Meet the Board: Jorge Hernandez

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.Jorge Hernandez presenting at the 2013 Conference of the Society of Wine Educators

Last month, 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, Jorge Hernandez…and thank him for his service to the Society!

Jorge Hernandez is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators. Jorge is the National Director of Wine and Spirits Education for Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, responsible for conducting educational seminars for all aspects of the beverage alcohol industry and the public at large. 

Jorge has been a passionate wine educator since 1983, when he hung out his shingle in an independent wine consulting business known as “Palate for Hire.” This led to employment with R.H. Philips, Kendall Jackson’s Artisans and Estates, Seagram’s Chateau and Estate Wines Company, and Diageo. In the early and mid 1990s, Jorge also wrote and recorded a series of fine wine radio spots that were broadcast weekly in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. 

Jorge was born in Colombia, but is proud to have traveled to all 50 of the United States, as well as Washington DC. In his free time, he enjoys playing music – particularly stringed instruments such as the guitar and ukulele, and writes original musical compositions as well.

Welcome to the board, Jorge Hernandez!  

Meet the Board: Valerie Santoro

Last month, 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 Santoro…and thank her for her service to the Society!

Newly elected SWE Board Member Valerie Santoro, CSS, CSW

Newly elected SWE Board Member Valerie Santoro, CSS, CSW

Valerie Santoro, CSW, CSS is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators. Valerie is the Director of Training at Great Lakes Wine & Spirits (GLWAS), Michigan’s largest distributor of alcoholic beverages, supplying over 6,500 wine, 1,500 spirit, and 1,000 beer items, and servicing all 83 Michigan counties.  Valerie is also a Certified Specialist of Wine and a Certified Specialist of Spirits, with a B.S. in Viticulture and Enology from Michigan State University.

Valerie has always been interested in wine, from her earliest memories of red wine served with the family dinner meal, night after night.  Here interest grew when she first attended Michigan State University, with the intention of studying Botany. However, one day while walking through the Plant & Soil Building, she passed a plaque on the wall that read “Viticulture Lab” and was intrigued! She applied for a got a job in the Viti Lab analyzing fruit and berry samples for the local and the school’s research plots.  This led to helping out in the research winery and not much longer, Valerie was in love with wine and switched majors to Viticulture and Enology.

Prior to working for GLWAS, Valerie worked in wholesale wine sales, and while she enjoyed the work (and the travel opportunities it afforded), she found that here favorite part of the job was the “ah-ha moments” her customers would experience during staff and customer trainings. In her current job, Valerie is in charge of staff training in wine, spirits, and business, and handles on-boarding as well.

In her “spare” time, Valerie is an avid hiker, cyclist, gardener, wife, and mother to two active children. Her daughter and son are both soccer players, and members of youth orchestra – that is, when they aren’t trying to talk their mother into playing a round of Minecraft.

Welcome, Valerie!

Meet the Board: Maeve Pesquera

Last month, 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, Maeve Pesquera…and thank her for her service to the Society!

New Board Member Maeve Pesquera, CSS

New Board Member Maeve Pesquera, CSS

Maeve Pesquera, CSS is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for the Society of Wine Educators. Maeve has over 20 years of experience in fine dining and currently serves as the Director of Wine for the nationwide Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar group. During her time at Fleming’s, she has curated the award-winning wine list, created many innovative staff training programs, and implemented Fleming’s unique WiNEPAD.

Maeve’s love affair with wine began in France, as her family spent many summers in Provence, in a picturesque village with a small family vineyard. Her family, particularly her “Grandpapa,” who was  89 or 90 at the time, was the one who showed her that wine was not just a drink, not just a beverage, but something much more special than that.

Maeve recalls this time with her grandfather, as “every night at dinner he would pour each of us a tiny glass of wine and encourage us, guide us, to smell it, put our nose in the glass-just inhale and enjoy. His gentle guidance taught me how to discover wine, guided me to understand that it is an experience, an emotion, a connection. He guided me onto my own journey with wine, and that led me into the wine world.”

