And Then There Were 12: Paso Robles Gets 11 Sub-appellations

Map via PasoWine.com

Map via PasoWine.com

In a week of AVA-shuffling galore, the TTB announced today via the Federal Register that 11 new AVAS, all of them sub-regions of the Paso Robles AVA, have been approved. The AVAs will be “official” one month from today, on November 10th, 2014.

The petition for the 11 sub-regions was originally filed in 2007. The petition turned out to be the longest and most detailed proposal ever filed with the TTB, due to the scale of the proposal and the depth of the information need to support each individual AVA.

A close inspection of the climate data surrounding each new AVA shows the diversity of the region – average annual rainfall ranges from 11 to 29 inches, elevations range from 600 to 2,400 feet above sea level, and climate regions II to IV are represented.

The 11 new AVAs, all sub-appellations of the Paso Robles AVA, are as follows:

  • El Pomar District – Climate Region II, 740-1,600 feet in elevation, average of 15 inches rainfall.
  • At the Justin Winery in Paso Robles

    At the Justin Winery in Paso Robles

    Paso Robles Willow Creek District – Climate Region II, 950 – 1,900 feet in elevation, average of 24-30 inches rainfall.

  • Santa Margarita Ranch – Climate Region II, 900 – 1,400 feet in elevation, average of 29 inches rainfall.
  • Templeton Gap District – Climate Region II, 700 – 1,800 feet in elevation, average of 20 inches rainfall.
  • Adelaida District – Climate Region II-III, 900 – 2,200 feet in elevation, average of 26 inches rainfall.
  • Creston District – Climate Region III, 1,100 – 2,000 feet in elevation, average of 11.5 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Estrella District – Climate Region III, 745 – 1,800 feet in elevation, average of 14 inches of rainfall.
  • San Miguel District – Climate Region III, 580 – 1,600 feet in elevation, average of 11 inches of rainfall.
  • San Juan Creek – Climate Region III-IV, 980 – 1,600 feet in elevation, average of 10 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Geneseo District – Climate Region III-IV, 740 – 1,300 feet in elevation, average of 13 inches of rainfall.
  • Paso Robles Highlands District – Climate Region IV, 1,600 – 2,086 feet in elevation, average 12 inches of rainfall.

Map of Paso Robles and sub-appellations, climate data via PasoWine.com

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE – your SWE Blog Administrator

Click here to return to the SWE Homepage.

Next SWEbinar: Wednesday, May 14th!

French Wine StoreAre you crazy?  That’s what everyone asked me when I told them I was offering a one-hour SWEbinar on the wines of France (Chapter 9 in the CSW Study Guide). It’s a good question, and I agree – it would be crazy to try and cover the wines of France in an hour. So perhaps it would be best to describe this session as an overview on the wines of France, some background information that might help you understand the overall subject of the wines of France and – the most valuable part of the session, in my opinon – some advice on how to study the wines of France.

If a CSW exam is in your future, or you are just interested in how to study the wines of France, be sure and join us for our next SWEbinar – offered for free and open to the public – on Wednesday, May 14th at 10:00 am (central time).

Suggested drink-along beverages include Pouilly-Fumé, Diet Coke, Red Bull and Espresso!!

Please note that Miss Jane has a handout for this session, so if you plan on attending and would like one, please send her an email at: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Logon Instructions:  At the appointed time, just click on the link below.  When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.”

You do not need to sign up or register for this event ahead of time, however, keep in mind that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity.  We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but it is still a good idea to log on early!

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time.

Wednesday, May 14 – 1o:oo am Central Time – CSW Chapter 9 – The Wines of France – hosted by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE

Click here for the 2014 SWEbinar Calendar

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

 

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!

May 2014 SWEbinars!

May SWEbinarsWe are very excited to announce our May 2014 SWEbinars, as we continue our monthly sessions designed for test preparation for both CSS and CSW students! These events are free, and open to the public.

CSS Session on Tequila: Our first session will be Friday, May 2 noon (central) and will feature Gary Spadafore, CSS, CWE, covering Tequila (Chapter 7 in the CSS Study Guide)!

