Recent Graduates

David Smith :: Restauranteur :: Longmont, CO

Learning about wine turned into a passion for me before I decided to explore opening Your Place or Vine. I read about wine styles and their regions, varietals, history and flavor profiles, but felt like a more formal and interactive education would really bring into focus the background and skills required to build a wine list and create the type of unpretentious environment I wanted from my wine bar.

The International Wine Guild brought all the pieces together, and the classes formalized and encouraged the excitement I had about opening the business and supported me personally as an enthusiast. I took the focused, two-day Level One certification program which covered attributes, tasting, regions, history and food pairing, and gave me a solid foundation on which to continue my education. I followed up with classes on specific and international wine regions, cheeses, desserts, and general wine and food pairing.

My wine bar is not only about wine, but about quality food and the experience of both. I change the wine list frequently and offer custom, build-your-own flights to introduce people to wines they may not be familiar with. Every wine on my menu is described in detail based on my personal experience, what my staff tastes, what the wine representatives taste and what the vintner describes. Describing a wine is challenging because not everyone tastes the same things. The descriptions are meant as guidelines so people can choose by their own palate and preference. I also take time to find wines that have stories behind them and not wines that you see every day.

All 26 wines are available by the glass, half glass, in a flight and by the bottle, so keeping prices reasonable is important. I watch what is selling, and expect my staff to recommend new wines - I adjust the list appropriately and seasonally. My chef and I work closely together to make sure the food is complementary. We're getting rave reviews about the food and more times than not, a wine recommendation puts a smile on a customer's face - which makes it all worth while. 

Debi Reimers :: Importer :: Denver

My passion for wine began while I was living in Italy. Wine is such an important staple in daily dining to the Italians that it soon became a part of my dining experience also. Many of my friends were wine makers. I loved sitting around the table and listing to the stories of the trials and triumphs of making the wine we were drinking. After that bottle was finished we would open another and the stories continued. The passion and love that they have for the grapes and the land is contagious, and it began to grow inside me as well. Upon returning to the US I began to look for wine courses. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the wines I had enjoyed for years while living abroad. Fortunately, I found the The International Wine Guild right here in Denver. From the first day the classes have been extraordinarily informative and interactive. I have completed several levels of courses and plan to continue my education with the Guild. I also love the fact that as a busy business owner and mother of young children the Guild offers courses at several different locations and at various hours during the day and evening.

My dream upon returning was to somehow get involved in the wine industry. After the encouragement and guidance of Claude Robbins, the president of the Guild, I opened up Per Bacco Distributing in 2006. We are about to enter our third year of business, have over 80 labels and distribute wines from Italy, Spain, California and Washington State.

The great thing about going through the Guild is that you meet such great people who all have the same passion that you have. Many Guild members either work or help out at special events for our company. Pictured here are myself, Scott Smith, and Trisha Thuesen. Scott works for Per Bacco and is not only extremely knowledgeable about wine, but our number one sales rep as well.

Paul Bonacquisti :: Wine Maker :: Denver

Have you ever wished you could make a career out of your passion? Well, Paul Bonacquisti did just that! Paul's grandfather, Giovanni Battista Bonacquisti, emmigrated from Italy in 1900 and began work as a coal miner in Southern Colorado. It was here that Giovanni developed a unique blend of American influenced Italian wine.

The art of winemaking evolved from a family tradition to a passion Paul. After 17 years of working as an "On Air Personality" for several of Denver’s radio stations, Paul traded in his microphone for wine barrels and launched his business as an entrepreneur. He began plans in 2006 for his very own winery and set to work on what would become his signature wines. His first stop was the International Wine Guild. The Advanced Wine Course along with Paul’s winemaking experience, would lay the foundation for operating a successful winery.

Today, Bonacquisti Wine Company operates out of what Paul refers to as a "funky urban industrial condo" located at 4640 Pecos Street in Denver. The winery includes a tasting room and space for wine tasting events, private parties such as birthdays, anniversaries and fund raisers.

Joyce E. Gallo :: Caterer :: Denver

I was fortunate enough to attend your basic Wine Certification class this weekend and I have to tell you that I am hooked! As odd as it may sound I have never consumed wine before taking this course. I took the class in order to add another level of service to my clients as I am a Caterer. What I learned this weekend will change the course of my business forever. I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me professional and personally and I am very enthusiastic about continuing my studies.

Kudos to Mr. Robbins, Chef Robbins and the staff. I have to say by far this is the best class/lecture that I have ever attended. For that reason I signed my husband up for the September class. In browsing through the course catalog I saw a course for party planning in June. Will that class be offered again? I am very interested in taking it as soon as it is offered again.

Any information will be greatly appreciated. Again, thank you all for a wonderful learning experience and for opening my senses to a whole new world. I am so looking forward to the next class!

Tim Heaton :: CEO / CIO Wine Strategies :: Denver

After having owned several successful businesses in other industries (none of which held my true passion), I discovered the grape, and all its lure, during the last class of my MBA. The more I delved into it, the more fascinating it became. I knew early on, and without a doubt, that something as simple as a grape would hold my attention and fuel my passion for many, many years to come.

I can't say enough about the guild, its founders, my fellow students, etc., for it is with their help that I have been able to achieve goals I'd previously only dreamed about.

In the two years since completing my coursework at the Guild I have:

Were it not for the quality program that the guild delivers, I'm not certain any of the above would have been possible.

