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Founded in 1998 by Neal Ewing, Phillywine is the oldest wine school currently operating in Philadelphia, and one of the oldest in the country. If the name “Ewing” sounds familiar, it’s because his sister is Mary Ewing-Mulligan, the founder of the International Wine Center and the co-author of Wine for Dummies.
The school is a long-standing WSET franchise and offers nearly all certifications offered by Britain’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust. As an affiliate of one of the most well-known wine agencies, Phillywine is an option for people looking to get into the restaurant industry, or simply looking for bragging rights. However, as most wine certifications are the same, this may or may not matter to the student.
The school does not have a permanent location. It has had many bases of operations over the years, including several restaurants, the Culinary School of the Art Institute, and a home goods store.
Phillywine used to offer walk-around wine tastings and other public events at various restaurants in the city. However, those offerings were phased out several years ago.
History of Phillywine
In its first years, the school earned accolades, but very little has been written about the school since 1999. For a school that has existed for two decades, there is surprisingly little public information available. The school’s Yelp page is empty; there is no business address (only a P.O. Box), and locations of upcoming WSET programs are listed as behind held at an unknown “Philadelphia location”
In our survey, Phillywine students were not kind in their reviews. Much of the criticism is leveled at the dry and uninspiring way the WSET programs are taught at this school. Most point to lackluster power-point presentations and lectures that are simple recitals from the reading materials.
While running dull classes is a big negative for any wine school, our surveys of previous WSET students highlighted a graver issue with Phillywine. Students complained that Mr. Ewing was prone to slanderous remarks of his peers in the wine trade.
Our rating of Phillywine is solely on the basis on the content of the programs. We did not think to include a rating for poor behavior. If we did, Phillywine would have earned an even lower grade than it already does.
In good conscience, we cannot recommend Phillywine. We suggest going to New York for WSET classes. Also, there are a handful of better wine schools in Philadelphia. We suggest you talk a look at our suggestions before making a decision.
Discounts and Coupons
Phillywine does offer early bird discounts when registering for WSET courses.
Review of Phillywine.com
For WSET certification, this is the go-to place in Philadelphia. However, better options exist.
- Instruction - 55%55%
- Sommelier Certification - 85%85%
- Quality of Wine - 75%75%
- Location - 50%50%