Founder/CEO, Online Wine Course; Co-Founder/Chairman, United Sommelier Foundation

Enthusiastic and well-informed consumers benefit the industry. Professional winemakers who have access to support and training can develop a similar passion for their clients. These two principles guided Christy Norman in setting up the online wine course and he became a member of the American Sommelier Foundation.

Norman became a licensed sommelier at the age of 21 and joined the Spago team in Beverly Hills, California that same year. There she began to create links and opportunities to learn with and between other sommeliers.

I saw the lack of company, she says. There were different levels of people, and in a way they worked independently of each other. I feel like this is a problem because you need people who are better than you to try to improve with you. I wanted to create a mechanism to improve people’s tastings and promote their skills as professionals. And I attracted a lot of people. People came from a tree, literally 100 miles north and south or more.

Norman recognized the value and passion of educational programs and created a series of videos on YouTube called Adults with Alcohol and then launched an online wine course.

The course is designed to make wine fun and accessible. For just under $150, participants have access to a four-hour course with videos, worksheets, timeline quizzes and a final exam. It shapes the students’ vocabulary, explains the difference between certain wines, the impact of winemaking on the final product and the main varieties, and then discusses the main wine producing regions in the world and the food and wine combinations.

We want to give everyone a chance to learn about wine because there is wine for everyone, she said. It could be something cheap, and people might like it. Or it can be very expensive. Everyone has their own wine tour.

Christy Norman with wine against a yellow background Photo : Dominic Aznavour

However, this customer-oriented program does not keep the customer away from the host network.

When the pandemic came, I was the person people turned to when they lost their jobs or when their restaurants closed, because I was the person who helped people at work, she says. I’ve seen with my own eyes how dedicated a catfish company can be and I’m worried about our wine industry.

It was this moment that led to the establishment of the American Sommelier Foundation. With the money raised through donations and auctions at Acker Wines, the organization helps finance emergency aid for people in financial crisis. Norman also offers free education for a limited time.

I think we need to look at all these different parts of the industry and support the people who work in the wine industry and make sure they have the resources to support them, she says. And then we need more consumers on the other side.

For her commitment to making wine accessible to all and to supporting those who work in her industry in unprecedented experiments, she named Christie Norman Professor of the Year. -Lyla snail

Published on the 29th. October 2020

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