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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Trace Acres, FWS

    Congratulations to Trace Acres, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Trace:

    I’ve been a wine enthusiast for decades, and in 2018 I turned my passion for wine into vineyard and winery positions in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. I also publish a wine blog (vinsights.ca), consult to clients needing occasional wine advice, and lead a variety of unofficial tastings and seminars - online and in-person. I enjoy learning about wines and wine producing regions and hope to continue building my knowledge, primarily by continuing my travels to wine regions around the world.

    I have completed the WSET Diploma. The French Wine Scholar program drilled more deeply into France’s regions, terroir and unique wines than any course I have taken before. For anyone thinking of pursuing the WSET Diploma, I would recommend taking FWS first.

    FWS broadened my knowledge of French wines and piqued my curiosity about some lesser known regions like Savoie, Corsica and the Southwest. I hope to visit them someday! In addition, the text is proving to be an excellent research resource.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The French Wine Scholar program drilled more deeply into France’s regions, terroir and unique wines than any course I have taken before.
    • Position Tasting Room Host, Spearhead Winery & Publisher, Vinsights.ca
    • Certifications WSET Diploma
    Read more...

    Tom Martin, IWS

    Congratulations to Tom Martin, IWS, for passing the Italian Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Tom:

    I am an enthusiast and former “Professor” at the Fox School of Wine in Park City, Utah. Google it.

    When the Coronavirus pandemic spread across the US, I decided to enroll in the intensive IWS2 course led by Alan Tardi. I had already passed IWS1. With little else to do, I had plenty of time to read and reread the booklet and attend the webinars. I used the Learning Objectives (LO) templates to cull information from the manual and webinars and used my completed LO documents intensively for review. I sat the IWS2 exam in early June and learned that the Wine Scholar Guild has awarded me certification with highest honors! Very exciting!

    Then, in early July my wife and I sold our home and moved to Maryland to stay safe from Coronavirus in our camper trailer on the farm of a friend. You’ll see in the attached photo a Western hat and Eastern plow as I proudly display my certificate. It is emblematic of my past and present.
    What’s next depends on how soon the pandemic subsides and opportunities to work in the trade arise. Oh, and my wife and I need to find a home before winter locks us into our trailer!

    My certifications include WSET3; FWS, IWS and Alsace Advanced Study. The WSET program got me deep into understanding wine, appellations, vineyard management techniques, and vinification techniques. The study and certifications with the Wine Scholar Guild have broadened my knowledge.

    As for what comes next, I hope to resume study for the Advanced Program for Champagne that I suspended a while ago. I am also keen to take the Spanish Wine Scholar program.

    The IWS, with two parts and many appellations and grape varieties, presented a challenge to learn and remember so much. It gave me the skill to learn and retain both basic and curious facts about geology, history, and culture. That skill will benefit me as I continue to explore the world of wine.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It gave me the skill to learn and retain both basic and curious facts about geology, history, and culture.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar, Alsace Master Level
    Read more...

    Jonelle Gingrich, SWS

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

    About Jonelle:

    I am a wine enthusiast! Someday maybe I can enter the business side of the wine world. My husband and I enjoy travel to various wine regions all over the world. Some of our favorites have been in Europe.

    When I moved to the UK 4 years ago, a friend informed me about “wine certification courses” and I completed WSET level 3. After that, I felt I needed more background on old world wines before jumping into the diploma – a niche WSG fulfills beautifully with their baseline French, Spanish and Italian wine courses.

    Now I am a current diploma student, and I can say with 100% certainty that there is no comparable program that gives you such a depth of knowledge on Spanish wines as the Spanish Wine Scholar. I feel confident I can handle anything thrown at me in the Spanish wine world after this program! There is no other program that gives you the volume of information on Sherry, Spanish sparkling wines or the wine laws of Spain. As an additional bonus, my husband and I discovered so many Spanish wines we had never heard of and now are staples in our wine rack. So many old vine gems and truly affordable price points.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial There is no comparable program that gives you such a depth of knowledge on Spanish wines as the Spanish Wine Scholar.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, FWS
    Read more...

    Leslie Lim, FWS

    Congratulations to Leslie Lim, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Leslie:

    I am a wine enthusiast and started my wine journey 6 years ago, and have never looked back since! I’m eager to learn as much as I can, and I’m thinking of potentially working in the wine trade in the future!

    I’ve done the WSET level 3 prior to taking the FWS, and I think the FWS has been a great complement! The WSET level 3 has provided a broader understanding of wine, but the FWS has provided me with a much more in depth study into French wines. It’s been a great experience and I am thinking of doing the Italian Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar as well!

