Sondra Cluer, 1994 in Bordeaux. Co-owner of Fine Vintage

1988

HONG KONG

DISCOVERING WINE


I began my career in the wine trade in 1988, working for an importer in Hong Kong.

After attending a number of tastings I got the wine bug, and took my first WSET course at age 18.  Following a visit to Bordeaux I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life.  Tasting wine was fun!

1993

BORDEAUX

THE PERFECT TRAINING


After University in Vancouver, I headed for Bordeaux and landed an apprenticeship at Milhade et fils working in the cellars and the commercial department. I started to learn about wine from the ground up.

Being inducted into the Confrerie de Lalande-de-Pomerol, Bordeaux, 1994

Several years later I was still at Milhade and responsible for global exports to 18 countries. We lived between Bordeaux and Toronto.

Being inducted into the Confrerie de Lalande-de-Pomerol, Bordeaux, 1994

1995

TORONTO

FINE VINTAGE ESTABLISHED


Based in Toronto, Fine Vintage was registered as a sole proprietorship.

Our first activity was brokering wine from France to the LCBO and fortunately it worked! Simultaneously I worked for the Bordeaux company, until 2002.

1997

MASTER OF WINE

A LONG JOURNEY


In 1997 with the WSET Diploma complete, I enrolled in the Master of Wine (MW) program.

To prepare, I began working harvests at wineries in Australia and California, and touring most of the world’s wine regions. Eleven years later I passed all the exams.

2001

CANADA

THE NEXT GENERATION ARRIVES


Our family grows with the arrival of Lex and Max.

Lex grows up to be diligent and hard-working, and Max proves to have a finely-tuned palate.

2002

VANCOUVER

OUR FIRST WINE SCHOOL


We moved to beautiful British Columbia and started our business full-time with a wine school in Vancouver.

It was a great feeling for us when we won the top award for best wine school worldwide, the WSET Riedel Trophy for International Educator of the Year. We’ve also been shortlisted for this award a record 4 times in the last decade, more than any other school, anywhere.

Jancis Robinson MW presents Fine Vintage with the trophy in London.

 

2005

QATAR AIRWAYS

CONSULTING TAKES OFF


For 12 years I worked as the Wine Consultant to Qatar Airways, winning dozens of awards for the wine program at the Business Traveller magazine competition “Cellars in the Sky”.

We’ve also been fortunate to manage the wine programs for Fairmont Hotels in B.C. and JW Marriott Hotels in Thailand.

And over the years we’ve built 11 wineries and brands for clients, from scratch. Many of them have won Gold medals, received 95 point scores, and received the top honors in National competitions.

2010

TUSCANY

LUXURY WINE TOURS START


Many of our students asked us to take them to visit the great wineries of the world. So we did.

Today we run tours to six spectacular classic wine regions. Some guests have been on every single tour and have started demanding a Fine Vintage wine passport.

2011

ENGLAND

WINE JOBS GOES GLOBAL


It’s no surprise that we had many inquiries about how to find a job.

So we started www.WineJobsCanada.com and when this became successful we went a little crazy and started sites in 30 more countries, all of which live under the industry hub www.WineJobsWorldwide.com

2012

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’


We moved to Napa Valley. We opened new schools, added more tours, new job sites, and grew our winery consulting business.

New home team: San Francisco 49ers!

Fun times at Candlestick Park in SF

2013

Everest Basecamp 5,364 m

EVEREST & KILIMANJARO

MOUNTAIN MADNESS


With Qatar Airways, we mounted expeditions to Everest Base Camp and Mt Kilimanjaro to test the effects of altitude on wine.

For the first time in history, on Kilimanjaro, a Bordeaux wine scored 101 points and Napa Valley shocked the world by winning the Judgement of Everest.

Everest Basecamp Tasting at 5,364 m

Mt Kilimanjaro Tasting at 5,895 m

2016

NORTH AMERICA

ONLINE WINE SHOP


Our students also often asked us what wines to buy, and so we started an Online wine store.

2017

NAPA VALLEY

WINE AS AN ART-FORM


Not content to just do it for others, we started our own boutique Cabernet Sauvignon label in Napa from an outstanding vineyard, and made with the help of a famous winemaker. This is my own real passion.

2018

CYBERSPACE

WINE COURSES GO ONLINE


We wanted to reach a global audience, and cater to those who could not attend a class.

So we spent 2 years creating the world’s first ever Online certification courses in wine, packed with video, shot on location around the world, and featuring many of the most famous winemakers.

I wanted anyone in the world to be able to access a quality wine education experience.

TODAY


Profiled in Wine Spectator, TIME magazine, USA Today, CNN and many others, Fine Vintage was started in the proverbial garage and has grown every year since.

We hope to be your guide through the wine world, helping you to learn, explore and master. And whatever you do with us, we aim to give you a first class experience.

Cheers!

JAMES CLUER, MW