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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers


    Daniel Schlachet, SWS

    Congratulations to Daniel Schlachet, SWS for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Daniel:

    My background is in culinary with over ten years working in kitchens. I discovered wine after working for Bitto bistro as their kitchen manager and started taking WSET courses. I quickly fell down the rabbit hole of wine and developed a new found passion for learning and teaching about wine. I am now the GM at Bitto Bistro and an instructor for the Wine Education Institute.

    I have successfully completed WSET Level 1-3, achieving merit on my level 3. I have also successfully completed IWS and SWS through Wine Scholar Guild achieving highest honors on both.
    I am going to be testing for WSET level 2 in Spirits shortly and plan to continue my education, most likely taking the FWS in the near future.

    The SWS has given me a deeper appreciation for Spanish wine and their culture overall. The amount of grapes and styles being produced at a high quality level is amazing and inspires me to share them with my students. The SWS has made me a better teacher allowing me to give my students a more thorough understanding of the world of wine. Overall it drives me to continue learning and searching for the rare gems in wine so I can then share them!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS has made me a better teacher allowing me to give my students a more thorough understanding of the world of wine.
    • Position General manager at Bitto Bistro wine bar and instructor for Wine Education Institute, Colorado
    • Certifications WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3, Italian Wine Scholar with Highest Honors

    Victoria Aldwinckle, SWS

    Congratulations to Victoria Aldwinckle, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Victoria:

    I stumbled into a career in wine after taking the WSET Level 2 course as a wine enthusiast and I simply fell in love with vineyards, vines and all things wine related!  After passing my WSET Diploma with Distinction, I moved to Washington State and worked as an assistant wine maker for a number of fantastic boutique wineries making superb, small-batch wines.  Since returning to the UK I have worked in wine education and events, firstly for The Wine Society, and now in running Kent Wine School.  My other love is for anything related to Spain – I lived there for a few years whilst at University.  My passion for Spanish culture, food and wine was truly satisfied with the superb SWS course!

    Over the last 15 years, I have been working my way through the WSET certificates, culminating in the Diploma.  The WSET provide superb courses which give you a great, in-depth, all-round knowledge of wine from all corners of the world.  The SWS programme is a great way to compliment this by zoning in on one country, in my case Spain.  The course is designed to be a lot more specific and detailed and gives you so much insight into the history, culture, vineyards and wines. This really complements the broader teaching found on the WSET courses.  I really hope to be able to go on and take the Master of Wine study programme – something for the future!

    At Kent Wine Course we already offer Spanish Wine & Tapas evenings and a Wines of Iberia course.  Given the demand for these two courses, it is wonderful to be able to add the SWS course to that.  

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program gives you so much insight into the history, culture, vineyards and wines. This really complements the broader teaching found on the WSET courses.
    • Position Partner and Tutor, Kent Wine School
    • Certifications WSET Diploma

    Matthew Webb, SWS

    Congratulations to Matthew Webb, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Matthew:

    I am both a wine enthusiast and a wine professional. I have always enjoyed wine, and while working at Fratelli Restaurant in Ottawa in 2003, I knew I wanted to learn more. Under the tutelage of the restaurant owner, Roberto Vallente, I learned a lot, then moved into formal wine studies in 2009 at Algonquin College, taking their Sommelier Program. As a wine professional, I am a Product Consultant with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), where I am in charge of the fine wine selection at a particular retail location. As an educator, I teach WSG classes, as well as WSET classes. I aspire to one day complete my Masters of Wine, and own my own speciality wine store.

    I have also completed the following wine certification programs:
    -Algonquin College Sommelier
    -WSET Level 3 (Advance)
    -WSET Level 4 (Diploma)
    -WSET Instructor Certification (NYC)
    -French Wine Scholar
    -Italian Wine Scholar (parts 1 & 2)
    -Alsace Masters Class (WSG)
    -Worked at René Muré winery in Alsace in 2016

    The SWS program has added to my overall knowledge of grapes, regions, and topography of Spain, as well as my knowledge of vineyard/winery practices. I have loved Spanish wines ever since visiting Priorat, Rioja, and Ribera Del Duero in 2010. I even named my dog (pictured with me) “Rioja” (Rio for short). Being able to expand my knowledge of Spanish wines was more about personal interest, but will serve me well in both my professional forums.

