International Wine Guild Blog

Chef’s Retreat: A Garden Tour with Corporate Executive Chef Sherrie Robbins

Filed Under: Chef's Corner

A few years ago, Claude and I — along with the help of Nicolas Post — created this backdrop for our son’s wedding.



This space has now become our retreat. I love having my coffee here and contemplating life after a hard day. Come along for a tour!

These antique doors really make me happy. They are all solid wood and have the original glass panes. It took me 9 months to sand them down, white wash them, and put 5 coats of a high quality sealer on them. They look as beautiful in the winter as they do in the summer!



The yard at our home is totally xeriscaped with raised beds for both vegetables and flowers. Having said that, our yard doesn't offer enough space to have a very large garden in full sun. My neighbors have too many large trees that shade at least half of my yard.

Last summer, I purchased two 2x8 foot raised cedar beds on legs for easy access. I absolutely love these planters. They are easy to access, have greenhouse covers to protect the plants from too much heat and wind, and produce a lot of food! I can start all of the lettuces in early May in these planters and be eating salad by the middle of June.



This summer I planted more than 45 different varieties of fruits and vegetables between my garden at my house and a garden I have in Firestone, Colorado.

Each place has a different micro-climate creating different sets of challenges.

The garden in Firestone is typically 5 degree’s hotter then the garden at our house. It is in full sun, has a lot of wind, and is drip irrigated.

The garden at my house is hand watered and half of it gets pretty hot as well.

In Firestone, I use little “hoop houses” that I made to protect things like celery, spinach, kale, and romaine from getting full sun.



This extends the growing season and has worked really well and has also been a tremendous amount of work. There are so many “sticker” plants around this garden that is a challenge to keep the wheels on the wheelbarrow inflated!

This is the first year I have used this space in Firestone. I made a decision early on that I was going to put 4 to 6 inches of wood chips on the entire garden to help retain moisture, keep the weeds at bay, and help build and loosen the clay in the soil.



Next year, I will just hoe a trench, plant the seeds in the dirt in the trench, and wait for them to grow a bit. Then the wood chips will just be pushed back around the seedlings.

This garden will never be tilled again. So in future years, part of the labor will be cut down because I have a good base of wood chips down now thanks to the Ramirez Family Wood-Chip Volunteer Team!



There are both chickens and rabbits at the farm in Firestone so there is plenty of fertilizer to layout in the garden.

I will begin using the “chop and drop” method of building the soil in the fall when I pull up plants that are done producing. Those plants will be cut up, and laid on top of the wood chips. A layer of chicken poop and the bedding straw will be put on top of that to decompose over the winter.

Gardening is a form of meditation for me. Much like fly-fishing, it is peaceful and rewarding. Gardening takes me back in time to standing in a garden with my grandmother. I think she would be so proud of these two gardens I have created.

I thought you might like to see some of today’s harvest!



I have got to get to work cooking the beans, shelling the peas and fava beans, making some tomatillo salsa, braising the kale, onions, and zucchini —- and freezing the garden’s bounty.

The bok choy is eaten raw and chopped up for salads or stir-fried with other veggies for yummy asian style dishes.

Basil either becomes pesto or is put in a blender with a little olive oil and then packed into ice cube tray to freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, I just pop them out and put them in freezer storage containers.

The dragon’s blood beans are cooked on the stovetop with ham or bacon scraps and onions before frozen.

I am beginning to prepare for the Guild’s “High-on-the-Hog” Farm to Table Dinner on August 13th. We will be enjoying a roasted pig and 4 courses of vegetables from the garden to round out the dinner along with a delicious dessert prepared by Chef de Cuisine Jocelyne Fay.

If you are planning on attending, reserve your spot now as space is limited. The cost is $85 per person and includes wine pairings for each course.

Chef's Corner

Two Students Earn Highest IWSG Certification

Filed Under: Guild Member Spotlight

Hard work and dedication paid off in a big way for two International Wine & Spirits Guild (IWSG) students!

On July 10th, IWSG promoted Nicolas Post and Carol Chamberlain to our highest level of diploma: Master Wine Educator (MWE). 

The MWE — a prestigious professional diploma recognized across the wine industry — is designed specifically for those interested in becoming a wine educator at the college or university level as well as at IWSG. 

Course and student teaching requirements means it takes a minimum of 2 years to complete the MWE certification — plus an additional 2 years learning to teach for IWSG. 

Nicolas began taking courses at IWSG in 2008 and began teaching for IWSG in 2013. Carol began taking courses from IWSG in 2010 and began teaching at IWSG in 2015.  

Both Nicolas and Carol have completed all 25 of the IWSG seminars and courses and are currently teaching Level 1 and 2 wine classes as well as Level 3 Master Courses at IWSG.  

Nicolas is also IWSG’s Assistant Director of Education while Carol is IWSG’s Director of Online Education.  

It’s been 4 years since another IWSG student earned the MWE diploma and certification.

Like so many other IWSG students, neither Carol nor Nicolas had prior hospitality or wine industry experience. They prove that with a tremendous amount of work, dedication, and determination — anyone can achieve their wine education goals! 