    I have learnt so much more about French wines through FWS, and I am certainly appreciating them much more now when I drink them. It was also great to understand the history behind so many of the various French wine regions!

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was also great to understand the history behind so many of the various French wine regions!
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 3
    Read more...

    John Lord, FWS

    Congratulations to John Lord, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About John:

    I am a wine enthusiast who first tasted wine many years ago.  Very few drank wine in those days, and if they did, it was generally vin ordinaire and as part of a fad.  After many decades of enjoying drinking better and then good wines, I turned to learning about the grape, the winemaking and the industry.  What was this pleasure I have been enjoying for so long?  Even at this later stage of life I have been absorbed, and the broader I delve the more I appreciate the people and the wines produced all around the world.

    The French Wine Scholar program was an excellent balance between technical detail, regional industry structure, the terroir and macro environment, and the grapes and styles.  I found it brought all these aspects together in a way that made you feel you have a real appreciation for the why there and why that style, and were often tempted to go off on a tangent seeking even more information and knowledge.  The independent study is very well supported by the text and the WSG website, and the Instructor lead program blended all aspects logically.  I have recently enrolled in the Italian Wine Scholar program after enjoying the FWS so much.

    Prior to joining the Wine Scholar Guild I completed WSET 2, Wine 101x: World of Wine from the University of Adelaide, and Mastering Australian Wine from the Sydney Wine Academy.  The FWS rewards through the depth and intimacy of the wine industry and the country.

    The FWS has raised my passion to try different wines, and to apply the logic and technical detail learned through France into the why, where and why that style to other countries and regions’ wines.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The FWS has raised my passion to try different wines, and to apply the logic and technical detail learned
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications WSET Level 2
    Read more...

    Patricia Maffetano, FWS

    Congratulations to Patricia Maffetano, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Patricia:

    Part of my family is Italian and wine has always been part of my life. However, it was in 2010, when I made my first trip to Europe (Portugal) and visited a vineyard for the first time, that I started looking at wine with much more curiosity. That’s when I became a wine enthusiast.

    Back to Brazil,  I started taking all the available courses, trainings,  workshops and tastings, trying to expand my knowledge on wine. It was only in 2016 that I obtained my first certification, as a Professional Sommelier certified by the Brazilian Association of Sommeliers (AIS partner).

    It was then I realized that I didn’t just want to study about it, I also wanted to work with it! That’s when I became a wine professional and started working with it in parallel to my other job, on the weekends, participating in fairs, giving private classes.

    It was also in 2016 that I took the WSET1, then in 2017 the WSET2 and in 2018 the WSET3.

    Next month I’m going to take the next step, I left my old job and I am going to start a MBA in Wine and Spirits at Burgundy School of Business. This is one of the reasons, in addition to my passion for French wine, that I took FWS certification. It has definitely enriched my knowledge of French wine appellations, industry, culture and history more than any other certification I took before.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It has definitely enriched my knowledge of French wine appellations, industry, culture and history.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Levels 1, 2 & 3
    Read more...

    Gavin Cameron, SWS

    Congratulations to Gavin Cameron, SWS, for passing the Spanish Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Gavin: 

    Starting out as a wine enthusiast, I transitioned from hospitality to becoming a wine professional. I recently retired from wine sales on Vancouver Island, and will continue to learn, participate and use my passion for wine to stay connected with other professionals and enthusiasts in this field. Among the European wineries in my sales portfolio, I had the incredible opportunity to represent two excellent family vineyards in Spain – Bodegas Miguel Torres and Bodegas Alvear. Their history and stories inspired me immensely.

    I have completed the International Sommeliar Guild (ISG) Diploma and French Wine Scholar.

    My ISG training gave me a solid foundation in Spanish wines.  The SWS program, which is recognized as the premier information source for Spanish Wine, took my knowledge to a whole new level.  Created by the Wine Scholar Guild, the SWS program provided a comprehensive and current representation of wines and wine regions of Spain.  It emphasized the unique characteristics of each wine region – and gave me a thirst to visit each one!

    I plan to enroll in the Italian Wine Scholar program to complement my current knowledge and continue my “virtual” travel experience through the wine regions of Europe.

