The International Wine Center Announces the 22nd Graduating Class | Wine Enthusiast
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The International Wine Center Announces the 22nd Graduating Class

New York’s International Wine Center (IWC) announced on Friday the newest WSET Level 4 graduating class. Marshall Tilden III, VP of Sales for Wine Enthusiast catalog, is among the 19 that joined the 308 previous graduates who earned their Wine Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma through the International Wine Center.

The WSET Level 4 Diploma is an internationally recognized wine credential. It’s a two-year program that’s one of the most demanding and challenging courses of wine study offered in the world. It fulfills one of the prerequisites for entry into the rigorous Master of Wine program.

“As the first wine school in the U.S. to offer the WSET Diploma course, IWC is especially proud of our Diploma graduates who have worked so hard to achieve this career and educational milestone,” said Mary Ewing Mulligan MW, president of IWC.

The 22nd graduating class is noteworthy for the varied wine and spirits experience, which ranges from retail management to on-premise purchasing and service, marketing and brand management, education and wine production.

The 22nd graduating class from International Wine Center includes: Thomas Anderer, Laura Battiato, Sarah Bray, Beth Cotenoff, Jillian Davis, Cecilia Gadea, Cassidy Havens, Tricia Heywood, Thomas Kim, Megan O’Connor, Liz Palmer, Antonio Perez Palacios Arias, Amber Rill, Noah Schwartz, Dan Stensland-Bos, Marshall Tilden III, Thomas Whalen, HuaFeng (Roger) Zhang, and Andreas Zinelis.

Get to Know Some of IWC’s  WSET Level 4 Diploma Graduates

The following biographies were taken directly from a newsletter released by The International Wine Center.

Thomas Anderer

Anderer joined the wine and spirits industry in 2003 with a part time job at Seaholm’s Wines and Liquors while studying at Hofstra University.  After exploring a number of different career paths, Anderer decided to pursue his WSET diploma.  In 2010 he became a sommelier through the Sommelier Society of America.  Today, he is the head Manager of Warehouse Wines & Spirits in NYC and travels to wine regions throughout the world.

Laura Battiato

Battiano has been studying wine since 2006, when she entered the Culinary Institute of America.  She’s had just about every job (both front and back of house) including corporate beverage purchasing for the Fig and Olive restaurant group, running the program at Locanda Verde and the Greenwich Hotel.  Four years ago, she became Italian Specialist at Palm Bay International and last July was promoted to manage the on premise sales team for both wine and spirits in NY Metro.

Sarah Bray

A love for languages and travel brought Bray to the world of wine. After time spent in France and Italy, she began writing about wine while working in publishing.  This was followed by a stint at Sotheby’s, where she was a brand strategist for the retail and auction divisions. Bray then transitioned to working as a brand consultant and ambassador. Today, she is the US representative for Passopisciaro on Mt. Etna and Tenuta di Trinoro in Tuscany.

Beth Cotenoff 

Currently an SVP at R/West, Cotenoff is a communications professional with over 15 years of experience in wine and spirits PR and Marketing. Beth first developed a taste for Beaujolais, Chinon, and Champagne in Paris in the hospitality industry.  Returning to New York, she joined Sopexa/Food & Wines from France and later Cornerstone Communications. Beth is also a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) by the Society of Wine Educators and a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.

Jillian Davis

Davis’ fascination with wine began in 2007 when she took her first wine class while studying abroad. After finishing a degree in Tourism at Arizona State University, she became a winemaker at a custom winery in Tempe, AZ. In 2010, she moved to New York and has since worked in events and marketing at Corkbuzz Wine Studio, as a wine buyer at a consulting firm, and in retail at Convive Wines and Spirits. After working harvest in the Adelaide Hills, Davis fell in love with Australia and will be moving to Melbourne in 2018 to pursue a career focusing on natural wine.

Cecilia Gadea

A former financial analyst, Gadea has been involved in the wine business for the past 15 years. Born in Argentina, she has worked with wineries in Argentina, importers in the Caribbean, sommelier schools and in oenoturism. She’s a WSET APP (Approved Program Provider) and currently works as Cellar Master with Norwegian Cruise Line on the beautiful Norwegian Escape.

