Get to Know the Women of the French Wine Scholar

You might come to class as strangers, but you leave as friends! That’s exactly how our latest French Wine Scholar course unfolded. And I can’t help but point out the obvious strength of women in wine these days! Get to know our incredible students below:

HILLARY COLE (pictured second from right) – Former linguist for intelligence now following her passion for wine as GM at Hock Farm Craft & Provisions in Sacramento, California 

Why did you choose French Wine Scholar? I chose FWS because I hadn’t yet decided how far I wanted to go with my continuing wine education, but knew having a study as intense as this course in French Wine would be invaluable because French wine is the foundation of all things wine.

-Why did you choose Napa Valley Wine Academy? I have taken a few of Tim Gaiser’s workshops at NVWA and continued to read the blogs, take the quizzes, etc. on the NVWA website, so it has kind of become my home for wine studies.

-How do you plan to use your certification? I plan to build on it by taking the WSET 3 exam Aug 20th and perhaps some Master-level regional programs as well in the upcoming year or so.

What is your favorite French wine & food pairing? Yikes. That’s tough. I love Picpoul for clams prepared in an herbed white wine butter sauce. I think there’s almost a saline nature of Picpoul that really complements the clams, while the herbed butter sauce really pulls the green notes of a Picpoul forward and vice versa, while the acidity of that wine contrasts the butter beautifully. It is the only seafood dish I enjoy and it’s only IF I have a Picpoul with it. So I guess while there are so many pairings that I get excited about, that one stands out because it’s a perfect example of how a thoughtful pairing can create magic from something you otherwise don’t care for.

CARRIE BRITTON (pictured second from left) – Creating her dream career in food, wine and music as owner of Funky Door Bistro in Lubbock, Texas

Why did you choose French Wine Scholar? All wine and wine knowledge starts in the Motherland- France! I am studying for advance certification levels and I wanted a deeper understanding of France, especially the lesser known regions. This will be the basis of mastering all of the other regions. Plus, I am a true Francophile, my first visit to France started my love affair with wine, Vive la France!

-Why did you choose Napa Valley Wine Academy? The instructors! I was very impressed with the lineup of world class talent. The online and in-class intensive combination worked great with my crazy schedule. I definitely made the right choice! The instructors were personal, knowledgeable, and passionate about wine education. It was a great experience.

-How do you plan to use your certification? My new level of understanding will definitely be helpful in my journey to the advanced certifications but the best part is I will get to share this knowledge to educate and inspire my friends, staff and guests!

What is your favorite French wine & food pairing? Our chef does a pan-seared duck breast with a blackberry gastrique that is amazing with Saint Emilion. Magnifique!

SHELBY PETERSON (pictured far left)– Working her dream job as Wine and Beverage Director at C Lazy U Ranch in Granby, Colorado

-Why did you choose French Wine Scholar? I am obsessed with everything French! I enjoy learning about wine and have always had an amazing experience with Napa Valley Wine Academy. When the French Wine Scholar class was offered I jumped at the chance.

-Why did you choose Napa Valley Wine Academy? I always learn so much! Every instructor is knowledgeable and excellent at what they do. Mary Ann is a rock star too!

-How do you plan to use your certification? Since I am working my dream job in the wine business I just hope to apply what I have learned everyday with my nightly pairings. My passion is introducing great wines of value to our clientele. I call it, “My Discovery Wines”! Our regular guests look forward to it every summer.

-What is your favorite French wine & food pairing? One of my favorite pairings is a simple one- Chablis with whipped butter, black salt, and fresh baked bread…Yum!

ERIKA FRANKE (pictured far right) – Assistant Winemaker at MacRostie Winery & Vineyards with a dedication to learning and living life to the fullest

-Why did you choose French Wine Scholar? I have actually been a bit intimidated by French wine in general but have become more and more interested in it over the years as I continue to explore wines of the world. I knew I wanted to know more but really didn’t know where to begin. I perused the academy’s website and you happened to be offering this course the next month. Bit of a last minute decision but so glad it worked out!

-Why did you choose Napa Valley Wine Academy? I stumbled upon NVWA as a result of one of my friends, (a master of wine candidate) James McCeney, who attends tastings at the academy most every Sunday morning. My first visit was in November for a Riedel product development workshop.

-How do you plan to use your certification? I mostly plan to simply take serious advantage of the fact that I now consider myself to be a pretty informed French Wine consumer 🙂 I feel much more confident now in my wine purchasing decisions. I know what I’m looking at, I can recognize a great deal when I see one, and I am sure that I will be much more willing and excited to try new things. Also, as an aspiring winemaker, it of course behooves to be able to talk-the-talk French so to speak, no?

-What is your favorite French wine & food pairing? One of my favorites is a slightly aged dry Alsatian Reisling (the more petrol the better!) with baguette, and the stinkiest muenster cheese one can buy 🙂



Cancellations of confirmed in-person course enrollments and workshops are accepted up to 60 days before the start of the course. An administration fee of $50 plus the full cost of the study materials and exam fees will be deducted, and the remainder of the course fee refunded to the payee. Separate WSET exam cancellation/transfer rules apply.
Transfers of a confirmed enrollment to another course are accepted 60 days before the course start date with an administration fee of $50.

Cancellations less than 60 days before the in-person course start date or course no shows forfeit any refund/transfer options unless students can provide medical documentation. If medical documentation is provided, students can be transferred to a later course. No refunds will be applied.

Course Transfers cannot be carried forward to the next academic year (which commenced on January 1).

Students are highly encouraged to purchase separate travel insurance.

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Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


3555 Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89109


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Mariott Santa Ynez

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

April 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


555 McMurray Road

Buelton, CA 93427


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Art Hotel Denver

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 5, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Mountain)


1201 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203


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Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

February 12, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Central)


1719 West End Ave.

Nashville, TN 37203


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Epicurean Hotel

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

March 19, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Eastern)


1207 S Howard Ave,

Tampa, FL 33606


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Street View of HQ

Your WSET Level 3 exam will take place on

January 22, 2023 at 10:00 AM (Pacific)


2501 Oak Street

Napa, CA 94559