topics. Champagne is my beverage of choice, and I enjoy it best when served in a flute! When I am not traveling, I spend most of my time with my family or in a yoga studio upside down.  

    I became a Master Sommelier in 2002 and served on the Board of Directors until 2016. During my time with the Court, I have been deeply involved with the creation and development of examination and education programs. I also have great compassion for students attempting the feat and spend considerable time mentoring candidates as well as providing career and life coaching advice. Besides CMS, I have taken dozens of certifications, most recently the Spanish Wine Scholar. I take them for the challenge and to keep me sharp. The learning never stops nor does the opportunity to pay it forward.

    I took the program to view its quality and determine if SGWS Florida should add it to their continued education certification options. It was an excellent course and, depending on COVID, I plan to launch a SWS course this spring for interested sales consultants.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was an excellent course and, depending on COVID, I plan to launch a SWS course this spring for interested sales consultants.
    • Position Director of Wine & Spirits Education, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits
    • Certifications Master Sommelier, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Monica Townsend, SWS

    Congratulations to Monica Townsend, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Monica:

    In 2007, I was a senior in college working as a hostess in a fine-dining restaurant.  Each night was a frenzy of moving parts which had the appearance of a finely-tuned orchestra performing its greatest musical arrangement.  I became deeply fascinated by nightly service and eager to understand the role wine played in enhancing the dining experience.  However, the waitstaff was dominated by men who showed little interest in sharing their knowledge of the wine world with me.  Fortunately, I bonded with the sole woman on the team - an impassioned resource for all things wine.  She enthusiastically answered my questions and encouraged me to be proactive about my wine studies.  She was the catalyst behind my decision to pursue wine professionally and embodied qualities that have become principles governing my career in wine: integrity and inclusivity.  This is where I fell in love with hospitality and I have been in an active pursuit of wine education ever since.  

    As a wine professional who is black and a woman, it has been a challenge to trust that I deserve to be a part of the sommelier community.  I decided to pursue certification in 2015 through the Court of Master Sommeliers to ensure my seat at the proverbial wine table.

    In February 2020, I relocated from Houston, TX to San Francisco, CA to work with Paul Einbund of The Morris and Gap Year at Nico as a Server/Sommelier.  Due to the global pandemic, Gap Year at Nico prematurely closed on July 4th, 2020.  After months of uncertainty, the restaurant has now reopened as Maison Nico - a modern épicerie.  I am their Sommelier.  

    My professional aspiration is to hold an upper tier beverage position which provides an avenue for me to teach others about wine while also creating a beverage program that is inclusive, focused on sustainability and pays homage to legacy.  My long-term dream is to be a winemaker.  
    I study wine through active immersion.  I have a study schedule that I follow which guides my weekly reading, map tracing and flashcards.  I meet with a blind tasting study group on Sundays and dedicate 1-3 hours per day toward wine studies.  I am currently enrolled in the Italian Wine Scholar (North) program.  I completed Unit Two (Central & South) in August and passed with Highest Honors and a score of 96.  Also, I have completed and passed the WSET Level 2 program with distinction .  The Spanish Wine Scholar program contributed greatly to my base of knowledge and helped fill in “holes” in my theory.  As a Certified Sommelier who is preparing for the Advanced Sommelier Examination (CMS), my participation in the Wine Scholar Guild courses has been an asset.  I love having access to weekly guided instruction, e-learning modules, flashcards, quizzes and regional wine tasting flights!  This model of wine education has improved my retention of the material and I would recommend these programs to anyone seriously interested in being an ambassador of the world of wine.  

    As a Madrid native, I have been deeply curious about the region and my participation in the SWS program has strengthened my personal passion for Spanish Wine.  My credential as a Spanish Wine Scholar will further my career by demonstrating to any potential employers and clients that I am a trusted resource for the region of Spain and its culture of wine.  

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial My credential as a Spanish Wine Scholar will further my career by demonstrating to any potential employers and clients that I am a trusted resource for the region of Spain and its culture of wine.
    • Position Maison Nico, Sommelier
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Amon Ferry, SWS

    Congratulations to Amon Ferry, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Amon:

    I am a practicing orthopedic surgeon with a love for wine.  I enjoy sampling wine from around the world and learning more about the culture and history of the areas where the grapes are grown.  My favorite times are spent catching up with friends and family over a delicious bottle of wine.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar is the first formal educational wine class that I have taken.  I am currently enrolled in the Unit 1 Italian Wine Scholar.  I regularly read various wine publications and have read multiple wine texts in the past.  The Spanish Wine Scholar program provided an in-depth understanding of the wine making processes, grapes and history of the major wine-making regions of Spain.

    I am looking forward to learning more in the Italian Wine Scholar program and hope to use this as a complement to my understanding of European wines as a whole.

    The Spanish Wine Scholar program has helped advance my wine passion by allowing me to better understand the growing conditions, typical grapes and wine-making practices of the important wine-making regions of Spain.  It was particularly interesting learning more about the history and production of Sherry as this process is so unique in many ways.  Now, after having completed the Spanish wine scholar program, I can better understand and appreciate Spanish wines which has helped me immensely as I continue to grow my cellar.

     

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I can better understand and appreciate Spanish wines which has helped me immensely as I continue to grow my cellar.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    Emily Carlson, SWS

    Congratulations to Emily Carlson, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Emily:

    I am the Sommelier at the 1 Michelin star, Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in the heart of Sonoma County wine country, which is a dream job for me. I get to taste incredible wines and share their stories with people as well as be a part of people’s momentous occasions. 

    I am currently a Certified level Sommelier and studying for the Advanced Exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers. The SWS program has been a great addition to my current study materials.  Spain used to be a weak point for me and now I feel ready to tackle any questions that may come my way.

    I am currently enrolled in the French Wine Scholar program and looking forward to taking some of the master level offerings in 2021.

    The SWS program has opened up my eyes to the diversity of wines styles in Spain and has got me excited about grapes and regions that were not on my radar before.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program has opened up my eyes to the diversity of wines styles in Spain.
    • Position Sommelier, Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier
    Read more...
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