Nicolas and Carol’s passion for wine has propelled them to travel extensively and share their love of wine with others through teaching. We look forward to having them both continue to mentor and instruct our students!

Guild Member Spotlight

Guild Grad Paves Road for Texas Wine Industry

Filed Under: Guild Member Spotlight

Daniel Kelada, International Wine & Spirits Guild’s Texas Director, first became interested in pursuing a wine education when working at a Texas wine bar in 2008.

“One of my co-workers was a Guild graduate and he was always outselling me and earning much more in tips due to his wine knowledge,” Daniel said.

“I realized I needed to know more about wine and improve my ability to talk about wine with customers to excel in my job.”

Daniel called the International Wine & Spirits Guild and asked how many students he needed to get signed up for the Guild to offer their classes in Texas. From there, a relationship was born.

Daniel helped the Guild bring it’s wine education to Texas starting in 2010, shortly after he launched GUSTO Tastings - offering wine tours, event planning, and hospitality consulting.

Now a certified Senior Wine Instructor, Master Candidate, Executive Wine Sommelier, and Texas Wine Ambassador, Daniel oversees the Guild’s wine classes in Houston, Austin, Johnson City, and Fort Worth.

“Through the Guild’s classes, I’ve created lifetime friendships and seen students form relationships that were vital to their wine or hospitality career success,” Daniel said.

“Many Texas Guild graduates have gone on to do incredible things. Our students routinely create opportunities for each other through starting their own enterprises. And others have become sommelier and beverage managers or managing partners for nationally acclaimed restaurants.”

A key player in advancing the Texas wine industry, Daniel is a regular contributor to the Texas Wine Journal and helped launch Vinovium Partners, a Texas wine négociant.

The tradition of négociant (French for “merchant” or “dealer”) arose out of 11th century France, where wine industry service providers also acted as partners and ambassadors to bring the region’s wines to market.

Following the négociant tradition, Vinovium Parnters supports Texas wine industry players in navigating the wine road.

“We help Texas wine growers and producers add value to their industry and bring their wines to market by providing merchant services and expertise,” said Daniel, VP of Sales for Vinovium Partners.

Daniel lists high collaboration and exponential growth as the Texas wine industry’s current hallmarks - and wine access and misconceptions as its main challenges.

“The Texas wine industry is at times misunderstood,” Daniel said. “Some assume it’s too hot to make wines here. In reality, the Texas wine industry generates $2B in economic stimulus for the state each year.”

Vinovium Partners is dedicated to guiding the Texas wine industry to maturation and evolving its services to meet the industry’s new needs along its evolution.

The Guild is expanding Texas class offerings and will be providing Level II and Level III wine classes this summer.

“What separates the Guild from other wine schools is the caliber of people who take our classes,” Daniel said.

“The Guild’s unparalleled networking - whether you are taking the class for a career or hobby - is a recipe for cool things to happen.”

Guild Member Spotlight

Wine Guild Student Revolutionizes Wine Club Experience

Filed Under: Guild Member Spotlight

The Wine DispensaryIWSG Executive Sommelier and Master Sommelier Candidate Rob Mackenzie is revolutionizing the wine club experience one tasting at a time at The Wine Dispensary, a non-traditional boutique wine shop and event venue in downtown Denver.

“Our wine membership club is focused on ensuring our members never get a bottle of wine they dislike,” Rob said. “We offer a tasting cycle of new featured wines every 60 days, allowing club members the chance to taste and learn about each wine before purchasing.”

“These tastings also give our members the confidence and knowledge needed to talk about the wines they like and why, and to pair food and wine.”

Tastings are complimentary and include the option to bring a guest. Memberships start at a $150 spend per month inside The Wine Dispensary.

At The Wine Dispensary’s core is its dedication to providing correct wines at correct prices.

“The wines we carry from around the world are unique and obtainable. Though we carry wine at a variety of price points, the average bottle you’ll find on our shelves is between $23 to $35,” Rob said.

“Unlike other wine clubs, there’s no additional fee for being part of the club or the tastings. Your only obligation is to purchase fair market priced wine and spirits inside The Wine Dispensary,” Rob said.

As the membership club grows, Rob has plans to expand club levels and offer a wider variety of specialty tastings.

“Our club is really about giving people a fun platform to broaden their wine knowledge, explore what type of wine they enjoy, and meet others who share their passion for wine,” Rob said.

The Wine Dispensary also offers wine services to caterers, businesses, property managers, and concierges.

Interested in becoming a wine club member? Visit or email

Ready to start or grow your wine career? We offer wine, sake, and fine spirits courses and certifications.

Pictured at top right: Rob MacKenzie, President and Founder of The Wine Dispensary, with his wife Nell Roberts, Owner & Operator of the Speakeasy Event Venue 

Guild Member Spotlight

Radio Interview with the International Wine Guild

Filed Under:

Check out this recent interview about the International Wine Guild that was aired on the radio!

Play Interview

Testimonial from Norie Ann

Filed Under: testimonial


Thank you so much, I'm very exited about my new job. I'm now working for Remy Cointreau as the Brand Ambassador for their Champagne Piper Hiedsieckand Charles Hiedsiek. I would be reporting directly with the the US Senior Brand Manager for the Heidsieck Champagne house. 