CSW Sessions on French Wines: We will also continue our SWEbinar series on “How to Pass the CSW” with two sessions led by Jane Nickles, CSS, CWE.  May’s sessions will cover The Wines of France (Chapter 9 in the CSW Study Guide) – or, more specifically, “How to Study the Wines of France.” Our CSW sessions will be held on Wednesday, May 14th 10:00 am (central) and Friday, May 23rd at Noon (central).  Please note that Miss Jane has a handout for this session, so if you plan on attending and would like one, please send her an email at: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

For more information, as well as login instructions and links to the online classrooms, please visit out SWEbinar website at:  http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/swebinars-2/swebinars/

If you have any questions about SWEbinars, or would like to be sent a reminder email the day of a session, please email our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

See you online!

Guest Post: My Journey to the CSW

Today we have a guest post from Joey Casco, CSW.  I read Joey’s story about how he studied for the CSW while balancing a full-time job and a family on his blog The Wine Stalker and liked it so much I asked him if we could re-print it here.  I hope you find it as motiviating as I did! Read on for Joey’s take on how to pass the CSW on the first try.

Today I will be sharing the experience I had with studying for and taking the CSW test. I also hope that it helps those who are currently preparing or planning on taking the test in the future.

So all-encompassing you may forget to feed the dog!
So all-encompassing you may forget to feed the dog!

I received the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide in October, 2013. I had already been reading up and trying to get a head start for some time before hand but when the book actually arrived I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I had until mid-January to absorb the crap out of this book.

Way back when I was in school I was a C average student. I got A’s and B’s in the subjects I loved and D’s and F’s in the subjects I just couldn’t connect with. Because of this I had to pass my final science test to even graduate high school. I passed it by one point. Which is weird, because a few years after high school I became a complete science nerd. Go figure.

Outside of school I’ve always, always over-achieved at the things I’m passionate about. This isn’t just a hobby, though. This particular passion is wine, and that passion has brought me to the lucky position of being a wine professional. This is how I earn a living. So this particular obstacle that I now was determined to overcome had a very serious motivation… FAMILY. I’m now 34 and married with a three year old daughter. This certification would put letters at the end of my name for life and help the financial future of my family. No pressure, right?

The CSW has a 55% pass rate average. That’s kind of scary. However, this could be because some distributors and companies make it mandatory for certain employee positions. Wine might not be that person’s thing so the material might not hold their interest, or they might be starting from absolutely nothing. It’s a tall order to become a wine specialist when you don’t even know the grapes of Bordeaux yet. So there was some comfort in knowing that I’ve been a wine guy for quite some time.

I started studying hardcore. Immediately. Highlighting the Study Guide and rewriting pretty much the entire book into notes in an insanely organized notebook. Being pretty

used to dealing with my own A.D.D. since I’ve had it, ya know, my entire life, I’ve found

Behold, the thickness of my notes!

Behold, the thickness of my notes!

that if I’m focused on being perfectly, psychotically organized I’m also focused on the material… and absorbing it.

See those tabs? It was separated by chapter with the smaller chapters together in broader topic like South America. If I made a mistake, whether it was spelling or just a screw up, I’d force myself to restart the whole page. Yeah, it was OCD-mania.

I planned to be finished with the Study Guide the first few days of January by taking two weeks per 75 pages. The first week I’d do the whole reading, highlighting, notebook thing and the second week I’d review and do flash cards just on those 75 pages. Then move on.

I did this every night from 10 pm to 3 am at the kitchen table. The Sirius Satellite Radio “Spa Channel” would be playing in the background because it was “music” that wouldn’t distract me. I needed to focus, not start singing along to the Foo Fighters. I’d be at work anywhere from 6 am to 8 am the following day so I wasn’t getting much sleep. Sunday was my only day off from studying because a guy needs to watch Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead, right?

I finished the first pass of the book on January 5th. Around this time we learned that the test would take place on March 27th instead of mid-January. A few more months of preparation? Yes, please! I put all of my focus onto the website like I had planned but with less haste in reading speed.

