From Sorority Girl to Sommelier
Guest Blog Christine Collier from @southernORwine
I may look more like a sorority girl than a sommelier, but that is exactly the reason I am pursuing my Court of Master Sommeliers certification. I want to level out the playing field with more formal wine knowledge to offset my 23 year-old, blonde, perky self. As a wine blogger and social marketing coordinator for an Oregon winery, many questioned why I was pursuing the Court of Master Sommeliers program instead of the Masters of Wine. And to tell you the truth, the first reason was the higher cost of the MW, but more importantly, I wanted to learn more of the service side and get the chance to be around the people who enjoy the wine, instead of always being the influencer behind-the-scenes.
Three years of industry experience is recommended before attending the Introduction Course and Exam, but not one to wait around, I convinced myself that I would complete all the suggested reading prior to compensate for my measly one-year wine experience. Well…none of the reading happened, so then I convinced myself I would be fine just taking REALLY good notes during the lectures (can you tell I am still in college?).
I recently attended the first phase of the process- the Introduction Course and Exam- in Seattle at the Washington Athletic Club. Eighty other wine professionals (and a couple of retired guys) gathered at the Washington Athletic Club for a two-day information overload. The agenda was jam packed with information on wine varietals, regions, production practices, food and wine pairings, service methods and deductive tasting. At the end of the second day, a 70-question exam was presented and is a requirement to pass in order to move on to the Certified exam. So much information was thrown around that my confidence level in passing an exam was about… 30%. (lucky happens, right?).
I was certain I failed the exam. I even started planning when the next time I could retake the course/exam was. But, somehow my memory pulled through! Here is a picture of my new friends and I after we found out the results of the exam (Champagne in hand!).
The excitement of passing inspired me to sign up for the Certified Exam this July in Portland. A July deadline is very rushed for me, after realizing all I have yet to learn, but if I hit my daily reading quotas, tasting practices and service rehearsals, I hope to pass and add Certified Sommelier after my name. Wish me luck and please follow my progress on The Southern Oregon Wine Blog or on my latest blog creation, http://ChristineCollier.com.
Passing the exam was definitely my highlight, but winning my bet with follow sommelier student was pretty gratifying. One of the instructors of the course was Greg Harrington, youngest person ever to become a Master Sommelier and owner of Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla. He looked very familiar, in the way that my mind was boggling until it hit me. His story: New York sommelier turned winemaker… duh! He must have been the inspiration behind my favorite youtube video ever! I told the guy sitting next to me and he bet me to go confront Greg with my realization. Not one to be shy, I asked him after the course was over if he had seen it. He looked at me confused saying, “No, I haven’t.” I was beyond bummed and told him he had to look it up as I started quoting the ingenius script, “I want to trade in my Seven jeans for the freedom and movement of Carhartts.” He laughed and confessed he created it. As a wine marketer, I was star struck.
Christine is one month away from graduating with a degree in Business Entrepreneurship from Oregon State University. She currently works as the Social Marketing Coordinator for an Oregon winery and extends her expertise to other business looking to improve or create an online presence. She is the Co-Founder/Contributor to The Southern Oregon Wine Blog and recently launched ChristineCollier.com chronicling her process of becoming a Certified Sommelier. Christine enjoys hiking, fashion, road trips, playing board games, and begging her boyfriend to get her a cat (currently she is not making much progress in this area).