Mark Censits :: Wine Store Owner :: New Jersey

After more than 20 years of helping to fix other people's businesses, Mark decided it was time to build his own. Wanting to pursue his passion for wine, he surveyed the landscape of wine retailing and identified a niche that he felt was ripe for a new venture. Enthusiasm for wine had grown in the US, yet consumers continued to be frustrated by the complexity of the wine market - so many regions, varieties, producers - wine experts touting this wine or that wine, with no regard variation in individual preferences. How can a wine lover find wines that suit his or her preferences with so many different factors to consider? As parts of his goal to become a "guide" for his customers' forays into the wine world, Mark turned to a few esteemed institutions for his own education. A 3-week course at the University of California in Davis to learn the business of wine and the Certification Seminar at the International Wine Guild formed the foundation of his knowledge.

One year later, Mark had his first CoolVines store open in Westfield, NJ and is only weeks away from opening his second store in his home town of Princeton, NY. The eCommerce website is scheduled to launch in the early Fall. Mark Excitedly promises that it will allow customers to shop for wine in a way that is "palate-based" rather than the typical "shopping cart" models of today's eCommerce world.

The Guild taught me more than just a list of appellations and grapes - I learned a fundamental theory of wine characteristics and food-wine pairing that enabled me to continually expand my knowledge with each new day in this business. Our customers love how we bridge the gap between the complex taxonomy of the wine industry and their personal tastes and preferences. We now use the Guild as core training for the rising stars in our company.

Chris, Jesse & Michelle Padberg :: Vivác Winery :: New Mexico

In a time of fast paced TV raised children, the young Padbergs turn to agriculture to make a difference. Focused on the betterment of New Mexico and her reputation in the wine community, Vivác specializes in old world style dry red wines and are considered by many to be the best in New Mexico.

This local winery uses 100% New Mexico grapes and is the pride and joy of Jesse and Chris Padberg who are themselves 100% local! Born and raised in Dixon NM, the brothers have come back to the land of enchantment to raise their families and their high quality boutique winery. Vivác Winery is fresh and young, edgy and sophisticated. The Padbergs are constantly continuing their winemaking education with the worlds best oneology school, the University of California at Davis and are proud to offer a full house (4) of specialized wine professionals including 2 certified Executive Sommeliers (Jesse and his wife Michele) who are taking Master Level courses with the International Wine Guild.

Jesse and Chris started their winery before Chris had even turned 21, dedication and determination have given them the rights to one of the world's highest altitude vineyards right here in Dixon; Vivác is a mountaineering term meaning "high altitude refuge". Northern New Mexico's tourism based economy is booming with the ever growing wine community which keeps the land undeveloped by providing an agricultural crop, the oldest crop in the state; grapes. The Padberg boys are keeping tradition alive in the oldest grape growing area in North America. How better to become a part of the area than to celebrate with the rich taste of New Mexico's enchanted lands!

Contact: Michele Alexandra Padberg
Phone: (505) 579-4447

The Tasting room is open 7 days a week from 10-6 Monday- Saturday, 12-6 Sunday. Located on the corner of hwy 75 and hwy 68 at the turn off to Dixon.

Cynthia Asensio :: Vino 100 Wine Store :: Denver

Cynthia Asensio is the owner of a new Denver-area boutique retail wine and spirits shop named Vino 100 - Denver Tech Center. After practicing law for 15 years, Cynthia chose to trade in her litigation sword for the privilege of helping people add excitement and adventure to their lives through an exploration of wine!

A long-time wine enthusiast herself, her passion in work has shifted from litigation to celebration, as wine offers every person the unique opportunity to bring joy, fellowship and gratitude into their gatherings with family, friends and those they cherish.

Cynthia completed the Level I Certification course offered by the IWG in May 2008 and finds it invaluable in bringing insight to her new retail wine shop. The store is scheduled to open in late August 2008, and Cynthia hopes to return to the IWG for additional education both for herself, her employees and for other wine enthusiasts.

Peter Klann :: Little Raven Vineyards Wine Shop :: Denver

Peter Klann, a Seattle native, has been living in Colorado for the last 32 years. He is married to Renee and they have one child, Stella. After 19 years in corporate America, Peter decided it was time to try his hand at owning a business. He bought a wine shop in Riverfront Park, Denver in March of 2005 and renamed it Little Raven Vineyards.

Peter started his wine journey in wonderful Colorado in the mid 70's with a friend who had a large wine cellar and a big heart. Subsequently, Peter traveled to wine destinations throughout the US and Europe.

Peter obtained his Advanced Sommelier Level II certification and Advanced Wine & Food certifications through the International Wine Guild. They have been invaluable in helping him understand and grow his business. The knowledge gained has provided a strong background to help communicate with suppliers and clients about the products and services Little Raven offers. The non-elitest attitude which is carried throughout the IWG's courses is a huge benefit when talking to the general wine buyer.

Phyllis Moreau

Phyllis Moreau, a national of Trinidad & Tobago, is currently enrolled as a Wine Master candidate with the Guild.

She is The Director of The International Wine Guild Caribbean, which operates under license from the Guild

Ms. Moreau has had over 30 years of experience in Finance & Administration field. A qualified Accountant, she has spent the last ten years in a senior capacity with a French Multinational Wines & Spirits company on the island.

Phyllis got her passion for the wine business during her tenure with this company. She has been a student with the Guild since 2007, and will complete her Wine Masters coursework in October 2008. She is a qualified Executive Sommelier and is currently working for some restaurants, Foreign Missions and Wine Distributors on the island.

Besides her passion for wine, cigars, photography and art, she has a strong passion for the conservation of wildlife and the environment, and being a member and current President of The San Juan Rotary Club gives her the opportunity to do work in areas of conservation.


More Questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.


Put an International Wine Guild Badge on Your Website!

Sommelier Courses and Wine Classes from the International Wine Guild Wine School

The International Wine Guild Wine School

Copy the code below and paste into your website or blog:

Sommelier Courses and Wine Classes from the International Wine Guild Wine School

The International Wine Guild Wine School

Copy the code below and paste into your website or blog:


Customer Feedback