At this point I made possibly the most important decision I made during this whole thing… I created a highlight system for the study guide. My highlights from the first pass were yellow. What good would it be if I highlighted the things I came across on the online quizzes yellow too? Everything would just be yellow. I’d have an entire book that’s

Asiago and Cabernet, you are my only friends!

Asiago and Cabernet, you are my only friends!

highlighted yellow with things I now know and things I still need to know. That’s not helpful at all.

My highlight system went like this:

Yellow (yellow) – First pass. It turns out it was pretty much A LOT of basic / broad ranging stuff I didn’t know yet. It didn’t seem basic at the time but it becomes just that. This is, after all, for Specialists of Wine. Basic knowledge for this is pretty advanced anywhere else.

Orange  – It was suggested by mentors and others that I know it.

Green – Things that came up on the website / online quiz that I didn’t know yet.

Blue – Final pass. Really in-depth stuff that was too advanced for me (or just too much information) to get the first time around but I now could handle. Blue was also used for completely obscure things they might slip in.

These colors were also used on my flash cards. In the upper left hand corner of the flash card I put the number of the chapter and highlighted that number the appropriate color. That way I could see the importance of knowing the answer and why. If it was orange it very well could be on the test. If it was green it was on a quiz and thus could be on a test. And if it was yellow and I was having a problem with it… well, I better get it together on that one right away because I should know that one by now.

The website was invaluable. If I recall correctly it took me about two weeks to thoroughly read the entire website material, pass the quizzes, and identify what was also in the Study Guide. That last part is important because if it’s not in the Study Guide then it’s not on the test.

A big ol' stack of fun!

A big ol’ stack of fun!

After all of that it was time to do a final pass in the Study Guide, pinpoint the things I feel I should know that I hadn’t memorized yet and the really obscure stuff that might be on the test to trip us up, and then focus on maps aaaaaand… FLASH CARDS!!!!

Flash cards are important. Reading something over and over again does jack squat. You need to challenge your brain to retrieve that information. Don’t believe me? Read this.

The great thing about flash cards is you can use them while doing almost anything. Like watching The Little Mermaid for the millionth time, having a Princess tea party, cooking Mac and Cheese, you get the point.

The test was set for March 27th and the two weeks before the test I was burnt out. I didn’t want to play anymore. I’d look at the cover of the book and go “uuuuuugh”. I’d start using the flashcards and just not be feeling it. Not much of anything got done study-wise those two weeks. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to play NHL 13 and actually go to bed at a normal hour for once. I had gone full bore at this thing for so long and I didn’t think I could learn much more. It wouldn’t have done me any good.

On the day of the test, myself and my peers headed off Cape Cod to the test location. I was nervous and wanted to cram on the ride up. My study pal,  Angela Busco , ever the optimist and to whom I owe tremendously, told me that I’ve got it in the bag and to just relax. So I kept my hands off of the material. There was no relaxing.

The test is an hour and there are 100 multiple choice questions. You can write notes on the question sheet but not on the answer card. I skipped five questions that I was unsure of so I could come back to them after I answered the rest. However, whenever I did that I’d forget to leave that questions spot empty on the answer card and I’d fill it with the answer to the next question. So I had to erase it and fix it (and the following ones too) when I saw the numbers weren’t aligning. I was completely finished around the 40 minute mark and began to read the questions again. I had planned to take the whole hour and keep going over it to make sure I had everything right, but I just couldn’t do that. Second guessing yourself is the worst thing you can do. So the finished test went into the folder and was turned in.

I couldn’t eat that morning from the stress but now I was hungry. All I had was a few dollars on me and McDonalds was right down the street so we went there and talked about the test. Note to self: McDonalds is always a bad idea even if it’s the closest option.

Well-earned:  Joey's CSW Pin

Well-earned: Joey’s CSW Pin

After the test I couldn’t sleep for three nights. All the questions kept popping back up in my head and I was haunted by the questions I had since learned I answered wrong. What if I didn’t fill in the envelope right and they fail me for not following instructions? What if all those dots I had to erase actually registered and completely messed my right answers up? I knew pretty quickly by talking to the others that there was one question that I knew the answer to but got wrong because I read it wrong, and two others that my first-thought answer was right but I ended up changing. What if there was a bunch of those? It all was getting in my head. I was a mess.

