Teaching About Wine To Latin America
By: Claudia Repsold
When you think of a wine expert, certainly the first thing that comes to mind is not a Brazilian, let alone a woman, in an industry that does not promote gender-equality opportunity. However, Alessandra Esteves overcame all the challenges and became a household name in the wine business both in Brazil and in the US.
I met with Esteves while she was giving a food and wine pairing micro-seminars with the “Million Dollar” chef Water Martino, at the Home Design Show in Miami. She was stunning in a perfect red dress, her sober voice reflecting a deep knowledge of wines kept the audience engaged throughout the micro seminar. Esteves is one of only 8,500 people worldwide who hold a Level 4 Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma, considered the highest wine certification. She also has a Champagne Master level, by the Wine Scholar Guild.
Esteves began her career as a corporate lawyer in her hometown, São Paulo, however, became bored with her accomplished professional life and decided to travel to Italy, her grandfather’s country, to learn Italian. As in the book; Eat, love and Pray, in Italy, Esteves fell in love with wines, good food and her now husband, Guilherme Macedo. “Italy has opened its eyes to a different dimension,” Esteves said.
The couple’s corporate careers led them to work in Germany and then in Switzerland, where the two Brazilians kept their tropical soul warm with a good glass of wine. “Living in cold weather countries has made us appreciate even further the warm feeling that wine can provide. I have always been passionate about learning. So I started to study wine, dedicating myself to gaining knowledge, improving my skills and obtaining the adequate certification in the industry”, point out Esteves.
She devoted herself to reach the Level 4 Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma, considered the highest wine certification in the institution. Only 8,500 people worldwide hold the same diploma Esteves does.
The Wine Lady
Once again, the couple corporate jobs transferred them to a different country. At this time, Macedo was relocated to Guatemala and Esteves left the corporate life to dedicate to their kids. Away from Brazil, she felt homesick caring for her two babies without her family around. To keep connect to her home-country she created the podcast in Portuguese “The Wine Lady” (A Dama do Vinho) from her house in Guatemala city. The Podcast went viral in Brazil, Esteves got more than half a million downloads becoming one of the most celebrated wine educator in the Brazilian social media.
Esteves success in the virtual arena turned into recognition and respect in the real tough, competitive and expensive wine industry. She became an accomplished author of four books about wine in Brazil (Wine in Italy, Wine in Australia, Opportunities in the Chinese Wine & Spirits and Grastronomade Brasil).
Florida Wine Academy
However, what really moves Esteves is teaching people to appreciate and understand the hints of wine. The passion for sharing knowledge is the base upon which the Florida Wine Academy was built. Esteves, her husband Macedo and their two kids moved to Miami last year. “The majority of the Wine courses are located in the West Coast or in New York, but Miami is the hub for the entire Latin American. We noticed that the demand for certified wine classes is huge in Florida and nobody was catering that market. We saw an opportunity and we took it”.
So far more than 500 students from different countries have attended to Florida Wine Academy’s courses that ranges from basic to advanced and are offered in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese. “It’s all about learning about wine,” Esteves says. “For wine lovers, is a true chance to mingle and learn. It also helps people complete qualifications required to enter the wine industry.”
That is exactly the case of Jacob Molz. He is graduating from Florida Wine Academy and is glimpsing the possibility of migrating from his well-paid tech job to the wine business that he starting to build with his wife Katie. “I began my site iwantyoutodrinkmorewine.com out of passion but the knowledge I acquired at Florida Wine Academy’s coursers really help boost my business”, explained Molz.
If wine is a poetry in a bottle, Esteves is conducting her career in the wine business like a masterpiece.
Claudia Repsold is editor-in-chief of Brazil & US BIZ. She is an award-winning Brazilian journalist with twenty years of experience in International News. She is a passionate storyteller who loves traveling, hiking and learn about natural healing.