    I plan to enroll in all of the individual WSG Masters classes (Bordeaux, Rhône, Burgundy, etc) before eventually enrolling to become a Master of Wine.

    The SWS Program has made me want to seek out and experience wines not easily available in our market. I would like to introduce new grapes and regions into the Canadian market. It has made me even more passionate about Spanish wines, and even more confident discussing these wines with consumers and colleagues. I would love to go back to Spain, and focus on other wine regions in the near future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS Program has made me even more passionate about Spanish wine...I even named my dog Rioja!
    • Position Product Consultant (LCBO), Wine Educator (Vendange Institute)
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, WSET Diploma, Alsace Master Level, Italian Wine Scholar, French Wine Scholar

    Tanya Morning Star Darling, SWS

    Congratulations to Tanya Morning Star Darling, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tanya:

    I have been working in wine in one way or another since I was 18 years old. After High School, I studied language and Art History in France, then went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, all the while working in restaurants. Over the years, I have worked in just about every aspect of the trade. Today I teach full time: I am Faculty at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College, teach WSET coursework, and run my own wine school, Cellar Muse, which is the Wine Scholar Guild approved program provider for the Seattle area. In addition to teaching the French, Italian, and Spanish Wine Scholar programs, I also offer an array of master classes and lead educational wine tours. Over the past 16 years of teaching about wine, I have woven my passions for wine, nature, culture, art, and history into my work. My teaching style focuses on the individual student’s learning process, and uses storytelling to provide context for the information presented, and help students to retain facts for the long-term.

    I aspire to inspire, and mentor my students to reach their full potential as professionals and scholars! My personal goals are to live my life doing what I love, to create community, and to spread as much joy as I can through my work.

    Although I worked in Wine service for many years, I feel my career in wine began in earnest when I began my studies in the WSET Diploma program in the early 2000s. In addition to WSET, I have achieved many other wine certifications, and distinctions, including the Certified Wine Educator (Society of Wine Educator), as well as the following Wine Scholar Guild certifications: French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, Spanish Wine Scholar, Bourgogne Master Level Diploma, and Provence Master Level Diploma. I am currently studying for the Champagne Master Level, and plan to start the Alsace Master Level program in the New Year. I am very proud to be one of 60 Official Ambassadors of Bourgogne Wines globally, and to have been named French Wine Scholar Instructor of the year for 2018.

    Since I started working and studying with the Wine Scholar Guild, many wonderful opportunities, and relationships have come into my life, and into the lives of my students, which is deeply rewarding. I plan to keep teaching existing programs, following new programs, and working my way through all of the Master Levels.

    My passion for Spanish wine began in the early 2000s, while studying Diploma. During this time, I attended a Friday evening Spanish Wine series at the Cervantes Institute in NYC, which really opened my mind and palate to Spanish Wines. Over the years I have continued my love of Spanish wine, and culture (I also spent years studying Flamenco, and even a little bit of Cante Jondo). The Spanish Wine Scholar has fanned that flame in me for Spanish wines, history, and culture. To me Spain is one of the most dynamic, and exciting wine producing countries in the world, combining ancient traditions alongside a true Maverick character that is uniquely thrilling.

    One of the most pleasurable things about study at the Scholar level and higher is that no matter how much one knows, one is continually humbled and amazed at how much there is to learn. Studying the Spanish Wine Scholar was full of surprises, and deeply inspiring! I have already begun to weave what I learned into my Wine History courses, which I offer at the college level, and look forward to teaching the SWS program this Fall! Study of Spanish wines certainly keeps one on their toes, which is where I love to be!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Studying the Spanish Wine Scholar was full of surprises, and deeply inspiring!
    • Position Owner, Cellar Muse
    • Certifications WSET Diploma, Certified Wine Educator, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, Bourgogne Master Level, Provence Master Level

    Tomi Naarvala, SWS

    Congratulations to Tomi Naarvala, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tomi:

    I started as a wine enthusiast but today I can proudly call myself professional.