    The SWS program covers the history, climate and geography of Spain extensively, and all are aspects which form an integral part of understanding the wines and wine regions of any country. With this understanding, and the SWS program emphasis on the regional wine and food pairings, I will continue to promote “themed” wine tastings and wine-pairing dinners with friends and colleagues.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial The SWS program...emphasized the unique characteristics of each wine region – and gave me a thirst to visit each one!
    • Position Principal, Crusader Wine & Spirits
    • Certifications International Sommelier Guild Diploma, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Bryce Faucheaux, FWS

    Congratulations to Bryce Faucheaux, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar with highest honors!

    About Bryce:

    A wine professional, I’m currently a sommelier at Justine - a bustling fine dining French restaurant that resides in the heart of the French Quarter. It combines the feeling of a Parisian café with the fun unique vibe that New Orleans has to offer.

    My first real exposure to fine wine was midway through high school, on a family trip to Tuscany. This exposure grew over the next several years into a passion that I carry with me to this day.

    My professional career in wine started in 2016, when I was finishing up my MBA program in New Orleans. In 2014, I got my undergraduate in business and, at the time, I was not set on going back to school for a masters degree. So, for a year and a half, I worked for a news website involving college sports. When I quit that job, I applied for an accredited Masters in Business Administration program. I graduated in three semesters.

    Right before my last semester in the summer of 2016, I went to France for two weeks. At the time, I didn’t have an answer of what I wanted to do with my life. Part of me had gone back to school to figure out that answer. But, on that trip, my parents said “Well, you really enjoy wine. There are things you can do career-wise with wine. You should look into that”. And that’s when the lightbulb went off.
    So when I returned from my France trip, I was telling one of my close grad school friends all about my trip and how passionate I was about wine. He then told me that he could help connect me with a Master Sommelier that he knew out in Los Angeles. Over the next several months, I was able to land an internship. During Thanksgiving 2016, we flew up to Los Angeles and spent 5 days out there. My friends made a vacation out of the trip, while I was off learning some of the ropes of the wine world and having an interview for that internship.

    I graduated in December, then moved out to Los Angeles in January 2017 - where I began my professional exposure to wine. With great help from veteran wine industry professionals, I was able to get my first couple of restaurant jobs in wine, and was able to surround myself with talented people.

    As great of a time I had out in Los Angeles, I felt it was time to come home 13 months later ( I’m a born and raised New Orleanian).  As soon as I moved back, I looked for ways to be directly and proactively involved in the New Orleans wine industry. By the summer, I had gotten a job as a wine broker with a small Italian importer. During that time, I enrolled in both WSET Level 3 Advanced and Court of Masters Level 2 Certified. I passed both on the first try, and got the highest designation with WSET. A gut feeling told me that wine class was the best way to network and open doors, and sure enough I was right. One of my closest friends today I met through my WSET class. She was there 100% of the way, allowing me to blind taste and to practice restaurant service multiple times each week in her restaurant’s wine cellar room. After a year of Italian importing, I decided I was ready to get involved with restaurants again. I took the initiative and reached out to my current restaurant group, inquiring about any wine positions.

    Fast-forward to today, I’ve been a sommelier at all three of my restaurant group’s restaurants for nearly 2 years, and am approaching the one year anniversary of being at Justine. My wine director has become a close mentor in helping me grow as a person and a wine professional, which reflects the core philosophy of my restaurant group: to foster creativity and learning, and to encourage growth and education in a positive team-building environment.
    As for the future, I’m making complete use of my Wine Scholar books to prepare for my Court of Master Sommeliers Level 3 path. The most important thing in my wine career has always been to try to learn as much as I can about wine, and I feel the Wine Scholar Guild is a fantastic resource for learning in a very structured way. I’m going to be taking the Italian Wine Scholar exams over the next year, and I’m going to apply for the CMS Level 3 Course this October.

    I’ve passed the following wine certification programs: Court of Master Sommeliers, Level 2 Certified; WSET Level 3, Pass with Distinction; French Wine Scholar, Highest Honors; and Certified Sherry Wine Specialist.

