James Cluer MW began his career in the wine trade in 1988, working for an importer in Hong Kong. After attending a number of tastings he got the wine bug, and took his first WSET course at age 18.
After University, he headed for Bordeaux and landed an apprenticeship at Milhade et fils. He worked the vintage, picking grapes, managing the fermentations, and doing the barrel work. He started to learn about wine from the ground up.
A few years later James was still at Milhade but now in charge of global exports to 18 countries. He traveled the world meeting buyers, visiting other wineries and making contacts with key players in the wine industry. He also began seriously studying wine and in 1997 completed the WSET Diploma.
In 1998 James enrolled in the Master of Wine (MW) program. The MW is considered the pinnacle of professional qualifications in wine. Since the first MW exams in 1953 there have only been 312 successful candidates. To prepare, James began working vintages at wineries in Australia and California, and touring most of the world’s wine regions. Eleven years later, he became a Master of Wine.
Fine Vintage was started in 1995. The company operates in a variety of sectors of the wine industry. We are a 100% family-owned and operated with offices in Vancouver and Napa Valley.
We started with WSET wine schools in British Columbia and following the success of these expanded across Canada and the United States. We now have 16 WSET schools. In January 2012 we were awarded The Riedel trophy for WSET Educator of the Year, which is the highest honor amongst wine schools. The WSET wine courses offer professional certification to students from the most internationally recognized institute in the world.
Many of our students requested that we run wine tours and so we started with Bordeaux, as James had lived there for several years. Today we run tours to Italy, Spain, South Africa, Australia, South America and other classic regions in France like Champagne and Burgundy. We work with some of the leading wine experts in those respective countries to host the tours, typically Masters of Wine. Our tours have become very popular because they are so luxurious and the doors to exclusive estates are opened. They are also a lot of fun!
Over the years we’ve been contracted by a host of different corporations to perform consultancy services. We’ve been honored to have won contracts with two Canadian governments, Fairmont Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Resorts in Thailand, Qatar Airways in the Middle East, Crystal Cruises, AMA Waterways, Chateau Montelena and Trefethen in Napa, major retailers and various others. Our services focus on consultant wine buying, training, public speaking and strategic planning. We also run two wineries in Canada as General Manager, producing the most expensive and sought-after red wine in the country.
Many of our students asked us how they could find jobs in the wine industry, and so we started a website called www.winejobsCanada.com This has become the most popular wine recruitment website with hundreds of jobs listed. Following this success we started job sites in the USA, California, England, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. We now have the leading network of recruitment websites in the wine industry.
We also received many requests for us to start a wine club, so that we could select wines for our clients and have them delivered to their door. We now operate in Canada and the United States and pride ourselves on our independence and ability to find undiscovered gems at great prices. http://www.finevintagewineclub.com/
Our company has also been fortunate to be contracted by major magazines and newspapers to write articles, like BC’s major daily The Vancouver Sun. We have judged at the Decanter World Wine Awards, the Sydney International Wine Challenge, and various other competitions. James is also an Associate Director of the University of BC’s Wine Research Department and has been inducted into prestigious associations like the Commanderie de Bordeaux. He has trained with a professional “nose” from the perfume industry and his peers consider him one of the leading tasters in the world. We also produce videos on the classic wineries of the world and write a blog.
Sondra and James Cluer spend their days running their company and taking care of their 2 children, Max and Alexis. Other than enjoying a glass of wine, our hobbies include horse-riding, skiing, running, and going on crazy adventures to places like Mt Everest.
Our mission, as they say, is to provide the best customer service we possibly can. Just like in wine, quality never goes out of style. Thank you for considering our company.
James Cluer MW