International Wine Center (IWC) is pleased to announce the newest WSET Level 4 Diploma graduating class.
The 11 new graduates join an esteemed group of 328 who previously earned their WSET Diploma through study with International Wine Center.
The WSET Level 4 Diploma is a high-level, internationally recognized wine credential. The two-year program is one of the most demanding and challenging courses of wine study offered in the world, fulfilling one of the prerequisites for entry into the rigorous Master of Wine program.
The 23rd graduating class from International Wine Center includes: Danielle Donovan, Daniel Festerling, John Grammer, Ruben Guzman, Debbie Jones, Paula Maia, Michael McNelis, Kerry Jo Rizzo, David Rudman, T. Reginald Solomon, and Aditi Venkatesh.
“All of us at International Wine Center are tremendously proud of these new graduates, who represent IWC’s 23rd class of WSET Diploma grads. Most of them have studied with us for four years, progressing from Level 1 or 2 all the way through the two-year Diploma program. We are honored to have been able to support them in their studies.”
Founded in 1982, IWC is recognized as one of the most established, reputable and prestigious wine and spirits educational centers in the country. “Students often choose IWC because the school boasts the most experienced team of WSET educators in the U.S.,” explained Ewing Mulligan. “We believe this, coupled with the comprehensive WSET curriculum, enhances and complements each student’s personal experience.”
Get to know some of IWC’s newest WSET Level 4 Diploma graduates:
Donovan first became interested in wine while spending summers in the South of France. She began to educate herself by reading on the subject before starting classes at International Wine Center. While at IWC, she found that the field seamlessly combined biochemistry, history, geography, and business—all areas she already had extensive exposure and experience in due to careers in both investment banking and academia. Donovan is fluent in East Asian languages and plans to use these skills and her education to research and market wines.
Originally from Michigan, Festerling came to the east coast to teach high school chemistry with a Master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Rochester. A self-proclaimed gin and whiskey nut, his wine journey began while working a second job under Chris Cree, MW at 56 Degree Wine in Bernardsville, NJ. His approach to food and wine changed dramatically and he discovered an interest in Old World farming and winemaking techniques. He continued to pursue his interest in wine and participated in “salons”, charity and private dining events, and often acted as wine host and educator at The Orange Lawn Tennis Club. Since earning his Diploma, he has returned to working with Cree and can now be found at the Pluckemin Inn while also consulting with small wineries in his home state of Michigan.
Guzman was born in New Jersey but grew up in Puerto Rico. His first job was as a waiter for a resort on the island. While working at the Ritz-Carlton he decided to move to New York City where he continued working in the hospitality industry. Over the years, Guzman has been a bartender, sommelier, and restaurant manager. Seven years ago he began working for a distributor and today he works for Domaine Select Wine and Spirits.
Jones fell in love with wine awhile attending college at the Culinary Institute of America where one of her professors was a Master of Wine. After graduating, Jones enrolled at International Wine Center to take WSET courses. Today she works at Del Posto Restaurant in Chelsea, Manhattan.
Maia is the Operations Manager and Buyer at International Wine Center. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, she also has formal training in the culinary arts and holds a certification from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners-ICIF. Maia owned and operated OAK Restaurant & Wine Bar in Brooklyn for 10 years, where she shared her love of food, wine, and travel.
McNelis, a New Jersey resident, has been immersed in the wine and food industry his entire life working in both restaurants and fine wine shops. He began his education at IWC with Level 1 and worked his way through each WSET Level course offered at the school. Today, he is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program. In 2015, he passed his Certified Sommelier exam, and most recently took the first section of the Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Currently, McNelis is a field manager in the wine division of Allied Beverage Group where he specializes in education and account development in the off-premise sector.
Rudman began studying wine ten years ago to escape the drudgery of glass-polishing while working at a wine bar in Brooklyn. He found his way into distributor sales and took his first WSET course, the Level 2 in Spirits, at IWC with a group of co-workers. The success of studying with WSET led Dave to have the distributor become an Approved Program Provider (APP). Today, Dave is WSET’s Director of Business Development for the U.S. market.
Solomon is a passionate wine enthusiast. He can be found writing for WineCasual.com where he takes a casual, yet systematic approach to learning about and reviewing wines. He is a member of the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators and holds their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) qualification and is also a Certified Sherry Wine Specialist (CSWS) as certified by the House of Lustau and approved by the Regulatory Council of Jerez-Xeres-Sherry Denomination of Origin. Solomon holds a BA from Yale University and a Masters degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. He currently works at Yale University where he has spent over a decade working in government relations and major gifts fundraising. When he’s not studying or working, Solomon travels to wine regions around the world, consumes wine content in multiple forms, and enjoys exploring new wines at home with friends and family.