As a Brand Ambassador I will manage all aspects of sales and promotions for their elite clients in Florida, Georgia and Texas. This week I will be traveling to Champagne France to begin my training. I will send you some pictures.

Must say that they were all very impressed with all my wine certifications and that made the difference between me and other candidates.

Thank you so much for for this great education, and please continue doing this wonderful job!!!

Let me know any up dates for the classes in Florida, as I'm still interestedin being part of your team.


Norie Ann


New Wine Guild Video

Filed Under: What's New

We're really proud of this new video. Hope you like it too.


What's New

International Wine Guild in the News

Filed Under: News

The International Wine Guild was recently featured on Fox31. Check out the video below!


Vivac Winery's High Altitude Refuge

Filed Under: Guild Member Spotlight

This week we're proud to welcome a guest post from Vivác Winery in New Mexico. Vivác's owners are some of the first students we welcomed at the International Wine Guild, and we love to see how a Wine Guild education creates amazing opportunities in the wine industry.

Vivác (vee vok), a mountaineering term meaning "high altitude refuge," is seated at 6,000ft making it one of the highest altitude wineries in the world. The professionals at Vivác Winery have a commitment to excellence, using only French oak barriques, state-of-the-art stainless steel tanks, 100% New Mexico grapes; the Padberg brothers make their wines entirely by hand.

Fresh and young, edgy and sophisticated, Vivác offers you something out of the ordinary.With an elegant gallery of contemporary art and jewelry, an in-house chocolatier offering sumptuous truffles and Happy Hour Season (Spring/ Summer/ Fall) with live music, Vivác Winery is a destination.

Vivác's old world style wines have been highlighted in USA Today, Sunset Magazine, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Read Michele's post below!


Vivác started our winery and vineyards in 1998, and we opened our tasting room in 2003.

Our involvement with the International Wine Guild has been beyond helpful. We would recommend the initial certification class to anyone who simply likes to enjoy a glass of wine, and it should be a mandatory class for anyone that works with wine!

The executive level class shattered the wine world open for us, exposing flaws in our own wines as well as the wines made around us that we previously had not been able to see. This knowledge gave us the insight to make huge changes and steer the path of New Mexico wines as a whole.

The always-available genius of Claude has been an asset like no other. The Master level intensives catapult your appreciation of wine even further. Improving our palates, giving us a more in-depth knowledge of other wines around the world and an ability to evaluate wines in a truly objective manner has given us the ability to be taken seriously in the WORLD of wines, not simply hobby wine makers in a state not recognized for wine.

We have since expanded our vineyards and our winery, and enriched our tasting room experience. Our wine making has drawn the attention of Wine Enthusiast Magazine (we are the highest rated red wine producers in New Mexico history); Sunset Magazine named us "Winery to discover now!" and Jesse and Chris "up and coming wine makers to look for;" and USA Today spotlighted us in their article "An American Wine for Everyday."

We have had the pleasure to be a part of several wine shows, Wine Revolution Media and the new Great Grape TV. Our personal involvement in sports has taken the blog "Fueled by Vivac" into a sponsorship and race development sector.

We eagerly await the chance to get back to the Wine Guild, but due to the growth of our business and our families, we find it more and more difficult to get away.

Owning a winery is not always the romantic image everyone has, but the rewards are immense. You are at the beck and call of the grapes, at the mercy of the 24/7 phone ringing.

There is no such thing as a weekend not booked with events or a night that isn't spent talking about the wines, winery, or the future vineyard, but it is the creative outlet of a master artist and studied chemist. It is the incredible use of the land in the oldest agricultural crop known to man. It is the beauty of layered complexity in a glass. And, well, wine just tastes so damn good!

Contact Michele to learn more about Vivác Winery
Michele Alexandra Padberg E..S.
Director of External Sales & Marketing: Branding & PR
Vivác Winery & Red Hot Mama Wines
(505)579-4447 Phone & Fax (press send when the voice mail picks up)

Guild Member Spotlight

1600 Wynkoop

Filed Under: What's New

We've been working on our new home at 1600 Wynkoop. Here's what's happening now; we look forward to seeing you at the new International Wine Guild facility soon!

A little history:


















Barteldes Seed Warehouse, 1908














Barteldes Seed Warehouse, 1916 











The building today.
















The entire 3rd floor is the Guild's.









A Modern street entrance on Wynkoop.
















The lobby and elevators. . .























The lobby and freight elevator inside the Guild's space.









The office in back will be Carey's.







Hallway and elevator.







 Claude's office is on the left, faculty to the right.

 And here's the same view, only this time with drywall. If only all drywalling could go so fast.

The 20-person Dionysis classroom.

 The room on the other side of this wall is the workroom.

Workroom showing entry door and storage cabinets.

Workroom and storage cabinets.

View of hallway from workroom.

Wine cellar with new opening for a glass wall.

Sherrie's office to the left, wine cellar on the right.

Open commons area with wine cellar on the left.

View across common area showing classrooms and kitchen door.

Elevage classroom before the walls are in place.

The Elevage Classroom.

What's New

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