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Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima Present:GrandCruClasses.com – Tracy Ellen Kamens & Jared Skolnick

Founded by Tracy Ellen Kamens and Jared M. Skolnick, Grand Cru Classes was created out of a serious love of wine and a desire to share that love with others. Believing that wine is always fun, they want to make learning about wine an entertaining and enjoyable experience.

Moreover, while they focus on taking the mystery out of wine and making it more approachable, they are consummate educators and thus do not “dumb-down” their classes.

Tracy and Jared  firmly believe that tasting wine is one of the most important aspects of learning about wine. Accordingly, all of their wine events include the opportunity to comparison taste through several different wines.

From vine to wine, they embrace the entire process of wine production. To this end, the couple planted an educational vineyard adjacent to their tasting classroom to further enhance students’ experiences and produce a small quantity of wine. Overall, the world of wine is an ever-changing one and they venture to stay abreast of the latest news and developments to keep themselves and their students up-to-date.

Why they are unique:

  • Credentialed wine educators: All of the class instructors have completed extensive courses in wine.
  • Customized learning materials: Participants receive educational tools.
  • Guided wine tastings: Participants learn to taste wine like a professional while comparing and contrasting different wines.
  • A true learning experience, not just a wine tasting: Events are engaging and entertaining, but also include extensive content on the theme or topic.

The CEO (Chief Education Officer) Tracy Ellen Kamens adores wine and loves to teach. So much so that when the idea to combine her love of teaching with her passion for wine presented itself, she jumped at the opportunity.

Over the past several years, Tracy Ellen has pursued wine studies in earnest (yes, life is tough) to provide herself with a solid foundation in wine knowledge. She then uses her vast experience in education and professional development to craft classes and events that educate as well as entertain.

She is a self-professed wine geek, but is not a wine snob. In fact, she is an equal opportunity drinker, ferreting out wonderful wines at all price points. However, she does draw the line at anything out of a jug.

While she promises to make wine more approachable for consumers, she is proud of her wine credentials, which include the Certified Specialist of Wine credential from the Society of Wine Educators, Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s Diploma of Wine & Spirits (with Merit) and its Intermediate and Advanced Certificates (both with distinction), the International Bordeaux Instructor title from L’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux. In addition, she has completed the Napa Valley Vintners’ Wine Educators Academy as well as the Wine Australia USA AusWISE program.

As a journalist and member of the Wine Media Guild, Tracy has written forWine EnthusiastLong Island Wine PressLong Island Wine Gazette and Wine Sediments, and is the author of a monthly educational newsletter, Grand Cru Grapevine, and the Grape Matter blog.

She holds a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. degree from Cornell University.

Jared M. Skolnick serves as Grand Cru Classes’ COO – aka our Cork Opening Officer. In this capacity, he ensures that everyone’s glass is always at least half full (never half empty). While he has earned a master’s degree (MBA), he prefers hands-on learning and has been the lead for Grand Cru Classes’ forays into grape growing and winemaking. To that end, he serves as Winemaker for our Trajadoja basement winery and successfully created his first wine, Sous-sol Chardonnay (everything sounds better in French), in 2006. Jared is also responsible for full vineyard management of our small (99 vines to be exact), but educational vineyard.

In addition, Jared has pursued extensive studies into the world of cheese, earning the moniker “Cheese Wiz” and building a solid foundation in cheese types and pairing principles.

Presently in the technology field (perhaps just an all-around geek?), Jared spent more than ten years in the hospitality industry, eventually serving as General Manager of a well regarded family restaurant in South Florida.

by: Sam Leccima and Shani Leccima

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