Today we’d like to introduce you to Brianne Cohen.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Brianne. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The lightbulb went off. I already had what I needed.
I had the decade long career in producing events and weddings and had achieved one of the most sought-after wine certifications on the planet. The foundation was there, I just had to get into the headspace. The confidence came over time. I worked on myself, hired a coach, and leaned on those closest to me. Now I can say that I wake up every day completely owning my day.
The WSET Diploma served as not only my biggest challenge in life but even more so, my biggest achievement in life. This was the crowning masterpiece in re-launching my business. The Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) provides globally recognized certifications in wine and spirits. The Diploma program is their flagship program and is considered the stepping stone to the prestigious Master of Wine certification.
It took courage in my decisions to go after my desires even when it placed me out of my comfort zone. My cohort mostly worked in the wine industry and had knowledge of wines that I had never even had the opportunity to taste. I was an outsider, an underdog, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. If everyone else had to study only 5 hours a week because they’d be tasting and talking about wine every single day, then I’d study 10 hours. I’d watch YouTube videos, attend every trade tasting I was invited to, and keep my head in the books as much as possible. As I’d get closer to exam times, the walls of my home would be covered with flip charts covering every grape, wine region, and soil type. France was in my living room, the rest of the Old World in my dining room, grape varieties in the hallway, and the New World in my bedroom.
I was unapologetic about going after my dreams and desires and I was going to do whatever it took to reach this goal. I was in a deep desire to feel vibrant and alive again in my career, even though I was up against the WSET Diploma behemoth. After two and a half years of studying, flashcards, late nights, and the walls of my home covered in flip charts like the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, I was in the home stretch. Only one blind tasting exam of 12 wines separated me from the WSET Diploma certification. In early April 2018, I got the news that I had passed the exam and successfully completed the Diploma. Shock and disbelief quickly turned into excitement and content. I did it.
I followed my creativity, ideas, desires and intuition to create a new chapter and direction in life. What energizes me? The momentum of an event. When people learn something about wine they can take outside of class. When people gain confidence around the topic of wine. I am living my purpose by upleveling people’s lives through their knowledge of wine and in helping them plan for important days of their lives, such as weddings or other special events.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a certified sommelier and event producer based out of Los Angeles, California. I’ve been producing events and weddings for over ten years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and even at the elite Sundance Film Festival. To complement the event and wedding arm of my business, I added my love of wine and also offered my services as a wine educator, writer, and consultant to inspire people of all ages. Last year I judged at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and the International Wine Challenge in London.
In March, I started feeling like the universe gave me information overload. Between COVID-19, racial unrest, and the never-ending news cycle, there was A LOT going on. In early March, I was thinking about my community and wondering what I can do to help lighten the mood a bit and bring people “together” while we are avoiding/minimizing human contact.
On Thursday, March 19th I hosted my first free Virtual Vino online tasting. I thought a handful of my friends and colleagues would join. Well, I had OVER 100 people sign up to attend. The response was so overwhelming and gratifying! The following Thursday, I offered my most-requested class: Wine Tasting 101. Fast forward, and I have now seen OVER 400 faces on Zoom for my wine tastings!
For the last six months, I have offered numerous Virtual Vino classes. I have done free Virtual Vino gatherings (with a Q&A format) and more structured, educational classes on a specific topic (i.e., food & wine pairings, all things bubbles, positively Port, and 50 shades of rosé).
I now specialize in private Virtual Vino classes for individuals, non-profits, or corporations. Bringing a shared tasting experience has been the glue that holds this all together. I have curated a group of producers who can ship small-format tasting sets (usually 2 oz of each wine) to each participant’s home. On the video call, we all enjoy the wines together, as if we are in a wine country tasting room.
I am so proud that I had the foresight to pivot to virtual, and pivot so early. With the event side of my business in almost 100% hibernation, being able to share wine and smiles with people across Zoom has been a gift.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start my career over, I would have asked for more help and sought mentorship. I have a tendency to do things 100% on my own, which can be both a blessing and a curse. My career would have progressed and upleveled MUCH faster had I engaged more with seasoned professionals in my area of business. This is a strong lesson I have learned. Now I have no problem asking for advice from those more seasoned and I welcome inquiries and questions from those new to the industries I work in.
- Private Virtual Vino Classes (without wine), start at $35pp
- Private Virtual Vino Classes (with wine), start at $75pp
- Website: https://briannecohen.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sommspirations/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sommspirations/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/SOMMspirations
James Geiger, Aaron Cohen, Jonathan Brown, David Herschorn