The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

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{ }  75 "WSET is not into sales training, but we try to give people in the trade practical tools in wine and spirits education to better do their jobs," says David Wrigley, WSET's International Development Director, who is spearheading WSET's outreach efforts in the U.S. Wrigley was in Atlanta recently to meet with RNDC's national wine education committee and to talk with some of the com- pany's local customers. Under the direction of Gardner and Ken Rosenberg, RNDC Vice President for Wines, the committee consists of RNDC lead- ers from around the country who meet annually to update the company's wine and spirits education programs. "I'm here to provide advice and guidance," Wrigley says, "and to help put the RNDC trainers through the process." Under the WSET system, the non-profit organization trains the train- ers within an organization for a controlled, and more efficient, educational process. WSET has four basic levels of education. "Level One—the basic platform—is to teach people what they need to do with any given wine," Wrigley says, "which includes such things at how to serve it, how to work with wine and food pairings and what they need to know about wine temperature. Level Two focuses on the question, 'What does the label tell us about the contents of the bottle?' Level Three is more oriented on taste," he continues, "such as why does a wine taste like it does?" Level Four is the expert level, involving six different units which probe candidates' wine knowledge as well as their ability to taste and analyze a variety of wines. It is viewed as a stepping stone to the highly coveted Master of Wine degree. RNDC supports a select group of employees for Level 4 training, with three gradu- ates currently, and two studying the course. "In addition to our own employees who show the needed interest and motivation, we are offering the Level One and Level Two RNDC training to many of our clients as well," Gardner says. "It's really a very value-added program that we can provide our customers." Wrigley, who is British but who has lived in the United States, says this country is among WSET's top five markets, but he wants it to have a much larger outreach to the trade. The ongoing partnership with RNDC, which has operations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, has been a big step in that direction. The WSET has experimented in the past with specialized training, Wrigley says, but it has decided that the broader approach better serves WSET's clients. "What we really want to give students is a globalized overview of wine and spirits," he says, "whether they live in Shanghai or Vancouver." Additionally, Wrigley says WSET is not in the business of "leading trends," but rather wants to get people to view wine and spirits as objectively as possible. "Many facts are important," he says, "but we have to learn which facts are more important than others." During Wrigley's visit in Atlanta with the RNDC wine educa- tion planners, the group adjourned at the end of the day to meet with some of its restaurant clients in the city's Buckhead region. There, Stephen Williams, who handles NDC-AWW on-premise accounts in the area, introduced Wrigley to several of his clients, among them Jon Skinner, Director of Operations for Le Bilboquet. Skinner, Stephens and Wrigley had time to discuss wine and spirits happenings as well as new products coming to market. "Working with WSET, our education programs have caused our customers to become more engaged," Gardner says. "In fact, it's made us raise our own game." WSET's David Wrigley, MW, AIWS (right), calls on selected Atlanta accounts with NDC- AWW's Stephen Williams. Wrigley is WSET's International Development and PR Manager. Jon Skinner (left), Director of Operations at Le Bilboquet, discusses the wine business with RNDC's Stephen Williams and WSET's David Wrigley. Courtney Gora, part of RNDC's Dallas area sales and marketing team, shares a story with WSET's David Wrigley, who works with RNDC on its educational programs.

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