    In my early twenties I lived in Barcelona for a year. I knew almost nothing about wines before that. In Spain wine is such a natural part of the culture and diet so I ended up drinking quite a lot of wines and especially Cava. I also visited some wineries and Cava-houses during my stay. After returning to Finland I got curious and wanted to understand why different wines tasted different, and the function of all the barrels and tanks they were showing us during wine cellar visits.  

    Today I am still passionate about wines and curious to learn more about them and share my knowledge with other people. Wineserver started as a wine club from my own needs – to learn more about wines, to taste them with other people, and to visit wine regions. Wineserver company was established in 2009 and the main idea is to promote wine culture in Finland and to continue exploring the fascinating world of wine. I organize wine tastings and trips to wine regions and I teach WSET courses from level 1 to level 3 and now Spanish Wine Scholar as well.

    I work full time as a sommelier / unit manager in Helsinki Airport’s Wine & View wine bar. It is interesting place to work as we get customers from all over the world. Come and say hello if you are visiting Finland or have a layover here!

    My highest degree is WSET Diploma and I am certified Sommelier and Bartender in Finland from local study programs. SWS complements these programs well. There has been many recent changes in Spain’s wine laws and all the material is very up to date. This information is virtually impossible to obtain elsewhere.

    In SWS program I also learned about the history and culture of each wine region. There is great variety of wine styles and local grape varieties and long history of winemaking. Spain is an exciting wine country with something to offer for everyone. I had not realized how many mountains there are in Spain, although I have been there several times.
    I really enjoyed SWS so I am thinking of studying French Wine Scholar program next. And maybe Master of Wine studies in the future.

    While studying Spanish Wine Scholar I learned about new wines that I can’t wait to taste and places I want to visit. Luckily I am going to Rioja and San Sebastian later this month with my wine club. I organize wine trips for Finnish wine enthusiast a couple of times a year.
    Spain is such a great holiday destination for wine lovers and SWS is such a confidence boost when teaching about Spanish wines or working as a tour leader.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial ...all the material is very up to date. This information is virtually impossible to obtain elsewhere.
    • Position Owner, Wineserver
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier; WSET Diploma

    Kate Hall, SWS

    Congratulations to Kate Hall, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Kate:

    I’m a wine enthusiast with a passion for learning more about grapes and wine and how they fit into the land the come from.

    I’ve passed FWS and WSET 3.  I’m currently studying for IWS.

    SWS gave me a much greater depth and breadth into the grapes, wines and appellations of Spain than WSET3.  The additional background gave insights into a country whose history and geography I had never learned about, despite lots of trips there for both work and pleasure.  I appreciated having another chance to study a single country in depth.

    I learned so much from the Spanish Wine Scholar course. The geography, geology and wine history as explained in the manual, together with descriptions of the grapes, viticulture, winemaking techniques and notable historical figures, bring the wines of Spain to life.  It has made me more confident and adventurous when selecting Spanish wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It has made me more confident and adventurous when selecting Spanish wines.
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar with Highest Honors

    Lisa Lehar, SWS

    Congratulations to Lisa Lehar, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lisa:

    Spain was a blind spot.  

    When the opportunity to learn more about Spain was offered, I jumped.  The Spanish Wine Scholar program taught me about wine regions and grapes, but it also gave me an insight into the history, geology, culture and food of Spain.  Pulling all of those facets together gave me knowledge not only of Spanish wines, but of how Spain molded the development of those wines.  I learned that in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue with wine from Toro.

    As a former flight attendant, I was fortunate to visit many wine areas in the world.  After leaving the airlines, I took my first wine course to revisit places I had traveled in a different way, through a wine glass.  This sparked a passion to learn everything I could about wine. Course work I’ve completed includes the CSW and WSET Level 3 Award in Wine & Spirits.  

    Wine brings together art, science, agriculture, culture, travel and hospitality.  Sharing this information with others is my calling in the world of wine.  Vine Lab Wine & Spirits Academy  was opened in 2016.  Our course offerings are expanding to include the Wine Scholar Guild courses.  We are really excited to bring these classes to our students.  These courses will enhance my own continuing education as I work toward gaining the WSET Diploma. 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The program taught me about wine regions and grapes, but it also gave me an insight into the history, geology, culture and food of Spain.
    • Position Owner and Educator, Vine Lab Wine & Spirits Academy
    • Certifications CSW, WSET Level 3

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