Union wine columnist wins national award | TheUnion.com

Union wine columnist wins national award

The Union wine columnist Rod Byers has won the prestigious Lucio M. Sorre-Castello Banfi award for scoring the highest on a national wine exam.

Byers took the Certified Wine Educator Exam in July 2009, covering viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties and wine regions around the globe.

The Banfi Award is given to the person who passes on first attempt with the highest score.

“This is an incredible, pinch-me moment. I’m stunned,” said Byers, whose column runs in the Wednesday Flavor section of The Union.

Recipients win an all-expense-paid trip to the society’s annual conference including airfare, hotel accommodations and conference events. This year, the conference will be in Washington D.C.

“I would be thrilled to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Sacramento,” last year’s conference venue, Byers said. “I’m just a little more thrilled that it is in D.C. this year.”

The exam was a three-part test that included multiple-choice questions, a written essay and several tasting tests.

Byers took a perfect score on the tasting test.

Sheilds Hood, senior advisor to the Society of Wine Educators, said passing the exam requires a broad knowledge across a wide spectrum of wine topics.

“Just because someone knows a lot about California or French wine doesn’t mean they are going to pass,” Hood said.

Because the exam can cover any topic, no study guide is possible – just a recommended reading list of books. About 15 percent of exam-takers pass it the first time; the repeat pass rate is about 25 percent.

“When I finished I was hopeful but not very optimistic that I had passed,” Byers said. “It was a very tough test. I was thrilled to hear that I had passed at all.”

In 2009 the exam was given a dozen times in major cities in the United States and in Tokyo.

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