Cassidy Havens

Havens is graduate of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Media, Culture and Communications, and is currently a Senior Account Supervisor at Teuwen Communications, a public relations agency specialized in food, wine and spirits. In June 2017, she relocated to the agency’s West Coast Bureau to lead new business initiatives in addition to running campaigns for clients such as Wines of Alsace, the Bureau Interprofessionnel du Cognac and Esporão Wines in Portugal. A native of Alabama, she currently lives in Oakland, CA with her cats.

Tricia Heywood

Originally from British Columbia, Heywood ignited her lifelong romance with wine when she enrolled in the WSET program after realizing her limitations understanding Old World wines. Today, she is the Managing Director at Gregory White PR where she leads several wine region accounts and consistently encourages people to visit the Okanagan Valley in Canada, which, she insists, will impress any wine tourist.

Megan O’Connor

O’Connor discovered wine while studying abroad in Rome. After gradation, she took a position at Google, but eventually left for business school to try to find a way into the wine industry. O’Connor ran her school wine club, traveled to Bordeaux for a blind tasting competition, and worked at Sherry-Lehmann before becoming a brand manager at Winebow. She then joined Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits and managed part of their fine wine portfolio. She recently finished a harvest internship at Kunde and plans to apply to the MW program.

Antonio Perez Palacios Arias

Perez Palacios Arias began his wine studies while growing up in Mexico City. A Chemical Engineer, he turned his hobby into a career by moving to Australia to study for his Master in Wine Business at the University of Adelaide and work with wineries and the Australian government to promote Australian wine. Today, he manages all alcoholic beverages for Wegmans Food Markets’ Restaurant Division.

Liz Palmer

Palmer has four graduate degrees (including a JD and LLM) and a number of certifications (including a CPA). She combined her love of learning with wine and now holds the WSET Diploma certification, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Certified Rioja Educator, Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, and Italian Wine Professional certifications. In 2014, Palmer joined the Texas Wine School to manage operations, became a partner in 2015 and assumed control of the school in 2016. She also owns and operates a wine storage community in Houston.

Amber Rill

Rill arrived in New York in 2013 armed with a passion for culture, travel, food and storytelling, determined to explore her interest in wine. She has worked harvests, with both Carl Ehrhard in Rüdesheim, Germany and Brooks in Amity, Oregon. Rill currently works closely with Laura Maniec MS and the sommelier team at Corkbuzz Wine Studio in Union Square where she is in charge of staff education, teaches wine classes for Corkbuzz consumers and participates in curating the wine list.

Noah Schwartz

While working in financial communications in London, Schwartz began taking wine tasting classes and fell down the vinous rabbit hole. Once he returned to the U.S., Schwartz found a job as a writer for Direct Wines where he has been ever since, putting his degree in English Literature to good use. He and his wife make a habit of visiting wine regions while spending time with her family in France.

Dan Stensland-Bos

Stensland-Bos discovered wine in culinary school, before he could legally drink where he became hooked on the aromatics, history and details surrounding wine during his studies. Once reaching legal drinking age he enrolled in a number of classes to further his education, eventually enrolling in the WSET Diploma program at IWC. Stensland-Bos currently works for Zachy’s Wine Auctions and hopes to enter the MW program in the future.

Marshall Tilden III

From his first sips of wicker basket Chianti and barely tolerable Rouge de France, to a 1986 Premier Cru Gevrey- Chambertin ‘epiphany wine’, Marshall knew there was something magical about wine. After working on Wall Street for years, his passion for wine led him to a sales job at Wine Enthusiast. Now in his 12th year with Wine Enthusiast, Marshall is the Director of Sales, a contributing editor, panel reviewer, in-house educator and hosts various video demonstrations and tastings. Marshall also produced his own wine for the first time last year and has a California Zinfandel and Super Tuscan style blend currently sitting in barrel from this vintage.

HuaFeng (Roger) Zhang

Zhang’s love affair with wine started with a glass of a Burgundian Pinot Noir a decade ago.  He has since spent four years in the WSET program at IWC.  While his passion for Pinot Noir hasn’t waned, he now finds himself especially drawn to new and exciting wines that epitomize a winemaker’s dedication to local terroir. Zhang is a professional wine amateur who has been working in the international logistics industry for more than 10 years.

Andreas Zinelis

Zinelis is the Director of Sales for Cava Spiliadis, an importer specializing in premium Greek wines for the U.S and U.K. Prior to joining the company, he spent close to a decade as a sommelier in New York, Los Angeles, and Greece. He is currently enrolled in the MW program and hopes to shed more light on underrepresented wine regions.