Wine Scholar Guild honors West London Wine School as 2017 French Wine Scholar™ (FWS) Program Provider of the Year!
FWS Program Provider of the Year rewards professionalism and perfectionism in the business of wine education and delivery of the French Wine Scholar study & certification program. Judging criteria includes student volume, facilities, student evaluations and the overall profile of the course offerings given by that learning institution. These factors, together, create an award-winning environment of academic rigor and excellence.
Kudos to Jimmy Smith, FWS, owner & head tutor of West London Wine School!
Jimmy Smith, FWS teaching at West London Wine School
Interview with Jimmy Smith, FWS
Tell us about your Wine School… When did you launch it? What courses are you offering?
West London Wine School was established in 2009. Within nine years has become one of the UK’s leading wine education facilities with over 5,000 students per year. We have been twice nominated as WSET Riedel Educator of the Year, and once been a winner as part of the Local Wine School network (2015), which places us in the top 1% of WSET educators in the world. We have 6 charismatic tutors at the school offering a variety of courses:
- Introduction to Wine Courses (over 8 weeks, 4 weeks, 1 day, 1 evening)
- Fine/Specialist Wine Evenings
- BPET Beer Cicerone – Levels 1 & 2
- WSET (approx. 800 students per year) – Levels 1 to 3
In your opinion, what distinguishes the French Wine Scholar program from other certification programs available in the UK?
FWS courses engage the student through a greater depth of knowledge with a detailed focus on cultural, historical and geological information that other courses within the UK seldom tackle. For me, this means there is a more romantic edge to the courses that make them extremely exciting to teach. In addition, it is the focus on lesser-known regions that I am really enthusiastic about. I love sharing my passion for these places to my students. Jura, Savoie, Corsica and the SW of France barely get any ‘air time’ in the UK through education so it gives me the opportunity to share my passion of these areas to my students. My wine bar (Streatham Wine House) here in London has over 30 wines from Jura, Savoie and Corsica so access to wines to use for courses is easy.
Coupled with the above, FWS courses have wonderfully comprehensive teaching modules through powerpoint presentations and online modules--and the textbook that sets it above other courses within the UK. It is a joy to work with such detailed materials that really make our jobs delivering the content thoroughly enjoyable.
What are the professional benefits for achieving French Wine Scholar certification for those who want to enter or for those who are already in the wine industry in London/England?
With such a strong connection to France (although it hasn’t always been that way…) student’s knowledge of the wines of France are imperative. London is becoming much more dynamic with its scope of French wines and it is important that wine industry people keep up-to-date with the diversity and the changes.
As the FWS is becoming more well-known in the UK, it is becoming viewed as more important for students who wish to focus on France for their career development. Further focus in the UK is needed for the WSG to capitalize on the niche that has been found for actually offering students a comprehensive knowledge on perhaps the most important country for wine in the world (don’t tell the Italians…)
What type of experience do you provide to FWS/IWS students at West London Wine School (teaching methods, social components, support outside of class, etc) that you think sets you apart?
As I am a wine buyer for both WLWS and the bar SWH, I have a great access to wine from over 40 suppliers. Therefore, it is easier for me to obtain often hard-to-find wines and I receive samples that make my sessions much more enjoyable. On the last course, we tasted 90 wines over the 9 sessions (16 on the Loire night!). In addition, I work very closely with my cheese supplier that gives me access to over 200 French cheeses--and we always use the relevant cheeses on the correct sessions. This cultural aspect immerses the student further within the syllabus.
I also ‘try’ to cook up treats as much as possible (such as Fraises au Vin on the Bojo session) and we do a ‘Field Trip’ to the wine bar for the Loire or Bojo session as we are VERY strong on these areas at the bar (e.g. we have Bojo-Villages on tap, and our Loire list is comprised of over 40 wines and we have an oyster specialist nearby).
In addition, I run many specialist tastings that students can sign up for to help their knowledge (e.g. Jimmy’s Jura - a sell out to 40 people). I also use ‘Turning Technologies’ clickers as anonymous multiple choice questions at the start of the next session to recap their knowledge (just 15 questions).
Otherwise, if you read my reviews via TripAdvisor etc, I think you will read that I am very engaging as a tutor!
2017 WINE SCHOLAR GUILD AWARDS:
- French Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: West London Wine School (London, UK)
- French Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Hwee Peng Lim, CWE, FWS (Singapore)
- Italian Wine Scholar Program Provider of the Year: Independent Wine Education Guild - IWEG (Toronto, CAN)
- Italian Wine Scholar Instructor of the Year: Mr. Chris Miller (San Francisco Wine School, USA)
Previous Years WSG Awards:
- 2016 WSG Program Provider of the Year: Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, CAN)
- 2016 WSG Instructor the Year: Sheral Schowe, M.Ed., FWS, IWS (Wasatch Academy of Wine, Salt Lake City, USA)
- 2015 WSG Program Provider of the Year: AWSEC (Hong Kong, HKG)
- 2015 WSG Instructor the Year: David Glancy MS, FWS (San Francisco Wine School, USA)