Last August, at our annual conference, SWE welcomed its new Executive Committee and Board of Directors. While many of our board members have served for quite a few years, there are also some new faces in the group as well. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our new board members, Valerie Caruso, FWS, DWS, CWE…and thank her for her service to the Society!
Valerie retired after 25 years in the Air Force and moved to Italy a few months later to study wine at an international hospitality school. It started as a personal travel and learning adventure for a wine lover, but turned into much more. She was only back in the states 90 days before returning to Italy to study advanced Italian, speak on a collaborative book project about Tuscan wines, and then proceeded to another international culinary academy in France.
In 2010 Valerie began doing private tastings for friends and military spouse groups, and the following year started a business doing in-home tastings and while working with direct-to-consumer sales for a Napa winery. It was in 2012 when she discovered the Society of Wine Educators and the CSW program, and also when she started teaching wine tasting classes in Colorado Springs. She credits her first CSW preview that year as the moment that learning bug would formally establish itself as the desire to not only further her own education, but to bring others along for the exciting wine education ride.
Val has since established her own wine education company, Vino With Val, LLC, where she provides customized tastings for private and corporate clients and even organizations and tour groups. In 2015, she launched the Wine Two Five podcast with fellow CWE Stephanie Davis. Together they built a strong wine media presence and brand as well as a worldwide community of engaged listeners who want to be entertained, educated, and empowered as consumers. Val’s time is now largely consumed nearly full-time as executive producer, content writer, and host for the weekly show which can be found on iTunes, IHeartRadio and many other destinations.
After attending the 2014 conference and the CWE preview, Val knew she’d found her wine education home. She has since contributed to SWE’s popular SWEbinar and Certification Summit program as a presenter. Many of the SWE’s own professionals have found their voices warmly welcomed on the Wine Two Five podcast by the listener base to help spread the word as well, and affectionately refers to the friends she’s made at SWE as her “tribe” and believes strongly in the mission and spirit of the organization.
In her time on the board, Val would like to continue to proudly carry (some would say shamelessly promote) the torch of SWE to those who seek quality wine education and community, especially online for those who don’t live in the most restaurant-and study-group-rich locations. Just as she has for those who have reached out to her for mentoring—particularly veterans who find her online—she is determined to be instrumental in expanding the study resources for wine learning and contribute to the excellence in the SWE’s educational endeavors.