July 2020 | Feature Story
Once again in 2020, the Heidelberg Family of Companies is sponsoring the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) Study Programs and exams, both through the Society of Wine Educators. These optional programs allow personal improvement and development as well as the highly regarded accreditation of the CSW or CSS post-nominal titles.
The governing body behind the CSW and CSS is the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). They are an internationally recognized membership-based non-profit that is focused on providing wine and spirits education along with the conferral of several certifications. The CSW and CSS are certifications and are not certificate programs. The successful candidates can add the appropriate post-nominal to their name i.e. CSW or CSS, to their professional signature.
Heidelberg had a successful year last year with the number of our new CSW and CSS recipients ahead of the national average with those that were part of the program and stuck to the deadlines. A Candidate’s best shot at passing the difficult exam is to follow the program and the deadlines and our past success proves that. “Prior to this year, we have registered a total of 302 candidates that have taken the exams,” says Mary Horn, VP of Fine Wine Sales & Education. “Since beginning this in house program in 2015, we have had 89 candidates earn CSW or CSS certifications.”
VP OF FINE WINE SALES & EDUCATION MARY HORN WORKS WITH CSW CANDIDATES
TO HELP PREPARE THEM FOR THE CSW EXAMINATION. DUE TO THE CORONA PANDEMIC,
THE 2020 TRAINING IS BEING DONE THROUGH ZOOM AND VIDEO TRAINING.
The program has been designed for maximum success and includes the following to allow candidates to achieve their certification:
- 12 weeks of Study Plans and Study Supplements sent directly to each candidate on Sundays (10 weeks for CSS).
- Weekly Objectives, Study Supplements, Map Exercises and Quizzes sent directly to each candidate.
- Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine or Sprits Study Guide 2020 edition.
- Dedicated SharePoint folder with materials, supplements and answers.
- Bi-Weekly Review sessions via Zoom Video Conference.
- Intensive review for both the CSW and CSS candidates (on separate dates), including practice exams.
Once again, Mary, a CSW, CSS, Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, WSET III and Certified Sake Professional through the Sake Education Council, is leading this certification program and has set up educational sessions for Associates that have signed on to participate. For the 2020 program there are a total of 44 Associates that have committed to the program; 37 for the CSW and seven for the CSS. “The formal study plan is 13 weeks for the CSW and 12 weeks for the CSS,” says Mary. “That includes the review week, which is the final week prior to Associates taking the exam.”
This is not a program that Associates can just show up for and expect to pass. In addition to the study plans and supplements that are provided by Heidelberg, there is over 100 hours of home study that will be necessary to be successful with the program. “There is a tremendous amount of information that is required to learn to gain certification,” Mary says. “The 2020 edition of the CSW Study Guide has 324 pages and the 2020 edition of the CSS Study Guide has 220 pages. All of the questions on the exam are based on the materials in the study guides.”
The final exam for each certification is administered via computer and consists of 100 questions. The questions are multiple choice and consist of general knowledge as well as map identification questions included. Candidates have 60 minutes to complete the exam and need to score 75% or higher to pass.
This newsletter was produced with the help of your fellow Associates.
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