Want to work in the wine trade? A sommelier certification is a step in the right direction. Sommeliers no longer just work in restaurants. They work in all facets of the wine industry, from winemaker to wine marketer. There has been a need for specialized training in the wine trade, and sommelier certification has become the de facto standard.

Professional qualifications are more important than a college education in the wine trade. Most wine schools offer programs that last from a single semester to a full two year diploma program.

Wine Schools That Offer Sommelier Programs

There are several dozen wine schools in America, most of which offer some type of sommelier certification. Wine programs are offered in over thirty locations throughout the United States, from Los Angeles to NYC.


There are many exceptional programs to choose from. The two top rated are the Napa Valley Wine Academy and the Wine School of Philadelphia. Other great schools include the International Wine Center in NYC, the American Wine School in Cleveland, and the The Wine & Spirit Archive in Portland, Oregon.


This is only a tiny fraction of all the great wine schools in America.  The demand for wine education keeps growing, and new schools are being founded every year. For a full list of wine schools that offer sommelier certification, go here: http://www.somm.us/wine-schools


What is a Master Sommelier?

The term “Master Sommelier” is a trademarked term owned by the Court of Master Sommeliers. In the trade, it is known as an L5 (Level Five) certification, which is the top level of wine certification available anywhere.

There are several agencies that underwrite L5 certifications other than the Court of Master Sommeliers including the Institute of Masters of Wine. However, the Court is the most famous, due to the documentary SOMM and the Esquire TV’s “Uncorked”.

Due to the Court’s trademark, no other L5 certification body can use the term “Master Sommelier”.  Instead, they offer an L5 “Master of Wine” program. For all intents and purposes, it is the equivalent of a Master Sommelier certification.

For a full overview of how wine certification is organized in the United States, please see http://www.somm.us/certifications/


How are Sommelier School Accredited?

There are two types of certification for sommelier schools. The first is industry certification, also known as professional certification, trade certification, or qualification. They are typically designed by a private firm or trade organization. These types of certifications are standard in some fields, and on occasion even required by law.


However, that is not the case in the wine trade. There are no federal requirements for certifying sommeliers. Nor is there any state level professional licensing of sommeliers. That means that this type of sommelier qualification is up for interpretation by employers.


The other type of wine school accreditation is via a state-approved trade school. This is much more rare, as it requires more resources to administer. However, this type of professional diploma is state authorized and comparable to an Associate degree. This is the gold standard of wine education, and only one accreditation body is currently offering this level of sommelier accreditation. Hopefully more will in the future.  http://www.somm.us/reviews/

Sommelier Accreditation

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