These days, in her spare time, Maeve likes to focus on her family, which includes her husband, Luis, and their five sons. This big, happy family enjoys weekend soccer, cross-country, and baseballs games as well as enjoying the beautiful beaches of southern California.

Welcome, Maeve!

 

Congratulations to our First Class of Certified Spirits Educators!

During our 2015 conference in New Orleans, the Society of Wine Educators administered the first ever Certified Spirits Educator exam to a group of leading industry professionals.  Six candidates successfully demonstrated superior theoretical knowledge through multiple choice and essay questions, tasting acumen through accurate blind identifications and rationales, presentation skills to a targeted audience, and proof of responsible beverage service.  For more information on the rigors of this exam click here.

Please, meet and congratulate the first group of official Certified Spirits Educators!

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Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE, B.N.I.C. Certified Cognac Educator, and French Wine ScholarAn enthusiastic lover of wine and spirits, Mr. Harden left a career in academia to follow his other muse for the last 27 years, trekking around the world to the great producing regions. Recently referred to as a veritable walking omnibus of wine and spirits knowledge, he has experienced every possible facet of the world of wine and spirits as a retailer, restaurateur, bartender, buyer, wholesaler, supplier, marketer, critic, writer, competition judge and an educator. He is currently with Elixir Vitae Wine & Spirits Consultants, a member of the Society of Wine Educators, Wine & Spirits Instructor at Mt. Hood Community College, and a Master Instructor with the French Wine Academy.

Hoke on the CSE Exam: The new Certified Spirits Educator program is a highly complex self-study program offered to professional spirits educators and industry professionals; the equivalent to the Society’s highly acclaimed Certified Wine Educator. Other programs dabble in spirits or include ancillary courses in the basics; the CSE focuses singularly on the world of spirits.

daubenmire, experts photos shoot, 2014

daubenmire, experts photos shoot, 2014

Linda Pettine, CWE, CSELinda Pettine is an Associate Professor for the College of Culinary Arts, Providence Campus, Johnson & Wales University. She has been at Johnson & Wales University since 2000, where she teaches in the Beverage & Dining Service Department. She was recognized for her teaching skills with the Beverage & Dining Services Department Service Award in 2001 and Teacher of the Year in 2007.  With over 20 years of industry experience, Ms. Pettine operated and managed fine dining restaurants in the south suburbs of Boston before joining the faculty at Johnson & Wales. Prior to that, she was a sales associate at Branded Liquors in Westwood, Mass. Linda is an active member of the Society of Wine Educators, Women Chef’s & Restaurateurs, and the USBG. She is a Certified Wine Educator, Certified Specialist of Spirits, and a Certified Hospitality Educator. Pettine recently became a Certified Cognac Educator and is certified through the Ėcole du Vin as an international Bordeaux educator. She holds degrees from Massachusetts Bay Community College, North Adams State College, and Johnson & Wales University.

Linda on the CSE Exam: I am fortunate in my like that I have had the opportunity to pursue my passions, “wine and spirits”.  The time and effort studying for the CSE exam was rigorous and demanding utilizing a variety of study techniques and tasting formats.  However, when you are passionate about the subject, it seems less like work and more like a journey.  I am thrilled to have arrived at my destination!

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Lisa Graziano CSW, CSELisa Graziano grew up with a German father and Irish-American mother in Los Angeles, California. An education in beer, wine and spirits came with this upbringing. She has pursued the study of wine and spirits seriously for the past eight years, earning both Certified Specialist of Wine and Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators, and currently works as a retail hand seller for Gallo Fine Wines and consults for Bottle Shop 33 in Denver. Her current passion is craft spirits and educating people about them – and she’s obviously great at it!

Lisa on the CSE Exam: The CSE exam was certainly challenging!  I ate, slept, studied and tasted spirits intensely for three months to prepare.  The SWE online Spirits Academy was a helpful tool in preparing for the exam as was the list of iconic spirits and suggested reading list. 

