Instructor Bios

Instructor Bios

Essi Avellan, Master of Wine

Essi Avellan is Finland’s first Master of Wine.

Recognized as a champagne and sparkling wine specialist, Avellan is the author of several wine books, including Matka Champagneen and Parhaat samppanjat. She has also recently revised and extended the 3rd edition of Tom Stevenson’s award-winning Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine.

For her MW studies she wrote her dissertation on single-vineyard Champagnes and won both the Lily Bollinger Medal for best taster and the Tim Derouet Memorial Award for best overall student.

Essi also holds a Master of Science degree in Business Administration. Essi is a reputed wine judge; in addition to FINE Magazines and The World of Fine Wine tasting panels she had acted as the chair of Decanter World Wine Awards’ Champagne panel and is a jury member at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships.  She is an organiser of the annual Grand Champagne Helsinki event. Has has been knighted as Chevalier l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the Minister of Agriculture of France. She has also been awarded the titles Dame-Officier of Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne and Commandeur of Commanderie de Bordeaux.

Peter Liem,

Peter Liem is an American wine writer, and author of, an award-winning online guide to the wines and wine producers of Champagne.

Following nearly a decade in the wine trade, he was a senior editor, critic and tasting director for Wine & Spirits magazine, and his writings on champagne, sherry and other wines have appeared in publications such as The World of Fine Wine, Decanter, The Art of Eating and The San Francisco Chronicle.

He has authored, together with Jesús Barquín, Sherry, Manzanilla & Montilla, and he hosts Sherryfest, one of the world’s largest sherry events, together with Rosemary Gray. He has also partnered with Daniel Johnnes of La Paulée de New York to create La Fête du Champagne, the largest Champagne event in the United States.

His most recent book, Champagne, was published by Ten Speed Press in 2017: it has been awarded a James Beard Award, as well as the André Simon Book Award and an IACP Book Award. Liem divides his time between New York City and the Champagne region of France, and can frequently be found in the sherry country as well.

Charles Curtis, Master of Wine

Charles Curtis MW is the founder of WineAlpha, a fine wine advisory serving private, trade, and institutional clients with an interest in the market for fine and rare wine.

Following a decade of experience in wine sales, Curtis became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States in 2004.  He is a member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America), a member of the Events Committee, leading the organization of the Institute’s Annual Champagne Tasting which he founded in 2005.

After a stint at LVMH, where he had held the post of Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moet Hennessy USA, Charles became Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas.  His book The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy was published in 2014, and he writes a regular column for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France.

Steve Charters, Master of Wine

Steve Charters originally qualified as a lawyer in the UK – but was seduced by the allure of wine, and worked in retail and wine education in London, Sydney and Perth.  Steve is now Professor of Wine Marketing at School of Wine & Spirits Business at Burgundy School of Business (formerly ESC Dijon).

From 2007-13 he was Professor of Champagne Management at Reims Management School (Neoma), responsible for developing teaching and research programmes focusing on all aspects of the business of Champagne.  He formerly lectured in Wine Studies and Marketing at Edith Cowan University in Perth.  He is involved in research focusing on consumer behaviour, including wine tourism and consumer perceptions of quality in wine and on management expertise in the wine industry.  He gained his PhD from Edith Cowan University in 2004, for a thesis entitled ‘Perceptions of Wine Quality’.  He is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine having passed its examination in 1997.  Before joining Edith Cowan University Steve ran his own wine education consultancy in Sydney.  He has also worked in wine retail in Sydney, for a company involved in importing wine.

In 1997 Steve was the winner of the Australian Vin de Champagne Award (professional section).  He has wide and current knowledge of a number international wine areas, but focusing mainly on Champagne and Australia.  He has also worked for a vintage on a winery in France.  Steve has written columns for the Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine.  He is author of ‘Wine and society: The social and cultural context of a drink’, published by Elsevier in 2006 and has also contributed to a number of popular books on wine – including The Oxford Companion to Wine (OUP, 2006), ‘Discovering Australia: Wineries’ (Random House 1999) and ‘The Global Encyclopedia of Wine’ (Global Publishing, 2000).

Robert Walters

Robert Walters is the founder, owner and senior wine buyer for Bibendum Wine Co, one of Australia’s leading wine and spirit distributors as well as the owner of Place of Changing Winds, a high-density Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria.

His role as a wine buyer has led him to work closely with many great growers and producers from Europe,  Australia and New Zealand, including many of Champagne’s finest artisans. Over the years he has occasionally found the time to write for publications such as The World of Fine Wine, and it was a series of these articles – on grower Champagnes – that eventually led to his ground breaking and award winning book Bursting Bubbles: A Secret History of Champagne. This book was awarded the “Best Debut Drink Book” prize at the prestigious Fortnum & Mason Food & Drink Award 2018 and has been shortlisted for a number of other awards including the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2018 for “Wine Book of the Year”.

Robert Walters lives in Melbourne with his partner and two children.

Carl Edmund Sherman

Dual citizen (Swedish and American), Carl Edmund has been living in the Champagne region for over a decade, while working exclusively with champagne since 2010.

Operating his own independent consultancy company for many years now, Carl Edmund offers champagne domains and houses alike strategic and operational assistance to develop their export business. He also works with developing Champagne tourism and education (tastings for private clients and masterclasses for members of the trade).

Passionate about Champagne, the region and the product, Carl Edmund is a true ambassador, both locally, and internationally, active at many trade-tastings and masterclasses.

Patrick Schmitt, Master of Wine

Patrick Schmitt is editor-in-chief at The Drinks Business. He writes for and manages the European and Hong Kong editions of The Drinks Business, as well as the printed product’s website – the leading international website for beers, wines and spirits.

He also chairs the publication’s annual awards programme, including The Drinks Business Awards for product innovations and environmental initiatives, as well as the magazine’s Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Champagne and Rioja Masters, for which he heads up a tasting panel of wine experts.

Patrick has been shortlisted two years running for editor of the year in the business and professional magazine category for the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME).

Patrick passed both the theory and practical papers of the Master of Wine examination on his first attempt and became a Master of Wine in March 2015. During his Master of Wine studies he was awarded the Esterhazy and Reh Kendermann bursaries as well as the AXA Millésimes and Yalumba scholarships.

Patrick studied Geography at Oxford University – where he specialised in plant ecology – and later Landscape Architecture at the University of Greenwich. Although he is a qualified garden designer, and had initially planned to practise as a landscape architect, a job on a horticultural trade journal took him into a career as a journalist.



Disclaimer: WSG offers wine study courses that are targeted to both beginners and those more experienced in the wine industry. While WSG has received many accolades, awards, and testimonials, WSG is not an accredited institution or school. WSG does not guarantee or warrant that any employer or school will recognize WSG wine study courses. While WSG knows that it is a well-recognized institution within the multi-national wine community, it cannot guarantee anyone success in their profession or vocation.

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