I was first exposed to the world of wine while working in the golf Industry in 2012. The elaborate events and dinners associated with seasonal tournaments were usually accompanied with wine pairings from various regions. While working as an Associate Golf Professional, I decided to pursue my Bachelor of Education, leading to my first high school teaching role in Leeds, England. It was during this placement the world of wine really took hold. The access to the global market and hospitality scene in England was like nothing I had seen before.
I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Germany who is a veteran in the industry during one of our school breaks. I was having a coffee when I noticed a green book sitting on his table entitled, “WSET Level 3 Award in Wine and Spirits.” After flipping through the first few pages, I was hooked, and immediately registered for WSET Level Award in Wines in the summer of 2017 after returning home. From this point forward, I continued my studies and enrolled in WSET Level 3, before finally enrolling in the WSET Diploma program with IWEG in 2018.
Shortly after the program started, I knew I would eventually switch into the industry, but wasn’t sure at what capacity. During the pandemic, I decided to move to Victoria, BC, and successfully secured a new role as a Sales Manager on Vancouver Island with Select Wines. The WSET Diploma was a critical turning point in my career, and one that I utilize on a daily basis. The knowledge obtained enhances my ability to communicate with buyers effectively to better serve their business. I would not be where I am today without the level of instruction and preparation offered by IWEG. The friendships I have made with fellow classmates are timeless and were crucial to my success.
My advice to the next generation of students is regular study in a distraction free environment and for reasonable amounts of time to avoid burnout. Hyper-focus on the topic at hand depending on the exam schedule and don’t procrastinate. It is also crucial to establish a tasting group leading up to exams to fine tune your palate as well as assist with the costs of wines. If you have questions, ask them, and don’t hesitate to make mistakes!
Michael is the Territory Sales Manager, Vancouver Island South for Select Wines Merchants.