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Harriet Lembeck, CWE, CSEHarriet Lembeck is a prominent wine and spirits educator and writer. She is President of the Wine & Spirits Program, headquartered in New York City, and was the Director of The New School Wine Classes for their 18-year duration. She has revised and updated the textbook “Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits”, is a favorite speaker on wine and spirits at SWE Conferences, and is a contributing editor to Beverage Dynamics Magazine.

Harriet on the CSE exam: I think that the Certified Spirits Credential is very important for those who teach spirits as well as wine, and for those who already have the Certified Wine Educator credential, it completes the picture. The test was very comprehensive. Multiple choice questions (not as easy as one might think), writing an essay, and then completing two differently-styled tastings made for a long day, but each element was necessary for a candidate to illustrate familiarity with the subject of spirits.

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Ira Norof, CWE, CSEIn 1976 Ira’s wine & spirits career began in a retail wine shop.   As his knowledge and passion for the product grew, he eventually became a Sommelier in a Beverly Hills Restaurant.   In 1983, he was hired by Southern Wine & Spirits of California, and in 1996 he was named the Director of Education.  His illustrious career has taken him to visit most of the major wine regions in Europe and the Americas.  He attained the CWE (Certified Wine Educator credential) in 1999.  He holds a diploma from the Bordeaux Wine School and is a certified International Bordeaux Educator, as well as a certified Cognac Educator as ordained by le Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac. He is a guest lecturer at Cal Poly Pomona’s School of Hospitality each semester. Ira served as the President of the Society of Wine Educators from 2010 – 2013 and has been on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the AIWF and was a member of the Bon Appetit Tasting Panel.  Ira remains actively involved in many wine-related charity events throughout the country.

Ira on the CSE exam: I am privileged to have been part of the first CSE exam and will continue to mentor within our California organization on both wine and spirits education. We have over 200 CSW and/or CSS certified employees in the state as well as 4 CWEs. I look forward to help increase those numbers in the coming months.

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Jane A. Nickles, CWE, CSE, MBA – “Miss Jane” is the Director of Education for the Society of Wine Educators and in charge of all educational materials such as study guides, workbooks and online courses as well as exams and certification instruments.  In the past two years, she has introduced SWEbinars, ebooks, online prep classes, our blog, and computer-based testing to SWE.  Before working for SWE, she  created and taught wine classes for 20 years at Le Cordon Bleu Colleges, was the 2012 Banfi award winner for best score on the CWE exam, won the 2008 WOSA wine essay award (the prize for which was a 2-week tour of the winelands of South Africa), and has published countless textbooks and journals, including the latest editions of the SWE Study Guides.

Miss Jane on the CSE exam: Over the past few years, the CSS program has grown rapidly, and we have received an increasing number of requests for more in-depth programs and a higher level certification in spirits. One could even say the CSE was created due to popular demand!

Congratulations to our new CSEs! Now…who will be next?

And the Grand Award Goes to…Cristina Mariani-May of Banfi Vintners!

Christina Mariani-May accepts SWE's Grand Award on behalf of Banfi Vintners

Cristina Mariani-May accepts SWE’s Grand Award on behalf of Banfi Vintners

As part of the Society of Wine Educator’s 39th Annual Conference held in New Orleans, the Society’s Annual Grand Award was presented to Cristina Mariani-May of Banfi Vintners. Ms. Mariani-May is the youngest daughter of John F. Mariani, Junior. Together with her cousin James Mariani, she currently serves as the co-CEO of Banfi Vinters, and represents the third generation of family leadership in the company founded by their grandfather, John Mariani, Sr.

Granted annually to a deserving wine industry leader for lifetime achievement, the prestigious “Grand Award” has in the past been presented to such wine luminaries as Robert Mondavi, Sandro Boscaini, Jancis Robinson, Warren Winiarski, Carol Meredith, and Mike Grgich, among others.

