Congratulations to Claire McKinney-Froehlich, FWS, for passing the French Wine Scholar exam with highest honors!
I am a wine professional with approximately 10 years of experience in the wine industry. I currently run my own wine consulting business, Wine Bound LLC and am also the Wine and Beer Purchasing Specialist for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
My wine career began in 2013 while interning at Agence Force 4 in Paris, France (a leading Communications and PR Agency for Wine, Gastronomy, and Restaurants). Promptly upon receiving my WSET III with Distinction and finishing my MBA in Paris, I moved to London as the Marketing and Logistics Coordinator for La Bergère Vintners- a Bordeaux vineyard and Fine Wine trading house - eventually taking a role on their sales team in Fine Wine brokerage. Following a couple years with La Bergère, I began with Honest Grapes in London as their Grand Crew Classé Membership Manager. Honest Grapes is a premier wine concierge service and members club, in addition to its online retail presence. Essentially this role was one of Personal Wine Advisor for private wine collectors, En-primeur campaign management, and educator of wine tasting events.
Currently, in Colorado my Wine Bound LLC offer wine consulting services for Fine Wine investment and portfolio management, cellar management, wine education and event services, and wine travel assistance. I am also the Wine and Beer Purchasing Specialist for Natural Grocers. At Natural Grocers, we will only carry wine that is made with organic grapes, USDA Certified Organic (or equivalent) or certified Demeter® Biodynamic®, being the only grocery retail chain to have these standards in the United States, to the best of my knowledge. When I started with Natural Grocers, we had 7 stores with alcohol licenses and have since opened and expanded into 69 more stores for a total of 76 that I now Purchase for and provide wine education and product knowledge.
I began my wine studies during my MBA program at OMNES Education (formerly INSEEC University) in France – where they offered in person WSET instruction for levels II and III. I took those in 2012 and 2013 and received Distinctions on both exams. I decided to take the FWS since my try passion and background in the industry all began in France, and it seemed like a great way to continue my industry education! I believe that ongoing education in this industry is of the utmost importance due to constant technological advances, climate change disruptions, legislative actions, emerging regions etc…and this was a way to further my education while focusing on a region I love. Hoping to continue my education in the future, of course, however I am not currently enrolled in future exams or classes at this time.
The FWS was an extremely comprehensive program that I have truly found enlightening and helpful in my analysis of wines for considerations at Natural Grocers. I have an even deeper respect for the growers and wine makers of France after deep-diving into the AOC requirements. And I also hope that if there are any French Wine Specialist positions that become available as a buyer, this FWS post-nominal would be a helpful shoe-in!