It’s no secret that wine consumption has been on the rise for some time. With more consumers drinking more wine, more opportunities are arising for job seekers looking for careers in the wine and hospitality industry—creating an increased thirst for more wine knowledge. Sadly, many of the jobs in this industry pay much less than comparable positions in others.
San Francisco Wine School was ahead of the curve when, back in 2011, they saw the need for providing tuition assistance and internship programs to students who were passionate about pursuing an education that would help them to achieve their professional goals in this arena. As the offerings and awareness of the school have expanded, the financial needs of deserving students have outpaced their ability to serve.
In 2016, the 501c3-qualified Glancy Wine Education Fund (GWEF) was created with generous donations from members of the community who recognized the need. This enabled San Francisco Wine School to greatly expand financial assistance to those in need. During their inaugural scholarship cycle, the GWEF received 60 applicants, in just three weeks, for financial assistance totaling more than $100,000. They were shocked to learn that 97% of the completed applications were from students earning less than what is considered a “living wage.” The level of demand has remained steady each year. To date the Fund has awarded more than $70,000 to 27 qualified students or their continued education at San Francisco Wine School. Let’s see where a few of them are today!
Kimberly Matthews recently joined the San Francisco Wine School as its wine buyer and a wine instructor, two aspirations she was able to achieve via the help of the GWEF scholarship. Formerly a restaurant manager for King’s Seafood Company in Costa Mesa, California, Kimberly, was a wine steward for King’s at the time she applied for the scholarship, which she used to take the Advanced Tasting Intensive program—a program she says made her a “better wine taster” because it gave her well-rounded understanding of how blind tasting can be approached. Because of the course—among others she has taken at SFWS—Kimberly says that she passed her Certified Wine Educator exams, landed her “dream job,” and is now in a better position to confidently mentor others in the industry.
“The Glancy Wine Education Foundation helps to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to better themselves. Whether it is earning a certification or simply polishing your skills in a particular category, this foundation makes wine education accessible for those who might otherwise avoid it due to costs.”—Kimberly Matthews, 2017 GWEF Scholarship Winner
Jamie Elizabeth Metzger is a recommendations manager at Wine.com in San Francisco, where she oversees a group of Somms and wine specialists who offer assistance to customers via online chat. Most people on the team have advanced certifications. Jamie too holds an advance certification: WSET Level III, which she earned many years ago, but she says much has changed in the wine industry. To stay competitive she decided to use the scholarship funds to take the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Online course to “reboot” her wine knowledge. She says that the courses she has taken at SFWS, including more recently the California Wine Appellation Specialist program, were enormously helpful in enabling her to pass the CSW. Congratulations!
“I would not have been able to afford this on my own. While I didn’t need the CSW to get my job, it’s been a long time since I completed the WSET. So much has changed that I really needed to step it up.”—Jamie Elizabeth Metzger, 2017 GWEF Scholarship Winner
Ian Corneille is an aspiring wine industry professional whose goals include becoming a Somm and expanding his skills on the job, eventually working in wine distribution or opening an online or brick-and-mortar wine retail business. For now, Ian works as a manager of fulfillment services at JUUL Labs in San Francisco while continuing his education at SFWS. With funds from the scholarship Ian took the Somm Essentials and Certified Specialist of Wine programs, and is currently in study mode in preparation for both the tests. Good luck Ian!
“Many people looking for the opportunity to elevate their existing service-level experience or are thinking about shifting careers don’t have the time or funds to explore wine as a career path. Wine is also often inaccessible. Many people can’t navigate or even afford exploring wines of the world. Those who are willing to study should be given the opportunity to learn something that is often roped off for the elite.”—Ian Corneille, 2018 GWEF Scholarship Winner
Cynthia Bournellis has worked in the wine industry for 14 years—starting out as a tasting room associate and working her way up to direct-to-consumer manager for a number of wineries. Her main gigs today are wine educator for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, marketing manager for Cinnabar Winery, and wine journalist. Cynthia caught the “wine education bug” in 2010, taking classes at various institutions before settling in at San Francisco Wine School, where she received her California Wine Appellation Specialist Certification (CWAS) with Honors. Wanting to learn more about the world of wine and hone her blind tasting skills—but on a wine industry budget—Cynthia applied for the GWEF scholarship and received funding that she used to take the Certified Specialist of Wine and Advanced Blind Tasting programs. Her immediate goal is to pass the CSW, and then continue on the Education Credentials track at SFWS while squeezing in time for global wine travel, both as a tourist and one day as a brand ambassador. Good luck Cynthia!