“The Society of Wine Educators is proud to present Cristina Mariani May, as the co-CEO of Banfi Vintners and its public representative, with the SWE Grand Award for 2015,” said Edward Korry, CHE, CSS, CWE, President, Board of Directors, Society of Wine Educators. “Banfi Vintners has been and is a model for wine education worldwide in terms of its commitment, outreach, and generosity.”

Banfi Vintners was founded in 1919 by John F. Mariani, Sr., who named the company after his Aunt Teodolina Banfi. Mariani’s sons John, Jr. and Harry expanded the company’s Italian import portfolio to Germany, Switzerland, and France starting in the mid-1950s, before introducing the immensely popular Riunite Lambrusco, which has topped the imported red wine category over the past four decades.

In 1978, the Mariani family founded Castello Banfi in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy’s most honored estate and the inspiration for a renaissance in Tuscan winemaking, and in 1988, began working with the family leadership of Concha y Toro, catapulting that brand to its own leadership position and introducing Americans to Chilean wine.

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Castello Banfi is internationally acclaimed for its clonal research to improve upon the region’s historical Brunello di Montalcino, and making premier quality wines that are low in sulfites and histamines. It was the first winery in the world to be awarded international recognition for exceptional environmental, ethical, and social responsibility (ISO 14001 and SA8000) as well as an international leader in customer satisfaction (ISO 9001:2000).

Encouraged by their success in business, the Mariani family established the Banfi Foundation and from its earnings contributes to leading national charities and higher education through scholarships, fellowships and grants-in-aid. To promote greater knowledge of the fine wines of Europe and the US, the Foundation has endowed the Banfi Chair of Wine Education at Cornell University and provided funding for a Chair of Economics at Colgate University themed to the American economy and the importance of the free enterprise system. In addition, each year the Foundation provides scholarships for students at select hospitality and business colleges to travel to Italy for seminars on that nation’s wine and food culture.

It’s nice to be in the Hall of Fame!

Sharro ItalyOur heartfelt congratulations go out to Sharron McCarthy – SWE Past President and current Director Emeritus!

Sharron was – just yesterday – inducted into the Italian Trade Commission’s Hall of Fame for “outstanding leadership, contribution, and lifelong dedication to the appreciation, education and marketing of Italian wines in the US.” The Hall of Fame induction took place at a luncheon at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, as part of VINO 2015 – Italian Wine Week.

Sharron, who is Vice President of Wine Education for Banfi Vintners, is a gifted wine educator and is consistently among the most popular and highest-rated speakers at SWE’s Annual Conference. (Be sure to congratulate her and say “hi” next August in NOLA)! Harry Mariani, the President Emeritus of Banfi Vintners, was also among the 17 honorees at the event.

It’s nice to be in the Hall of Fame!

 

SWE Takes Minneapolis!

MinneapolisSWE will be hosting a Minneapolis Mini-Conference on Thursday, September 18th! This event will take place at the at The Westin Minneapolis, located at 88 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN, 55402.  Sessions will meet in the hotel’s “Manufacturing Room” and will run from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

The sessions for this mini-con will include:

1:00pm to 2:15pm – Sexy, sensuous and seductive – Now that’s Italian!!! 

Presented by Neill Trimble, CSW – Join us on a romp through the vineyards of Italy where we taste palate titillating wines from Piedmont,  Veneto and Tuscany – among others.  We will recount some fascinating stories such as how Gavi got its name, how Romeo and Juliet had a role to play in Soave and do you know when the first vintage of Brunello was born.  We will reveal this and much, much more!

2:45pm to 4:00pm – The Secret Life of Pinot Noir

  • Presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE
  • Pinot Noir…it’s temperamental, it ripens too early, it has thin skin and it’s just Secret life of Pinot Noirplain complicated. It’s been called the heartbreak grape, and we’ve probably all been burned.  At the same time, the  delicious, haunting flavors of a good Pinot Noir – including include cherries, berries, smoke, spice, earthiness, brambles, truffles (and that’s just the beginning) – can inhabit your memory like a permanent smile. Join “Miss Jane” Nickles,  SWE’s Director of Education, for a tasting of some excellent examples of this finicky wine and an exploration of the “secret life” of Pinot Noir.

