I failed. That’s truly how it felt. 2017 was a challenging year. I was trying to study level three with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust whilst going through a slow and gracious divorce from my husband of 13 years. I passed my tasting exam, but it wasn’t enough. Something inside me knew I would be tested on South Africa in the essay portion and my brain went completely blank.
When I didn’t pass my exam in 2017, I felt defeated. I filled in the blanks with the narrative that I am a terrible test taker and a slow reader. My colleagues are better at recalling information and have much stronger palates. What was I doing here? Who was I kidding? Ultimately, I believed I wasn’t a wine expert and had no place talking about it.
I went dormant over the last three years. I pulled away from flamenco, pulled away from travel, pulled away from writing, pulled away from wine. I needed time to heal. I had a few moments in 2018 and 2019 encouraging me to try, but I was not ready. The vulnerability and risk were too great if I still believed I would make a fool out of myself.
This January, I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. I intently followed the twelve weeks of reading and exercises designed to remember how to play and have FUN. It reminded me of what excites me. It reminded me of what I’ve lost. It gave me courage to try again. The Artist’s Way gave me the tools I needed to be kinder to myself and daily write affirmations that I am an artist, I am a musician, I am a dancer, I am a writer and I am a wine expert.
Before this process, I already made plans to take a 3-day Spanish Wine Scholar intensive course in April with the Wine & Spirit Archive here in Portland. It was perfectly planned around The Artist’s Way and my travels to Jerez for the Feria. I wanted to try a different course of learning wine before retaking the WSET level-three theory exam.
Then Coronavirus shut down my city. I was unable to travel to Jerez as scheduled. I was temporarily laid off and remain so without any set rehire date. I started using Zoom to stay connected. Suddenly I was asked to provide flamenco lessons, mini-fitness breaks, sherry lessons and wine tastings. The crazy part was despite my fear, I said yes and was very energized by them. It was FUN!
The Spanish Wine Scholar course was pushed back as well. Before the intensive class, I read through the textbook and completed the corresponding Wine Scholar Guild online coursework. It dawned on me that the information was familiar despite my three years away from the wine industry. I also loved how they incorporate history, pictures, pop quizzes and flashcards. I was excited again. It was FUN!
I spent three days learning with teachers and colleagues excited for Spain and Spanish wines. By the time we got to Andalucía, I couldn’t contain my excitement and interjected often about bodegas, sherry production and Spanish terminology. I came away invigorated rather than zoomed out.
Turns out my life has prepared me well for Spanish wine – my college studies abroad in Sevilla, my late 20’s living as a missionary and writing newsletters about my journey, my on-again-off-again relationship with flamenco which lead me to Jerez, and now my passion for not only sherry but all Spanish wine.
As I learn connect my personal story into this Spanish wine journey, I can’t wait to share it with you! I am a writer. I am a teacher. I am a wine expert. Come play with me! I guarantee it will be FUN!