    I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules. I also love the flashcards feature on the site itself (I’m such a flashcards person that I have made flashcards of every wine textbook I own!). FWS certainly has reinforced my previous knowledge, but I also like that it covers wine regions I work with on a daily basis (i.e. Savoie, Jura, and lesser known southern France appellations)

    I’ve had others, both inside and outside of the wine world, ask me my thoughts of the program, and I’ve recommended it. It’s a great thing to discuss with people interested in learning more about wine, especially in any French-centric program. I’m very excited to be starting the Italian Wine Scholar program, because it gives the same type of structure that I found with French Wine Scholar. Personally, the FWS textbook will be a valuable resource to reference back to, whenever I may need it. I also believe that the FWS program will help me in more advanced wine courses, such as WSET Level Diploma and the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced and Master levels. My next goal is to prepare for the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced level, so the knowledge gained from the FWS material will really come in handy.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I love how structured the FWS program is, from the book itself to the online learning modules.
    • Position Sommelier, 'Justine', New Orleans
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier, WSET Level 3, French Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Charlie Geoghegan

    Congratulations to Charlie Geoghegan, for passing the Bordeaux Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Charlie:

    I’m from Dublin, Ireland, where I started out in wine retailing in 2012. I later moved to Bordeaux, where I lived for three years, completing an MBA, interning at a leading winery, and eventually working freelance as a wine copywriter and marketing specialist. I have spent the last two years in London, working in international sales for a large wine group. I will shortly start a new role as Senior Copywriter with Berry Bros. & Rudd, which is very exciting indeed. My long-term goal is to be a senior leader and driver of positive change in international wine marketing.

    I hold an MBA in Wine Marketing & Management from INSEEC in Bordeaux. I have completed several programs with WSET, including the Level 3 Award in Wines and the Level 2 Award in Spirits. I became an Italian Wine Scholar last year. I’m not sure yet what’s next, though I would like to tackle the WSET Diploma sooner or later. I have really enjoyed studying with the Wine Scholar Guild, so I may well look to do French Wine Scholar or another Master-Level program in the future.

    The Bordeaux Master-Level program built upon my formal education from the Wine Scholar Guild, INSEEC and WSET, as well as my experience as a former resident of Bordeaux city and a wine professional working with Bordeaux wines in a variety of contexts. I am sure that the ML program will be hugely beneficial in any future studies such as the WSET Diploma.

    Bordeaux wines will play a major part in my new role as Senior Copywriter with Berry Bros. & Rudd. The Bordeaux Master-Level program has really helped focus my knowledge of Bordeaux, which will be of real benefit in my new role. I hope to continue working closely with Bordeaux and its wines for many years to come, so I am confident that the Master-Level program will prove to be a wise investment! 

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I hope to continue working closely with Bordeaux and its wines for many years to come, so I am confident that the Master-Level program will prove to be a wise investment!
    • Position Senior Copywriter, Berry Bros. & Rudd
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, Italian Wine Scholar
    Read more...

    Lela Sherdon, FWS

    Congratulations to Lela Sherdon, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!

    About Lela:

    Certified Chef, Culinary School. Chef and restaurant owner of Lela’s Café, a French inspired bistro café, for 9.5 years, I had an extensive wine list of around 250 wines that rotated frequently. I did wine tastings daily and developed a keen palate and deep appreciation for French wines with their unique nuances and multi-layered experience of such well crafted wines from such beautiful terroir that truly honored the natural expression of the inherent grape varietals and the land in which they originated. I believe that France is in my cells in some unusual way. I have always gravitated to all things French, perhaps because my Grandmother was French or at least she always believed she was, even though she was actually born in Italy near France. She would have been proud of my French café and my French Wine Scholar achievement.

    In recent times, after I had sold my restaurant, and prior to Covid, I was working at a French upscale restaurant that was run by French Chefs and owners from Paris. Their wine list was entirely French. My job was to serve clients upscale tasting menus from Michelin Chefs and describe the chosen wine flights like a Sommelier. Doing the French Wine Scholar program was a natural progression for me. I realized quickly that I had a passion for French wine and a deep understanding of the wines and longed to learn more. I often would be given wines without any tasting notes and could taste them on the spot and could confidently describe them to the guests and how it related to the food, and then I would add the background info I learned from my French Wine Scholar program to actually be quite astute in my field.

    Due to the changes in the restaurant industry, I am currently focusing on my private Chef work with select clients and I also produce my own artisanal home brewed and fermented kombucha which is for me a connection to my love for wine. Truly great wine is a living substance, like kombucha, that is sensitive to its environment; it has personality, expression and even soul.

    Completing the French Wine Scholar program with highest honors was very rewarding. It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation. The 5-week instructor led intensive is something that was actually quite a gift to have such a unique focus during the time of quarantine. I am very grateful for the special timing of the program.

    Where I will go with this love for wine and study remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that it is a part of my passion and it will be a part of my future.  I hope to be able to attend some of the master classes in France in the future.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial It was indeed a challenge which helped me deepen my knowledge and strengthen my own foundation.
    • Position Chef, Lela’s Private Chef Services
    Read more...
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