Members can join us for an incredible day as we taste and learn about wines from around the world. To RSVP, please contact Jessica Morse:  jmorse@societyofwineeducators.org. This event is open and free to all current members of the SWE; non-members may register for a $50 fee.

Click here to return to the SWE Homepage.

 

 

Conference Preview: The History of California in Six Glasses

Today we have a guest post from Michael Wangbickler. Michael will be presenting his session, The History of California in Six Glasses, next month at SWE’s 38th Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. Read on to hear a bit about the history of California wine!

father serraThe story of the California wine industry is replete with interesting characters, historical milestones, and wacky situations.

Indeed, the history of wine in California is tied to the history of modern California itself. It all began with the Spanish colonization of the area. During the 18th Century, Spanish missionaries led by Franciscan friar Junípero Serra Ferrer established a series of missions ranging from San Diego to Sonoma. And, of course, the one thing that is absolutely necessary for Catholic mass is nor a chapel or church, but WINE for the sacrament. It was the friar, monks, and their parishioners who first discovered that California provided ideal conditions for the making of good wine.

It wasn’t until the 19th century and immigration of other Europeans that California wine became a commercial proposition. The discovery of gold in 1848 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains brought an influx of fortune seekers from around the world. The discovery preceded the annexation of California from Mexico by only about a month, and the following year saw the population of the state explode. While a few made their fortunes, many did not. But, one fact was certainly true… they were a thirsty bunch.

It was a ready and open market for alcohol that spurred many of the early pioneers in the business to plant a few acres and start making wine for the “forty-niner” gold prospectors and others who followed in their wake.

Most of the early stuff was produced from a random assortment of grapes drawn from buena vista winerycuttings brought from back east or the “mission” grapes brought by the Spanish. That is, until a Hungarian-American traveler, writer, town-builder, and pioneer winemaker named Count Agoston Haraszthy came onto the scene. In the early 1850s, he established a small vineyard in San Francisco to satisfy local demand, but found the area ill-suited to grape production due to the foggy weather. Finding his way 50 miles north of the Golden Gate to the town of Sonoma, he bought a vineyard in 1857 and named it Buena Vista, meaning beautiful view.

But the self-named Count wasn’t satisfied with only owning a vineyard, oh no. He wanted the whole state to be a new Garden of Eden for grapes. In 1858 he penned a “Report on Grapes and Wine of California,” which was published by the California State Agricultural Society. With practical advice for planting vines and making wines, it encouraged the planting of grapes throughout the state. In later years, Haraszthy’s “Report” was recognized as the first treatise on winemaking written and published in California, and praised as the “first American explication of traditional European winemaking practices.”

napa californiaIn 1861, Haraszthy made a trip to Europe to investigate the best European vine-planting and winemaking practices and to gather cuttings of European vines. He traveled through France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain before returning to California with more than 100,000 cuttings of more than 350 different varieties of vines. His efforts in this regard solidified California as a future wine powerhouse and set the stage for those that followed. Too bad he eventually “disappeared” in a Crocodile-infested swamp in Nicaragua. But that’s another tale.

While today we tend to think of Napa Valley as the best that California has to offer, the early pioneers settled in other areas, such as Sonoma and Livermore. In 1882, three Czech brothers named Korbel built a winery in western Sonoma County and began making sparkling wine, one of the earliest wineries to do so. A year later in 1883, Carl Wente planted 43 acres in Livermore Valley and began a legacy; Wente Vineyards is still owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generation of the Wente family. Their contributions to California wine include the Wente clone of Chardonnay, which is widely planted throughout the state and the backbone of many great wines from many producers.

Others followed and carried the industry into the 20th Century… Georges de Latour, André Tchelistcheff, Cesare, Peter, and Robert Mondavi, and Ernest and Julio Gallo are but a few of a long list of names of individuals whose vision, determination, and spunk have made California wine what it is today.