On April 8th, a pretty hectic day all in itself, a Certified Specialist of Wine pin arrived in the mail. It came with a certificate saying that I am now a Certified Specialist of Wine. It also came with a letter saying that I scored a 93, meaning I only got 7 questions wrong out of 100. My mother was there when I got it. I gave her a big bear hug and lifted her up and started jumping around. Literally while I was doing this I got a text from Angela saying she just got her results back and she had passed.

I really can’t measure how honored I am to be recognized by an organization like the SWE. I worked my b*** off for six months and it was entirely worth it. Every tired minute. Just the learning experience alone was a tremendous opportunity. That opportunity was given to me by my employer, Luke’s of Cape Cod (of which I am the Fine Wine manager of the Dennisport location). I’m already eternally grateful to them for a number of things and this adds one more.

If you’re currently studying for the CSW, here’s my advice to you:

  1. Color-code your highlights to learn in layers.
  2. Make lots of flash cards and use them ALL THE TIME.
  3. Use the website but don’t rely on it.
  4. Don’t second guess yourself.
  5. No McDonalds.

Good luck!

Our Guest Author, Joey Casco, CSW, is the Fine Wine Manager of Luke’s of Cape Cod.  A proud new CSW, he may be reached at his blog, The Wine Stalker and on Twitter.  We’d like to congratualate him on his excellent CSW Score of 93, and wish him luck on his next project, as he prepares to tackle the CSS!

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online CSW Review Course – Starts May 5!

wine online 8Major Announcement!!

Starting May 5, 2014…our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, will be leading a guided, 12-week, online review course for CSW Candidates.  The course is free, but you must be a Individual Professional Member of SWE and be pre-registered in order to participate.

The course will include weekly “live online” course sessions (tentatively scheduled for Monday evenings at 7:00 central), reading assignments, workbook assignments, and “check-out quizzes.”  Required textbooks include the 2014 CSW Study Guide and Workbook.

Participants will be limited to the first 100 qualified applicants, so if you are interested in this opportunity please send an email to Miss Jane at:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Another course will begin in August.

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

 

 

 

News Flash! The CSW Study Guide is now an eBook!

Do any of these describe you?

  1. iBooksAt least once a week you freak out because you can’t find your phone, and then you realize it’s in your hand.
  2. You sleep with your iPad plugged into a charger next to you, within easy reach…or worse…your iPad is in the bed, on the pillow next to you.
  3. You’re afraid of flying, not because of claustrophobia or motion sickness, but because they might make you turn off your Kindle for five minutes.

If any of these apply to you, you might be addicted to your P.E.D.  But then, you already knew that!

If you, or someone you love, is a confessed P.E.D. addict, hopefully, life just got a little bit better – because you never have to be without your CSW Study Guide again!

Kindle BetterBy popular demand (you know who you are…) the 2014 edition of the CSW  Study Guide is now available as an eBook! 

Available through both Amazon and iTunes, the electronic version of the CSW Study Guide has all the pictures, maps, and detailed information you need to study for the CSW Exam – exactly as is contained in the hard copy version.

Click on the Study Guide for a quick link to Amazon.

If you have any questions or comments about our new eBooks, please contact SWE’s Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, CWE – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

 

CSW Workbook Preview!

CSW Wine Map Exercise - ItalyWith a pending publication date of March 1, 2014…we are putting the finishing touches on our new CSW Workbook!!  This comprehensive study tool will feature 29 map exercises and over 150 pages worth of materials designed to help the serious student master the copious amount of information contained in the new CSW Study Guide. (It should be fun, as well!)

As a preview of coming atractions, we offer you this sample Wine Map Exercise covering the main cities and wine regions of Italy.  Click the links below the picture to download a pdf of both the map exercise and the answer key.

Stay tuned to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for updates and more information on the soon-to-be-released workbook!  Good luck with your studies!