“You need to be proactive about your education if you want to work in the wine industry, as many employers cannot afford to send you to wine school. The GWEF scholarship fills the financial gap. It also enabled me to choose a course like the CSW that took me beyond California, opening me up to the world of wine. I am looking forward to the next step along my wine journey, because learning about wine is forever ongoing.”—Cynthia Bournellis, 2018 GWEF Scholarship Winner, Les Dames d'Escoffier
Lori Mitchell is the tasting room and event planner for DAMA wines in Walla Walla, Washington. When she applied for the GWEF scholarship she had just been promoted from tasting room associate. With the funding she took the Certified Specialist of Wine Online program, and later made the trek to San Francisco Wine School to take Blind Tasting and Advanced Tasting courses in-person to learn more about wine structure, complexity, and, as she says, “the actual pleasure of it.” Now that’s devotion! With a thirst for more wine knowledge, Lori plans on pursuing the Certified Somm program to gain a more hands-on approach to wine.
“Without this scholarship I would have never pushed myself to do these programs. This gave me the opportunity to explore the wine industry in a different way through education. And, it opened up my ideas to the things I might want to accomplish in the wine industry.”—Lori, Mitchell, 2018 GWEF Scholarship Winner
Bridget Cheslock is a busy woman: sommelier, marketing manager, educator, and champagne club manager. Her industry roster includes WineSellar & Brasserie, Mira Costa College, and Flow Wine Group. She also is a seasonal ambassador for Tiffany & Company, pouring champagne to clients. With the goals of becoming a Master Sommelier and owning her own champagne bar, Bridget applied for the GWEF scholarship so that she could take the Advanced Tasting and Wine Program Management curricula. In the end, the former, she says, provided great tips on deductive tasting (as she currently is prepping for her Advanced Sommelier Exam), while the later helped her to better understand both beverage law and the structure of ordering and pricing wines for restaurants and retail.
“The Glancy Wine Foundation is extremely important as it gives people interested in getting into the industry educational opportunities that they otherwise would not have access to. Master Somms David Glancy and Catherine Fallis are fabulous, and I always learn from them and appreciate their passion for sharing their knowledge and experience.”—Bridget Cheslock, 2017 GWEF Scholarship Winner
Fanny Gonzalez is a tasting room professional for Scheid Family Wines in Salinas Valley and Wright’s Station Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. While working both jobs she applied for the GWEF scholarship and has used the funds to take three programs: Italian Wine Scholar, Certified Specialist of Wine, and French Wine Scholar. She says her education has significantly helped her in the tasting room by enabling her to share her knowledge of wine with customers. Fanny would like to continue her education to remain competitive in the industry and to achieve a short-term goal of working as a wine director for a restaurant, ultimately becoming a brand ambassador.
Kyle T. Ritchie is hospitality manager for Schug Carneros Estate Winery in Sonoma, California. When he applied for the Glancy Wine Education Fund Scholarship he was tasting room manager for Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards in Saratoga, California. At that time Kyle was eager to learn about wine beyond his local appellation so he applied the scholarship funds toward the California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine programs. These classes, he says, exposed him to wines that he would not have found on his own. Now that he’s settled in Sonoma, Kyle would ultimately like to pursue a role as general manager for a winery, and beyond that a direct-to-consumer consultant.
Robert J. Dubben is a certified sommelier at Compline Restaurant & Wine Bar in downtown Napa, and runs his own business as a private chef and sommelier. Prior to living in Napa, Robert resided in Lake Tahoe where he worked at Westshore Café & Inn. Feeling “stagnant” in both his studies and career, Robert applied for the scholarship. With the funds he took the Italian Wine Scholar program, becoming certified, and will begin the Certified California Wine Appellation Specialist program this month. Robert found that the quality of teaching and being with like-minded people in class were invaluable to his learning. Since moving to Napa, Robert has returned to a heavy study regimen, has joined some tasting groups, and is working toward the Advanced Sommelier Certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. By continuing to study food, wine and culture, Robert says he can bring those experiences to his guests and clients with a well-informed and understood voice.
“Taking classes and getting certified had always been part of my goals but I would only have been able to afford one class per year. Receiving the scholarship really put those goals behind me and two years into the fast lane for me to concentrate on the next steps: moving to wine country [Sonoma] and climbing the industry ladder. My Certifications also gave me more power in my ability to negotiate my salary.—Kyle T. Ritchie, 2017 GWEF Scholarship Winner
“This [scholarship] was fundamental for my education…I am a foreign student who recently fell in love with wine and wants to dedicate a life to it. So the funds were an amazing aid and support tool. I love the fact that this scholarship makes an investment in people in the industry who want to succeed, and they [GWEF] understand that.”—Fanny Gonzalez, 2018 GWEF Scholarship Winner
San Francisco Wine School believes that every motivated and engaged student should have access to high-quality, professional education in their trade. Scholarship applications for 2019 programs are being accepted through 5pm Friday November 16th. Recipients will be announced in December.
Each year, San Francisco Wine School donates the proceeds of their Anniversary Celebration & Scholarship Auction to the Glancy Wine Education Fund to support the next year's scholarship. This year the demand for scholarships has again outpaced the fundraising efforts to date. You can help close the gap by making a tax-deductible donation now!