M wangbicklerThis article is but a teaser of some of the subjects we will cover in my conference session titled “The History of California in Six Glasses.” We will taste wines from some of these historic producers, explore what each signifies in their contribution to the California wine industry, and generally have a great time exploring the lives of some of the business’ most interesting characters.

Before moving to wine country a decade ago, Michael Wangbickler knew virtually nothing about wine. Undaunted, he threw himself into learning everything he could about the subject and now holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits (DWS) from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and is a Certified Wine Educator (CWE). Mike currently holds a position at Balzac Communications and Marketing in Napa, California. In addition, he also sits on the Board of Directors for the Drink Local Wine organization. Michael’s session will be presented on Friday, August 15th at 3:00 pm.

 

We are live at Pearson Vue Testing Centers!

Pearson is aliveAfter months of preparation, SWE is pleased to announce that our CSS and CSW Exams are ready, published, and awaiting candidates at Pearson Testing Centers worldwide!

Candidates have begun receiving their authorization emails and can now make appointments for the CSS and CWE exams at the testing center of their choice. The first exams are scheduled for 9:00 am on Monday, May 5th. (I have an appointment for the CSW Exam on Wednesday, May 7th at 10:00 am, at a Pearson Vue Testing Center two miles from my house – I’d better start studying now.)

With each new purchase of a CSS or CSW Exam through the SWE website, candidates will receive an “authorization to test” email from Pearson Vue. Candidates may then use this letter, and the “Candidate ID number” it contains, to make an appointment at a Pearson Vue Center for their exam. If you have previously purchased your exam, and would like to test at Pearson, please email Ben Coffelt of the SWE Home Office and he will arrange to have the information sent to you.

Click here for the SWE “Landing Page” on Pearson Vue’s website.  You’ll find all the information you need to locate a testing center near year, make an appointment, and prepare for your exam on SWE’s landing page.

Click here for a step-by-step visual guide to How to sign up for a Pearson Vue Exam-SWE .

If you have any questions or comments concerning the CSS and CSW Exams at Pearson Vue Testing Centers, please contact Jane A. Nickles, our Director of Education, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org.

Good luck with your studies!

Wine Book Review: “The Nose” by James Conaway

the nose red wineThe Nose, a novel by James Conaway, in a nutshell:  Agatha Christie meets Sideways meets Bonfire of the Vanities in a delicious tale of  the perfect wine and a vain, self-satisfied, and extremely influential wine critic on the loose in Napa Valley.

This is a fun book:  not long after we meet Clyde Craven-Jones, aka “The Nose,” we’re invited to join him for a typical Thursday morning, consisting of blind-tasting the week’s crop of newly released vintages and grading them on his patented numbered scale.  (The lead character’s similarity to another (never named) influential wine critic with a similar such graded scale is hard to miss.)

Not long after the nose sniffs out his weekly winners, a mystery bottle of Cabernet arrives at his door.  He sniffs, he sips, he spits, and declares it to be a perfect 20 – an accolade he has never granted before.  The mystery begins as C-J tries to locate the producer of the “perfect 20.”  His quest comes to an abrupt end when our critic is found, face down, floating in a vat of newly-fermented Cabernet. The scene somehow manages to be gruesome and funny at the same time.

The NoseAfter C-J’s untimely death, his widow continues the quest to find the producer of the perfect Cab.  Along the way, we meet a bumbling cub reporter, a biodynamic farmer, a blonde bombshell, and more than a few greedy producers of cultish techno-wine.   A friendly crew of wanna-be wine writers, fashionistas, and wine lovers savant try to help solve the mystery but mostly just hang out and drink amazing wine at a seedy bar called The Wine Glass – and you just can’t help but want to join them.

James Conaway’s books on the California wine scene – including Napa: The Story of an American Eden and its sequel, The Far Side of Eden, are surely already well-known to both fans and serious students of California wine. Wine lovers, as well as those that enjoy a good mystery and perhaps even a slightly snarky comedy-of-manners, California style, will enjoy The Nose as well. (Holiday Gift Alert!)

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org