Click here to download a copy of the CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

Click here to download a copy of the Answer Key – CSW Wine Map Exercise – Italy

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

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

 

Cash and Prizes: Recap Quiz for December 2013

Wine Tasting Red Wine Glass Happy New Year from SWE!!!

To celebrate the new year, we are offering a special prize for this month’s recap quiz….a FREE sitting of the CSW or CSS Exam, including a Study Guide.

Questions for the recap quiz come exclusively from the educational material posted to Wine, Wit, and Wisdom for the month. This month’s quiz has 10 questions that cover the topics and information included in our posts for the month of December 2013.

To refresh your memory, our posts for the month of December were:

  • Wine Book Review – “The Nose” by James Conaway (December 5)
  • The Legacy of Peter Jahant (December 8)
  • The Egg Nog Riots of 1826 (December 10)
  • Coda di Volpe – The Tail of the Fox (December 14)
  • The Ice Wine Fiasco of 2011 (December 19)
  • Cheers to the Kir Royale! (December 24)
  • U.S. Distillery License #1 (December 28)

scantronEveryone who takes and passes the quiz with 100% of the questions correct by January 10, 2014 (midnight CST) will have their names put into a drawing for the prize! You can take the quiz over and over again if you like…it’s all about the education!

The winner will be notified via email on January 11.

Click here for a link to the quiz.

If you have any questions, contact us at:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org .

Update:  Congratualtions to Denise H. of Nashville, Tennessee who won our Recap Quiz Contest for December!  Denise is new to the study of wine, but is going to take the CSW Exam in June!! Good luck, and congrats!

Click here to return to the SWE Website.

The New CSW is here!

New CSW SpainThe Society of Wine Educators is proud to announce the publication and release of its 2014 Edition of the Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide.  This latest version, which hit the streets on October 1, 2013, is updated, expanded, and improved in many ways!

The first thing you may notice about the new study guide is its appearance.  The new “lay-flat” style makes for a more compact and transportable study guide; it’s easier to carry to your study group or pack into a carry-on suitcase.  The new version is also printed in full color with over 100 color photographs and 40 newly-created, colorful wine maps.

Despite its more compact style, the new study guide is over 300 pages long – that’s a full 50 pages of additional information compared to the last edition, which was published in 2010.  Look for comprehensive updates on the rules and regulations that have affected the wine world in the last four years, as well as expanded coverage of the smaller wine producing regions both in Europe and the New World. Sections on sensory evaluation, food and wine pairing, and wine service have also been significantly updated and expanded, and now include teaching tools such as the SWE Logical Tasting Rationale and a Wine Aroma Checklist.

New CSW VitiThe new wine maps are such an important part of the study of wine that we have made them available not just in the printed version of the study guide, but online as well.  All of the maps included in the study guide, and some additional maps as well, are accessible e electronically on the SWE Blog, “Wine, Wit, and Wisdom.”  You are encouraged to access the maps electronically for computer-based study or to download full-page copies of the maps for ease of use.  The electronic address is:  http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/swe-wine-maps/ .

As you may have noticed, the world of wine is in a constant state of change.  In the last month alone, there has been a  change in the terminology used for VDP wines in the Rheingau, and no less than four new AVA’s approved for the state of California.  Here at SWE we are doing our best to keep our study materials up-to-date and our members informed of the latest happenings in the world of wine. To that end, we have created a “Study Guide Update” page on our blog.  Any changes in EU Regulations, re-naming of wine regions, newly-approved AVAs, or industry changes of any kind that affect the information in the new study guide will be noted here. (Note: any information that changes after the publication of the study guide will not be included on the CSW exam, but is provided for informational purposes  only.)

New CSWIf you are studying for the CSW using a 2010 Study Guide, there is no need to worry.  All CSW Exams that occur between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014  will include only those questions based on subject matter that is covered in both the 2010 Study Guide and the 2014 edition. After April 1, 2014, all CSW Exam questions will be drawn solely from the new Study Guide.

We sincerely hope that the new Certified Specialist of Wine Study Guide meets your professional wine education needs and we wish you the best of luck with your studies!

Click here to return to the SWE Website